The Best and Worst of Last Night’s ‘SNL’ with Justin Timberlake

Saturday Night Live brought back beloved characters, former cast members, and some of our favorite gags. The resurrection business proved to be a lucrative one for the writers, with Timberlake in top form as host and musical guest — including a special appearance from Jay-Z during a retro-styled performance of “Suit & Tie.”

Fresh sketches didn’t fare as well for the five-time host, who sold them with gusto even when they involved a stupid “sex pig” and one too many dick jokes. The cold open with J.T. doing his best Elton John impression, singing about the wacky exploits of Hugo Chávez, made us wish the singer’s link to an Elton John biopic were a reality.

“There are so many exciting things about hosting five times,” Timberlake told us in his monologue. “You get to see old friends. You get to try new things. You get to inevitably let everyone down thanks to overly high expectations — thanks, Internet!” See if J.T.’s prediction came true in our recap.

The Best

Justin Timberlake’s Five Timers Monologue

If SNL had shut down the show after Timberlake’s five-timers monologue, it still would have been the best episode of the season. Let that speak for the writing issues the show frequently struggles with and the awesomeness of seeing Paul Simon, Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, Alec Baldwin, Tom Hanks, Candice Bergen, Dan Aykroyd, Martin Short, and Mike O’Brien in the same room together. J.T. invited us to explore the illustrious club where the ‘N Sync jokes flow freely (Martin threw Joey Fatone some shade while looking suave in his smoking jacket), the Kristen Wiig cocktail comes with an actual wig, and young cast members snuff each other out in a private fight club. Did we mention that Paul Simon is so tiny we could fit him in our coat pocket? Later, Timberlake got the Three Amigos salute from Martin, Short, and Chase before performing his new singles (“Suit & Tie and “Mirrors”).

It’s a Date

The Bill Hader-hosted dating game skit provided the second part of the one-two punch SNL was going for in their opening sketches. With the nostalgia turned to high, Timberlake and pal Andy Samberg reprised their roles as our favorite ’90s-era R&B crooners of “Dick in a Box” fame, this time playing a set of bachelors competing on the show. Everything old is new again, and SNL reminded us that the Festrunk Brothers (Aykroyd and Martin) were making the same dick jokes before J.T. and Andy were even born. The former “two wild and crazy guys” compete against the smooth balladeers for the heart of an “American fox” (Vanessa Bayer). The DuckTales reference and songs about “romance” were great fun, but was anyone else totally depressed after seeing Aykroyd squeezed into those plaid pants?

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Veganville

The classic Timberlake sketch where the singer dresses as an overly enthusiastic walking “bring it on down to so-and-so-ville” billboard doesn’t appear to be online yet (and probably won’t be due to music rights issues). This time, J.T. dressed as a giant piece of tofu hawking for “Veganville,” competing against Bobby Moynihan’s “Sausage Depot” guy. We heard raps about constipation, tofu burgers and burritos, and smoothies to the tune of “Ice Ice Baby,” Rihanna’s “We Found Love” (in a meatless place), the dreaded “Harlem Shake,” and more. If you’re desperate to see J.T. sing about tofu mayonnaise – and who isn’t, really — watch this cruddy YouTube version to get your fix until a better one magically appears.

Weekend Update: Stefon on Spring Break

Human fanny packs, haunted diapers, outdoor concerts from Zoloft commercials, Donald Duck having a Vietnam flashback: yes, Bill Hader’s Stefon returned to the show last night to give us some spring break tips and wish Seth’s girlfriend dead. We were kind of glad that cranky Chevy didn’t show up to help Seth with the news. Since the show was a big reunion, we would have loved to see an appearance from Don Novello as the chain-smoking Father Guido Sarducci to discuss the recent Pope and Vatican shenanigans.

The Worst

Romantic Comedy

We get the romcom bit, but how many male member jokes did we really need — especially one so incredibly stupid? The punch line just didn’t pay off, even if Fred Armisen’s eyebrows made a great Eugene Levy. For the record: we love Nasim Pedrad no matter what her genitals look like, but we wondered if the writers would stop relegating her to these lame bit parts if she did actually have a penis.

Caligula

The tales of sober Caligula bombed, and even J.T. looked slightly confused.

Maine Justice

This repeat offender just didn’t work for us, despite our appreciation for surreal humor and sight gags. No matter how loud Jason Sudeikis screamed, we didn’t budge.

Musical Performance

Hova gets his jazz on during J.T.’s “Suit & Tie.”