It’d be easy to assume that having a legendary, A-list actor with a Big Gulp’s worth of awards hosting “Saturday Night Live” would make for a great episode. Easy, but wrong. Time and time again, “SNL” has shown that host talent has little to do with how funny an episode is.
Case in point: Check out last week’s episode, hosted by Helen Mirren. Now, first off, let us just say that Mirren is a total bad-ass thespian. If acting were concealed handguns, she would be Texas. However, there’s something about her that doesn’t quite translate to sketch comedy. It’s weird: While she’s clearly game for anything–including boob honking and blurred out nudity–there’s something about her delivery that’s not quite there. But we’re here to talk about the celebrity impressions and there were loads last week.
Barack Obama (HAHA ha)
After a few glorious weeks of politics-free opening sketches, “SNL” has defied us and gone with their old standby: Barack Obama talking to the camera. The results, predictably, are kind of like watching a week-old rerun of “The Daily Show.” Hasn’t this all been commented on already?
James Franco (HAHA), The Kardashians (HAHA), Ricky Martin (HAHAHA), Will Smith (HAHA), Helena Bonham Carter (HAHA), Tim Burton (HAHA), Johnny Depp (HAHAHA) and Muammar Qaddafi (HAHA)
Holy freaking impressions! “SNL” seems to be having a clearance sale on celebrity impersonations and, unfortunately, they’re looking pretty picked over. Four of these characters (Franco, the Kardashians, Will Smith and Qaddafi), have been in pretty heavy rotation in recent weeks. We’ve got to imagine that Fred Armisen is getting sick of wearing that Qaddafi robe. As for the others, Taran Killam was pretty good as Ricky Martin, though he wasn’t onscreen long enough for the character to really do much. Helen Mirren’s take on Helena Bonham Carter was really more of a costume than anything else. We get it: She’s got weird glasses!
Mary Shelley (HAHAHA)
This sketch wasn’t exactly a revelation, but we’ve got to give “SNL” credit for doing something that wasn’t A.) a fake chat show or B.) a fake news report. Having an actual sketch with an actual setting and actual characters is something of a rarity these days. And it was pretty funny! Helen Mirren plays up the primness as Mary Shelley (the author of “Frankenstein”), while Fred Armisen does a great job as her sad-sack landlord, who has more than a passing resemblance to the book’s monster. Side note: Did you know that in the actual novel of “Frankenstein,” the monster is really smart and well-spoken? Weird.
The Cast of “Fox and Friends” (HAHAHA ha)
We’re excited to see a sketch consisting entirely of newer “SNL” cast members! Taran Killam is coming on strong in his first year on the show (he was all over Saturday’s episode) and is great as a smarmy Steve Doocy. Vanessa Bayer seems like a vet at this point, and does a great job playing up the fake outrage as Gretchen Carlson. Bobby Moynihan, who plays a chagrined Brian Kilmeade in this sketch, is always hilarious. Always.
Franklin D. Roosevelt (HAHA), Eleanor Roosevelt (HAHAHA ha), Marilyn Monroe (HAHA ha) and Teddy Roosevelt (HAHAHAHA)
This sketch has gotten the most press of any this last weekend, thanks to a First Lady on Marilyn Monroe make-out scene involving Helen Mirren (as Eleanor Roosevelt) and Abby Elliott. The joke here is that we’re watching a preview for a miniseries about the Roosevelts that’s pretty rife with historical inaccuracies. Bill Hader and Helen Mirren are fine as Franklin and Eleanor, but it’s really Paul Brittain, as a terminally nerdy historian who did NOT enjoy his time on set, who steals the show here. Also, we love Kenan Thompson’s Teddy Roosevelt. Why is he black? We don’t know!