The Best and Worst of Last Night’s ‘SNL’ with J.K. Simmons

After his award-winning turn as a fiery music instructor in Whiplash, J.K. Simmons joins SNL for the evening. He’ll always be “that Law & Order guy” to many audiences, but tonight he’ll have his moment in the spotlight. Simmons has done it all, from musical theater to voiceover work. His gruff exterior usually finds him playing intimidating parts (remember, he played a neo-Nazi on HBO’s Oz), but can he conjure the powers of his comedic funny bone for a few sketches? See how it all went down last night, below.

The Best

“J.K. Simmons Monologue Featuring Fred Armisen”

“This is not one of your weird videos!” Simmons tells a drum-playing Kyle Mooney (imitating his turn as Whiplash’s fearsome teacher).

“Totino’s Super Bowl Commercial”

Stepford Super Bowl is real.

“Casablanca”

Simmons and Kate McKinnon have great chemistry as her Ilsa Lund desperately tries to flee on a plane after learning that she’ll wind up in a concentration camp if she doesn’t. Subtle, building to perfection.

“Teacher Snow Day”

SNL has really stepped up its game with the digital shorts. Speaking of shorts, Simmons’ disgruntled principal isn’t wearing any on his teacher snow day.

“Weekend Update”

One-Dimensional Female Character From A Male Driven Comedy (Cecily Strong) is hot and loves football, which is totally confusing (again). Her first appearance made a bigger impact, and since she’s so one-dimensional the jokes are the same. I feel like we haven’t seen Jebediah Atkinson (Taran Killam) in a while, so his Grammy digs were good fun. But Michael Che’s Black History Month spot was the best “Update” segment of the evening (shout out Johnnie Keyes).

“Microsoft Assistant”

“Murder Pushie” should be a real thing.

“The Jay Z Story”

White dudes (who talk like white dudes) play black rappers in a Jay-Z bio drama. I think Mike O’Brien is at his best when things are melancholic, weird, and surreal, but it was great to see him do something different here.

“Career Day”

Dad (Simmons) attends career day, at the horror of his son, to talk about his job as a Japanese messy boy.

The Worst

“Super Bowl Shut Down Cold Open”

I couldn’t tell you the first thing about football, so this sketch went over my head. Happy Super Bowl? I think Key & Peele made this feel a little more inviting to sports newbs and a lot funnier.

“Miss Trash 2015”

SNL loves ganging up on women, ugh.

Musical Guest: D’Angelo