Ben Stiller hosts 'Saturday Night Live': Eddie Murphy is a no-show, but hey, there's Hugh Jackman, Stefon and...Kenny G!?!
Well, that answered that: Eddie Murphy wasn’t ready to make his return to Saturday Night Live, after all. When news surfaced this week that the former SNL cast member could possibly bury the hatchet with his former employers (the upcoming Oscars emcee reportedly took issue with the late night show after David Spade referred to him as “a falling star” in a Hollywood Minute segment in the ’90s) by making an appearance during last night’s show, hopeful fans were left with only disappointment from the Ben Stiller-hosted episode. Disappointment… and Kenny G.
But, even with the possibility of one of the great SNL performers making his long-awaited return to Studio 8H looming in the air, the show felt surprisingly lackluster, right from the get go. (Blame Alec Baldwin and Melissa McCarthy, who set the bar way too high for Stiller to follow tonight.) Kicking off the show, as they often–and, let’s be honest, too often–do with a political sketch, this time featuring Jason Sudeikis
as himself as possible Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Bobby Moynihan as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. The skit didn’t provide much besides invoking every New Jersey stereotype for Gov. Christie, like referring to people as “meatballs” (Moynihan’s Snooki would be so proud) and revealing the truth about his Presidential bid (“Look I’m gonna run in 2016. I just can’t do it now. Let’s just say, I gotta make a couple things go away first.”)
Speaking of stereotypes, Stiller’s opening monologue included a Yom Kippur post-fasting feast with Andy Samberg’s Jewish Willy Wonka (“So, you’re Gene Wilder?” “Yeah, basically”) in which the two dine on things that range from “salty to fishy” and complain that their matzo ball soup is the worst in the city. So not only was it a skit that probably didn’t play well outside of New York City, but one that felt about as fresh as the aforementioned soup. (Uh oh, maybe we really do like complaining!)
Though, if you found the “Jewish food hallucination” bit to be uncomfortable, I can only begin to imagine your reaction to the fake Lincoln Financial Group commercial that followed. There were three throughout the evening, but none quite as horrifying as Jason Sudeikis getting very familiar with his future self on an airplane. The idea for the skit wasn’t necessarily bad per se, it’s just that it was unfortunately executed in a “My eyes, oh ye God, my eyes!” fashion.
Sudeikis–even after performing those ungodly acts upon himself–was this week’s most featured cast member. He stepped into the fired shoes of Hank Williams Jr. twice last night, once during an amusing Fox & Friends skit (although the highlight of that wasn’t Sudeikis, but a list of Fox fact-checking corrections such as “Herman Cain did not invent pizza,” “Vermont still exists,” “Mary Madgalene was not eaten by a dinosaur,” and “Whole Foods does not provide free abortions”) and later asking, or sing-speaking, rather, “Are you ready for some commercials?” Watch the funny Fox & Friends clip below:
Thankfully, he didn’t make an appearance on the “The Best of Two Worlds”, a show hosted by Hugh Jackman (Samberg) in which stars, like himself, show off their action hero side and their theatrical side. After appearances by Mandy Patinkin (Stiller, heading dangerously close to the Oh-right-he’s-still-here host territory that unjustly befell poor Bryan Cranston) and a high-waisted Clint Eastwood (Bill Hader), there was Daniel Radcliffe, played by none other than…the real Hugh Jackman! Only the crowd didn’t react to it that way. In fact, they didn’t react at all. Did they not recognize that it was Jackman or were they still waiting on Eddie Murphy to pop out at any moment? Either way, it felt a bit lackluster. But, Jackman certainly gave it his best, despite the weak material. (Get it, he’s really talking about himself?!) Quick sidebar: How in the world has he not hosted SNL since 2001? The guy has done so much in the past decade! Now including training boxing robots! Stiller can’t even say that. And that guy starred in everything in the ’00s.
Technically, “The Best of Two Worlds” came during the Weekend Update segment when, as I’d predicted/desperately hoped for earlier this week: Stefon and Zoolander met! It happened! And they’re going to a Halloween party together! It had everything, PopWatchers: New York’s hottest clubs (Mmm Hmmmm), Italian reggae singer Rasta Primevera, and Kate Moss (no, sorry, that was just a Pakistani family that cuts in line at Universal Studios!) I know it’s ridiculous to suggest having an SNL character on every week, but I sincerely doubt I would tire of Stefon every week (imagine if he was the Weekend Update anchor instead) or watching the super talented Bill Hader losing it at the utter ridiculousness of it all. (“A shaved lion that looks like Mario Batali” did him in this time.) Yay Stefon, indeed! Watch:
I’d like to think Stefon probably would also attend Under Underground Records’ Columbus Day Assblast, which featured fictional (or are they?!) acts such as Sploink, MC Hammertoe, Baby Nutsack, The Lesbian Forest, Yo Gabba Gabba!, Crucifying Kudrow, and a special a cappella performance by Mrs. Potato Dick. This seemed to be the key to SNL‘s success last night: Not so much the star power of Stiller, rather skits like this and Fox & Friends, and of course, Stefon, listing off absurd things.
Hey, wait, there’s Eddie Murphy! Nope, sorry, false alarm that’s just a Tower Heist commercial.
So, there definitely wasn’t going to be any Eddie Murphy, but there was, at the very least, a surprise cameo than none other than Kenny G. During their second performance (the first was a good, if not fidgety performance of their ongoing ear worm “Pumped Up Kicks”), Foster the People grooved to “Houdini” with the king of adult contemporary. Whether it was intentional or not, Kenny G’s legitimately surprising visit to SNL probably earned more laughs than the terrible deep V-neck shirt digital short, the return of Kristin Wiig’s demented Betty Boop Shanna, or Stiller’s “Bruce Springsteen: Just the Stories” bit. (That’s not to say Stiller doesn’t do an excellent Springsteen, this sketch just didn’t utilize it well enough.) Check out Foster the People and Kenny G’s number below:
In a evening that felt uneven from start to finish, it’s unfortunately fitting that their send-up of Moneyball, now a non-inspiring tale of steroid use called Tinyballs, got placed dead last. This skit, especially Killam’s spot-on impersonation of Brad Pitt (look out, Jay Pharoah!), would have killed earlier in the show. Actually, that’s how the entire episode felt: Despite some solid efforts, it all felt too little, too late. Check out the “trailer” for Tinyballs:
What did you think of last night’s Saturday Night Live? Did Ben Stiller feel a little ho-hum to you, too? When he signed off by saying that this was “one of the craziest weeks of my life” do you think he could have been referring to something having to do with no-show Eddie Murphy? Which skit did you like the best? The least? Share in the comments section below!