So last night saw the return of the prodigal Will Ferrell to Saturday Night Live to handle hosting duties. We noted earlier in the week that we were kinda worried about how this might play out — there’s no doubting Ferrell’s comedic talents, but ultimately, the show sinks or swims on the strength of the material he’s given to work with. And we have to say, after a promising start, the whole thing was surprisingly lackluster, a collection of overblown skits that — with a couple of notable exceptions — simply weren’t especially funny. Check out the best and the worst after the jump.
Joe Biden and “George”
The show’s opening skit was clearly a pretext for giving Ferrell a chance to reprise his George W Bush impersonation, but while Bush is these days an easy and somewhat obsolete target, the premise of this skit — Joe Biden having an imaginary friend called “George” living in his closet — was pleasantly absurd. And anyone who’s actually spent some time in political circles will know how infantile it is — something that this sketch does a decent job of satirizing.
Ferrell (and his fellow oddballs) nail the awkwardness of the embarrassing drunk guy who always insists on standing up at weddings/anniversaries/dinners. There’s something Python-esque about this sketch — it recalls The Visitors, where a bunch of increasingly bizarre characters appear and lay waste to an ostensibly respectable event.
OK, this didn’t involve Ferrell, but it was the best (and, not coincidentally, the shortest) of the skits not involving the host — much better than the star-studded Bieber ‘n’ Cera montage that dominated much of the show’s mid-section. The punchline is outlandish, sure, but the premise — a mysterious “Almost Pizza” that’s almost pizza but isn’t for certain unspecified reasons, is pleasantly sinister and menacing. And not entirely far-fetched, either.
The Mother’s Day skit
Kinda drippy, and dragged a bit, too. Perhaps there’s a lesson to be learned here: for comedy to work, it has to be at least remotely believable. Having said that, mind, the gag about the fact that the host spends his entire time reading other people’s words is perhaps more appropriate for this episode than even he imagined.
The Nasaflu skit
One joke, and not an especially funny one at that. Ho hum.
The 2012 Funkytown debate
A promisingly absurdist premise — a debate on the economy of Funkytown, set in the context of a funk-centric ’70s variety show — but the quality of the writing just isn’t high enough to make the idea work, and the whole thing feels flat and pointless.
Two songs from Usher? Really? Hahaha, that’s hilarious! Usher! Remember him? Now, any minute now, Will Ferrell’s going to appear on stage with his cowbell, and… nope, it’s really just Usher performing two songs. Um. OK.