SNL with Elton John: Best and Worst Skits?

For a self-proclaimed (bleep) who hadn’t been “back” to SNL since 1982, host Elton John invigorated Studio 8H with great sentimentality and sincerity last night. Sure, Horatio Sanz didn’t reappear to dress as Elton for a reunion makeout with Eminem, but it’s fair to say that special guests Carmelo Anthony (!), Jake Gyllenhaal (!!), Tom Hanks (!!!), and duet partner Leon Russell (whose snow-white beard is a waterfall of exclamation points) made up the difference. Yes, Saturday night was all right for funny — and the easiest pun in western civilization. Let’s recap the best and worst skits:

Best: Monologue
John left his glitter and grandiosity backstage for a straightforward monologue, choosing to muse about his marriage to David Furnish, having a baby, and naming Lady Gaga as his son’s godmother. Strange to see the shameless John adopting Henny Youngman‘s hand gestures like a hack comedian, but that’s what made it endearing and surprising: John’s old-fashioned delivery was an act of modesty, not contrivance. Best line: “The doctors told us we had a healthy boy with ten fingers, ten toes, and $400 million dollars.”

Best: Knights of the Realm
When British celebrity knights gather to address a dragon attack on the UK, what’s accomplished? Fine caricature performances that re-instill my faith in the cast’s commitment to enjoying itself. Elton John is a riot as Elton John, Bill Hader scintillates as the unhinged Richard Branson, and game guest-star Tom Hanks steals the scene as a time-consuming Michael Caine. Andy Samberg’s Bono impression is bizarre, but it also earns a tepid thumbs-up.

Worst: Laser Cats, the Musical
Super Bowl commercials, Katy Perry singles, and SNL digital shorts that bank on cliched goofiness are always unfortunate. In this clip, Tom Hanks pitches a musical idea to Lorne Michaels about “laser cats,” futuristic beings who shoot lasers from their eyes. The chintz is the gag, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling disappointed in the underwritten proceedings. I suppose I admire Elton John for retaining composure through the painful senselessness.

Worst: Weekend Update
Some intern must’ve forgotten to cue up Seth Meyers’ teleprompter with the proper rewrites, because “Weekend Update” was the grimmest it’s been in weeks (though I adored Kellogg’s new dye-free cereal “Beige Loops”). Andy Samberg’s Nic Cage impersonation was not as explosive as the appearance of guest-star Jake Gyllenhaal, who was likably puzzled here, but it certainly topped Kenan Thompson’s catastrophic zookeeper bit. The cobra fight was a KENAN AND KEL-level disgrace. I half-expected Kel to run onstage in GOOD BURGER regalia and bludgeon Kenan and the snake with a bottle of orange soda. Sad.

What did you think? Did you find Elton’s hosting gig sweet and blithe, if not hilarious? Did you adore or despise Laser Cats? What about the marathon shot-putter sketch? And did Leon Russell’s beard remind you of, say, this? Leave it in the comments, follow me on Twitter at @louisvirtel, and read me regularly at Movieline.com!

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34 Comments
  1. Kelly says:

    Are you kidding? Laser Cats is always awesome! It’s supposed to be bad. Plus, the random spiderman in the background made me laugh soo hard. I had to pause the show to regain composure.

    • Leslie says:

      I forgot about the random Spiderman, that was pretty hilarious! While this sketch didn’t garner the belly laughs that my hubby and I had for some of the other sketches—it rocked just because Tom Hanks was involved!!

  2. IrishSurfer says:

    Not to be too picky, and I admit that it’snot a huge thing, but…

    Bono is Irish – from the REPUBLIC of Ireland. Not British/English.

    Really annoys me when that happens, and it happens a lot. It’s like saying all Canadians are American. Except, worse.

    • R.H. Golem says:

      Bono was granted an honorary British knighthood by the Queen in 2007.

      • fmhvfv says:

        You must be really good at Trivial Pursuit but Bono is Irish nonetheless.

        • KD says:

          That’s irrelevant. The point of the sketch was that they were all celebrities that have been knighted, not that they may or may not have been British.

        • brian says:

          Your point about Bono’s being Irish is completely irrelevant. Making it again doesn’t change that. He’s a knight of the realm.

    • Proud American says:

      All Canadians are Americans. They are a part of North America.

      • andrew says:

        I don’t Canadians would appreciate that. It’s like saying all
        the people in South America are Brazilian. North America is
        the continent. Besides, My relatives are Canadian and proud of it.

        • Maryb says:

          No, Andrew, it’s not like saying that at all. Look, anyone who lives on the continents of North or South America are, by default, Americans. It’s like saying people who live in France or England are also European … because they are! The fact that the citizens of the United States of America (of which I am one) are also called Americans doesn’t negate that fact. Muddies it perhaps, but doesn’t negate it. It would be nice to have a better moniker for the USofAers but I can’t think of one. At least then we wouldn’t be slammed as arrogant for hogging the name American all to ourselves. But then we also get slammed by indignant relatives of Canadians who think being called American is a horrible thing. Frankly, I’ve lived in the United States all my life and never once confused a Canadian or Mexican as a citizen of any country but their own. Get over yourself, already.

  3. Leslie says:

    I don’t watch SNL too often anymore, but this one was pretty good. The Laser cats sketch had me sitting there with a goofy WTF??? grin that just diminished over time—but the shot-putter sketch and the Knights sketch had me LMAO! I didn’t expect a whole lot out of Elton comically, but I must say, he was very funny and endearing.

    • chillydogs says:

      Very funny show! The shot puts brought to you by KY Jelly were too funny. When the “queen and prince philip” made fun of Elton John’s songs, that was hilarious. And the spiderman and hostage taking of Wilson was the funniest part of laser cats.
      Overall good – and surprising that a big star like Elton John would be having so much fun, but he seemed to enjoy it too.

      • Bibba Botts says:

        SNL was very good and funny, I enjoyed every minutes of it. Updates is always the best part and it was funny and brilliant. Seth is a sparkling presenter, great as usual. I love SNL, I wouldn’t miss it for anything even if comes on late, I love watching it. The jokes are real good stuff..too bad the audience sometime don’t understand the real humor.

  4. Joe says:

    SNL ripped off the concept of the the Knights sketch from Brian K. Vaughn’s screenplay Roundtable which is set up at a studio. They should be ashamed of themselves and the writers who stole that idea are scum.

  5. Christa says:

    One of the funnier SNLs of late. Loved that Elton poked fun at himself and totally went for it in every skit he was in. It was funny to see the Queen and Princes make a return visit. Leon looked a little lost, and that made me sad.

  6. Jaded says:

    I thought Elton was terrific, although the writing wasn’t great. One of my favorite parts was Elton riding in on a UNICORN

  7. Jaded says:

    I thought Elton was terrific! The writing was not great, but I loved seeing Elton ride in on a UNICORN in the last skit–too funny!

  8. OriginalK says:

    This weeks SNL hosted by Tom Hanks with musical guest Elton John had it’s moment. Hanks was great in the shot-put sketch, playing Will Fotre’s just as clueless brother. It was also nice to see what had become of Wilson.
    John, on the other hand, didn’t have a comically redeeming moment. He never stepped out of his comfort zone, clinging to gay jokes and music. He also flubbed as many or more lines than Robert De Niro did earlier this season.
    As for the cast, Bill Hader was great once again. His tough guy Prince Charles next to Fred Armisen’s Queen was quite funny. Kirsten Wig was on the other end of the spectrum, with a repeatedly forgettable mutant with doll’s hands.
    Overall, it was one of the weaker episodes of the season.

  9. Betsy says:

    I’m a little freaked out. I heard someone say that there’s a bear here, or somebody with bear hands!! I’d better get out of here!!!!

  10. IMHO says:

    I don’t agree at all with this statement: “Andy Samberg’s Nic Cage impersonation was not as explosive as the appearance of guest-star Jake Gyllenhaal”!! Jake was rather bland in his appearance, I even wondered why the real Jake was even there! As usual, Andy was superb!! His impersonation of Nick Cage was spot on!! I also loved the “Beige Loops”…wonder when they’ll be on the shelves? Oh, wait, they are already…they’re called Cheerios!

  11. Steph says:

    You do know that Laser Cats is an old SNL sketch that they brought BACK last night, right? It isn’t anything new. It’s SUPPOSED to be horrible. I think you missed the point there.

    As for the rest of the episode, I loved it. I thought Elton John was great and the surprise!Tom Hanks was definitely appreciated – he was hilarious.

  12. Peter says:

    Yeah, I gotta disagree massively with the Laser Cats position. It’s hard to believe the series of sketches can still be funny by the sixth incarnation, though it does help that they keep roping in certain celebrities for it.

  13. rac76 says:

    I watched the ‘Laser Cats’ clip, and I couldn’t stop laughing. It was so stupid that it was funny. I’m still laughing as I’m typing this as it was amusing, and Elton John looked like he was having fun. And in the end, that’s what matters. :-)

  14. Lee Harvey says:

    Laser Cats is supposed to be bad and it always is.
    The “jizz” line in the Knights of the Realm sketch was the best line of the night.

  15. Ka says:

    I thought Elton John was funny..and I thought to myself,,, I think it was the first time I ever heard him speak….. I love the surprise actors….. and I caught spiderman in the Lazar cats…which was dumb…lol ..oooooooh.. and Kenan is NEVER EVER FUNNY…..he is the worst out of all the cast…

  16. Just Wondering says:

    I don’t see a link to clip I’m asking about, so I’m going to try to put up a youtube link to it – it’s the part of the show where they do a parody of the preparations for the British Royal Wedding where the King and Queen are pretending to be posh. Anyway, they sing a song at the end of it and I’m trying to figure out the name and who sings it. Does anyone here know? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ML5YCaLFLnA

  17. Dude says:

    I know Laser Cats is supposed to be bad and that that’s the humor in it, but this Laser Cats wasn’t good (even in the bad way its suposed to be). This Laser Cats was kind of a dud, but I love the other Laser Cats.

  18. Midori says:

    SNL doesn’t use teleprompters, they have always used cue cards. So this review is a failure.

  19. Rich says:

    Being in the audience with my wife and son Saturday Night was great and it was amazing to see all the special guests. Watching the show since the beginning it has lost a lot of the great writing. It was very interesting what my son was laughing at and what my wife laughed at. I think they went a little too overboard with Elton’s sexual orientation in the skits. I do have to say that after the show all the SNL cast was very gracious and were very happy to take pictures and speak with us which was the thrill of the evening.

  20. strawberry forever says:

    I am also trying to figure out what the song was in the elton john/royals skit. Sex Pistols? Clash? I thought that skit was a bit of fun and I loved the dancing at the end.

  21. Evesl says:

    How did no one notice will forte came back! I love will and it made me sad no one cheered!

  22. KRav says:

    I thought it was mediocre, Elton John was himself in 2 sketches and neither was funny. He looked like he was ill, his monologue was the best part. The’ve gone to the Laser Cats well one time too many.

  23. Dianna says:

    This was one of the best SNL’s? A classic. Can’t imagine how they got all of those powerful people to appear. Elton was having fun and it was fun to watch. My husband and I were laughing so hard that I cannot wait for the re-run.

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