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The Best and Worst of Last Night’s ‘SNL’ with Andy Samberg

Andy Samberg joins tonight’s SNL cast to say goodbye to the 39th season. It’s a somewhat unusual choice in that Samberg was never a strong live performer during his stint on the series. More importantly, however, he introduced an era of “Digital Shorts,” beloved for their big production values, surreal effects, and celebrity cameos. It was a smart way to bring SNL up to speed in the Internet age, keeping it relevant, giving viewers an opportunity to tap into the spirit of the series on their own time. As we leave 39 behind, it’s still unclear who will be checking out (Nasim Pedrad will be busy with FOX sitcom Mulaney this fall) and which featured players will continue on (did any of them really get enough screen time?). The future is uncertain, but let’s leave those worries behind as we conclude another wildly uneven season with (hopefully) a few laughs.

The Best

“Jay-Z and Solange Message Cold Open”

Solange Knowles (Sasheer Zamata) and Jay-Z (Jay Pharoah) are totally cool with each other. Really. And here’s another PR statement to prove it. It turns out that the elevator footage was just Solange doing Jay-Z a solid by trying to pick a spider off his body. Maya Rudolph makes an appearance as Bey and shows the amateurs how it’s done. Best part: there are no white actors playing African Americans in an SNL opener.

“Andy Samberg Impressions Monologue”

Andy Samberg knows we’ve all been holding our breath waiting for his pal Justin Timberlake to appear, so he cuts right to the chase: the musician can’t join him tonight. He tries to soothe the pain by performing a series of celebrity impressions with the support of Seth Meyers, Bill Hader, and Martin Short (who feels like the odd one out). Samberg admits that during his time on the series, his live sketch performances were never his strong suit — and (spoiler) tonight’s reunion eventually proves that history repeats itself.

“Confident Hunchback”

Samberg’s overly confident Quasimodo hits up the local pub to scope out the ladies, spewing his best pick-up lines. “Cool guy alert: Is it me, or am I great?”

Weekend Update: Bruce Chandling on Summer, Get in the Cage

Someone let Kyle Mooney out of his cage to appear in a live sketch — giving his Bruce Chandling character another go-round at the “Weekend Update” desk. He’s all “Aye-yeah-eh-oh!” until insecurity hits, and things take a dark (and refreshingly different) turn. Next, Samberg appears as Nic Cage with Paul Rudd in an edition of “Get in the Cage.” Samberg says what we’re all thinking about Colin Jost and hits Rudd with some great one-liners (Don’t sass me, Clueless!”). It’s a fun way to cap off an extremely bland run of “Weekend update,” which needs to step up its game for next season. We need more than pretty faces.

“Kissing Family with Andy Samberg”

The Vogelchecks are back — and so are a bunch of former SNLers ready to recreate that old-time makeout magic (Kristen Wiig, Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Paul Rudd, Maya Rudolph). Everyone has a lot of fun swapping spit, Rudd’s tongue deserves an Emmy, and Armisen adorably breaks face.

“Hugs”

Jorma Taccone and Samberg (with Pharrell) give us Lonely Island digital greatness with a jam about hugs. It’s not the strongest we’ve seen from them, but nostalgia helps.

“Legolas at Taco Bell”

“Two Beef Chalupas for this hippie lady.”

The Worst

“Camp Wicawabe”

Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon host their own summer camp talk show. Samberg plays the “bad boy” camper who jokes about butts. This is going nowhere.

“When Will the Bass Drop?”

Samberg plays DJ Davvincii. He enjoys torturing his enthusiastic crowd by refusing to drop the bass. In fact, he does everything but drop the bass — including frying up some eggs, drawing, playing a round of Jenga, and meditating with his sand and rock garden. Lil Jon appears and starts shouting, “Get turned up to death!” Everyone starts to explode. Shrug.

“Kimye Talk Show”

The writers have nothing interesting or terribly funny to add to the Kimye sketches at this point, leaving Jay Pharoah and Nasim Pedrad floundering.

“Blizzard Man”

2 Chainz does his best to bring the energy, but the return of Samberg’s Blizzard Man hits like a warm, questionable breeze. We already know the joke, but that doesn’t mean simply phoning it in is going to cut it.

“Bvlgari”

Can we put this sketch out to pasture yet? The former porn stars rely on mispronouncing luxury Italian brand Bvlgari 100 different ways for funnies, which gets old fast. Kristen Wiig and her fake mustache liven things up briefly — she plays the conjoined twin who “did not get the penis” — but this end-of-the-night routine is a real bore.

Musical Guest: St. Vincent

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