Saturday Night Live With Jason Segel (and The Muppets): Best and Worst Skits

Anyone else starting to wonder if Saturday Night Live should exclusively reserve its hosting gigs for the stars of CBS’ Monday night primetime lineup?

Following Melissa McCarthy’s dazzling effort last month, How I Met Your Mother‘s Jason Segel led a super-strong collection of skits this week — with perfectly pitched support from his costars in the upcoming big-screen feature The Muppets.

But before we go crazy with an online petition to get Lorne Michaels to reach out to Neil Patrick Harris, Conchata Ferrell, and Alex O’Loughlin for future hosting duties, let’s review the best and worst skits from Segel’s episode:

Best: Opening Monologue
One of the funniest SNL monologues in recent memory found Segel’s Muppets costars joining him on a ditty about the excitement of hosting the show, and mistakenly thinking that the gig was a group effort. From Kermit observing Segel’s “bouncy B-flat” intro to Miss Piggy declaring “first class!” over Segel’s lyric “I believe that pigs can fly,” this one was chock full of cheeky goodness — right down to Statler and Waldorf’s brilliantly sour closing notes.

Best: Regis Philbin Auditions
Not every segment of this skit worked — least of all Nasim Pedrad’s woeful Kelly Ripa impersonation — but when it was good, it was brilliant. Bill Hader’s Garrison Keillor, Bobby Moynihan’s Rosie O’Donnell (“I will absorb you!”), Segel’s on-the-prowl Antonio Banderas (“Then we’re committing adultery,” he gasped after learning Regis hadn’t died), Abby Elliott’s Zoey Deschanel, Jay Pharoah’s absurdist Denzel Washington, and Jason Sudeikis’ obnoxious Ricky Gervais had me howling. And best of all, none of the impersonations dragged on too long.

Best: Really!?! With Seth and Kermit
Bask in Kermit’s outrage about Congress labeling Twizzlers and a grape soda as fruit salad. I gave this one the slightest edge over Segel’s raunchy/amusing mattress ad.

Worst: Retirement Party
I briefly considered the cold open about a “raw and unleashed” Mitt Romney as worst of the week, but the length and wasted potential of this no-joke pony about unseemly behavior at a company retirement party was the bottom of the barrel. Jason Segel tried gamely as a drunk partygoer promising to spill a secret that would make his cohorts “crap so loud,” but in the end, it was just crap.

What did you think of this week’s SNL? Hit the comments with your thoughts, and for all my TV recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

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. Kim R says:

    Best: Really! with Kermit. In fact…I think the Muppets were better than most of the show. I did enjoy the Regis replacement skit minus the sad, sad impersonation of Kelly. I always like Seth but the rest of the skits were just not funny. In my opinion anyway. :)

    • Matt says:

      Having seen these clips, I’m starting to get a hankering for a return of The Muppet Show, albeit with a bit edgier sensibility, similar to the stuff we saw this week on SNL.

      • MJ says:

        YES! PLEASE! I NEED MY MUPPET FIX!!!! Muppetmuppetmuppetmuppetmuppets….

        Wow, I have *no* idea where that came from. Good idea though. I’d watch. Um…obviously,

  2. Daniel says:

    Segel’s Andre the Giant impression was solidly funny at 12:55.

    Since NBC’s ratings are so bad, they should consider shelling the money out to re-launch The Muppet Show if ABC doesn’t.

    • Mark S says:

      I totally agree with the Andre sketch. That was my favorite sketch in a long time and Segel has done the impression in a movie. While I would say there were more good than bad, the bad was real bad. Romney, the retirement party, the band, and the kissing family were horrible, although I did pop for Paul Rudd making a cameo.

  3. Samantha says:

    Alex O’Loughlin? Really? Really? No.

    I feel like Jason was underused. You forgot Taran Killam’s Ashton Kutcher impression which was spot on and awesome! I also loved the Andre the Giant sketch too.

  4. Alex says:

    You forgot to mention how awesome and fabulous Florence and the Machine was!
    But overall, solid episode.

    • Myke25 says:

      OMG! Florence and the Machine was the worst!! She has been horribly off-key in both of her SNL appearances. I do not understand her appeal at all!

      • Joel says:

        You’re an idiot. I thought about explaining why, but that would take too long. But know that you’re an idiot.

        • Samantha says:

          I kind of agree with them though. She’s good at singing her own songs but her skit she helped with was not very good.

        • Myke25 says:

          No, Joel. Please. Explain why expressing an opinion that doesn’t jive with your particular musical tastes makes me an idiot. Take as long as you like.

  5. Michael says:

    I was surprised by how amazing this episode was. I think they did underuse Jason, but it was so hilarious (to me)… who cares? And I actually couldn’t stop laughing at that retirement skit (maybe it was my current mood). This solidifies that the Muppets should have hosted way back when :P Great episode all around, Florence + the Machine sounded flawless, fantastic!

  6. Tyler says:

    This was potentially the best “Weekend Update” since the departure of Amy Poehler. I was howling with laughter, repeatedly. And, yes, the Regis skit was great–it was like they gave the cast cart-blanche to do their best random celebrity impression (though they then shoehorned poor Nasim Pedrad into a Kelly Ripa she couldn’t do). I especially loved the criminally underutilized Paul Brittan as Gelman.

    The worst skit, though, should have gone to the very last one, “Massachusetts Afternoon.” You could see what they were hoping to set up as the joke, but it never felt like a joke. It dragged on for two minutes without getting a smidgeon more outrageous. It’s one of those stories where the guy telling it finishes, and you think “Oh, wait, you’re done? Was there a point in there?” Potentially the worst SNL skit of the 21st century.

  7. Tyler says:

    And, yeah, Florence + the Machine was great. I was a little surprised by the choice to do “No Light, No Light” as their second song, but it was an AMAZING performance.

    • Sarah says:

      I was too but then I learned it was her new single and she just released a video for it. It’s pretty amazing. Florence was my favorite part of the episode last night.

  8. Matt Webb Mitovich says:

    Spot-on assessment, Slezak. A very strong outing; the Kemper-Pedic ad alone had me in stitches.

    At the risk of getting granular about the Kelly Ripa impression that we all believe landed with a thud: The problem is that Nasim Pedrad was basically doing an impression of Amy Poehler doing an impression of Kelly Ripa. But Poehler got to play Ripa as perky/flighty because it was in contrast to Darrell Hammond’s Regis, rife with dusty Joey Bishop anecdotes. Ripa though, in reality, is sharp-as-a-tack and never not in on the joke, so minus Regis you really need to go after her voice/manner of speaking, which Nasim didn’t even attempt to do. But Nasim regularly exposes Kim Kardashian for the no-talent she is, so all is forgiven :) And the fidgety, shamelessly “Latino!” George Lopez had me HOWLING.

    I’ll also echo Tyler’s curiosity over Florence + the Machine’s second song choice. I’m all for giving exposure to other tracks, but I’d rather have heard another of their radio-played songs.

  9. D'Arcy says:

    Hmm. I found Florence to be a bit “off” last night, actually. I like her but that was not her best performance.

  10. scooterbeanbag says:

    Did they have to include Wiig in every single segment? I’d rather see Bobby or Keenan in drag over Wiig hogging up the show. With that said, all and all a great episode. I loved how they they used the Muppets and Florence in a few later sketches. I think I’d be perfectly fine with an all Muppet episode. I could have done w/o seeing the handlers at the end though. My childhood has been ruined forever!!

  11. Steph says:

    I don’t normally watch SNL, because I just really don’t think it’s funny at all, but I watched last night specifically for Jason Segel. I thought the Kemper Pedic skit was hilarious and it was probably my favorite. Seth’s Weekend Updates are always funny from what I’ve seen, and the part with Kermit really pushed it over the edge. I also thought the skit about seducing women with chess was pretty funny, but that may just be because I love Andy Samberg. I think they use Kristen Wiig way too much for how unfunny she is (like when she kept thanking that guy in the retirement party skit, what was that about?). In fact, I think they use the least funny actors way too much, and they under use funnier actors like Samberg and Bill Hader. I found myself getting very frustrated because the show has the potential to be so much funnier.

  12. anon says:

    Along with the retirement skit and the Mass skit, I was irritated that I couldn’t fast-forward through the kissing skit. Wasn’t funny the first 50 times they did it.

    Kirsten Wiig and Seth Meyers are unfunny and unwatchable. Wish they could be replaced permanently with muppets.

    • tripoli says:

      They are without a doubt the 2 funniest and most talented people on the show. The newbies are pretty terrible, and we don’t get enough of Hader, Armisen, or Samberg these days. Without Wiig and Meyers, SNL would be an excruciatingly unfunny show.

  13. Amanda says:

    Paul Rudd!!!!!

  14. Brian says:

    And what’s wrong with Neil Patrick Harris hosting SNL? He’d be perfect for it.

  15. RMB says:

    Massachusettes skit reminded me of the “Sparkling Apple Juice” song from Bryan Cranston’s show. I liked it.
    Best, 3-way Tie: Abby Elliot’s Zoey Descanel, Hader’s Garrison Keiller, Wiig’s triangle lady from the “New Jack” skit

    Close 2nd: the Kemper-Pedic commercial

  16. ck says:

    Have to mention Olivia Wilde because, well…she’s gorgeous :)

  17. `` says:

    Gonna be honest, I laughed at the triangle lady. But I normally don’t dig SNL at all anymore.

  18. J says:

    Does no one realize that the Kelly Ripa sketch was the exact same one from 10 years ago when Kathie Lee left?

  19. Salad says:

    I agree with the article with the exception of Melissa McCarthy being great. That was the second worst episode of the season. But this one was great.

  20. bob says:

    my fave was def the regis replacement sketch. normally i find nasim pedrad to be snl’s female mvp (after wiig, of course), so i’m going to choose to believe that her ripa was just written to be that unfunny.

  21. Ana Muller says:

    Best: FLORENCE AND THE FRIGGIN MACHINE. Does that woman even need to breathe? seriously amazing. (triangle lady was awesome)

  22. Dconn says:

    Another political unfunny open, the monologue and the next thing on is that red flag skit? That was a red flag alright, telling everyone the rest of the show sucks. Time for snl to go.

  23. Daisy says:

    Fresh eyes here. I haven’t watched SNL with its current cast before. I watched for Segel, who is really talented–frankly, too talented to be on SNL, despite what he said in his opening number.

    This show is very weak. Every sketch was way too long. Wringing out a questionably funny premise until it is a limp dishrag is not the way to go on a sketch comedy show. Kristen Wiig is okay–the Red Flag commercial was acceptable, but again too long–but Seth Meyers is terrible. Is it true this lightweight hosted the White House Correspondent’s Dinner? His weekend update was boring and unfunny.

    Jason, baby, you let me down. Host a good show next time.

  24. SNL loyal says:

    Decent show. Pretty much the entire show was built on impressions, but luckily all of the cast members have a strong set of spot-on impressions in their pockets. And for those who criticised the cold opening, it was supposed to be unfunny because Mitt Romney is such a dull person and that’s what made it funny.
    Nice touch with the appearence of the Muppets on the show. I belive that The Muppets along with Saturday Night Live are the only things that will live forever in television.
    Starting with the monologue, all the sketches were hillarious, showing that scripts built around multiple characters always do the trick. Weekend Update was funny too, I was hoping to see another “Really!!” segment. The Digital Short cracked me up and I would really like Olivia Wilde to host SNL soon, I think she will do a really good job for the show.
    I’m usually not enjoying the featured players yet, but this week they were ok. Aside from their impressions which they rock, they aren’t quite ready to play lead characters in sketches, that’s why players like Hader, Armisen, Sudeikis or Kristen Wiig are still needed. Till next time…all the best.