Written by Melissa Jouben and Mark Henely
Saturday Night Live – Kristen Wiig and The xx
The Host – Kristen Wiig
Melissa: I was up and down about this episode in the week leading up to it. As a rule, I genuinely never get that excited about an SNL alum hosting the show. It kind of feels very “been there, done that” and while I usually enjoy the episode, I never get pumped for it. At a point during the week I realized that this would mean Kristen Wiig would be reunited with two of her three Ghostbusters co-stars and get extremely optimistic over that, considering those women have amazing chemistry with each other and putting them together was almost guaranteed to be a good time. Then I remembered that this meant they’d bring back some of Wiig’s recurring characters and I was less excited. Maybe this is an unpopular opinion, but I’ve never enjoyed any of them.
Of course I was right. The problem I have with an old cast member hosting the show is that it can often times feel hostless. You kind of need the host to reign the show in or inform the direction of it. Otherwise it’s just a bunch of buddies hanging out and forgetting what they’re supposed to be doing. The best way for me to explain how I felt watching this is when you’re hanging out with a friend and their co-workers and all they do is talk about work.
This isn’t to say Kristen Wiig isn’t a comedic powerhouse. I admire the hell out of her and I think she, as always, brought 110% to everything. I also really genuinely loved her monologue. It was trademark Wiig from beginning to end, and cameos from Steve Martin and Will Forte, who are literally my two favorite people, helped a lot to not only build the silliness of that monologue but also excite the audience. Seriously, Will Forte! I’ll be excited about a former cast member hosting the show when it’s Will Forte.
Mark: I agree with Melissa’s feelings about recurring cast members that she stated above; I never get excited for a former cast member as host, but I usually love it when they do host. I love the spectacle of super famous hosts like Rhonda Rousey or Russell Crowe, but sometimes it feels like they are just working around the hosts shortcomings. The cliche says that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link and with a former cast member as host, there is no weak link.
I really liked this episode. I thought all of the sketches were pretty funny. And the weaker sketches, the ones that weren’t funny, were at least interesting. There isn’t really a sketch that makes me cringe with how bad it is. That is a rare thing to say for an episode of SNL.
I also liked that there was a lot of Cecily Strong in this episode. It seems clear to me that Wiig loves Strong and I really appreciated seeing Strong take a step back into the forefront again.
Melissa and Mark’s Favorite Sketch of the Night – Whiskers R We
Melissa: Please forgive me for railing so hard against recurring characters and then giving the best sketch of the night to a recurring character. The thing that makes this sketch so good is always the oddball chemistry between Kate McKinnon and whoever is sharing the stage with her, and like I established earlier, Kate and Kristen have great chemistry. Some of the best chemistry! Their general enthusiasm to be performing together and the way they lovingly played off each other, both through dialogue and physical cues, made it very clear how much fun they were having. I’m a sucker for watching the cast have fun, and this sketch was two really funny friends playing with kittens. I also laughed very hard at “she’s as white as a ghost, because she is one.”
Mark: This sketch is fun because it has a lot of layers to it. On the surface, it is just two weird women making bad jokes about cats (which is funny), but as the sketch goes on, the weirdness of the women becomes more and more interesting. Who are these women? Do they live together? Are they lovers or does one pine after the other unrequitedly? I want to know more about these cat lovers and I didn’t think I would want that when the sketch began.
Melissa and Mark’s Least Favorite Sketch – Secret Word
Melissa: I’ve never been a fan of this character or this premise. It’s funny as an idea but it’s never held my interest for a full sketch. Luckily, this one seemed pretty short and was able to find some things to help build around the center premise. I enjoyed the voice cameo from Bill Hader, explaining why his character isn’t there. I enjoyed Cecily Strong coming out following by her dog and then admonishing it and sending it off. But that was all within the first, what, 30 seconds of the sketch? But I’m sure people were happy to see this character again, and I’m sure Kristen Wiig was happy to play her again.
Mark: I think there were a couple of things in this sketch that made it not work as well as it could have. There was a brief graphic in the beginning that designated that the show took place in the 60s, but I don’t think the audience remembered that as the sketch went on. I also think that the fact that Strong was very clearly not making contact with any of her slaps made the entire thing feel a little amateurish. I think she should have just slapped them for real, I believe that Kenan and Bobby could have handled the slaps for real.
Musical Guest – The xx
Melissa: Their stage set up was very cool, I thought. Other than that, I fast forwarded through their first performance after they walked toward each other with their guitars and were like, swaying to very unimpressive music? I don’t know what that was but I didn’t like it. The second performance was better. Their voices sounded better and I wasn’t as put off by their stage presence. I’d never heard of them before, and I’m not clamoring to hear more.
Mark: It’s bizarre that SNL pauses it’s show (a show where everything is mocked) twice a night to have a cool band come out and earnestly play sad songs. I know they have been doing it for decades, but it felt especially weird tonight.
I was also very put off by the way they swayed their guitars and danced as they played. They seem like they might be the worst dancers alive.