SNL with Ed Helms: Best and Worst Skits?

SNL often feels like The Hangover Part II; fun and nervy, yes, but an unnecessary retread of ideas we already enjoyed years ago. This week was no exception, as host Ed Helms led a night of half-baked sketches and under-utilized ladies, begging the question, “What up with that?” (Yes, Kenan Thompson reiterated the sentiment in song several times.) Luckily, the best two skits of the night were undeniable successes. Let’s review:

Best: The Ambiguously Gay Duo
Ace and Gary, the animated twosome with enough questionable affection to light up a superhero-themed discotheque, haven’t graced our screen in years. This week, the Robert Smigel “TV Funhouse” bit graduated to a new level of cool, becoming a live-action adventure starring Jon Hamm and Jimmy Fallon as the titular crusaders, Steve Carell and Stephen Colbert (Ace and Gary’s original voices) as their wicked foes, and one highly suggestive eel. The flashy innuendo was electric! Or a moray?

Best: Ann-Margret Tries to Throw Away a Wad of Paper in a Trashcan
We all saw Bridesmaids this weekend, right? Because we’re great people who love all-lady ensembles and the vaudevillian prowess of Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph (not to mention the Damages-grade ferocity of Rose Byrne)? Wiig’s spirited thrusting and jiving as ’60s sexpot Ann-Margret topped off a night of tepid sketches with a surprise blip of greatness, proving that every so often, SNL can overcome its bland reputation and show off a little carnal knowledge.

Worst: Generic Republican Advertisement
Have you heard that Republicans hoping to compete against Obama in 2012 are mostly white males between the ages of 45-60? Good. You could’ve written this sketch. Ed Helms’ one moment to hog the camera (besides his equally drippy monologue) was a flat commentary on the G.O.P.’s chances next year. Schlock-‘n-yawn.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Could you believe the real Lindsey Buckingham (and Chris Colfer, oddly) showed up for “What Up With That”? Were you angry that the “Corn Syrup Producers of America” short — a rerun — was replayed so early in the episode? Were Paul Simon’s musical performances the night’s best moments? Sound off below, follow me on Twitter at @louisvirtel, and read me regularly at!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Daniel says:

    I think the writers and powers are saving their mojo for Timberlake/Gaga next week.

    That said, this was an atrocious episode. High points: Ambiguously Gay Duo redux; Paul Simon; heck, even What up with that was kinda decent–and when that’s gem original sketch, you know you’re in trouble. (The real) Lindsey Buckingham showed up, and I enjoyed watching Paul Simon in the background grooving to Lindsey playing “Big Love” guitar solo. Also like imagining the conversation with Chris Colfer with the producers, “Hey Chris, we want you for a sketch, but you’re just going to sit there. You in?” He was a good sport.

    Rest: Pretty much trash. No agreement on the throwing paper away–thought it was bad; so was Update, and all the guests (including Will Smith via Jay Pharoah); Singing guys was subpar, cold open bad, it was just all around a heartbreakingly weak episode.

  2. Buffy Freak says:

    What Up With That really needs to be retired. When that is the first sketch after the monologue you know the show is going to suck. Ambiguously Gay Duo was pretty great though.

  3. Anna says:

    I’m also really tired of What’s Up With That. Last night’s sketch was a waste of the wonderfully talented Chris Colfer.

    • Steve says:

      You miss the point of “What’s Up with That?”. People way more talented than Chris Colfer have sat in that chair, only to be ignored by the host. That is part of the joke of the sketch!

      • Deandra says:

        Agreed Steve. My friend was all excited to see Chris Colfer and I warned her that he wasn’t going to say a word. I am sure Chris loved being a part of it, especially that the real Lindsey Buckingham was there. Usually I can’t stand recurring skits on SNL but this one makes me laugh every time. From the celebrities to Bill Hader’s Buckingham to the random “special guests” they bring out to Jason Sudeikis doing the running man with his track suit and curl in the background. Just kills me.

    • Pam says:

      I can’t lie – I love What’s Up With That. It makes me laugh out loud every time. It’s one of my favorite sketches, and I’ve been watching SNL since the beginning.

  4. Jim says:

    I didn’t know people still cared about SNL.

  5. Esta says:

    LOL you can almost set an egg timer for that first person who shows up to ask “People still watch SNL?” Remembering some non-existent time when the show was infallible.

  6. AJ says:

    Not one of the best, really think they should have replayed the commercial later on. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen that one repeated!

  7. Justin says:

    This episode puzzled me. The most they got from me was a giggle, once during Jay Pharoah doing Will Smith, and again during Kristen Wiig trying to throw away a piece of paper in a garbage can. Regardless, I was still entertained by everything. Ed Helms was massively under used.

  8. Chmarin says:

    Best: Ann-Margret Tries to Throw Away a Wad of Paper in a Trashcan


    Also, What up with that? and Garth & Kat are painfully unfunny.

    The Ambiguously Gay Duo, on the other hand, was fantastic.

  9. Georgie says:

    Wow. How can you say that SNL is “bland” and not funny? Granted they might have sketches that don’t work, but they have at least 2 sketches a week that will make someone laugh, and they’ve done that for 36 years and counting. They’ve constantly had actors who can make the 45-60 group laugh, and they always have a large group that attracts 25-45, and I can’t think of a season that didn’t have 1or 2 people who young people laugh at. Do obviously there will be sketches that make certain people laugh, and others laugh. And Garth&Kat? An amazing use of improv on TV that is horribly lacking in good improv. Now of course that’s just all my opinion, but I think it’s fact that theirs still a huge fanbase for the show, considering it’s still on air. And plus it’s a live show, that doesn’t even pick out their sketches they will be doing until Friday to even minutes before the show. If you watched the show a little bit more than a season, you’d know that they have episodes that barely have a laugh, and episodes that make you breathless from laughing. Ed Helms is great, his SNL not so much.
    Highlights: Ambigously Gay Duo, What’s up with That?(which I LOVE), Garth&Kat.

  10. CJ says:

    This was a new episode of SNL? Was there a writer’s lockout I didn’t hear about? Pretty sure I’ll never meet anyone who thinks “What’s Up With That?” and “Garth and Kat” are funny – no human could be that annoying. And am I the only one who thinks Nasim Petrad should get more exposure on the show? I am? Okay, I’ll shut up now.

  11. Maxwell Haddad says:

    I’m sick of the writers not using the guests to the best of their abilities. Ed Helms is a wildly talented comedian and they completely wasted him. The best stuff was the live action Gay Duo (Jon Hamm!), Paul Simon, and What Up With That, which I always like, and allowed Ed to play the banjo. The randomness of Chris Colfer just added to the fun.

    All in all, a weak episode. The Human Centipede joke came out of nowhere and was thus funny, but the 5 minutes leading up to it was pointless.

  12. XK says:

    I like Ed Helms a lot, but I honestly was not surprised at how little they used him. He seemed VERY nervous, and definitely fumbled the delivery of a few lines. Thankfully, he’s hilarious in movies (and television), so I don’t care if he isn’t very good on SNL.

  13. Devon says:

    Wait, you LIKED the Ann-Margret sketch? That was so, so, painfully unfunny.

    But on the other hand, I actually liked more of this episode than you give it credit for. The cold open was pretty terrible–Fred Armisen’s Obama has got to be the worst presidential impression in SNL history. LET JAY PHAROAH DO IT! Helms’ monologue was meh, but I definitely liked What Up With That, and bringing out the real Lindsey Buckingham was a brilliant touch. Loved, loved, LOVED the Ambiguously Gay Duo–that might be on my shortlist for sketch of the season, if it counts, though I felt the episode was missing a Samberg digital short as a result. One Take Tony was okay, the Cat Stevens guys wasn’t bad, again HATED Ann-Margret, but actually liked the GOP spoof, only because “Hunt Mitchman” got a loud snort out of me.

    • Devon says:

      Forgot to touch on weekend update. Jay Pharoah’s Will Smith is spot-on, but not particularly funny. Garth and Kat suck. But god, I love Bobby Moynihan’s Anthony Crispino.

    • TMZ says:

      The people who didn’t like the Ann-Margaret skit probably have never seen any of her movies. The skit was actually quite good when you look at it in that context.

      What’s Up With That probably only makes sense to people who watch BET. It’s actually pretty funny. I was wondering when the real Lindsay Buckingham was going to show up.

      • Daniel says:

        I’ve seen Ann-Margaret movies. That skit was tedious and unfunny. And I’m not one of the Kristen Wiig haters–I usually like most of what she does. (Still liking Penelope, Liza, and Orange going out to hit the town.) When 95% of the show is awful, I think the reviewer here was just trying to be kind in saying it was a best skit.

  14. jess says:

    Chris Colfer and Kristen Wiig were on Jimmy Fallon on Friday. Apparently she asked him to do snl since he was going to be in ny.

  15. Timmy says:

    Why isn’t Abby Elliott used more? She is part of the main cast, but she usually gets less airtime then a featured player.

    • Mark says:

      Abby Elliot started mid-season before the other two featured player girls, so I gather that is why she’s a cast person. But she is the youngest by a few years, if wikipedia is to be trusted.
      They are all quite talented with different strengths.

  16. brett says:

    I’ve missed the “you know what this song reminds me of” sketches and was excited when I realized one was happening. Unfortunately, the one last night wasn’t great at all.

  17. BeyoncesEvilTwin says:

    Ed Helms was really underused! I was so disappointed! I hate Garth and Kat and wish they would go away. I don’t find the Second Hand News guy funny. They should just let Seth do weekend update on his own, that’s good comedy to me. The Ambiguously Gay duo rocked! I hope Jon Hamm is on SNL more because he’s hil-ar-i-ous. Sometimes I like What Up with That? and sometimes I don’t. It’s hit or miss sometimes. We could have seen more Sexy Banjo Man because just what Helms was wearing was cracking me up. It was disappointing…NOT ENOUGH HELMS! I know Justin Timberlake will bring it next week. He’s always great on SNL.

  18. Red says:

    SNL has not been “nervy” since the Ford administration!

  19. janie says:

    i love the skit where the 4 guys consisting of Jason Sudeikis, andy samberg, bill heder and whoever is the host, in this case Ed Helms plays some music and sings along to the song and says funny stuff..

  20. Whitney says:

    I loved seeing Jon, Jimmy and the Steve’s in the skit. Hilarious
    Roger S spelled Jon’s name wrong on the credit card. It was shown as John Hamm.

  21. Bob says:

    Pull out the A-G duo sketch and get Ann Margret to throw the rest of the show in the trash can! I think it’s time for SNL to either close up shop or find a new head writer (Sorry, Seth, you can’t cut it anymore).

  22. Michele says:

    SNL hasn’t been funny in two decades and yet there it is week after week pandering to people with a fifth grade education. Smart funny replaced with plain old DUMB funny. People dig on the quality of scripted comedies these days that’s because this is the kind of training ground these folks get. Dumb and Dumber indeed.

  23. Dan says:

    Anyone else watch last nights episode of Hercules or Xena? I thought that warlord was going to burn that village down. Wait… what? Oh, I see, in that case boooooooo! Next week they’ll rehash Goth Talk, Ex-Presidents, Sprockets, and an old Seinfeld episode. Seth Meyers, really?

  24. Rusty says:

    Abiguously Gay Duo was Awesome…. I bet SNL is thinking full length movie… Thoughts?

  25. Stacey says:

    Pretty lackluster episode. I think they should get rid of Garth and Kat, that was boring. The best imo was What up with that and of course the AGD, that was awesome! The worst was Weekend Update and the Ann Margaret skit.

  26. Snsetblaze says:

    I turned it off after the first hour because it was so bad. I spent most of the time trying to figure out who was in the Ambiguously Gay duo live action sketch. I recognized Colber, Ed Helms and John Hamm and not Steve Carrell or Jimmy Fallon (wasn’t there one more character?) Ed Helms was not given much to do though.

  27. LA says:

    Lindsey Buckingham, I love you!

  28. FogFee says:

    OK those guys know exactly what is going on. WOw.

  29. Brooke Macwilliams says:

    They could have had such a good episode if they would have actually included Chris Colfer in the dialogue.. Sorry but he is funnier than Ed Helms on a good day. I am voting for Chris to host sometime next season. People that only see his character on Glee do not know him but if you watch any interview or video of him, he is so witty and funny without even trying.

  30. marcus says:

    I agree. Gay Duo and Ann Margret were great! I would love if Ann Margret sketch was reprised, I laughed the loudest during that sketch, Kristen was great!