Saturday Night Live Recap: Best and Worst Sketches With Host Steve Buscemi

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Steve Buscemi’s opening monologue on this week’s Saturday Night Live was all about making the transition from character actor to leading man. Unfortunately for the Boardwalk Empire star, most of the sketches relegated him to supporting-player status — with little or no chance to score serious laughs.

The episode itself was a mix of the amusing (the tagline for the Frozen Mexican Dinner ad cracked me up, and Seth Meyers scored big with several “Weekend Update” punch lines) and the infuriating (is it possible Fred Armisen’s Obama impersonation gets less authentic and more lethargic every time it’s trotted out?). Here are my picks for best and worst of the night:

Best: Miley Cyrus Show
The “Billy Ray? Bobby B? Boopity Boop?” portion of Maya Rudolph’s spaced-out Whitney Houston had me howling, and by the time she got to “this is your brain; this is your brain on drugs” I could barely breathe. Vanessa Bayer’s Miley was flawless, too, as was her choice of guest: “a hilarious, awesome guy I met at Burning Man named Jeff.”

Best: Drunk Uncle
A dark and utterly random riff (from the often underutilized Bobby Moynihan) covering the holiday season, same-sex weddings, text messaging, and “that sexy green M&M lady,” among other things.

Worst: Holiday Ornaments
I’m going to nominate this laugh-free bit — with Buscemi going through a box of old ornaments and dropping bombs like “this one’s been up my butt…not just a little bit, all the way” — as the least-funny nonsense SNL has delivered all season. Anyone want to second the motion?

Worst: President Obama Cold Open
It takes more than big ears to pull off an Obama impersonation, and as we head into election season, it’s time for Mr. Armisen to drastically rethink his approach to the POTUS, or for SNL to recast Obama altogether. Heck, at this point, I’d be willing to gamble on Maya Rudolph.

What did you think of this week’s SNL? How did you feel Buscemi fared as host? Sound off below, and for all my TV recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!



Comments (43)

  • The Batman-short not a best of the night? Wth.

    Comment by Matt Web Milosssoes – December 4, 2011 09:10 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Maybe if the Batman short wasn’t a blatant rip off of a College Humor sketch it would’ve been better received.

      Comment by My name? – December 4, 2011 09:21 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • You do realize some college humor writers now write for SNL?

        Comment by Daniel – December 4, 2011 09:27 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Lorne Michaels needs to let Jay Pharoah do the Obama scotches from now on! He is fully underutilized and has the funniest Obama impersonation ever!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkZgHjmBlvE&feature=youtube_gdata_player

      Comment by Jamie Hosking – December 4, 2011 04:56 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • wow. Jay blows Fred Armisen out of the park!
        I nominate Jay Pharoah for Obama from now on. especially going into election season

        Comment by Arnold – December 5, 2011 02:46 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • I would prefer not to see Obama at all.

        Comment by Lisa – December 6, 2011 12:34 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Surprisingly bad. I was very disappointed in Buscemi! I thought the SNL players in the opening monologue were better & Kristen Wiig’s “Sue”! Give the hosts more lines next time!

    Comment by Kathleen – December 4, 2011 09:12 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • You do realize the host doesn’t write sketches, right? If you had a problem with Buscemi then you probably really had a problem with the writing; don’t blame him because the writers didn’t know how to utilize him properly…

      Comment by Jason C – December 4, 2011 11:16 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Sorry but I thought this episode was great! (helped majorly by Maya’s return and Wiig bringing back one of my favorite characters)

    I even thought the ornament sketch was amusing, bc my family always laughs about how we have the weirdest stories for every ornament.

    Comment by Brandy – December 4, 2011 09:18 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Wow, calling the final sketch of the night the worst is, well, a non-shocker. The last sketch is ALWAYS the weakest sketch of the night. Everything after Update is historically weaker than pre-Update.

    The hosts don’t always have to play a lead role in every sketch. It’s almost always supporting.

    Comment by Daniel – December 4, 2011 09:27 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Totally agree. I think it’s predicated on the assumption that by the end of Update, half of the audience has fallen asleep. ;)

      Comment by DL – December 4, 2011 10:29 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • This sounds like it’s coming from a younger person, because back in the 90′s and before the host was a huge part of the show. First, when Segal hosted the Andre the Giant bit was one of the best of the night and that was the next to the last sketch of that episode. I remember, though, that hosts used to be much more out front and more involved than they are now. The reason why: the writers were much better in the days of Tina Fey and before than they are now.

      Comment by Jason C – December 4, 2011 11:20 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • My favorite was drunk uncle

    Comment by Daniel – December 4, 2011 09:30 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I loved the constipation commercial because it’s so true!!

      Comment by Amanda – December 5, 2011 05:07 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Drunk Uncle was great because he just went off on various tangents and didn’t answer Seth’s questions. Holiday Ornaments was the usual crazy last sketch of the night and was better than you think, especially when you listen to what Steve B. actually says. The football press conference sketch was probably the best thing all night, though.

    Comment by LOL – December 4, 2011 09:37 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I loved the football sketch too! I think overall it was a pretty strong show. Miley sketch was good, Batman was good, football was good, Drunk Uncle was hilarious, and I was glad to see Kristen Wiig’s “Sue” make a comeback. I had actually just been talking with my brother about how that character had been MIA for a while.

      Comment by DL – December 4, 2011 10:31 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I thought Bobby Moynihan’s Drunk Uncle was so fabulous. It was so real. He’s obviously studied some drunks in his life. I’d love to see more of that!

    Comment by Kendall – December 4, 2011 09:56 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I think SNL should tape a show of the cast’s after party.

    Comment by Dr Rand Pink – December 4, 2011 10:15 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Often underutilized Bobby Moynihan? That guy is painfully unfunny.

    Comment by Bartleby – December 4, 2011 10:23 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Hey, everyone’s entitled to their opinion. In our household, we happen to think Moynihan is quite funny and weren’t surprised when he was promoted to regular. Drunk Uncle was easily my favorite bit of the night.

      Comment by DL – December 4, 2011 10:28 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I completely agree about the Obama impersonation being flat and not Obama-like at all.

    Comment by . – December 4, 2011 10:31 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Best: Coach Bert and Drunk Uncle; Worst: Ornaments and The Sex Education Class

    Comment by Steph – December 4, 2011 10:45 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Seth Meyer’s Update was awesome this week.

    Comment by jess – December 4, 2011 12:53 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I totally agree. Seth was great this week.

      Comment by Lisa – December 6, 2011 12:39 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I thought the ornaments was hilarious! “This is from my first Christmas, it just never came up before.”

    Comment by Tom – December 4, 2011 01:15 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I don’t know why they don’t let Jay Pharoah do Obama. While his impersonation of him isn’t perfect, it’s one HELL of a lot better than Armisen! Let Armisen stick with Prince…

    Comment by Buffy0531 – December 4, 2011 01:31 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Shoop!

    Comment by topsyturvy – December 4, 2011 01:53 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I apparently was the only one that thought Maya Rudolph’s Whitney Huston was just as bad as Armisen’s Obama. Why does she get a pass but he’s not trying? I realize she’s not on the show anymore, but she could have at least tried to sound like WH a little.

    Comment by wooster182 – December 4, 2011 02:43 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I think she gets a pass because she’s playing a caricature (sort of like Ferrell’s W). Armisen’s impression is just lazy.

      Comment by Jess – December 4, 2011 03:56 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • This is precisely why they should let Pharoah take over Obama. I like Armisen (Gov. Patterson is a classic!), but I never thought be brought anything interesting to Obama. The best impressions on SNL are the pure caricatures. They don’t even have to go far back in the canon for proof — or have they already forgotten about Sarah Palin?

        Comment by Jules – December 4, 2011 09:39 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Great episode. I haven’t laughed so much at anything this season as much as Maya’s Whitney Houston. The opening monologue was great as well. I especially enjoyed Jay Pharoah as the sassy judge and Kristen Wiig as the helpless girl in horror flicks. Weekend Update was especially great as well. Steve Buscemi was adequate, but totally fine thanks to the material he was given. Not a big fan of the Dateline thing (felt super weird to me). The rest made me laugh, a lot. And that’s really all I can ask of SNL. Oh, and when is Jay Pharoah going to start doing Obama, because you know he can do a hell of much better job than Fred Armisen. I love him, but his Obama is awful. He doesn’t even try.

    Comment by Justin – December 4, 2011 03:09 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • i looove the dateline sketches hahaha

    Comment by lovetorun – December 4, 2011 03:42 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Best: Frozen Mexican Dinner fake commercial, Ornaments, Coach Bert, Sex-Ed Vincent, Batman Digital Short

    Okay/Alright/Meh: Miley Cyrus Show, Weekend Update (entire segment), Dateline

    Worst: Surprised Sue, Cold Open (Just don’t think Armisen makes a good Obama, never have and never will)

    Comment by Michael Siever – December 4, 2011 04:01 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The ornament sketch was one of my favorite of the night. It got big laughs from the audience and showed that they are still not afraid to try something unusual every once in awhile. That being said, I could have done without Wiig’s character.

    Comment by John Baggs – December 4, 2011 07:20 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The 13 year old in me could not stop giggling about Frozen Mexican Dinner! Add in Drunk Uncle, Sex Ed, Coach Burt, and two awesome performances from The Black Keys, and I call this a solid follow up to Segel’s episode. I think they have a great groove going right now. If only they could dial back the Wiig a bit and add more bite to their political material, I’d call it a must-see.

    Comment by Jules – December 4, 2011 09:45 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • What the Obama skit needs is someone to play Michelle Obama. I think that it’s comedy gold which is being wasted every week. I agree it’s time Armisen steps up or steps down from the role.

    On the plus side, Seth Meyers has grown into his role of Weekend Update and might be one of the best at it. Really.

    Comment by Brian – December 4, 2011 10:25 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • No, we don’t need to see Michelle Obama

      Comment by Lisa – December 6, 2011 12:33 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • For those of us working in recording studio-land, “Frozen Mexican Dinner” went viral on my fb page. All too familiar!! And don’t blame Buscemi for the skits. That’s the writers’ job.

    Comment by nancy – December 4, 2011 11:22 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Totally agree about Buscemi. It’s not just the writing; he makes no attempt to mimic the Prez’s mannerisms and inflections. There is plenty of material to work with, and Buscemi just reads the lines and mails it in.

    Comment by Ddriz – December 5, 2011 07:59 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Wow, way off! Holiday Ornaments was funnier than Miley Cyrus, but the best sketch of them all was Coach Bert! And the Batman digital short was pretty fun, too.

    Comment by Steve – December 5, 2011 10:08 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Compared to the last epi, I thought this week was funny. God, I love Seth Myers and Weekend Update.

    Comment by Lisa – December 6, 2011 12:33 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • “Hey baby Jesus, do you want to do pilates?

    Comment by readmyblipps – December 6, 2011 01:45 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The Ornament skit was awesome. It wasn’t first hour material, it was dry humor and original. It had a couple quotable moments. There has been plenty of other skits that were unoriginal and much less entertaining than this one.

    Excuse me, I am going to go have an eggnog margarita now.

    Comment by VCR – December 23, 2011 11:32 PM PDT  Reply To This Post

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