"Saturday Night Live" host Steve Buscemi is a talented actor, well known for his entertainingly quirky and creepy roles in films like "Reservoir Dogs" and "Fargo." He had a few gem performances on the show this week which played to his strengths, but he got pushed aside in other sketches--a definite trend with guest hosts this season on "SNL." Over all it was one of the funnier episodes of the sketch comedy, with even the Digital Short recovering some of its humor.
Best of the Night
The late, post-Weekend Update sketch centering on a sexual misconduct investigation of a school coach was the best of this week's "Saturday Night Live." As a reaction to the Penn State scandal, Coach Bert's actions get looked into not because of evidence, but just because he has that "pedophile" look. (Ask a kid in any school who they think could be guilty of such offenses, and they'll all be able to name someone immediately.) Turns out Bert is not a deviant, but merely a sad and lonely man who has his lame life looked into by several different government agencies. The sketch was more like an offering from a British writer like Ricky Gervais--inappropriate, a little cruel, bitingly satirical and very funny. The double layer on this sketch was it also managed to poke fun at Buscemi being the poster child for creepy, deviant roles because he also has that "look."
Believe it or not, the political cold open with Fred Armisen's Obama was pretty funny, despite the fact that the "Saturday Night Live" player doesn't even attempt to do an actual impression anymore. There were quite a few good jokes in Obama's rant about his mostly "ceremonial position," wherein Congress has become the "Hotel California" for his legislation attempts. The amusing list of people more powerful than the president included Pixar, Pippa Middleton and Oprah--who manages to get an "unread Toni Morrison book" on millions of home bookshelves, and gets people to "believe in angels." The NFL has more clout as well, after all, "Has anyone ever heard of a Fantasy Congress League"?
Andy Samberg redeemed himself with the Digital Short this week. He starred as Batman, complete with rubber costume and ominously raspy Christian Bale voice, who keeps annoying Commissioner Gordon by popping up unexpectedly to deliver tersely whispered crime reports. Samberg was appropriately absurd, and Buscemi played the exasperated-to-indignant lawman well as Batman showed up on a roof, behind the refrigerator door, in place of his wife in bed and then at a prostate exam. You can watch the short at the "Saturday Night Live" website.
Honorable Mention: The commercial for "Frozen Mexican Dinner," the perfect solution to constipation problems, made fun of OTC meds commercials as well as being just the right amount of disgusting. "Also available in 'Indian Food' and 'Fish'!"
Worst of the Night
Kristin Wiig tends to be brilliant or extremely irritating with her repeat characters, and Sue the Surprise-Lover is one of the irritating ones. Here she once again goes over the top with her excitement over a coworker's surprise promotion, and other than her amusing lock-down in a candy machine, the sketch was more uncomfortable and awkward. The other cast members are never given anything funny to do to counter the insanity, and Buscemi was mostly just reciting lines from the prompter.
Usually Bill Hader is the savior of the show, but his "Dateline--Real Life Crimes" segment was mostly just eyebrow-waggling and acting too-interested in crime details. There were a few chuckles over Dateline's annoying use of one photo for an entire segment, and the "ooh-ahh" contest of vocalizations between Hader and Buscemi, but otherwise it fell flat.
The Miley Cyrus show always seems like it should be funnier than it is, but Vanessa Bayer and Jason Sudeikis never seem to scratch beyond the surface jokes of the Miley/Billy Ray dynamic. Buscemi got to be another creepy guy, that Miley "met at Burning Man," but after a mildly funny drug trip of a music video, Buscemi got pushed aside for Maya Rudolph's Whitney Houston impression. Rudolph is always hilarious with her drugged-out pop star who randomly bursts into bits of song, but it felt odd to have the guest host vanish halfway through the sketch.
The Coach Bert sketch made it all worthwhile, and Buscemi made the most of his time on stage. The last sketch of the night, which paired him with Wiig as a bizarre couple hanging ornaments on a tree, has gotten some buzz for its weirdness factor, but it's definitely earned the "love it"/"don't get it" kind of mixed reactions. Buscemi did get to have some fun with Paul Brittain on a "Couples Workshop" sketch, which included suggestions for erotic food art made with cantaloupes and hot dogs.
Weekend Update was on an upswing, with Bobby Moynihan's "Drunk Uncle" character answering Seth Meyer's questions with a bunch of Andy Rooney-like observations and non sequiturs. A highlight of the news segment was a joke about robots who were learning to recognize their own image in a mirror: "But they'll only be human when they learn to hate what they see." Seth seemed amused when his even darker joke about people outsourcing "all the joy of Christmas" because they're "too busy to bother" got more of a horrified silence response than a laugh--hitting too close to home, perhaps?
Buscemi got kind of left out of his own monologue, but it was actually funny as character actors in the audience popped up in the audience to ask the famed "creepy creepy guy" for advice on how to break into mainstream roles. The "Saturday Night Live" cast had fun playing with the "magical black person," "granny who says dirty or hip-hop dialogue," and "hopeless girl from horror movies who can't find her friends" stereotypes from countless movies.
The Black Keys performed "Lonely Boy" and "Gold on the Ceiling," grooving along to their form of nerdy blues-rock--or is it more of a hipster thing? Either way, it's impossible not to tap your foot along to these tunes, and the duo sounds as good live as on their recordings.
The biggest revelation from the episode is that everyone's been saying Steve Buscemi's last name wrong for years, which is not hard to do, as every talk show host and movie voice-over has pronounced it differently. They mystery is finally solved, however, and you can hear it straight from the "creepy guy" here on the "Saturday Night Live" promo.
What did you think, "Saturday Night Live" fans? Which was your favorite sketch? Did the ornament sketch work for you, or was it too bizarre?
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- Steve Buscemi
- Saturday Night Live