Katy Perry Plays to Her Strengths on 'Saturday Night Live'

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Katy Perry brought her quirky charm to the "SNL" stage.
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Katy Perry brought her quirky charm to the "SNL" stage.

Katy Perry is charming, musical, quirky and funny, and she did best on "Saturday Night Live" in sketches that made the most of her natural skills. Still not as comfortable live as she is on tape, the "California Gurl" still managed to transfer her fun-loving attitude to the entire cast. The show had a loose, playful vibe all night that elevated good sketches and made the bad ones more forgivable, and a few surprise appearances gave us some of the best laughs of the night.

Best of the Night

It hasn't happened often this season, but "Weekend Update" was the runaway winner of this "Saturday Night Live." Sure, the news jokes were funny and Meyers was at his wry best, but the standouts of the night were his three guests at the news desk. Kristen Wiig tends to recycle characters excessively, particularly on Update, but tonight she rolled out new "flirting expert" Rebecca LaRue. From her very first hair toss she was funny, throwing out every coy smile, giggle and suggestive pose that we gals can both laugh at and sheepishly admit to having used. Of course it's Wiig, so she gradually amped up the role until she practically had her legs wrapped around the Update anchor's head--giving us one of those coveted moments when Meyers finally breaks character with a laugh.

Surprise guest Alec Baldwin appeared next, playing captain of the airline that he recently got thrown off of. He used the role to apologize to his real self--the "American Treasure" who was playing "a word game for smart people." Meyers kept muttering under his breath that he didn't think this was the best way for Baldwin to handle the scandal, which added a whole self-awareness layer to an already funny bit that had the "30 Rock" actor plunging ahead in grandiose self-defense.

Best of all, there was Stefon--a man who inspires cheers from the audience the moment they even think that he's about to be introduced. Bill Hader giggled behind his steepled fingers once again as he introduced clubs featuring "a Russian guy who runs on a treadmill in a Cosby sweater" and a "bouncer who looks like Wilford Brimley" where "the password is DIABETES!" More gem lines included the club that "was opened and condemned in 1904," and holiday character "Menorah the Explorer" as well as feature film "A Fish Called Kwanzaa." Stefon is officially one of the best characters in "Saturday Night Live" history.

Samberg also redeemed himself with a goofy "Saturday Night Live Digital Short" that gradually descended into absurd darkness. Perry turned on her doe-eyed sweetness for a song about two best friends that love doing fun things together. The friendship expands and the activities get more illegal as the duo are joined by a filthy homeless guy played by Matt Damon, and then a crazy scientist played by Val Kilmer--which gave me very pleasant "Real Genius" flashbacks. There was also an evil Muppet and an unfortunate game of Russian Roulette and well...it was a crazy funny Digital Short.

Three cheers for the return of "J-Pop America Fun Time" with Taran Killam and Vanessa Bayer as the young college students whose fledgling talk show focusing on Japanese culture offers a "loving version of racism." Of course Perry had to be a guest, decked out in full Hello Kitty regalia, joining the adorably offensive duo as they bowed, giggled behind their hands, and made random sounds that their long-suffering adviser (played by Sudeikis) assured us was not actually Japanese. The push of this show to an earlier time slot hopefully means we'll be seeing more of it in the future.

Worst of the Night

"Saturday Night Live" brought us the royal family again, with Prince William's parents turning their low-class venom on Kate Middleton for not producing an heir yet. Then Katy Perry showed up as Pippa, apparently using her experience with hubby Russell Brand to try out her own British accent, and getting just as filthy-mouthed as the Queen and Prince Philip. The royal music jam session is usually worth a chuckle or two, and the sketch had a good zinger here and there, but Fred Armisen hamming it up in a skirt is overall just not that funny.

Another late, late night sketch had Kenan Thompson as Al Sharpton on his own political TV show, where he consistently forgot where the camera was and asked his guests nonsensical questions. Perry didn't do so well with the serious pundit role, and it's another "Saturday Night Live" sketch that isn't all that funny unless you've seen the show it's based on.

Final Thoughts

"Saturday Night Live" made liberal use of impressions tonight, in a "Doggie Duty" movie soundtrack sketch and a spoof on the upcoming ensemble flick "New Year's Eve" called "The Apocalypse." Aside from the fact that the players need to update their impressions Rolodex with some more modern stars, kudos still have to go to Hader for both his uncannily spot-on Alan Alda facing world's end ("I strangled a guy for batteries!") and a singing, pants-hiked-up-to-armpits Clint Eastwood. Wiig also nailed a Drew Barrymore portrayal, and musical guest Perry gets major props for her richly warbling, airy-fairy Florence + the Machine impression.

Musical guest Robyn performed "Call Your Girlfriend" and "Dancing On My Own." She added her own quirky style to the "Saturday Night Live" stage with her aggressive dancing, awkward half-somersault, and construction club wear, which featured giant platform work boots, spandex pants, and a sort of vest/tool belt combo. The two dance/pop tunes are definitely music to move to, but all the backing tracks and auto-tuning made it tough to really judge Robyn's vocal skills versus the recordings.

Guest host Perry did struggle at times with her live role, but she made it into two of the best three segments of the night, which is definitely a win in the guest hosting column this season. "Saturday Night Live" actually made use of her singing talents and unique fashion style, which kept her in the limelight where the visiting stars belong. The show had ups and downs, but the lows weren't abysmal and the highs were funny enough to inspire hysterical tears (I'm looking at you, Stefon.) Perry should be feeling pretty good about her guest hosting gig.

What did you think, "Saturday Night Live" fans? Was Katy a hit or should she stick to singing?

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