Last we saw Justin Bieber, Jon Hamm’s Sergio the sax man was grinding all over the pop star for SNL’s 100th digital short. The singer returned to the show last night, playing double duty as host and guest, delivering a plethora of winks, bright smiles, and wide-eyed charm. Bieber proved he wasn’t afraid to poke fun at himself — and even issued a kind of, sort of apology for his dalliance with marijuana in the Miley Cyrus sketch. Music fans got a stripped down, unplugged version of “As Long as You Love Me” and “Nothing Like Us,” which wasn’t as entertaining as his self-deprecating moments (the strongest when he was mostly out of character). It was nice to see Kenan Thompson win an episode for once, and Bill Hader briefly popped up to save us from some of the blah. Here are a few of the best and worst highlights of the evening. Tell us if they gave you Bieber fever, or if we got it all wrong, below.
Justin Bieber Valentine’s Day Monologue
Biebs’ hair was enormous, and he played up the cute, young, and dumb. Flirting with audience members, he handed out roses for a Black History Month/Valentine’s Day mashup celebration. Kenan Thompson amusingly helped him out while he breathily moaned inaccurate, uncomfortable facts like: “Girl you’re driving me crazy… but did you also know that Denzel Washington invented the peanut?” Best part: Whoopi Goldberg showed up and made us miss her stand-up comedy without even trying.
Weekend Update: Corey
During Weekend Update, Seth took a dig at Honey Boo Boo’s mom, and Bayer and Armisen’s whispering friends sketch felt more like a clip from Portlandia, but Kenan joined Meyers as One Black Guy — yes that one black guy in every television commercial. He’s “cool, but not threatening” and forced to give Seth a high-five every 12 seconds to ward off death. The hyper positive character told Seth he’s been busy playing drums on top of a Pringles can and “hanging out with Hispanic girls with bangs and thrift store outfits, and white guys who dance while wearing fedoras.” They all live in “the one clean part of Brooklyn.” It was pitch perfect with a creepy, zombified edge.
Valentine’s Day Message from Justin Bieber
Worth it for the dirty pics part alone: “Check your email, Hillary Clinton.”
One of the best sketches of the evening is weirdly not online yet. Jason Sudeikis played Bieber’s head of security. He gathered a gaggle of impersonators for added protection — 12 decoys (played by the cast) who were supposed to look exactly like the singer, but didn’t. Beiber: “Some of them are black, they’re not fooling anyone!” Sudeikis: “Neither are you, homey.”
The Miley Cyrus Show: Fan Club
This one wins a spot with the best for the weed apology and Vanessa Bayer’s “butthole” joke, channeling the recent episode of Girls.
The Californians: Runaway
Not even the triple-quadruple cut to Bill Hader’s puckered puss could save this sketch from feeling played out, but at least that part made us giggle.
Bravo TV Shows
The segue from fake, annoying Bravo show to show was impressive, and we did laugh at A Coppola Coconuts and The Sh*theads of Salzburg (Bill Hader saving the day again), but it all felt too easy and stale.
This was just one of many sketches in which Bieber played an awkward, shy teen for laughs — and probably our least favorite. We appreciated Taran Killam’s manic energy, but the screamy performance — centering on Bieber nervously botching an introduction to his girlfriend’s wacky older brother (“Glad/Nice to meet you,” became “Glice to meet you”) — was only funny for a hot minute. Was Bieber breaking character because he actually thought it was funny, or was he just totally uncomfortable being that close to another man?
The Grease spoof couldn’t hold a candle to another teen troubles skit, Principal Frye: Valentine’s Day (below, and not the worst) — which found Biebs as the president of the school’s abstinence club. His girlfriend (Nasim Pedrad, who we wish SNL would utilize more) “chewed through a fence” after watching the virgin teen wash his car. Jay Pharoah’s Principal Frye broke up the one-noteness of some of the sketch, even if his best gag is, “Attentionteachersandstudents.”
On the Fence
Super Bowl Blackout Cold Open
The Super Bowl parody got funnier as it went along, mostly because Kenan relentlessly promoted 2 Broke Girls — who don’t actually look like broke girls, he tells us.