Jim Carrey’s hosting stint on Saturday Night Live could have easily gone awry. The comic’s signature style had its heyday in the ’90s, and Carrey hasn’t starred in a live-action hit since 2008’s Yes Man. So when he signed on to host SNL, it raised a question: Would the show rely on Carrey’s penchant for antics, or find some other use for him? The answer is both, delivering a consistent–and consistently weird (in a good way)–episode that showed Carrey can do more than flail around and contort his face. Though he’s still pretty good at that, too.
Still, the episode got off to a mediocre start. As Carrey’s dire “Helvis” monologue rolled around, it looked like viewers were in for a train wreck. But then a string of enjoyable sketches helped the show pick up speed. Carrey often stole the spotlight, though he was also willing to share it with the cast and even let them poke fun at him. It all started with the night’s…
Carrey’s trilogy of parody commercials, based on Matthew McConaughey’s Lincoln car ads, were the biggest surprise and delight of the night. The first two outings really kicked the idea into gear, and the third delivered an inspired crossover with the ever-present Dennis Haysbert Allstate commercials. It all came together as a smart concept with a perfect sense of escalation.
Song rights sometimes prevent NBC from posting some of the show’s best sketches. (The lack of a legal copy of Bruno Mars’ Michael Jackson sketch still haunts me.) But that isn’t the case with last night’s parody of Sia’s “Chandelier” music video. SNL‘s take wasn’t necessarily uproarious, but it was perhaps the night’s most delightfully strange moment, as Kate McKinnon and Jim Carrey engaged in a dance-off inspired by the video’s now-famous moves. Mileage may vary based on how much you enjoy Carrey’s antics, but this skit deserves to be watched just to see McKinnon and Carrey give it their all.
The Carrey Family Reunion draws from the same comedy well as a certain Christopher Walken-led sketch, but that doesn’t stop this new iteration from being funny in its own right. Despite a wasted Jeff Daniels cameo, nearly every cast member’s impression of the comic is hilarious, and more importantly, they all seem to enjoy doing it. For my money, Killam’s take on Jay Carrey and Beck Bennett’s “hands on hips” approach are are the MVP Carreys for me.
The episode’s momentum came crashing to a halt with its take on the zombie apocalypse. While Carrey hitting Pete Davidson with a fake baseball bat is a GIF I would watch for hours, everything else felt off. Carrey’s cue card reading was stilted, the jokes fell flat at nearly every punchline, and the group of survivors never had a chance to do anything all that interesting.
After several sketch and Weekend Update cameos, the hilarious Leslie Jones finally debuted as an official cast member last night. While the show only provided her with one substantial role, it was a pitch perfect use of Jones’ talents. As the skeptic scientist on a paranormal investigation team, Jones imbues the bit with such energy and sharp timing that it makes you forget how much of the sketch barely comes close to her hilarity.
Best Musical Moment
Warning: I am not much of an Iggy Azalea fan. Yes, I listened to “Fancy” a few dozen times this summer like we all did, but she hasn’t been in regular rotation in my Spotify otherwise. That being said, her “Fancy” and “Black Widow” medley (are two songs enough for a medley?) with Rita Ora was a solid performance, especially when Ora appeared for the second half. At the very least, it should cause “Fancy” to get stuck in your head for at least another week or two.
Best Sketch to Revisit If/When Jim Carrey Returns
Paul and Phil are just a couple of ghouls who don’t quite fit in with their beyond-the-grave counterparts. This sketch never does much with its premise, but Carrey and Killam are perfectly paired as ghosts who are more adorable than they are spooky.
Best Ebola Joke
The disease enjoyed more airtime than some cast members tonight, but Killam’s suggestion that those living in red states should avoid polling booths to avoid the disease (except for Latinos, who are immune) was a brilliant and surprisingly biting concept. Who knew the show still had some smart political satire left in it?
With the only funny beat of Carrey’s monologue, Bobby Monyihan appeared early and often enough to absolutely steal the show. Really, the return of Drunk Uncle would have been enough to earn him this honor. And even though we were robbed of it, the embarrassing uncle’s latest outing does make me hopeful we will see a Michael Che/Drunk Uncle conversation at some point.
– Pete Davidson was relegated to the background for much of the show, but he pops up at the end of the Carrey Family Reunion in a Riddler leotard. Can we get a sketch revolving around that character please?
– The “Chandelier” sketch actually had some great jokes in it, mostly thanks to the otherwise absent Aidy Bryant. Her best retort when Vanessa Bayer’s character mistook her normal outfit for a Halloween costume? “No, I’m just a woman trying her best.”
– Puppy in a suit alert! In an otherwise ho-hum dating show sketch, the adorable dog was a cute and much needed bright spot.
– The night’s last sketch felt like a variation on the Retired Porn Stars sketch, with Bayer and Cecily Strong awkwardly hawking an item, this time, sexy Hunger Games Halloween costumes. I’ve been trying to get the idea of a “sexy tracker jacker” out of my head all night.
– Drunk Uncle’s best Halloween complaint? “Can you put some goji berries in my Dropbox please?”