Thirteen times; seriously, John Goodman has now hosted Saturday Night Live 13 times. I can’t think of anything significant I’ve ever done 13 times. And I was really looking forward to maybe rubbing Goodman’s episode in the faces of those who are just holding on until Fallon/Timberlake next week. It’s not that those two aren’t great; they are, and all of my fingers are crossed for them. But Goodman has been just as good in the past, an SNL champion if ever there was one.
It was 2001 when Goodman last hosted and, for reference, Ja Rule was the musical guest. We have a tendency to glamorize the past and I know that there were stinkers back then like there were last night. But there were also huge successes, like Goodman’s Wilford Brimley “diabeetus” commercial or anytime he was conniving as Linda Tripp. I don’t think we got anything like that from SNL last night.
The episode certainly had its moments, but those moments were more, “oh yes, that is a true and funny thing,” than laugh out loud. If next week’s turn with Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake is supposed to be like going to the most outrageous Saturday night party, then John Goodman is usually like deciding to stay in with delivery and not feeling guilty about it: As a host, he’s joyous and reliable, a return to a level playing field. It’s been 12 years without the jovial host since his last turn, and I was glad to have him back, even if last night’s episode hovered around a B. It wasn’t mind-altering, but it was better in Goodman’s hands than it would have been in anyone else’s.
If you gave up after Weekend Update, I would understand, but then you missed some of the more redeeming sketches of the night. This was no outright chuckle-fest, but the cast got down to business trying to make a series of one-joke sketches into something more.
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