Melissa McCarthy will do anything for a laugh.
Fans have known that since Bridesmaids (or, really, Gilmore Girls), and over the past few years she’s become a box-office star who is known for her intense, all-in characters that dominate both the screen and the discussion following the movie. So it was no surprise she’s been a reliably great SNL host the previous two times she hosted, and last night was no exception. If the episode as a whole felt underwhelming, it was only because expectations were sky-high — and laughs-wise, there was an emotional goodbye full of favorite friends to contend with as well.
McCarthy caught viewers off guard right off the bat, appearing in the cold opener as a Broadway performer tapped to perform at the Super Bowl Halftime Show. I’m guessing this skit will be among the most divisive of the night. I personally liked it simply because it wasn’t yet another stale political opener, and, not for nothing, if Broadway wanted to start having a Super Bowl halftime routine, I certainly wouldn’t complain. (Of course, performers like Beyoncé and Prince already bring a level of spectacle to the proceedings that no musical could hope to contend with.) It wasn’t the funniest opener of the season, but it beat last week’s ice-skating Olympics sketch, and it was nice to at least see a couple silly original characters — the most random being Kenan Thompson’s Ben Vereen.
But the cold opener was merely an appetizer for trademark McCarthy. In her monologue, the host pointed out she really didn’t have anything to promote, and that she simply enjoys being on the program. Perhaps the randomness of it all led to the most WTF monologue of the year, with McCarthy and Bobby Moynihan in a feud that needed to be resolved by an onstage fight – in the air, on wires. Check out the results (So many in-air summersaults!) below:
Of course, no matter how fun McCarthy was, the real buzzy moment of the show was always going to be the final Weekend Update moments for Seth Meyers. It seemed likely two particular faves would drop by for the fond farewell, and so it was a not-unexpected treat when Stefon Meyers (Bill Hader) and Amy Poehler showed up. (As great as the duo’s appearance was, was I the only one a bit disappointed we didn’t get a final “Really?! with Seth and Amy”?) Poehler gave Meyers advice about life beyond the desk; Stefon reminded an emotional Cecily Strong that she hadn’t even known Meyers for that long. BTW, do you know what a human DVR is?
Most fans would have been satisfied by those two old friends, but Andy Samberg also showed up to wish Meyers well — as did a last-second Fred Armisen by way of former Gov. David Patterson. Breaking with tradition from most departing cast members, Meyers directly addressed his departure, emotionally thanking fans for their support over the years. “This is the job I always wanted, and I had the best time,” SNL’s second-longest performer explained. Watch below:
Meyers’ farewell is the sentimental choice, but in terms of more traditional sketches I’ll go with “Women’s Group.” A one-joke premise — at girly lunch, lady announces plans to kill — was elevated by McCarthy’s commitment to the joke. A couple good sight gags, such as the vision board posters and McCarthy’s pratfall through a window, were solid touches that made it a memorable addition to the “McCarthy Is One Intense Lady” oeuvre.
I’m a sucker for “Girlfriends Talk Show”: Aidy Bryant is a really fun, original character (“I’m dating the woman I’m becoming and I love every moment with her”), and Bryant and Cecily Strong play particularly well off each other. Add in a lovable, game host (McCarthy), and the always-bubbling-under-the-surface weirdness of the two teen’s friendship comes out. Getting a non-school-aged guest was a smart choice to make the recurring sketch seem at least a little fresh, and, to the surprise of no one, McCarthy totally sold the bit, expected lines (“lei”) and all.
Immediately following the high point of the episode, this skit set in an art museum killed the energy fast. McCarthy was an outspoken janitor who interfered with a live-art exhibit, ultimately fighting with an actress portraying Frida Kahlo. To its credit, I could see the potential hidden away behind one of the paintings or something, but the barbs weren’t funny enough to make up for the sketch’s dumb plot.
I’m giving it to Seth Meyers. Yes, he only appeared in Weekend Update tonight, but a.) It was the best part of the episode, and b.) As many have noted, he’s so ingrained in the DNA of the current show it’s very hard to imagine the program without him — even if a lot of his work was behind the scenes. As Amy Poehler said in her send off, “You’ve been the heart of this show for over a decade.” What will the Colin Jost era look like? Only time will tell.
Best Musical Moment:
Kendrick Lamar crashed Imagine Dragons’ first performance and proved once again why he was robbed on Grammy night. Unfortunately, that performance isn’t yet available online, so here’s Imagine Dragons with their other song from last night, “Demons.”
Best Listicle By Way of Song:
High school students Kenan Thompson, Jay Pharoah and Sasheer Zamata perform the original song/school presentation “28 Reasons to Hug A Black Guy Today.” Jazz? Slavery. The song had a much-needed edge, and was certainly one of the highlights of the night. Bobby Moynihan’s clueless student — “I hear what you’re saying and that’s real hip/ but allow me to play devil’s advocate” — was an added bonus.
-Best Commercial That Doubles as a Valentine’s Day Reminder:
-Representative/Coach Kelly is back.
-“Coincidentally, I also have yogurt.”
-“ Latino Bert”
-“Devil’s Dandruff” “New England Clam Powder”
-“ See you guys on Sunday and don’t forget…to watch the game.”
-“Pass the mash!”
-“The Japanese daredevil Yolo Ohno”
-What does Justin Bieber have to do for us to get another look at Kate McKinnon’s impression?