Written By Mark Henely and Melissa Jouben
SNL Recap – May 7th 2016 – Brie Larson and Alicia Keys
Host – Brie Larson
Melissa: Look, I didn’t know who Brie Larson is. I now know that she is an Oscar winner with a hugely impressive body of work in TV, film, and even music. Going into this episode I didn’t know that and if I hadn’t googled it, I still wouldn’t know. And I don’t want to start throwing accusations around, but it seems like Brie might have been a little underutilized here. There were moments where it seemed like she was finally getting into it, but those moments were always at the end of the sketch (like the pretty fun twist ending of “Quiz Whiz 2018”). Her monologue definitely underwhelmed, considering it was only a springboard for the cast and their parents to get THEIR jokes in. My sister who didn’t watch the episode saw some pictures from it online and asked, “Did Dana Carvey host SNL?” so maybe Brie wasn’t the most memorable host, but I’d like to see her do it again and see if she’s more comfortable making braver choices next time around.
Mark: I, like Melissa, was also underwhelmed by the announcement of Brie Larson as host of SNL. I haven’t seen her Oscar winning performance in “Room” and I only sort of remember her as the famous ex-girlfriend in “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.” I think the main function of the host (aside from being funny) is to be a spectacle that brings intrigue to the show and Brie Larson just doesn’t have the name recognition with me to bring that excitement. Other hosts, like Russell Crowe and Rhonda Rousey, made good on that spectacle (even though both were only used sparingly), so on some level, Brie Larson was always going to be a disappointment for me.
That being said, I thought she did a fine job of being funny. Or, she at least didn’t ever drop the ball. She blended in with the cast and was a serviceable part of the show.
Best Sketch – “Near-Death Experience”
Melissa: I can’t imagine how terrifying it must be for a cast member to break during a sketch, knowing “I’m ruining this and everyone is watching me ruin this on live TV.” But more than that I can’t imagine someone watching at home thinking, “They broke character and now this sketch is ruined.” I love it when the cast members are having genuine, visible fun on screen and it’s always what transforms an otherwise stupid throwaway sketch into something special. Here, there wasn’t an exciting idea in motion, but McKinnon’s character and her dialogue were dynamic. I kept thinking, “It’s hard to believe these three very different women were all on a road trip together. How are they friends?” and the answer, if they were real women, would probably be that they enjoy listening to Kate McKinnon’s character talk.
I would also like to give a quick shout out to the other highlight of the night, which was Pete Davidson’s Weekend Update bit about how his mom defends him against trolls on Twitter. It’s true. I know this because I once tweeted that Pete Davidson looks and sounds like a cross between Ray Romano and Fred Stoller and she responded to tell me I was wrong and that she thinks her son is handsome. I blocked her because I felt bad.
Mark: This is a tough week for me to choose best sketch. While I agree with Melissa that the “Near Death Experience” sketch was fun and that the performances were really engaging, I can’t say it was the funniest of the night. I actually think I laughed the most at the “Hologram Album” sketch. It was a sketch where holograms of old singers perform new songs. It was a dumb sketch that forced the stuffy celebrities of the past to sing the trashy songs of today. The hard part about a sketch like this is that it relies on the audience being familiar with dated celebrities, but I thought it was funny even when I wasn’t familiar with the celebrity being parodied.
Worst Sketch – “Game of Thrones – Jon Snow”
Meissa: I don’t have much to say about this sketch, other than that it was boring. I get the joke, that episode of Game of Thrones was annoying. But so was this sketch a little bit. It seemed like the kind of sketch that should air at the beginning of the episode while it builds to a slow start, rather than towards the end where you’re expecting something a little bit more exciting. Even if I was the biggest Game of Thrones fan and I had reacted strongly to the episode they are parodying, I don’t think I’d be saying anything much different. It was just flat.
Mark: That Jon Snow sketch was rough. I haven’t seen the Game of Thrones episode that they parodied yet, so I had to sit through a spoiler filled sketch that also wasn’t funny. Some of the impressions were really good, but the premise was as weak as could be.
Musical Guest – Alicia Keys
Melissa: I love Alicia Keys. I love her and I’ve missed her. I listened to her first single in four years the day it came out and I was very excited to hear her back in full form. I think the new music is great, I think she’s just as beautiful and talented as ever, and her performances were very much in the style of Alicia Keys – passionate and soulful, soothing, with just the right amount of energy. I looked forward to the musical guest this episode, which is very rarely true. Although I have to say that haven’t looked forward to any musical guest this season more than I’m looking forward to Drake next week.
Mark: I thought the staging was interesting and that she was wearing a cool outfit. I instantly forgot both songs as soon as she finished singing them.