‘SNL’ Impressions Recap: Well This Is Awk-berg

Allow us to introduce you to our favorite breed of “SNL” host: the secret comedian. Secret comedians are actors or TV personalities you don’t normally associate with ridiculous mugging until they, without warning, bust them out in a surprising turn of hilarious. Brian Williams, Amy Ryan, Jon Hamm and Charles Barkley are all textbook secret comedians. Alec Baldwin used to be a secret comedian until people started YouTubing his old “SNL” hosting appearances and word got out. Our point here is this: You may know Jesse Eisenberg as that autistic dude in “The Social Network,” but he was totally funny on “SNL.” Like a shorter, tickier Andy Samberg, he could really deliver in all types of sketches–from an awesome ad for “El Shrinko,” a penis-shrinking cream, to a bizarre blaxploitation parody called “Blackenstein.”

Oh, also there were celeb impressions.

Michele Bachmann (HAHA)

We’ve already harped enough on “SNL”‘s obsession with political cold-opens, so allow us to move on to another gripe: the one-joke sketch. These are sketches, like this one, where there is literally one joke repeated over and over for four minutes. No escalation, no mounting tension, no misdirection: just the same sight gag repeated ad naseum. And the worst part is that there is so much to parody here! You are taking literally the craziest Congressperson since Preston Brooks (who beat up a fellow Representative on the floor of the House. Really: read your history books, people!)–and failing to find more than one thing to make fun of about her? Lame.

Mark Zuckerberg (HAHAHA)

OK, this wasn’t so much an impression as it was a set-up for the real Mark Zuckerberg to make a surprise, awkward, cameo. And boy, was it awkward! When you cross Eisenberg, who is jittery enough as it is, with Nerd Emperor Zuck, you’ve got a recipe for tons of uncomfortable pauses. We also loved Andy Samberg’s interjection: “Awk-berg!”

Mr. Wizard (HAHAHAHA)

Okay, here is where you see Jesse Eisenberg’s secret-comedian side in full force. While Bill Hader is great as Mr. Wizard (an ’80s throwback for old-school Nickelodeon fans), Jesse Eisenberg and Nasim Pedrad steal the show as a pair of kids first discovering their own sexuality on air. Side note: Where have we seen Eisenberg’s wig before? Call it, friendo.

Tyler Perry (HAHAHA ha) and Hosni Mubarak (HAHAHA)

Weekend Update is “SNL”‘s primetime for celebrity impressions. They delivered two this week. First was Kenan Thompson, who doesn’t exactly impersonate people, at least not in the traditional sense. Instead, he’s of the Andy Samberg school of impersonations, which believes in dressing like the person and starting off the sketch by saying “Hi! I’m ______________.” Kenan does that this time as Tyler Perry, who apparently is not too heartbroken over his Oscar snub.

Fred Armisen, for his part, prides himself on doing a huge variety of voices and disappearing into characters. Not that we have any idea what Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak sounds like, but we’re pretty sure he nailed it.

Special Bonus Sketch

Okay, it wasn’t exactly a celeb impression, but we loved this parody of MTV’s own “Skins.”