SNL Digest: JK Simmons/D’Angelo & the Vanguard (1/30/15)

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "J.K. Simmons" Episode 1675 -- Pictured: (l-r) J.K. Simmons and Kenan Thompson on January 27, 2015 -- (Photo by: Dana Edelson/NBC)
(Photo by: Dana Edelson/NBC)

JK Simmons sends SNL into its upcoming 40th Anniversary special on a high note with some assistance from D’Angelo

JK Simmons is an interesting choice for an SNL host.  He’s mostly known as “hey! it’s that guy” from various commercials (including M&M commercials – he’s the yellow one), but he’s getting some well-deserved notice for his intense performance in the movie Whiplash.  As a great character actor, I was looking forward to seeing what he’d bring to SNL, and I wasn’t disappointed at all – this is probably one of my favorite episodes from this season.  Heads up in advance – I don’t think I skipped a sketch in this week’s write-up.

What You Missed:

Cold Open: Superbowl Shutdown with Richard Sherman

Not going to lie, most of the football jokes in this were lost on me, but I’ve paid just enough attention this week to the pre-game antics to get this.  The band being fans since 2013 was a nice touch.

“You hear that Brady? The yearbook voted me best smile.”


J.K. Simmons is in everything you guys. Growing Up Fisher, Whiplash, the M&M commercials
I knew where this was going to go, but it was still freaking fantastic, especially when Leslie Jones (who continues to have a break-out season) gave it right back to JK.

Totino’s Activity Pack

SNL came out of the gate strong this week, y’all.  This was pitch perfect, and I loved the small moments, like the guys asking if Vanessa wanted to watch the game and Vanessa using the sticky hand on the fridge.

Miss Trash 2015

I haven’t mentioned this yet, but it’s weird to see JK Simmons with hair.  Still, this was a nicely concise twist on previous pageant sketches SNL’s done.  Aidy, Cecily, and Kate were beautiful as the trash contestants.

“We have the before pictures, but the network won’t allow us to air them since they are the visual equivalent of the F word”

Cinema Classics: Casablanca

This one went a little longer than it needed to (especially since it was basically one joke, “Ilsa Lund, but super talkative”), but it was some great work from Kate and Keenan.

Teacher Snow Day

Simply from an execution perspective, this is impressive – SNL usually only has a few days to pull these together, and this was clearly a production.  Excellent casting of the various teachers throughout, including JK as the principal and Pete Davidson as the lone student.

Weekend Update

  • “Type 2 Diabeagle” had me in tears.
  • One-Dimensional Character returned!  She wasn’t as good this time.
  • Michael’s piece about Black History Month stamps was lovely
  • Jebediah Atkinson disliking everything ever continues to be the BEST

Writing a Letter

This was surprisingly high-concept – I would’ve expected this to be on at 12:55, not 12:30.  Also, who does Clippy jokes in 2015? Bobby’s enthusiasm sold Pushie.

“You’ve selected…JUST BOXES!”

The Jay-Z Story (starring Mike O’Brien)

This was reallllllly white, and I mean that as a compliment.  Mike O’Brien’s been doing more of a short film thing this season, and this was another great piece from him (with a few special guests and Jay Pharaoh’s great Jay-Z impression)

Career Day

Perfect 12:55 sketch.  Pete Davidson’s reaction shots as the Japanese Messy Boy’s son were spot on.  The accent used on the speakerphone at the end was problematic, though, and didn’t add anything to the joke.

Musical Guest

D’Angelo released his first album in 15 years in December.  The album itself didn’t grab me like I hoped it would, but I also realize I’m not the target audience for it at all.  That said, both of his performances tonight were absolutely electric and worth checking out:

We’re back Sunday, February 15 with the 40th Anniversary Special!

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    About Ben Smith 252 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 E-mail:
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