SNL Digest: Sarah Silverman/Maroon 5 (10/4/14)

Host Sarah Silverman and musical guest Maroon 5 October 4, 2014.
Saturday Night Live (Photo: Dana Edelson / NBC)

Sarah Silverman’s return to Studio 8H had some hits, but felt a revision away from being truly great.

After Chris Pratt opened the season with what I’d consider a B+ episode, Sarah Silverman had to follow up his energetic performance as host of the second episode of the season.  Silverman has never hosted the show before, but she was briefly in the cast in the early 90s, so she’s not a complete stranger to Studio 8H.  That said, this week’s episode felt uneven; there were a lot of sketches where I felt I should be laughing, but the jokes felt one draft away from having the right timing, and I’d give it a B- overall.

What You Missed:

Monologue

I was about ready to put Sarah’s monologue in the “What You Didn’t Miss” section, but after some initial slowness it finally picked up when she got around to mentioning her time on SNL.  When a comedian hosts SNL, it’s standard to have them do some part of their act as the monologue.  The idea of Sarah doing this from an audience member’s lap seemed like a nice twist on this (plus: crowd work!), but this felt more awkward than it needed to be.  Once it finally got to the usage of past SNL footage the monologue finally clicked, but (like much of this episode), a final draft that cleaned up the first half of the monologue and tightened it up would have made this even better.

The Fault In Our Stars 2

SNL’s take on the unmissable teen movie of the summer absolutely clicked for me after it revealed what the protagonist is suffering from.  Taran’s reactions throughout are perfect.  “I laughed.  I panicked.  I mostly panicked.”

Joan Rivers in Heaven

This one was delightful (particularly Bobby Moynihan as Ben Franklin, loving the jokes even if he doesn’t understand them), although it felt like an oddly short sketch.  It was a nice chance for some unexpected impressions (Eartha Kitt! Ava Gardner! Adam Levine as Freddie Mercury!) with Sarah Silverman roasting everyone as Joan Rivers.

Whites

SNL knocked this one out of the part – Train’s “Hey Soul Sister” started and I immediately turned away from what I assumed was a normal ad.  Then I realized SNL people were still talking and caught this perfect parody ad.  High marks for this one.

Maroon 5


I’m lumping both performances together here.  I really enjoyed Maroon 5’s first two albums in their entirety, but lately it’s felt like they’ve been more of a singles-focused band.  The performances this week were good (although backing vocals seemed lower in the mix), and it was interesting to hear more of Adam Levine’s lower register.  A few of their newer songs (particularly “Maps”) have the feeling of a poppier version of The Police1.

Weekend Update


Michael and Colin seem to have ironed out a few of the kinks from their initial outing, and this week felt more solid overall.  I particularly liked Michael and Colin’s discussion about what Colin can and can’t say around Michael – it avoided the obvious joke and instead played on Colin’s Ben Wyatt-like nature behind the desk.  Keenan’s Al Sharpton and the musical duo Garage and Her were particularly great as well.  A few other great lines:

Nebraska River Cruise

A screenshot from the "Proud Mary" sketch - you'll have to catch this on a re-run.
A screenshot from the “Proud Mary” sketch – you’ll have to catch this on a re-run.

This one doesn’t appear to have made it online, probably due to music rights.  I’m pretty sure this sketch was funny to about 5 people (using the tepid audience response as an indication), but I was one of those 5 people, so it’s under the must watch.  I loved every second of Cecily, Sarah, and Sasheer performing “Proud Mary” and explaining the coincidental reasons why they’re stuck performing on a Nebraska riverboat, but such was not the case with everyone else.  Comedy is wonderfully, beautifully subjective, and this sketch was weird enough to me that I made the following joke on Twitter, which did not go over so well with others who saw it as the Worst Sketch Ever Broadcast in 40 Years of #SNL and thought fit to tell me because I used the hashtag:

twitter conversation

Car Ride

"Car Ride", from the set
“Car Ride”, from the set

Here’s another one that didn’t make it online (although it’s slightly confusing why…the music clips used were barely 5 seconds).  I thought it was a funny twist on a proposal gone awry due to a revelation of cheating, but this was another sketch that was about one revision from being perfect.  Everything about this sketch could have been a little tighter (although the musical cues,”There will be…stuffed crust?”, and sudden left turn into a Pizza Hut commercial were great).

The December Generation

I’m telling you now that if Good Neighbor makes a video piece, there’s a good chance it’ll end up here.  This was a nice twist on a classic trope and Kyle/Bennett clearly had fun trashing each other’s stunt dummies.

Vitamix

Vitamix blenders are wicked expensive for seemingly no reason other than bragging to your friends about how great they are, and I’m very happy SNL used the 12:55 sketch to knock them down a peg2.  This is a great followup to last year’s dog food sketch.

What You Didn’t Miss:

  • The 60 Minutes Cold Open had a few good jokes (“LinkedIn, which, as it turns out, is a whole separate terrorist organization”) and a nice Web 2.03 twist on a standard sketch premise, but it felt pretty forgettable otherwise
  • The Forgotten TV Gems sketch felt predictable and the timing seemed off, which created the odd paradox of a sketch that felt like it was both running too long and too short.

We’re back next week with host Bill Hader and musical guest Hozier, whatever that is4

  1. I promise I mean this in a good way  
  2. also: way to make production buy one for this sketch, whoever wrote this  
  3. are we officially on Web 3.0?  Web 2.5?  
  4. Seriously, I’m reasonably well-informed when it comes to both mainstream and indie music and I have no clue what/who Hozier is.  This should be fun.  

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About Ben Smith 228 Articles
Ben has been writing about TV, music, and pop culture in some form or another since 2009, including stints at Mental Floss and Temporary Obsession. When not solving puzzles of some sort or consuming pop culture at a frightening pace, he can be found collecting shiny pieces of the internet at GoodAtInter.net. E-mail: ben@whatelseison.tv