Anna Faris hosts the Halloween episode of 'Saturday Night Live': Yep, it was scary, alright.

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For 37 years, Saturday Night Live has been considered a New York City institution. Calling the famous Rockefeller Center home, the show has given us some of comedy’s most iconic figures. SNL often takes pride in their Big Apple status by making in jokes that won’t quite have the same effect on someone outside of the New York metropolitan area. In fact, they did so a few times during last night’s episode: There was a nod at Mayor Bloomberg, a reference to Carmel’s 777 car service, and a jab at Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez. But SNL didn’t do New York, nor its host Anna Faris, much justice at all last night. Heck, a Canuck by the name of Drake pretty much took over the whole thing.

Opening the show with a New York-centric skit with Fred Armisen as Mayor Bloomberg (who doesn’t so much look like him, but simply exaggerated his monotone drawl), discussing the ongoing battle to keep Occupy Wall Street at Zuccotti Park. And while the bit got some pandering woos (Armisen’s Bloomberg declared “New York sets the trends and the rest of the world follows” regarding the other OWS protest that have cropped up in other cities), there were some out-of-place jokes about the cigarette ban and the city’s grime. Live from New York it’s… 2005?

So maybe it was going to have to be up to Faris, who was returning to host SNL for the second time in her career, to bring it all back to present day. Unfortunately, like in the opening sketch, Faris relied on the old and expected. Instantly, they had Faris play up her sweet airhead bit à la The House Bunny. After announcing that she was thrilled to be hosting the (alleged) Halloween episode, Faris fielded questions from the “audience” about topics ranging from the economic crisis in Greece to religion. The What’s Your Number? star couldn’t handle any of it until a woman who looked just like her named Hanna Garris (played by Abby Elliott) quite literally spoke her language. (Sorry Jay Pharoah, guess they won’t let you do every impersonation!) Watch:

Seeing as this was the Halloween episode, I expected the show to kick off with Bill Hader’s dependably funny and wonderfully weird “Vincent Price’s Halloween Special.” Alas, viewers were treated (or tricked, depending on how you feel about the sketch) to SNL‘s lone recurring skit of the night, the dance-happy, albeit one-note “Manuel Ortiz Show.” Hader may not have gotten the chance to play Vincent Price, but he did steal the otherwise-predictable (they even dance their fire drills!) bit with his cheating husband character, who looked like a deranged Jim Carrey. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Hader is SNL‘s MVP. (Though Taran Killam is quickly climbing the ranks.)

Faris was all but forgotten in the “Ortiz” skit, but they let her get some real screen time in the Lifetime game show “What’s Wrong With Tanya?” The show takes moms from those so-bad-they’re-great Lifetime movies — in which soft lighting, cheesy dialogue, and pastel vests reign supreme — and gets them to try to figure out what’s wrong with their troubled youth. Their prize if they win? “A Volvo filled with groceries.” While the sketch had its moments (Faris’ competitors pretending to rake leaves while she competed in the lightning round), for a bit in which the ladies should have ruled, that pesky Hader went and stole their thunder as a host/scary Lifetime movie husband. (“You’re hurting my arm!” “Who’s going to believe you?!”) Check it out:

I admit I was filled with a small sense of dread when the logo for the SNL Digital Short popped up. Andy Samberg’s once-fresh and instantly-viral sensations have fallen flat so far this season. (Remember the Blue Man Group short from the otherwise-great Melissa McCarthy episode? Yeesh.) But, much to my relief, Samberg and his shorts redeemed themselves with a series of interviews with musical guest Drake, who undoubtedly got the biggest reactions of the night. There was a brief interview with Drake, an extremely close interview with Drake, an extremely sarcastic interview with the “musician” Drake, a racist interview with Drake (though Samberg took his sage advice to skip that one), a wordless seduction with Drake (how was he not wooed by that?), a matching (Cosby!) sweater interview with Drake, an extremely dark interview with Drake, and my personal favorite, a horribly dubbed interview with Drake. (“I’m Drake… I’m a person who raps and stuff.”) Was it the best short SNL has offered? Hardly. But, it made me chuckle and Drake not only looked like he was having fun with it but proved he can still act. (Is there anything Degrassi doesn’t teach?!) Watch the night’s funniest skit below:

Hooray, I’m feeling genuinely excited for the first time tonight! Charlie Day is hosting the upcoming Nov. 5 episode! And Maroon 5 will serve as the musical guest! Which can only mean one thing: Naked Adam Levine! (This is me using my Charlie Day shouting voice, by the way!)

However, that excitement died down fast once the show returned with yet another skit about yet another GOP debate. Almost a carbon copy of the one they presented during the season opener, there were cracks about how boring Mitt Romney (played by Jason Sudeikis) is, how zany Herman Cain (Kenan Thompson) is, and how much everyone would like to lock Michele Bachmann (Kristen Wiig) and Newt Gingrich (Bobby Moynihan) in a supply closet and let them just kill each other. When the debate’s moderator (Vanessa Bayer) told them “You’re starting to waste our time,” the feeling felt a little bit mutual. When SNL gets political humor right, they get it so right (Tina Fey, you are desperately needed), but this was all wrong.

While Faris was being underutilized as a host, Drake was making sure to make the most of his time. The singer used the second of his four appearances last night to perform “Headlines.” Even if you weren’t familiar with the track, there were some handy-dandy screens that flashed the lyrics behind the Canadian rapper. Drake popped up once more for a painfully bad Weekend Update (playing a teenager dressed as a werewolf rapping about “bag jackin’” candy from trick-or-treaters), but saved the day (or night, rather) when pants-less Nicki Minaj joined him for their fun and flirty duet “Made Me Proud.”

Faris and the women of SNL didn’t exactly one-up Drake and Minaj for their skit about modern-day women singing about the perils of dating, set to the tune of the Exciters’ doo-wop classic “Tell Him.” Sure, some of the lines about “maintaining the mystery” probably hit pretty close for single girls. But the idea that women have to lie to get a man interested or fake a pregnancy to get him to stay felt about as dated as the ice cream shop they were singing in. (Some of us actually do like watching hockey and playing Call of Duty, thank you very much!)

Of course, nothing was more purposefully offensive (well, besides perhaps “The Manuel Ortiz Show”) than the following skit about a cable access show called “J-Pop America Fun Time Now,” in which two college-aged Japanese culture enthusiasts (Killam, Bayer) pay homage in the worst way possible, by looking and sounding like every possible Japanese stereotype. The un-PC skit definitely had its moments, including Sudeikis playing a horrified Sensei teacher named Mark watching it all unfold and Killam’s commitment to the bit as Jonathan-son. The latter was the best/worst example of being culturally clueless since Dave went all Navajo on this week’s Happy Endings. See for yourself:

Still, offensive or not, that sketch was infinitely better than the two remaining one. In the first, Faris brings home a strange boyfriend named Wyndemere (played by Paul Brittain), who is more or less the bizarre “Berries and Cream” guy. Then there’s the utterly dumbfounding finale, in which Faris (who could be seen looking at the cue cards throughout) and Wiig played (presumably) Jersey girls who swoon over the 2012 Ferrari calendar. All in all, not the best night for the tri-state region, thanks to SNL.

Am I being too tough on this week’s Anna Faris-hosted episode of Saturday Night Live, PopWatchers, or do you agree that it was a dud? Did you expect more from the Halloween episode? Like, perhaps, some actual Halloween skits? Do you think Faris gave it her all? Or did Drake steal the show from everyone? Share in the comments section below!

Read more:
Drake talks about making his upcoming album, growing as a rapper, and finding a mentor in Stevie Wonder: An EW Q&A
Talk about Anna Faris’ ‘Saturday Night Live’ episode here
Anna Faris’ ‘SNL’ promos

Comments (153 total) Add your comment
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  • Uncle Joe

    Well, it wasn’t January Jones bad, but it was an extreme disappointment. For a Halloween show, it was seriously lacking in treats like a Vincent Price Halloween Special.

    • WEEKLY RECAP FOR PARENTHOOD!!

      This week was awful, and that’s a shame because I really like Anna Faris.

      • jonger

        I definitely agree that Taran Killam is becoming MVP material. He has been in a lot of sketches lately and does a great job. I hope they continue to use him well!

      • JB Tom

        Oh I don’t think it was bad at all!! And I thought Anna Farris did a really good job. She’s cute and funny.

      • The Truth

        Anna Farris just rips off Goldie Hawn, and they should have had the Vincent Price Halloween special, Bill Hader is so good in that!

      • jonge

        I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who noticed that Faris seemed to be reading the cue cards throughout the show. I know they’re there to help, but most hosts are trained enough to hide that. Didn’t she do any rehearsals at all that week..BTW,I wanna share a good news to you.My best friend ,she just has announced her wedding with a millionaire man who is a celebrity !they met via Millionaireloving.C óM ..it is the largest and best club for celebrity and their admirers to chat online.You do not have to be rich or famous. ,but you can meet one , It’s worthy a try,Maybe you wanna check it out or tell your friends!

      • Madonna

        Who the ballz is Anna Farris anyways?

      • EDDIE MURPHY

        THE SHOW WAS HORRIFICALLY UNFUNNY!!!!!!

      • Goldie Hawn

        Stop comparing me to Anna Faris, that is like comparing Hitler to Hank Williams Jr.!

    • David D

      Now, see, I wouldn’t have even known that a show on October 15 was a “Halloween” show. It wasn’t until I saw that there wasn’t a new episode until November, and the end of the Digital Short, that I realized that this was their only chance.

    • April

      I was waiting for Vincent Price…

    • Strepsi

      I absolutely love Anna Faris, and I could not make it through to the end of the show. Painful, just horrible. Even sketches with promise, like the “Lifetime” sketch, were under-written to the point of nonexistence.

      And with the amount of batsh*t-crazy political platforms the Republican candidates actually have in REAL LIFE, the parody could have handled some actual, you know, content.

      • Tony Carlson

        Like someone said earlier Anna Faris is just a modern day rip-off of Goildie Hawn, Goldie did it first and better!..and yet she was never asked to be host of this show!

    • ChaCha

      I didn’t know it was supposed to be a Halloween show till I read this recap! That’s how bad it was.

    • kate middleton

      It was pretty bad, but not really Anna’s fault at all.

      I actually thought the second-to-last skit when her boyfriend was Lord Windemere was the funniest one. Just so ridiculous, but Paul Brittain was hysterical.

      So sick of the GOP debate skits – they do the same thing everytime. Stop already.

      • Matt

        I’ll second that Lord Wyndemere skit being funny. That was my favorite skit of the night. Paul Brittain has been very funny, but they don’t use him enough. It’s hard to though, with all the other great male SNL cast members.

      • shrewd and knavish sprite

        That sketch really made me laugh too! It was pretty original and silly. Paul Brittain was great!

    • Yeah Buoy

      The show was terrible. Ana was “underused” because she was awful. You do not have to be a New Yorker to get the “NY” jokes. Where was Vincent Price?!

    • CP

      It was worse than January Jones. At least she had the pretty funny /gassy bit… Anna Faris had nothing. Even W.U. tanked.

  • Ben

    The wigs were the most hilarious part of The Manuel Ortiz skit; they actually made me laugh.

    • Mems

      Agreed. And also Bill Hader’s face throughout the sketch.

      • Kim

        I even said out loud last night that he looked like a crazy (well, crazier) Jim Carrey during that sketch! Love Bill Hader.

  • svetlana

    I didn’t have high hopes for Anna Faris and she met my expectations. To be honest she is a horrible actress and rarely funny. Since when does making faces and talking in a stupid voice make someone a great comedianne? The show was a dud from start to finish. I actually thought drakes Halloween rap was better then any of Anna’s skits and it wasn’t that great. Finally, can someone please tell all of the female singers out there to put on some f**king pants! They all have horrible legs, why showcase them? I thought Beyonce had bad legs but wow, nicki Minaj has got her beat.

    • Al

      Nicki Minaj has the body of a middle-aged housewife.

      • Kim

        Wow, yeah that was NOT flattering. But, as a middle-aged housewife (not by choice, lost my job), I can tell you my butt is as flat as a pancake. Actually, always has been. Maybe she could donate some to me…

      • Michelle

        That outfit, which lwas very unflattering but would be on most people.

      • KLH

        Take it back Al. My hips were never like that.

    • bootsycolumbia

      @ Svetlana: I’m so glad someone else agrees with me about Anna Faris. I skipped this episode of SNL because she was the host (even though I love Drake), and it sounds like I didn’t miss anything.

    • Jim

      “Since when does making faces and talking in stupid voices make someone funny?”

      Lucille.
      Ball.

  • M. Burns

    “…the otherwise great Melissa McCarthy episode”? You’re joking, right? Or has exposure to this dismal program completely destroyed any standards for what is funny?

    • poop

      Yeah, wait a second. The Digital Short was the best+ segment of that episode.

    • deedee

      ITA, Burns: her episode was just ok

    • William Boyd

      I agree. Women doing gross-out humor is a turn-off. Bridesmaids succeeded because of good writing, not the bathroom humor.

    • goober

      LIES!!!

  • Jeff

    The “Tell Him” skit was the only one that actually made me laugh. And how do you not mention Jay Pharoah when writing about the Werewolf skit? He was the actual star of that one, Drake was just a set piece.

    • Daly

      I thought the “Tell him” skit was mind-boggling bad and the worst of the night. Not satiric enough to be funny, it just hung there like a lazy fart.

    • SS

      I LOVED the “Tell Him” skit. It’s obvious Ken did not get the premise of the skit.. they weren’t making fun of guys who play hockey and Call of Duty.
      It’s frustrating to read these recaps when he’s so off.

      • Jay

        It’s frustrating to read your “off” comments when you didn’t even notice that Ken didn’t write the recap.

      • Lindsay

        The “Tell Him” Skit was totally the best of the night. I loved it.

  • David D

    Sometimes I’ll watch a show with a host whose name I know but whose work I don’t and wonder “Why is this person a star and hosting SNL?” That’s how I felt about Anna Faris. I’ve heard she’s good and has talent, but last night I just couldn’t see why she got the gig.

  • JLAJRC

    I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who noticed that Faris seemed to be reading the cue cards throughout the show. I know they’re there to help, but most hosts are trained enough to hide that. Didn’t she do any rehearsals at all that week.

    • jill

      Anna relied heavily on the cue cards. I noticed most of the cast did too, more than usual. There must have ben some major last minute changes.

  • Tygor1

    Yeah, I have to agree with the majority, last night’s show was a dud. Yeah there may have been some chuckle moments, but nothing to make me pee-my-pants laughable (Funniest skit ever – Debbie Downer skit with Jimmy Falon and Horatio Sanz giggling throughout – Lindsey Lohan hosted).

    And what is it with not giving the host the “STAR” role of the skit. After all, that’s why they are on, right? I mean, that’s how I always perceived the show to be acted. I miss that. Bring that back!!!

    • katy

      I was just talking about that skit the other day – hilarious!!!

    • Carly

      Love that Debbie Downer sketch.

  • Will

    I’ll admit it that I laughed a little too hard at the lifetime game show skit. I think faris is hilarious, I wish they could have written her some better characters

  • Bethany

    I definitely agree that Taran Killam is becoming MVP material. He has been in a lot of sketches lately and does a great job. I hope they continue to use him well!

    • PRP

      Seriously?! His PR people are working overtime! This guy’s “Japanese” accent slipped in and out, and he just is bloated an annoying. Either he’s sleeping with someone at EW or people’s crushes on him are clouding their judgement.

      • Bethany

        I disagree. I think he’s one of the funniest people on SNL right now. Sketches aren’t about being perfect. Good lord.

      • April

        He’s sleeping with Robin on HIMYM…but I like him and expect him to be a full-time cast member next season.

      • @April

        I knew she (semi) recently had a baby but I had no idea he’s the daddy! Honestly, I thought he was like 20 (not almost 30).

      • PRP

        @ Bethany – No sketches are about being funny, and he’s not. He tries WAY too hard!

      • karen

        Besides Hader, no one in the cast is extraordinarily talented, or at least they have not been given the chance to really shine from what I can see. Some castmembers barely have anything to do. Taran was good last week but the Japan sketch was horrible. He’s the cutesy castmember though, not that it counts.

      • Tony Carlson

        I hate the new chick, she is never funny, and for the life of me even though I just watched the show I cannot even remember her full name Something Bayer, she is horrible, worst on the show, and that is saying a lot!

      • Squishmar

        Vanessa Bayer’s best thing is her Miley Cyrus impression.

  • Kato

    I usually like anna but this was not so great. The lifetime sketch, DS, and Drake as a werewolf were the only three times i laughed at all. And yes I too was waiting for a vincent price sketch, Maybe Anna could be marilyn and Abby could have been Mansfield…just saying

  • blah

    I thought the episode was pretty funny. It wasn’t amazing, but it wasn’t terrible either.

  • DrChocolate

    I’m pretty much a SNL apologist, Igenerally fins something to like about it. However, I have a few bones to pick lately. First and foremost, Vanessa Bayer is NOT funny. At all. Seriously, she replaced Casey Wilson. I don’t get that one Lorne. Second, the writers are getting lazy, please no more talk shows and game show spoofs. It’s a tired device and shows a terrible lack of creativity when it’s done every week. Lastly, why have a guest if you’re barely going to utilize their talents (and this goes back to last season – hello Bryan Cranston).

    • Kim

      I don’t know why he got rid of Casey Wilson either, but I’m glad he did. She wouldn’t be on Happy Endings, where she’s much funnier and they actually give her something to do.

      • Zee

        Wilson is AmAHzing oh Happy Endings!

      • A

        Agreed!! We always say..how was she so not funny on SNL but it awesome on Happy Endings? Clearly not her fault.

    • bootsycolumbia

      Amen about Vanessa Bayer. She’s adorable looking and I’m sure she’s a nice person, but she’s never once made me laugh. And I hate her Miley Cyrus impersonation. I think it was Casey Wilson who did Miley before and she was much better at it.

    • SaraS

      I disagree about Vanessa Bayer – I think she has a lot of potential.
      But I am with you on the talk show concept. Is that the ONLY kind of skit they create now? Look at the skits on Jimmy Fallon’s late night show and you’ll see how they can be done… they’re so free on that show.

    • Lindsay

      Vanessa Bayer replaced Jenny Slate, not Casey Wilson, just to clarify. btw, Year of Penny on Happy Endings!!!!!

  • prince albert

    I like that shady-looking, half-assed journalist that’s always getting his stories mixed up on Weekend Update. He’s always hillarious.

    • Captain

      They let Courtney Cox out of the Olive Garden!

    • Saphron

      I absolutely love Bobby Moynihan. Fortunately he’s not exactly underutilized, but I could use more of him. The way he rolls into Weekend Update looking over his shoulder is PRICELESS. Meanwhile, Fred Armisen and Keenan Thompson used to be funny, and now not so much. Bill Hader, Bobby Moynihan, and Taran Killem (or however you spell his name) are the top 3 every week.

  • Lisa Marie

    I just wonder, does SNL have one single person on their writing staff that isn’t so extremely left winged????

    • Barack Palin

      I agree. I’ve noticed this year that ALL the political sketches are anti-Republican and there hasn’t been a single skit spoofing the left. I haven’t seen a single skit spoofing Occupy Wall Street for the lazy Marxist savage bums they really are. This year the show seems to have taken a slant to the left. It was bearable when they spoofed both sides but I’m getting tired of their spoofing of the Republican field; I mean with the unmitigated disaster that is the Obama administration and the class warfare and his determination to lower America to the level of a third world country you’d think they’d have plenty of oportunity to spoof B. Hussein leading America into the toilet.

      • Barack Palin

        Hopefully the window of opoportunity will be short and in a years time we won’t have a Communist Marxist radical ledft-wing loon in the White House.

      • Me

        SNL has always been left. Occupy Wall Street is simply fighting the fact that 1% of America owns all the wealth. I think Obama is doing fine. You can’t seriously think he is trying to hurt the country because that just isn’t true. America was already in the toilet, and no one will bring it out so soon. The president doesn’t have that much control over the economy. At least Obama wants to help people that aren’t born with a silver spoon in their mouth.

      • Empress Josephine

        why is every thing in amercia about the left and right. i miss the days of the republic and the says of the 1st consul napolean.

      • Squishmar

        To “Me”… SNL has NOT always been left. They did a classic Reagan sketch with Phil Hartman showing him to be a genius behind a doddering old-man front. And they often skewered Clinton during his administration and the various scandals that arose.

    • Al

      It seems perplexing that they continually refuse to make fun of Obama in the same way they did for Bush, Clinton and, basically, every president since Ford. It’s especially odd since the country is in such bad shape and the majority of the country has turned against Obama.

      • Chris

        They keep playing up the Republican candidates because no matter how badly you think Obama is doing, all of the Republican candidates trail him in the polls.

        Besides, there’s so much material there.

    • kate middleton

      I was expecting an Occupy Wall Street spoof this week as well. I mean, there’s a lot to make fun of there.

    • kris

      It would probably be career suicide for anyone associated with this show to make fun of a liberal, let alone be one of this show. That’s why people like Victoria Jackson (who is apparently to the right of even Fox News) or Dennis Miller waited until years later to admit their conservative views. Sure, they went after Clinton when he was involved in a sex scandal and they occasionally go after Hillary Clinton but it’s never for her politics or her judgment. I’m not even a conservative but this show has always had a liberal slant.

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