Relive Eddie Murphy’s almost-perfect ‘Saturday Night Live’

Saturday Night Live
Eddie Murphy & Lizzo
December 22, 2019

I’m going to try to avoid overthinking this episode because comedy never benefits from thinking about it too hard. (It’s one of the reasons I never recap comedies.) But, Eddie Murphy returning to Saturday Night Live for the first time in 35 years is not just a historically notable TV event, it’s one that required a little contemplation on both our part and the writers’.

Here’s the thing: Eddie Murphy blazed into superstardom on Saturday Night Live in 1980 when he was only 19 years old with characters like Mr. Robinson and Buckwheat — characters that made fun of racist stereotypes in a way that was so close to the chest that some viewers may not have understood they were supposed to be laughing with Murphy, not at him. Murphy was never putting on a minstrel show, he was pointing out how racist the minstrel show was. The problem is some viewers, particularly white ones, might have missed that nuance. (Honestly, maybe the greatest SNL sketch of all time is the one in which he went undercover as a white man — genuinely brilliant and tackling race in a way that remains as stinging and poignant 40 years later.)

So because a great deal has changed in the past 40 years, it was always going to be a delicate dance bringing some of these characters back to the show in a way that not only would be relevant but culturally palatable. But God damn, if they didn’t pull it off. Murphy’s 80s characters found themselves up against 21st-century issues like gentrification and the #MeToo movement — and that tension is where the comedy blossomed.

Then when you add to all of that the fact that Eddie Murphy waited long enough to come back to the show so that there were no more hard feelings, that he had shed enough of his movie star ego and aloofness that he could really enjoy himself on that stage in an uninhibited, genuine way … well, it made for the best episode of the year, certainly, and one of the best episodes of Saturday Night Live I’ve ever seen.

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Be thankful: Will Ferrell and a slew of other stars deliver an excellent ‘Saturday Night Live’

Saturday Night Live
Will Ferrell & King Princess
November 23, 2019

When it comes to judging hosts, it’s unfair to compare regular actors, sports figures, musicians or even other comedians to former cast members. For former hosts, this was their job for years — they understand how to play to the audience; they aren’t afraid of a live performance; they, better than probably most actors, understand comic timing. This is how they became household names. And among those who have been invited back to host Saturday Night Live, Will Ferrell might be one of the funniest and most talented cast members of all time. So to compare him as a host to a Harry Styles or a Kristen Stewart, it’s just not fair. They aren’t on the same playing field.

Will Ferrell returned to Saturday Night Live for his fifth time hosting and delivered easily one of the funniest — if not the funniest — episodes of the season. Ferrell’s big golden retriever energy makes every sketch just that much funnier, even sketches that by all rights should have just been mediocre. And while I can’t be certain, it certainly felt like the writers held back on the last couple of episodes so that they could give Will Ferrell the choicest material. And honestly? I don’t blame them in the least. He knocked it out of the park.

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The best shows of the year according to people who actually know what the hell they’re talking about

Continue reading “The best shows of the year according to people who actually know what the hell they’re talking about”

Everything is feeling particularly shitty today, so here is Tina Fey, Rachel Dratch, and Tan France in some mom jeans to cheer you up

Continue reading “Everything is feeling particularly shitty today, so here is Tina Fey, Rachel Dratch, and Tan France in some mom jeans to cheer you up”

Adam Driver might have hosted ‘Saturday Night Live,’ but Matt Damon was the star

Saturday Night Live
Adam Driver & Kanye West
September 29, 2018

Welcome to the 44th season of Saturday Night Live. Two quick points of order before we begin: 1. Matt Damon is your new Melissa McCarthy and 2. Pete Davidson had a busy summer. Alright! Let’s get started!

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A (now former) Fox News contributor just laid waste to the network as a “propaganda machine” in the best thing you’ll read all week

Continue reading “A (now former) Fox News contributor just laid waste to the network as a “propaganda machine” in the best thing you’ll read all week”

Natalie Portman hosts a roller coaster of a ‘Saturday Night Live’

Saturday Night Live
Natalie Portman & Dua Lipa
February 4, 2018

Natalie Portman returned to host Saturday Night Live for the first time since 2006, and she was given exactly two very good sketches, a bunch of mediocre crap, and one sketch that was so bad, I think there is a chance it might have been intended as a meta joke on bad sketches. That or it literally needs to be hung up in the Worst Sketches of All Time hall of fame because oh my God it was that bad.

So bad.

Just … terrible.

Like, did they have a bunch of fourth graders visit the studio and then did they invite them to write a sketch and then they felt like they had to perform it because they didn’t want to disappoint a bunch of little kids?

Is one of the lesser writers dying of cancer and this was his dying wish, to have this sketch performed?

Were there terrorists in the building, holding a gun to Lorne Michaels’ head and forcing the show to do this sketch?

Is Saturday Night Live being used as a vehicle to disseminate secret messages to our spies abroad and this sketch was an important code to ensure global security?

Or did the writers think the sketch was so stupid as to come back around to being funny?

Because if so, they were sorely mistaken. Woof. Continue reading “Natalie Portman hosts a roller coaster of a ‘Saturday Night Live’”

Great news! CBS just renewed 16 shows that you probably don’t watch.

Continue reading “Great news! CBS just renewed 16 shows that you probably don’t watch.”