SNL Ranked: Louis C.K. Sends Season 40 Out on a Clumsy Note
This season of SNL has had some definite highs and definite lows (I’ve been seriously questioning the writers’ ability to deliver great material for the female hosts), and the last few episodes have only been consistent in their clumsiness. What began as a strong season has faltered in the final lap, but the promise of Louis C.K. hosting the Season 40 finale inspired some optimism thanks to both his comedic talents and his track record with SNL. Sadly, this week’s outing proved to be as so-so as the last few episodes, resulting in a finale that’s merely half-decent.
Wood PSAs (C.K., Bayer, Bennett, Moynihan, Strong, Zamata)
I’m really glad we’re all still cracking jokes about those old littering PSAs with the sad Native American guy who sheds a single, sorrowful tear. Sad Lumberjack rules. And Bennett’s song for the Sad Lumberjack is so, so great.
Louis C.K. Monologue (C.K.)
When you have a stand-up comedian hosting SNL, the best plan for the monologue is to let them do what they do best: stand-up. Louis C.K., Sarah Silverman and Zach Galifianakis have been the best at performing truncated versions of their routines on SNL in recent years, and C.K. delivers once again tonight. Although the racism and child molester stuff seems a bit risqué, that’s exactly why it works so well. It’s not the sort of humor we see on NBC, so it’s refreshing.
The Shoemaker and the Elves (C.K., Thompson, Bayer, Bryant)
This sketch seems a bit too basic at first — the shoemaker’s magical elves are intentionally slacking, hoping they can convince the shoemaker to “punish” them (read: sexually dominate them). I kept waiting for the hook, but the beauty is that there isn’t one. It’s just so damn delightfully weird, and I completely lost it at the urination joke. The only complaint is that one of those elves should have been Aidy Bryant — it’s exactly the sort of odd sketch you’d expect her to feature in, but unfortunately her appearance is brief.
Police Lineup (Thompson, Davidson, Killam, Mooney, Bennett, C.K.)
Bennett owns this one as one of a quartet of local theater actors called in for a police lineup. I know Killam and Thompson are the SNL’s male MVPs right now, but Bennett is sneaky good and the real gem of the cast. Pairing Mooney and Bennett always works beautifully, and even Killam redeems himself after that bad Weekend Update segment. C.K. does well, but this is 100 percent Bennett’s sketch.
Weekend Update (Che, Jost, Killam, Davidson, Moynihan)
The news segments are solid this week, though Jost seems like real-life version of Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy, carefully reading his jokes and looking expectantly for a reaction. Killam’s Tom Brady is kind of a snooze. Killam’s been featured so heavily the last two weeks that it almost felt like he should have been hosting the show (and I don’t mean that in a good way, necessarily), but he seems off in this segment. I typically enjoy Davidson’s fictional version of himself, but he opens with a tone deaf, outdated sexist joke, and even the audience doesn’t seem to find it funny.
But that’s okay because Riblet rescues the segment. He can do both jorbs. He works real hord. Bonus: Riblet sings Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Riblet is my new Stefon. I’ll be okay if Drunk Uncle never returns at this point because Riblet has eclipsed him.
Summertime Cold Open (McKinnon, Hammond, Ensemble)
McKinnon has truly made Hillary Clinton all her own. I never thought she could live up to Amy Poehler, but she’s proven me wrong by approaching this in the best way possible and establishing her own version of the character. McKinnon’s Hillary has her own quirky mythology — she hasn’t taken a vacation since 1953, for instance, and these punchlines are hilarious because there’s a kernel of truth to them. We also get another visit from Darrell Hammond as Bill, and I have a feeling these welcome pop-ins will become more frequent as we head into the presidential run.
Forgotten TV Gems: Whoops! I Married a Lesbian (Thompson, McKinnon, Bryant, Moynihan)
McKinnon is always perfect in these Forgotten Gems segments, and while “Whoops, I Married a Lesbian” isn’t as great as previous outings, it’s still fairly solid. And I’m always a sucker for Thompson’s Reese De’What and the way he emphasizes his last name.
Cabana (Bayer, Thompson, Strong, C.K., Zamata)
C.K. is not good at this type of character at all, which Dwayne Johnson played to Andrew Dice Clay-esque perfection a few episodes back. But Cecily Strong’s British, gold-digging Gemma was an instant favorite. Unfortunately, due to C.K.’s inability to deliver on the douche bro front, Gemma isn’t nearly as funny this time around. It’s also strange to see Gemma resurrected again so soon. I wish they had waited until they had someone who could play off of her better.
This Is How I Talk (C.K., Jones, Pharoah, Bayer, Bryant)
It seems like C.K. and Jones fumbled a bit there when Jones’s Spring manager caught C.K. imitating the way she speaks. Weirdly, it kind of works as if it were intentional — as if Jones was telling him she didn’t want to interrupt his impression. It’s only one of two truly funny moments in the needlessly protracted sketch. The other is C.K.’s delivery of “on fleek” with his weird, urban-meets-Louisiana cadence. (Side note: I still have no clue what “on fleek” means. I assume it means “on point,” but I also assume that “on fleek” is over now if we’re hearing it used on SNL.)
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