'Saturday Night Live' recap: Jesse Eisenberg enjoys some good sketches and Mark Zuckerberg
Saturday Night Live didn’t waste any time in making good on the rumor that Jesse Eisenberg might play host to a special guest: Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg showed up during Eisenberg’s opening monologue. (“I invented poking.”) The multi-billionaire — whose life, as depicted in The Social Network, helped score Eisenberg an Oscar nomination — admitted to the actor that the movie was “interesting.” Turns out playing awkward wasn’t much different from just being awkward, even with Andy Samberg thrown in doing his Zuck impersonation. At the end of the show, Zuckerberg reappeared during the entire-cast bye-bye, and hugged Eisenberg. Zuckerberg’s message was clear: What do I care what people think of me? I’m rich!
Timely material? Two sketches qualified. The night commenced with Kristen Wiig as Michele Bachmann, doing her State of the Union response all over again. Gee, she continued to look at the wrong camera — ha, ha. Later on, there was a Skins skit that played off the fact that the MTV show is shedding advertisers right and left. The notion of inserting product placement into the show was minimally funny — the best part came at the beginning, with Samberg playing MTV’s head of programming as a blithely ignorant doofus.
A Mr. Wizard’s World parody featured Bill Hader as the long-time kid-show scientist, with Eisenberg and Nasim Petrad as a pair of students who took the time-honored balloon-rubbing-to-demonstrate-static-electricity exercise into sexual territory. It was a one-joke sketch made amusing by Eisenberg’s horny concentration and Hader’s studied irritation. (As a cheap-sex premise, it worked better than the night’s close-out moment, Eisenberg and Samberg as nerds plugging “El Shrinko,” a penis size-reducing pill.)
Hader was the hero of the night, as he proved with another appearance as out-of-it, elderly TV newsman Herb Welch. Eisenberg was the plucky victim of Welch’s aimless microphone-bashing, while Jason Sudeikis, as the news show’s anchor, had to put up with Herb insults such as “Why don’t you sit on your jacket and I’ll do the news!” Once again, Welch faked his death at the end of the sketch, only to live to to be seen in the future. Please.
This week’s “Digital Short” was a lot of fun: John Waters introduced “Do The Creep,” a music video featuring Andy Samberg and his Lonely Island collaborators dressed as variations on… John Waters, complete with pencil moustaches. Nicki Minaj joined in on the hiphop dance track that had a vigorous snap. The short had great visual energy, and I think I’d listen to the track even without the visuals.
Another home-run hit was “The Bride of Blackenstein,” a supposed lost 1972 blaxploitation classic that featured Jay Pharoah playing Dr. Frankenstein with the voice of Bootsy Collins (Pharoah turned the sketch into an instant homage to Parliament’s The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein), Kenan Thompson as the monster, Eisenberg as Igor, and music guest Nicki Minaj doing a fine, fine job as the Bride with a booty everyone was eager to ogle… including Hader as a jive-talking pitchfork-carrying citizen. Everyone was terrific — the characters distinct and well-conceived.
In her two performances, Nicki Minaj, appearing first with a wig that looked like a cotton-candy explosion, and a second time with her “Blackenstein” wig still in place, was clever and adroit.
Overall, definitely an above-average week for SNL. The best moments — the Digital Short, the “Bride of Blackenstein” — made a strong argument for the show to cast aside its recurring characters more often, and go with new, untested material.