TV Recap: Saturday Night Live – Louis C.K. & Sam Smith

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Pre-Show Thoughts

It really goes without saying that Louis C.K. is easily one of the funniest comedians in entertainment. Some might even go as far as saying that he is THE best comedian currently on any medium. He’s on “Best Of…” lists every year, his show is Emmy nominated, and he won the internet by destroying common entertainment conventions. He’s basically a comedic genius. Yet when he hosted for the first time in 2012, the episode was average at best. I had high hopes for a Saturday Night Live anchored by C.K.’s comedic chops but unfortunately those weren’t exactly met. While some might find that surprising, live TV can easily take even the best talent by surprise. Since last night was C.K.’s second time hosting, I believed going on that he’d be able to really knock this one out of the park. As for the musical guest Sam Smith, I literally have never heard of that guy before. Looks like it’s time to educate myself!

Photo Credit: Mary Ellen Matthews
Photo Credit: Mary Ellen Matthews

The Good

The cold open was honestly “eh.” It started off promising but lost its momentum hardcore. As far as I’m concerned, this episode really got going with C.K.’s monologue. The man did what he does best: outstanding stand-up comedy. This was honestly classic C.K. and you can never go wrong with that. He touched upon subjects like first-world hunger, how terrible children’s plays are, how women have had a rough time over the years, and a few others. It was clear throughout the night too that this was the one moment where C.K. felt the most comfortable. This was his material being done in his own way in his own time. While it was clearly obvious that C.K. was going to open this with stand-up, sometimes the predicable option is the best one.

Baby Boss came back again last night. While I thought the first outing several weeks back was so-so, I thought this bit was one of the best last night. Beck Bennett has been one of my favorite new cast members and Baby Boss is really a place where he excels. Seriously, physical comedy on that level is really difficult, especially doing it all live. Dropping to the ground abruptly, excessively stomping your feet, and being able to throw cake right into someone’s face without anyone cracking a smile is not easy to do. The whole bit is absurd and yet people like Bennett can get through it flawlessly. That alone is commendable. It also helps that it’s very, very funny.

Photo Credit: Mary Ellen Matthews
Photo Credit: Mary Ellen Matthews

A brief but amazing gem of the night was Dyke & Fats with Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant. This bit came near the end and was only a few minutes long, but holy crap would I have loved more of it. The joke is simple: McKinnon plays a cop nicknamed Dyke and Bryant is nicknamed Fats. You can all guess why right? I don’t need to explain it? Thank you. What the simple premise allowed was a constant montage of classic buddy cop show antics like chasing perps, showing off pictures of dogs if you’re Officer Dyke, or throwing sausage if you’re Officer Fats. Honestly this paragraph is already longer than that entire skit so I’ll just leave it with this: Bring back Dyke & Fats for some more adventures.

The Bad

Well that was a disappointment of a Weekend Update. Seriously, what gives? Most of the jokes fell flat and the only guest was Jay Pharoah’s Stephen A. Smith. Smith is by far one of the weakest recurring guests. Normally the writing is on point for the Update but for whatever reason this felt like a massive dud. When the rest of the segment is collapsing like a sinking ship, the last think you need is a weak guest weighing everything down. I fully understand that the whole Colin Jost/Cecily Strong partnership needs some time to work, but it honestly looked like someone behind the camera said, “JUST END THIS NOW.” It really ended that abruptly. How can they ever expect Jost to work out if crap like this goes on?

Photo Credit: Mary Ellen Matthews
Photo Credit: Mary Ellen Matthews

Right before the amazing Dyke & Fats was this truly bizarre bit that I can really only describe as Pajama Foreplay. What exactly was I watching here? It felt like this was supposed to be some parody of badly done porn films, but then it was also trying to be some sort of musical. C.K.’s detective really wanted to do it with the pajamas on and Vanessa Bayer’s detective wasn’t exactly game. There was some random robber. C.K. completely broke character at the end by flubbing a line and saying “What?” to the camera. No direction, no joke, just bad.

Sort of midway through the episode there was this pre-recorded bit of C.K. at the doctor’s (played by Mike O’Brien) asking if he might have a Darth Vader action figure up his butt. This causes a bunch of other people in the hospital to ask the exact same thing. This bit was pretty fun throughout but the ending was absolutely terrible. The entire segment is built up to the big ending of the doctor looking at everyone’s butts, and then it ends with nothing. It’s basically, “Premise is up. NEXT SKIT.”

Photo Credit: Mary Ellen Matthews
Photo Credit: Mary Ellen Matthews

Overall Thoughts

You can probably cut this episode of SNL right down the middle in terms of quality. Everything before the Weekend Update was some quality stuff. Sure, not every skit made me laugh uncontrollably, but they were still enjoyable to watch. Once the Update came and went though everything went downhill, Dyke & Fats notwithstanding. Clearly C.K. was doing everything he can with the material given to him by this point but the writing felt really subpar. When you have four minute long segments that revolve around people asking if a Darth Vader figure is up their butts, what else can you say? Kyle Mooney did another pre-recorded bit called Chris for President and that was only okay, and the show ended with a bit that had C.K. rambling through a four minute romantic speech towards Bryant. I didn’t really care for Sam Smith’s performances either. The guy has some killer range but I could barely understand what he was saying on the first song. All in all, last night was a pretty average episode of SNL. It was equal parts good and bad. Definitely not the stellar showing you’d expect when a man like C.K. is hosting, but this is really no fault of his.

Rating: 7/10

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