We're not gonna lie: We had low expectations for "SNL" this week, thanks in large part to host Gwyneth Paltrow, who's been getting on our nerves a lot recently. But the episode surprised us! Thanks in large part to some of the new cast members (and a surprisingly good take on Taylor Swift's singing voice from Ms. Paltrow), the show pulled off some really funny sketches. And the celeb impressions: There were so many! "SNL" hit us with a deluge this week, from the brilliant to the…not so terribly brilliant. Let's run down the best below.
Cable news hosts Greta Van Susteren, Sean Hannity, Michelle Malkin, Glenn Beck, Rachel Maddow and James Carville (HAHAHA)
The problem with doing impressions of politicsy/newsy people is that you can really only make one sort of joke: "Look, this person that you usually see being professional and polished is acting crazy!" While Kristen Wiig rocked the house with a fantastic impression of Greta Van Susteren's leer, the whole sketch was weighed down by interchangeable impressions of Sean Hannity, Michelle Malkin and Glenn Beck. Eventually, Bill Hader spiced things up with his James Carville impression (which we've seen like a million times at this point), but it can't save the sketch. Also: if someone wants to create a petition for "SNL" to cut it out with the political opening sketches, we'd totally sign it.
Kenny Rogers (HAHAHAHA) and Dolly Parton (HAHAHAHA)
Usually, the host's opening monologue is a bit of a throwaway. There's the inevitable movie plug, a bit of gentle mocking of their persona, a few fake audience members and the throw to commercials. Bor-ing. But against all odds, Mrs. Chris Martin manages to make it work, playing off her own cluelessness about country music to humorous effect. Of course, it doesn't hurt that Jason Sudeikis is doing an awesome Kenny Rogers impression and Kristen Wiig stops by with a dead-on Dolly Parton.
Taylor Swift (HAHAHA ha), Jay-Z (HAHAHAHA ha), Alicia Keys (HAHA), and Katy Perry (HA)
Okay, so the effectiveness of this sketch is blunted slightly by the fact that it's parodying something that happened 4 years ago. Still, the concept is sound: A bunch of famous singers perform at a Bar Mitzvah, altering the lyrics of their hits to be Judaism-centric. The results are mixed: While Gwyneth Paltrow can by no means pull off a Taylor Swift impression, she does a great job mimicking her singing style. Jay Pharaoh, who has trotted out his Jiggaman impression before, does such a good job sounding like Jay-Z that it is literally not even funny. You just watch it in awe. From there, things get increasingly rocky: Nasim Pedrad doesn't have much to work with for her Alicia Keys imitation, and Abby Elliott just sort of goes through the motions with her Katy Perry.
The Rent Is Too Damn High Party Dude (HAHAHAHA)
Pretty much nobody would know who we're talking about if we said "Jimmy McMillan." But mention the dude from that viral "The Rent is Too Damn High" video, and at least the 5,800,000 people who saw it will be on board. Keenan Thompson does a great imitation of McMillan's speaking voice, but really, all he has to do is wear that beard.
Christina Aguilera (HAHAHA), Cher (HAHAHA ha), and Chaz Bono (HAHA)
We'd like to think that "SNL" is better than this. The joke here is that nobody has seen Christina and Cher's movie, "Burlesque," including the actors themselves. So why throw in a cheap shot at Cher's transgender son, Chaz Bono? Also, while we love Nasim Pedrad and Bill Hader, those impersonations are lazy as s***.
Will Smith (HAHAHAHA)
A message to Jay Pharaoh: We love your Will Smith, Denzel Washington, and Jay-Z impressions, but Come ON! You've done them, like, three times each and you're not even halfway through your first season on the cast. Time for something new, maybe?
Kevin Garnett (HAHAHA)
No sooner said than done! Jay Pharaoh doesn't really do a lot in this Kevin Garnett impression, but damn does he look like him (though, we'd assume, with sturdier knees). Still, this sketch is awesome--a parody of Spanish-language ESPN anchors stealing our English catchphrases. ¡Hay que blooper!
Eliot Spitzer, Christiane Amanpour, Heidi Klum and James Patterson (HA)
Ugh. Another political parody in the same episode? We can't even…no. And a message to Gwyneth Paltrow: Heidi Klum talks nothing like that.