Written by Melissa Jouben and Mark Henely
Felicity Jones & Sturgill Simpson Headline First SNL of the New Year
Host – Felicity Jones
Melissa: Poor Felicity! Her nervousness during the monologue was palpable. At one point while she was walking out I was afraid she was going to trip. Having a Star Wars-inspired hologram message from Tina Fey was an absolutely perfect direction for the monologue to go. It was entertaining, it took all the heat off Felicity Jones, AND Tina Fey got to live out what I assume was a lifelong dream to be a Star Wars hologram princess. I thought that although Jones was nervous and her dialogue always a bit stilted, she did a fine job. The focus was never fully on her so she could fall back from the pressure a little bit, and she seemed more comfortable as the show went on. If she ever hosted a second time, I bet she’d knock that episode out of the park.
Mark: I didn’t think Felicity Jones brought that much to the table on this episode. She was mostly used as a minor character in each sketch and she didn’t really have a sketch where she was the star. She was perpetually a utility player.
Melissa’s Favorite Sketch – Susan B. Anthony
Melissa: This sketch is a really good example of taking a simple concept and executing it well. A group of women touring Susan B. Anthony house summon her back to life so they can thank you for her life’s work, and then awkwardly try to avoid having to continue talking to her when they realize she isn’t going away. The performances are what really make the sketch – Kate McKinnon’s childlike enthusiasm as Susan B. Anthony, trying to show the group of women the objects around the house that mean a lot to her, like her desk, or her little shoes, was a joy to watch and worked in juxtaposition to the women feigning enthusiasm. It also works on two levels: one being a commentary on the disengagement women seem to have from feminism that isn’t always convenient, and the other being a reminder that not every hero from the past was perfect.
Mark’s Favorite Sketch of the Night: Donald Trump Press Conference Cold Open
Mark: Amid doubts that Alec Baldwin would want to continue playing Trump in the new year, Baldwin did indeed come back with a firey sketch that reminded me how great Baldwin’s Trump can be. I felt like the last couple Trump sketches since the election have meandered a bit with SNL trying to figure out what to do with Trump, but now that Trump is back in the public eye, belittling reporters, they have a lot to work with.
When Donald Trump gets angry and fights with people, the SNL cold opens get a lot better. Please note: This is NOT a fair trade. I would trade all of the great Donald Trump cold opens for another President, but, I have to recognize SNL when they do a good job.
Worst Sketch of the Night – Movie Interview
Melissa: This sketch could have been something. And to be fair, I don’t think it was nothing. It just didn’t deliver anything that really blew me away. I could have chosen “Theatre Donor” as the worst from the night, but at least that had some entertaining attempts at physical comedy that made the sketch livelier than this one. “Movie Interview” is an interview with the director and stars of a film about how Donald Trump’s election impacted their movie and their performances. The movie is called Hot Robot 3: Journey to Boob Mountain. I think if there’s anything that could have made this sketch better is if they had more footage from Hot Robot 3. I think I just wanted to learn more about Hot Robot 3.
Mark: Movie Interview is a parody of the interviews on Fandango.com. I have never watched one of these, but I assume that they are puff pieces designed to sell movies. Sometimes they have to sell a bad movie (i.e. Smurfs 2), but the still have to make it sound good. I think there is a lot of comedy in that premise, but I feel that this sketch fell short. I think they either needed someone to break and admit the movie was bad or they needed to get even more deadpan with it. It was almost there, but I felt it rode the middle a little too much.
Musical guest – Sturgill Simpson
Melissa: I’ll be very honest and say that I didn’t like it so I turned it off. Sorry! I usually really like the country acts they book on the show. I’m kind of already sick of them this season though.
Mark: Listen, like Melissa, I am not a country music fan (other than a little Johnny Cash here and there), but Sturgill Simpson and his band absolutely crushed it. They were jumping up and down, there was a trombone solo, Simpson threw his guitar on the ground at the end of the second performance. Usually, SNL kind of slows down toward the end of the show, but Simpson used his second spot of the night to put on an absolute barn burner (I feel this cliche is appropriate for a country music performance). If I was a performer in the last sketch of the night (which was very quirky), I would have been a little intimidate.