Tag Archives: Bill Hader

Top 10 Sketches of SNL Season 37

Oh, SNL. Sometimes I wonder why I watch it every week. But then a character like Stefon comes along and makes me fall in love with the show all over again.

I thought this past season was actually a very strong one for the show. It seemed like the writing was a bit tighter, and with standout performers like Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, and relative newbie Taran Killam stepping up to the plate, it gave us plenty of memorable moments. Here’s a look at some of the best.

Honorable Mention: “She’s a Rainbow” (Mick Jagger)

I didn’t feel right including it on my list, since this wasn’t a proper sketch and wasn’t supposed to be humorous. However, it was such a lovely send-off for Kristen Wiig that I would be remised not to mention it. Love Mick Jagger and Arcade Fire, love the rest of the cast members’ reaction. Wiig is awesome, and I’m sad to see her go.


Honorable Mention: “The Real Housewives of Disney” (Lindsay Lohan)

Definitely had some great moments (Taran Killam’s snooty Prince Charming laugh, Wiig’s drunken Cinderella), but didn’t quite live up to its potential as an entire comedy bit for me.

Honorable Mention: “J Pop America Funtime Now!” (Anna Faris)

Killam and Vanessa Bayer play two white kids obsessed with Japanese culture who are gleeful in their unintentional racism. At least they have Sudeikis’ exasperated teacher to try and set them straight. Killam’s moony grin kills me.

10. Bein’ Quirky With Zooey Deschanel (Zooey Deschanel)

Sketches that allow the cast to roll out their celebrity impressions are often enjoyable, but rarely noteworthy. But something about this sketch just worked. We may have seen Killam’s pitiable Michael Cera, Wiig’s giggling Bjork (who knits a sweater for an octopus and leaves “one extra hole for its dreams and ideas”), but they’re perfect in this setting. Abby Elliot’s adorkable Zooey Deschanel and Zooey Deschanel’s Mary-Kate Olsen were also nice.


9. Columbus Day Assblast (Ben Stiller)

Ass Dan will never not be funny to me.

8. You Can Do Anything! (Daniel Radcliffe)

Radcliffe was an eager host, so it made sense to give him such a high-energy sketch to work with. It cleverly commented on the obliviousness and delusions of young people today, and Radcliffe’s little jig was just wonderful. It also gave me a phrase to work into conversation: “I tried, and therefore no one should criticize me.” Radcliffe was actually a great host.


7. Someone Like You (Emma Stone)

It’s a simple premise: everyone listens to Adele’s “Someone Like You” and cries uncontrollably. But it’s really funny. Nasim Pedrad gets the Best Crier in Show award from me.


6. B108FM (Lindsay Lohan)

There wasn’t a lot to this sketch, but I just really, really enjoyed it. It was nice to see Killam and Bobby Moynihan get their own sketch. Playing two morning radio DJ’s in the middle of nowhere, Killam and Moynihan’s enthusiasm was infectious. Lohan’s contribution was less than stellar, but even she couldn’t bring down the gleeful mood of this one.

5. Retirement Party (Jason Segel)

This is a bit of a bizarre one, and some would say that it doesn’t go anywhere. I, however, found it increasingly hilarious to watch Wiig exclaim, “I don’t have anything to say!” repeatedly. “I’m not quick on my feet. I’m not Robin William.”

4.Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing (Melissa McCarthy)

McCarthy proved countless times that she was a host up for anything. Perhaps this was never more apparent than in this sketch, which revolved around a focus group sampling ranch dressing. McCarthy’s comedic timing and ability to go with the flow are just two reasons why she was one of the best hosts of the season.

3. Coach Bert (Steve Buscemi)

Definitely an edgy one, considering it came right on the heels of the Penn State scandal. Very funny, though, and Buscemi was the perfect host to pull it off. I love when SNL goes dark (see also: Jason Sudeikis as the Devil).

2. Lord Wyndemere (Anna Faris)

Paul Brittain, you shall be missed. His delightful little sweets-loving lord was an inspired character. Jason Sudeikis as the enraptured father and Bill Hader as the footman, Turlington, were almost just as good.

1. Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen (Sofia Vergara)

I had never heard of Andy Cohen when I watched this sketch, and I’ve actually still never seen him live in action. But something about Killam’s gleeful self-delusions as Cohen won me over. I laughed. A lot. This was one of Killam’s standout moments of the season, and I still can’t get that image of his face on a dog’s body out of my head.

Other Notable Bits (AKA things that weren’t their own sketch, but still were funny):

  • Bobby Moynihan as Drunk Uncle on Weekend Update (“Netflix me! Netflix me!”)
  • Justin Timberlake as Bon Iver
  • Nicholas Cage appearing in Get in the Cage
  • Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Seth Myers sharing the Weekend Update desk. That whole Jimmy Fallon episode was just lovely.
  • Jason Sudeikis playing both the Devil and Jesus over the course of the season
  • The entire Maya Rudolph episode. Seriously. There wasn’t one super standout sketch for me, but it was just an all-around fantastic episode.

10 Sketches That Saved SNL Season 35

Saturday Night Live gets a lot of heat for its uneven (to put it lightly) writing, but every once in a while, everything comes together, and a sketch just works. It may not be enough to truly justify watching the show every week, but it’s always exciting when something genuinely funny happens. And while this season had a couple of episodes that undeniably bombed entirely (hi, January Jones), and seemed unusually weak over all, there were a few redeeming moments.

1. Stefon on Weekend Update (Gabourey Sidibe/MGMT)

People gave Jimmy Fallon a lot of flack for frequently cracking up mid-sketch, but I almost always enjoy sketches more when the cast members fail to contain their laughter. On this Weekend Update segment, Bill Hader played “Stefon”, a “City Correspondent” recommending New York City hotspots. He reprised the character for the season finale, too, but his giggly, lusty turn here made for one of the most memorable moments SNL has had in years (for me, at least). From the monosyllabic night club names (“Crease”, “Wesh”) to the descriptions of the colourful characters found within (“screaming babies in Mozart wigs”), everything is bizarre. But you’ll have to watch the above clip to answer one burning question – what exactly is a human fire hydrant?


2. What Up With That? (Gerard Butler/Shakira)

SNL sometimes hits a homerun with its bizarre, out-of-left field concepts (though they more commonly bomb), and somehow everything came together with their spoof of BET programming. Keenan Thompson’s nonstop enthusiasm, Bill Hader’s ever-snubbed Lindsay Buckingham, and Jason Sudeikis’ sweet dance moves have propelled this sketch through repeated rehashing. But the bizarreness of it all the first time around (wait, so you got James Franco on the show, but never let him speak?) is what made it work so well.

Watch it on hulu.com

  

3. The entire Betty White episode (Betty White/Jay-Z)

This highly anticipated episode may have not featured the “soon-to-be-classic” sketches that many had hoped for, but as a whole, it was very charming (largely thanks to White, of course). The inspired hosting choice and the joy that surrounded the whole thing (including Jay-Z dedicating “Young Forever” to Ms. White) made it a highpoint in the season. And we’ll always have “The Wizard of Ass”.

 

4. Laser Cats 5 Digital Short (Sigourney Weaver/The Ting Tings)

Taking full advantage of their guest host, The Lonely Island topped their Laser Cats series with an entry “directed by James Cameron”. They got Cameron himself to cameo (trying desperately to prove that he has a sense of humour), and their spot-on low-budget spoofs of Terminator, Titanic, and Avatar were both topical and timeless.

Watch it on hulu.com

 

5. Threw it on the Ground Digital Short (Ryan Reynolds/Lady Gaga)

The Lonely Island are at their best when they inject some sly, silly social commentary into their Digital Shorts. And this random riff on self-righteousness gets better each time they repeat the gag. The ending is a bit of a cop-out, but I was too busy laughing at the first three-quarters to care.

 

6. Zach Drops By the Set (Zach Galifianakis/Vampire Weekend)

In additional to Galifianakis’ glorious non sequitur of a monologue, this sketch – in which he appears in the background of various NBC programs – provided all of the offbeat charm that I’d expected from the host. It’s a simple concept, but it worked far better than most of the purposely “random” sketches (such as the lengthy, unfunny bidet one) that the writers threw at him.

 

7. Kickspit Underground Rock Festival (Blake Lively/Rihanna)

It should have been a throwaway fake ad, but this send-up of music festivals somehow managed to nail all of the skeevy details of what a heavy metal gathering might consist of (“Everyone gets a pitchfork!”). The follow-up during the Ryan Phillippe episode (a music video honouring the death of “Ass Dan”) was equally hilarious. For once, SNL showcased sharp, succinct writing.

Watch it on hulu.com

8. Hamm and Buble (Jon Hamm/Michael Buble)

Jon Hamm is one of the best recent hosts the show has seen, and his second time hosting provided a few memorable sketches (though perhaps none as memorable as “Jon Hamm’s John Ham”), such as the Closet Organizer, and the character’s subsequent return a couple of sketches later. But pairing Hamm up with the affable musical guest made for the best sketch of the night. Hamm played the owner of a pork and champagne restaurant (get it? Ham and Bubbly?) who ruled with an iron fist, and both men delivered the laughs.

Watch it on hulu.com

 

9. Smash Mouth (Jennifer Lopez)

This is a sketch that had no business working (and for many viewers, it probably didn’t), but I loved the completely unexpected reference point (yes, the 90’s band Smash Mouth). The premise was pretty thin, but the visual humour of the goateed rockers popping up around the set really worked for me.

Watch it on videogum

10. Boombox Digital Short (Jude Law/Pearl Jam)

Featuring The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas (whose strange charisma served the sketch well), this digital short was initially confusing, catchy, and even disturbing. But on subsequent viewings, the whole thing suddenly and inexplicably became hilarious to me.

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009)

As long as there is an audience, they will keep making Night at the Museum movies. Ben Stiller, Robin Williams, and Owen Wilson all return for the sequel to 2006’s blockbuster family film, with Amy Adams, Hank Azaria, and Bill Hader joining the all-star cast.

Night at the Museum 2 picks up two years after the end of the first film, and we now find our hero Larry (Stiller) as a successful inventor (I think his invention – a glow in the dark flashlight – is some kind of running gag from the first movie, but it’s all a little bit fuzzy to me). He’s left his job as a night-time security guard at New York’s Museum of Natural Science, but catches wind that the museum is re-vamping its exhibits in favour of new high-tech holograms. Larry goes to Washington, D.C. to rescue the old displays of historical figures (which all come alive at night) from the clutches of an evil Egyptian pharaoh, Kahmunrah (Azaria).

If you’ve seen Night at the Museum, you’ll know exactly what to expect from the sequel – a bumbling Ben Stiller caught in the mayhem of warring historical figures. I liked the first film more than I expected to, and while it doesn’t break any new ground, Battle of the Smithsonian is harmless enough. That being said, director Shawn Levy (known for such gems as The Pink Panther and Just Married) could have pushed things much further, rather than just lazily rehashing the first film.

Children are likely to love the mania and humour of this film, and for the rest of us, there are still a few things to like. At one point, Larry fakes his way into the underground storage area of the Smithsonian museum by posing as a security guard, and he runs into a real guard, “Brundon”, played by Jonah Hill. The two have a lengthy exchange, and while the deadpan humour may be lost on some of the younger viewers, it’s actually pretty funny. At another point, as Larry and Amelia Earhart race through the museum, they jump into one of the art gallery’s moving paintings. They find themselves briefly trapped in a war-era black and white painting, followed by their attackers. That segment of the film, though short, is really well done, and it’s so much more original and interesting than anything else in the entire film. It’s one of the moments that saved the film for me.

Another one of Battle of the Smithsonian‘s saving graces is the always delightful Amy Adams, as spunky Amelia Earhart. Her screwball performance feels like a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stale franchise. Bill Hader, another new addition to the cast, plays General Custer, and though he has considerably less screen time, Hader makes the best of it, giving a typically charismatic performance. Ben Stiller is also charming, and his performance (as well as his chemistry with Adams) is likely to please both the kids and adults watching.

Though there are things that I like about the Battle of the Museum franchise, one of my major problems with it is that the idea of bringing historical figures into the modern world has been done so many times before. Take a film like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. It’s not exactly a masterpiece, but they get a lot of humour from bringing their collection of historical figures back to the present, and watching them try to navigate today’s fast-paced world. Night at the Museum is mostly contained within the museum setting, and while they get interest from the characters reacting to each other, they largely miss out on the opportunity of having them deal with the fact that they’re in a world totally different from their own. I also remember a kid’s TV show (I think it was Canadian) called Mentors, where they brought historical figures to the present-day world. It was played more seriously, but it was both more educational and deeper (I remember one surprisingly stirring episode with Beethoven) than Night at the Museum has ever been.

If you’re looking for a harmless family movie, you can do a lot worse than Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian. But you can also do a lot better. It’s got some charismatic performances and memorable moments, but the filmmakers are obviously half-assing it. We see hints of something better than a typical franchise film, but ultimately, it feels a bit musty.

5/10