TV Recap: Saturday Night Live – Tom Hanks and Lady Gaga

Written by Mark Henely and Melissa Jouben

SNL Logo

Host: Tom Hanks

Mark: Tom Hanks is a great movie star. He feels like a warm, happy man who also happens to be an incredible actor. Seriously. I bet if you looked through his page, you could pick 20 Tom Hanks movies that you love (Mine are listed below).

I loved seeing Tom Hanks host SNL. He uses his star power and talent to bring real gravitas to each sketch and he makes the whole show feel special. And that is what I want in a host. I want someone who feels larger than life that makes you want to tune to see what they are going to do.

Also, his monologue was adorable!

Melissa: The ninth time in, we’re not watching Tom Hanks on SNL to see how he’ll do. He’s Tom Hanks. He’s going to do what he does and we’re going to love it, because there’s never a reason not to love Tom Hanks. I don’t even care if this was his best performance or his worst – that’s not what you’re paying attention to. You’re just enjoying the experience that is living and breathing at the same exact moment in time as Tom Hanks. Can you imagine what it’s like getting to work with Tom Hanks? This may be his ninth time hosting, and he may be getting older and more tired and maybe he’s less spry than he was that time his monologue was him falling to the ground, dead, and then floating around the studio as his ghost, but for some of the cast and crew who have never had the opportunity to work with him, I bet this experience was unforgettable. Kyle Mooney asked him to sign his VHS copy of Bachelor Party! How cute is that? Maybe I’m thinking about the behind the scenes of working with Tom Hanks way too hard. The point is, did he do well? Absolutely. Was his monologue clever? Of course it was! Was his impression of Ron Howard bad? I don’t care. It’s TOM HANKS.

Photo Cedit: Will Heath/NBC
Photo Cedit: Will Heath/NBC

Mark and Melissa’s Favorite Sketch of the Night: “Haunted Elevator”

Melissa: Have you heard of our lord and savior, David S. Pumpkins? “Haunted Elevator” sees a couple going on an elevator-themed theme park ride where the elevator operator stops at each floor of a 100 floor building to reveal something scary haunting each floor. Or something scary on 27 of them. The rest of the floors are occupied by one David Pumpkins, an affable man in a suit covered with pumpkins, accompanied by his “b-boy skeleton” backup dancers who do all the work while Mr. Pumpkins just steals the scene. The theme park patrons might be in the weeds with David Pumpkins, but I was not. I can’t tell you how enjoyable it was to watch Tom Hanks pull off a suit that busy and command that character. Bobby Moynihan and Mikey Day’s dance moves in those skeleton costumes were impeccable. The song that plays (I like to imagine it’s called “David Pumpkin’s Lament”) is some kind of weird techno funk song that has no words but was stuck in my head for hours. The idea behind this sketch is so simple, and the execution was admittedly a little simple as well – the real payoff is in the fact that like it or not, you’re never quite done with David Pumpkins. Is he still David Pumpkins when he’s not working the haunted elevator ride? I want to know his mythology. I want to know who those skeletons are to him. Are they his friends? Does David Pumpkins command an army of skeleton dancers to do his bidding and be his henchmen? Look – I watched the sketch three times already. I’m a huge fan. This is the kind of Halloween-related content I need more of.

Mark: This sketch plays off of an unusual duality in the way that Halloween is present. It is a duality between the scary and the cute. At Party City, one can buy severed hands and fake bloods as well as paper plates with smiling vampires on them. Hanks’ George S. Pumpkins is the living embodiment of the cute side of Halloween. I loved that this sketch took the George Pumpkins, the cutest side of Halloween, and turned him into the scariest part. It’s very clever and very funny.

Photo Credit: Will Heath/NBC
Photo Credit: Will Heath/NBC

Melissa’s Least Favorite Sketch – “Cockpit”

I’m going to say that this was the worst sketch of the evening and I have a very good reason. It gave us something I’m sure we were all kind of hoping for – Tom Hanks as Sully Sullenberger. But where it let me down was in the fact that pretty much anybody who wanted to see Tom Hanks play Sully could have written their own Sully sketch and it would probably be the same as this. It didn’t deliver anything, really. Sully returns to fly a plane for the first time since the Miracle on the Hudson and finds that he’s been reduced to co-pilot because he hasn’t flown in a while. He gets jealous of the real pilot and the attention he’s receiving from plane passengers and tries to sabotage them to win the passengers over. It didn’t even get a lot of laughs because it was very short and it hit on all the notes you would absolutely expect it to. The one thing that I can say about it was that I liked having Alec Baldwin play the pilot. There’s something about using him that added some kind of weird authenticity to it that I can’t accurately describe.

Mark’s Least Favorite Sketch of the Night: “Funny New Comedy”

Mark: “Funny New Comedy” is a big “Fuck you” to CBS. The premise is that even though CBS has the highest rated TV shows, they are insecure about not winning awards, so they are going to make a 30 minute drama that they label as a comedy to pick up awards in the comedy section of the Emmys. I don’t know what show they are parodying and I am not convinced a show like that also exists. It feels like this sketch was written by the president of the network and they filmed it as a favor to him.

Photo Credit: Will Heath/NBC
Photo Credit: Will Heath/NBC

Musical Guest: Lady Gaga

Mark: Lady Gaga put a lot of effort into here performance tonight, and I was on board for a little while. Then, halfway though the first song, she laid on the ground and writhed around for a bit while an overhead camera tried to catch her bizarre poses. I found that whole part very unsettling. What was that? Was that supposed to be sexy? Was that supposed to be emotional? What was she trying to do?

Then, the question of, “what was she trying to do” colored the rest of this performance and the the performance of her second song. What was she trying to do? Why was she wearing a pink cowboy hat? Is she trying to go country? These don’t sound like country songs, but it looks like she is trying to capture a country flair. Why would she want to do that? She is Lady Fucking Gaga; she is cooler than country music. Or, at least, she was before she was flirty friends with Tony Bennet. I don’t understand this at all.

Melissa: I haven’t heard her new album yet, and I was excited to get a sample of it by watching her on SNL rather than actually listening to it. I’ve been hearing really positive things about it and I’m not a big Lady Gaga fan, but I was curious to give this one a try since I’ve heard she’s branched out in terms of her style and sound. Honky Tonk Gaga was great! I liked the performance and the production of the whole thing. I like that weird moment when her dancers were pretty much laying on the floor holding her microphone in place and tilting it from side to side. I liked when she pulled out a guitar, pretty much just for effect? I didn’t really get the part where she crawled around on the floor but I liked the point-of-view shot. The other song, with her at the piano, was great too. I’ve always enjoyed it when Lady Gaga sits at a piano to sing because she has a great voice that sometimes gets lost in background noises, at least for me. To sum this up for me: I liked Lady Gaga, but did you see that Solange is the musical guest when the show comes back in November?

20 Tom Hanks Films Mark Loves (In No Particiular Order):
A League of their Own
Toy Story
Toy Story 2
Toy Story 3
Cast Away
Road to Perdition
The Terminal
Saving Private Ryan
That Thing You Do
Captain Phillips
Catch Me if You Can
The Green Mile
Forrest Gump
Bridge of Spies
Saving Mr Banks
The Simpsons Movie
Sleepless in Seattle
Sully (Note: Mark has not seen Sully. But, c’mon, everyone loves Sully! He landed that plane on the Hudson!)

Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.