The awkward, rough, trajectory of the Vince Vaughn-hosted Saturday Night Live can best be described by comparing the monologue to the final sketch. We start out with a charismatic, off-the-cuff, fun-loving Vaughn trying to wine and dine the audience like he’s on a first date. He’s improv-ing (if we’re to believe, like SNL’s tumblr says, that none of these people knew Vaughn was going to pick them), having some fun, and getting people on his side. Then, after a long show, we get to the end of the night. We’re weary. We’re wondering why we stayed up so late. And then there’s Vaughn playing a desperate dude at last call, just trying to grab onto something. He started out asking for the audiences’ love and ended settling for a weird planking session with a stranger on a bar.
In happier times, let’s start with the cold open. Barack Obama (Jay Pharoah) introduced two senators (Bill Hader and Jason Sudeikis) who had been working together on a bipartisan gun control agreement, which only serves to confuse instead of legislate. It will now be illegal now to shoot more than two guns, but if you’re caught with a third gun your punishment is a fourth gun. Also none of these laws apply to Florida.
I really do want to defend this opening monologue even though early commenters seemed to have hated it. It took guts for Vaughn to talk to random people from the crowd. Regardless of how pre-screened that section was, it could have gone horribly wrong. Instead, there were some genuinely charming moments, everyone in the crowd seemed to love it, and Vaughn showed off some pretty hilarious improv skills.
The pretaped bit about Al Pacino playing a variety of accused murderers for HBO hit fine. And it’s always fun to see a great Bill Hader impression. However, there were noticeable groans from the audience when Hader showed up in black face.
Speaking of impressions, Hader, Taran Killam, and Fred Armisen gave some pretty killer British punk imitations in a sketch about Ian Rubbish, a rocker who hates a lot of things, but pretty much thinks Margaret Thatcher, who died this week, was a good leader. It was noticeably also a Sex Pistols tribute.
Before Miguel, we had two sketches where the premise — and thus what all of the jokes were going to be — was set up succinctly in the first 20 seconds of the sketch. In one, The Weather Channel has a new soap opera that is written by the chief meteorologist. How do we think the people are going to talk? Like they’re weatherman? Correct. I laughed at the ”good 8-10 inches” line and the weird precipitation joke that followed. Then there was a sketch about a theater program where all the actors have short term memory loss. How well do you think they’re going to be able to remember their lines? Not at all? Correct.
Miguel performed ‘’Adorn’’ and I thought it was good, but maybe that was because by this point it was nice to have a section where not hearing the audience laugh was a good thing.
Weekend Update brought Kate McKinnon (how you doing, girl?) as a woman who had been raised by monkeys. But the best joke of Update was about a man dressed as cookie monster who was arrested for pushing a 2 year old to the ground. ”I guess when you’re watching him enjoy a delicious cookie, it’s easy to forget… he’s still a monster.” The first guests were Brad Paisley and LL Cool J and even before Kenan Thompson and Jason Sudeikis came out I wrote “UM YESSSS!” in my notes. “It’s not even good, I mean musically or lyrically,” said Kenan of ”Accidental Racist.’’ Brad Paisley later tweeted a picture of Kenan and Sudeikis saying “Well, we wanted to start the conversation. This is fantastic.”
Then came the prom sketch where Vaughn played an eccentric millionaire who lived in a big house overlooking a junior high and paid for the students to have a nice junior prom. The joke was that he also then danced with some of the boys… and threw a glass of punch at a young girl.
The next sketch was two brothers trying to write a great basketball theme song. One wrote amazing instrumentals, the other terrible lyrics. “Then why did you bring little hammers and a can of gasoline?” is going to be my new transition line.
Mercifully we are at the end last call sketch, a last call bit that we’ve seen before. McKinnon tries, Vaughn tries, but by this point, everyone’s checking their Twitter and watching noncommittally.
Let’s hope Zach Galifianakis and Of Monsters and Men on May 4 is amazing.