Bill Hader was great on ‘Saturday Night Live’ to the surprise of exactly no one.

Saturday Night Live
Bill Hader & Arcade Fire
March 17, 2018

Veteran Not Ready for Primetime Player, Bill Hader, returned to Saturday Night Live this weekend ahead of the premiere of his new HBO series, Barry, and (for the most part) he was a God damned delight. Hader revisited a number of his classic characters, including Stefon, Devon of “The Californians,” and a number of his celebrity impersonations. (Personally, I would have swapped out Devon for Vincent Price, but 1. that bit is not the same without Kristin Wiig’s wackiness and 2. I am well aware that I am in the minority there.) The rest of the night was a mixed bag, with only one or two sour notes which had more to do with the writers depending too heavily on Hader’s talent for wacky voices and not delivering actually funny material. Alien sketch, I’m lookin’ at you.

Anyway, go ahead and schedule Hader for sometime next season, Lorne, because I already want him to come back.

Anderson Cooper interviews Rex Tillerson, Jeff Sessions, The Mooch and Michael Wolff to discuss the chaos in the White HouseĀ in the cold open this week. John Goodman returns as Tillerson — and as the best part of the entire bit — with Fred Armisen returning to play Michael Wolff and host Bill Hader gabagooling his way as The Mooch. It’s fine! It’s fine. It’s perfectly fine.

Grade: B+

Bill Hader’s monologue is short and sweet and reveals some of the behind-the-scenes “secrets” of Saturday Night LiveĀ before quickly segueing into …

Grade: A-

… a “The Californians” sketch.

LOOK I KNOW THEY HAD TO DO THIS BIT OF COURSE THEY DID WE ALL KNEW THEY WERE GOING TO DO IT THE MOMENT FRED ARMISEN SHOWED UP IN THE COLD OPEN BUT IT DOESN’T MAKE ME LIKE THIS SKETCH ANY MORE THAN I DID WHEN THEY USED TO DO IT EVERY OTHER EPISODE AND I KNOW THAT OTHER PEOPLE LIKE THIS RECURRING BIT SO I AM JUST GOING TO NO GRADE IT TO REFLECT MY UNREASONABLE BIAS AGAINST IT

Grade: NO GRADE

As a nod to the fact that this episode aired on St. Patrick’s Day, we have this Irish dating show in which being the contestant’s cousin gives one an upper hand. Because the Irish are apparently all inbred? which is a stereotype I hadn’t heard before? but because the sketch is funny, I’ll grant it.

Grade: A

A group of girlfriends gets together for game night, and one of them brings her elderly husband along with her so that they don’t miss out on any valuable baby-making time. It’s cringey and hilarious and no one can keep a straight face.

Grade: A

In this bit, a ton of 90s celebrities audition for a role in Jurassic Park:

  • Hugh Grant
  • Alan Alda
  • Ellen
  • Wesley Snipes
  • Roseanne Barr
  • Adam Sandler
  • Whoopi Goldberg
  • PeeWee Herman
  • Drew Barrymore
  • Joey Lawrence
  • Gwen Stefani
  • Sinbad (My personal favorite, mostly because I had to edit one of his books and this is EXACTLY the level of humor I was dealing with)
  • Al Pacino
  • Lisa Kudrow
  • Jaleel White
  • Eddie Vedder
  • Jodie Foster
  • O.J. Simpson
  • Clint Eastwood

Your enjoyment of this bit depends on your enjoyment of celebrity impersonations. Mileage will vary.

Grade: B+

“Weekend Update” leaves us with some unsettling questions about a potential Trump sex tape.

Grade: B+

Wait, where has Kate McKinnon’s Betsy DeVos been all this time? Why is this the first time we are seeing her impersonation of this ding dong?

Grade: A+

Since he publicly opened up about his mental health issues, it feels like Pete Davidson has found his comedy groove. He’s honest and blunt and sad and angry and funny and I would absolutely read his memoir.

Grade: A-

I mean, it’s Stefon. And it’s John Mulaney.

(In the event this isn’t common knowledge: the reason Bill Hader cracks so much when doing Stefon is that he doesn’t get the script before he goes out to tape — he sees the jokes for the first time live at the desk. And back in the day, John Mulaney was the writer of the bit — as I’m sure he was for this outing, too.)

Grade: A

And here’s where things begin to fall apart.

In this sketch, a couple visits a resort in the desert where they are warned off going to visit a sacred rock because of alien encounters. This entire bit is dependent on Bill Hader’s goofy voice and that is just not nearly enough.

Grade: C

Bill Hader plays “The Canadian Harvey Weinstein” in this sketch, which means that his crime is that he was a little too polite to his coworkers. And for some reason, Arcade Fire is shoehorned into the bit, I suppose because the majority of them are from Canada. But you know who is not from Canada is Win Butler whom I happen to know grew up in The Woodlands, despite his trying to pretend that he’s from Montreal or some nonsense. I SEE YOU, WIN BUTLER.

Grade: B-

NO.

Grade: F

Cut for time, this sketch in which one of Bill Hader’s less-remembered (but still funny) recurring characters is a weirdo about St. Patrick’s day. Beck Bennett is no Bobby Moynihan, but I suppose he’ll do. Why this didn’t air but that alien sketch did, I’ll never understand.

Grade: B+

Final Grade: B+ That Office Potty bit really dragged down your grade, guys.

Saturday Night Live airs at 10:30/11:30 p.m. Saturdays on NBC.

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