It doesn’t seem possible that Bruce Willis has only hosted Saturday Night Live one time in his lengthy career (back in 1989). There have been about 16 Die Hard movies to promote since then, though Willis doesn’t seem the type of guy who needs to break his neck promoting things. He’s Bruce Willis, that tends to be enough. Maybe that’s why no one really knew what to expect out of this show. While Willis is definitely a funny guy, he is a consummate straight man. I was not expecting such a high level of comedic commitment and I certainly wasn’t expecting a Michael Kors impression.
Last night’s SNL had a miss or two, but it was pleasantly original, showcasing a few new featured players and giving the more seasoned cast leaders a chance to settle into their veteran roles without the pressure of millions waiting to see if Miley rips up a picture of Sinead O’Connor. Willis himself is a litte short on celebrity beef right now. In fact, he didn’t even have anything to promote. He was just there to [boy dance] party!
Willis played an excellent parody of himself in this wannabe-Bond meets Zero Dark Thirty sketch. Though he was assigned to sit and wait in the van during an upcoming mission, Willis envisioned his call to duty with a little more pizazz. It involved a lot of kicking in doors and hidden knives in boots. The sketch also served as a good opportunity for Beck Bennett to give the role of “guy who perches on desk in front of other guys” left empty by Jason Sudeikis, a try. Success!
An unintentional Eddie Murphy impersonation from Jay Pharoah, a quirky character for Willis, and the extra on the far left whose face literally did not move for three minutes made for a pretty funny sketch. Willis’ Terry just can’t quite get the hang of “shop talk.” Funnier than his non sequiturs though, was Terry’s confidence that his conversation contributions were just as interesting as “chocolate nipples.” “You know who’s pretty in a real small way? Helen Hunt.”
Listen, I like Taran Killam’s arms as much as the next girl and vividly remember laughing at him screaming “GLICE?!” at a cherubic Justin Bieber, but the domestic violence themes in the Overprotective Brother sketch were a little too much. It was also Willis’ weakest sketch of the night, as he tends to get kind of whispery when he tries to play…not himself (see also: Michael Kors impression). Killam yelling out “Thank you, I need boundaries!” though, was the rare case of SNL ending a sketch better than it started.
On the Pulse of the Nation Sketch
SNL Writer’s Room: “Alright, we’ve only got the rental on these space suits for 48 more hours, let’s get in as many Gravity references as possible this week. And how do we non-depressingly talk about the government shutdown? I know! A cold open with Kenan Thompson as the only essential custodian left at NASA, taking phone messages from two astronauts about to float off into the galaxy. Let’s get Kate McKinnon with a Ukrainian accent in there too, just for kicks.”
Best Musical Moment
Katy Perry isn’t always known for vocals when belting her power anthems live, but belt she did on “Roar” in her first performance of the night. That song is just so damn catchy. Filling the stage with furries and a jungle backdrop was a good way to make the number seem like more of a production on SNL’s petite stage, as well. It was surprising that Perry didn’t make an appearance in any sketches, but perhaps she was as scarred by the Elmo shirt she wore the last time she hosted as I was.
I Don’t Know What’s Happening But I Think I Like It Sketch
Something about these end-of-the-night Good Neighbor-esque shorts that Kyle Mooney and Beck Bennett are doing is working. Last week’s sketch where Kyle couldn’t quite close the deal with Miley was odd but pretty funny, but this week’s emotionally engaged beer pong bit really clicked. Roller coaster design, pen pals, choose a lizard, and custom baseball card are the kinds of high stakes drinking I can get down with. “Bounce and blow” rules are for chumps.
Cast MVP, Old & New
It’s got to be the host. Taran Killam, Bobby Monynihan, and Vanessa Bayer did a good job of leading most of the sketches and moving things along, but Willis played a surprisingly varied number of characters and seemed to be game for anything, including “shaking that sack” in the guaranteed-to-go-viral-in-an-hour “Boy Dance Party.”
What happens when ladies leave men alone to watch football? They dance! Silly but catchy.
Brooks Whelan hasn’t established his own voice in the last three weeks quite as much as other new players, but he got a good bit tonight playing himself explaining his regrettable tattoos on “Weekend Update”. “Oh yeah, 17-year-old Brooks, you’ll love the Red Hot Chili Peppers forever. Those lyrics will never grow tiresome!” Cecily Strong also did her best yet next to Seth Meyers, tossing Kardashian jokes back and forth and crossing the line with NBC pages.
Best Line of the Night
Really anything from the Beer Pong sketch got me, but Bennett and Mooney’s deadpan delivery on the roller coaster rule was killer.
“Alright, just a few more rules. If you guys bounce it and we swat it back and it lands inside one of your cups, you have to design your ideal roller coaster.”
“Grab some markers and some colored pencils and just start drawing. Disregard the laws of physics and create the coaster from your wildest dreams.”
“If we like it enough, we’ll put it up on the wall.”
– Bobby Moynihan was hilariously enthralled by Willis’ mission predictions in the Navy Seals sketch: “Uh oh, wait – is the bodyguard big?!”
– “I’m going to say that Janet from Space called, and I’m going to say that this is very important. OK, all set, y’all have a good day now!” Always what you want to hear from the custodian you need to guide you back from space.
– “24-hour Energy For Dating Actresses” is a pretty niche market, but watching Michael O’Brien chug a pony keg of energy drink while “actors” scream “Anything Goes” in his face was entertainment for the masses.
– Bruce Willis continues to keep his harmonica playing skills under tight wrap in the super-short monologue. Are shorter monologues for non-comedian hosts a new rule of thumb now?
– That Lady Gaga talk show can be a one-time thing but it did get us a solid Aidy Bryant line: “What the hell?! I’m a high school principal, I cannot look like this!
– “In the olden days, the ladies stayed at home and boys went to work. Now it’s time for the ladies to get out so the boys can stay home and TWERK.” This episode was a definite boys club but watching Bruce Willis booty pop with the younger guys of SNL was worth it.