Ryan Reynolds may have been the host of Saturday Night Live last night, but music guest Lady Gaga provided the most notable, if not the most entertaining, moments. Carrying on what is now a mini-tradition, Lady Gaga said a four-letter word (“Dancing to that s— on the radio”) during her first song. She also appeared in one of Kenan Thompson’s periodic house-music sketches. Gaga and surprise-guest Madonna conducted a little cat-fight that had less to do with humor than with Madonna literally trying to fend off the latest usurper to her dance-music-queen status:

Other celeb sightings: Scarlett Johansson during a fake-commercial for “porcelain fountains,” and Elijah Wood in an Andy Samberg Digital Short, a hiphop parody that was arguably the funniest thing of the night:

Yes, SNL did acknowledge the David Letterman scandal via two jokes by Seth Meyers on “Weekend Update” — the 48 Hoursproducer attempted a Stupid Human Trick, he said, and after sex, Letterman says “Stay tuned for Craig Ferguson.” Ha. Ha.

At this point in its history, SNL is more about itself than about the comedy. New cast member Jenny Slate was present, with no harm done after her accidental expletive last week. Darrell Hammond’s appearance as Arnold Schwarzenegger during “Update” was a good performance, but more notable for the fact that Hammond, who no longer appears in the opening credits of the show, turned up at all. New regular Nasim Pedrad was amusing as the wife of Fred Armisen’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The most elaborately produced sketch was “So You Committed A Crime And You Think You Can Dance,” which contained some taped elements. The only time I laughed, though, was upon seeing Bill Hader’s silent Phil Spector as a judge.

Bonus points to a well-thought-out PBS parody in which supposed actors from Oslo (including Reynolds, Armisen, and Kristen Wiig) performed, excellently, a cop drama with accents that invoked yet surpassed old “Wild and Crazy Guy” sketches. Points detracted for the Family Feud sketch about John and Mackenzie Phillips whose only laughs came from Jason Sudeikis’ slick host.

But it all came back to Lady Gaga: Her second song featured her wearing what looked like part of a big Slinky. For her, the spectacle is more important than the music (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Still: The biggest suspense of the night turned out to be whether she could sit at the piano wearing her getup, and the awkward moment when she had to take off her sunglasses in order to continue (“Hello, SNL,” she vamped weakly).

Even the final comic moment was reserved for Gaga — dressed in her bubble-suit, she, not Reynolds, got to have a precious few moments of screen-time shared with exec producer Lorne Michaels. Like I said, SNL is all about the inside-maneuvering of SNL than it is about comedy so far this season.

What did you think?

(Here’s the Lady Gaga “s—” performance of “Paparazzi”: warning: language)