Saturday Night Live With Daniel Radcliffe: Best and Worst Sketches

“Expecto, hilarium!” Pity poor Daniel Radcliffe, who without the benefit of any Harry Potter-style spells at his fingertips, was forced to make do with a mixed bag of sketches as he hosted this week’s Saturday Night Live.

Don’t blame Radcliffe for the lack of magic, though. After all, he managed to score laughs where a lesser performer would’ve struggled: In a “Spin the Bottle” short where he kissed hobo after hobo after hobo (a payoff way too similar to Matt Damon’s homeless dude in the “Best Friends” digital short the week Katy Perry hosted); during a charming monologue where his self-deprecating shtick proved funnier than the supporting antics of the regular SNL cast; and especially in a Weekend Update segment playing Casey Anthony’s dog, a dubious bit brought to life by Radcliffe’s alternating petulance and terror (and willingness to sport a truly ridiculous costume).

Below, my picks for the week’s best and worst:

Best: You Can Do Anything!
A talk show that “celebrates the incredibly high self-esteem of the YouTube generation.” I kinda wish hosts Vanessa Bayer and Bill Hader had been less vague with their intentions — and fully committed to either mocking their guests or blankly cheering them on — but Radcliffe’s combo of Irish dancing and Chinese calligraphy was priceless. “I tried, and therefore no one should criticize me!”

Best: Exit Poll
I loved the randomness of pollster Kristen Wiig’s questions to Republican primary voter Radcliffe. (Best of the bunch: Will the future include “monkeys still in cages,” “monkeys in charge,” or “no more monkeys”?) Radcliffe could’ve used a few zingers of his own, but I laughed more at this one than I have at any live closing sketch this season.

Worst: Delaware Fellas
A Jersey Boys parody so incredibly lame, NBC hasn’t made it available for morning-after Internet viewing. When the best you can do is turn “Walk Like a Man” into “Strut Like a Guy,” maybe you should consider running three minutes of test pattern?

Worst: Harry Potter 10 Years Later
OK, this sketch wasn’t as bad as X27B Theater or Target Lady, but it draws my ire for wasting Radcliffe’s Potter on the most clichéd of setups — Harry returns to Hogwarts in an effort to return to his high-school glory days — and being unwilling to take the beloved character into a dark and twisted direction. Why not have him hitting on current coeds, or huffing whipped cream cannisters in the corridor, rather than merely playing Quidditch alone and providing his own cheering section?

What did you think of this week’s SNL? How would you rate Radcliffe as a host? Sound off in the comments, 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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41 Comments
  1. Daniel says:

    Exit poll, really?!? That was the last sketch of the night, which is usually reserved for the weakest of the entire show.

    Nothing for the Glenda Okones bit?!?

  2. Jill says:

    I was very pleasantly surprised. Radcliffe was quite good in all his sketches and didn’t seem to break or lose focus once. Guess broadway was a good training ground. I thought the casey anthony dog bit was funny but my fave was the exit poll.

  3. Jessi says:

    Maybe it was the earnestness that Radcliffe radiated all night, but I do have to say that I disagree. I thought the Harry Potter skit was hilarious. I mean, yes, it COULD have been better in terms of content but I really felt like it was redeemed by Radcliffe, Paul Brittain’s Malfoy (nice to see him FINALLY being used) and, of course, Bill Hader’s Snape.

    All and all, it was a pretty good episode. Daniel Radcliffe needs to be the straight British man in a comedy, STAT. He has wonderful comedic timing.

    • Kate says:

      I thought the Harry Potter sketch was funny. It was weird that Malfoy has a daughter old enough to go to Hogwarts, but whatever lol.

      Hader’s Snape was amazing. Made the sketch!

  4. CJ says:

    Daniel Radcliffe did incredibly well with the junk that was written for him. He was so energetic and his comedic timing is exceptional, but many of the sketches were weak. Not for lack of trying on his part, though. His monologue was probably the most I laughed the whole night aside from Weekend Update.

    I was really noticing the lack of Andy Samberg, who I think would’ve played well off of Radcliffe. I hope that Daniel Radcliffe is asked back in the future, with better material to work with.

    • JayK says:

      I totally agree about Daniel, plus I loved hearing his American accent. I think he is never not funny and charming and I can’t wait to follow his career.

  5. Strepsi says:

    Daniel Radcliffe is fantastic — like NPH or Hugh Jackman, he is evolving into a ready-for-anything, singing dancing acting entertainer.

    In commitment and delivery, the best host they’ve had in a season, including experienced comedians (Ed Helms)

  6. JHarnes says:

    Radcliffe is great but that stupid sketch had to be written by SNL writers who never bothered to read the books. It wasn’t funny. It could have been great. But it felt like the writers had bios of characters and just wrote the sketch from some playbook. Could of changed the names and used any main character from a series and used the same basic lines. Why get talented folks to guest star on what is now far too often a lame, unfunny show?

  7. Sakura says:

    Unfortunately the hosts who are actors have no choice to make the best out of the crappy material they are given. The writing at SNL continues to get worse and worse.

  8. Lina says:

    I found Radcliffe to be very funny and it was nice that he was so willing to make fun of himself. The Casey Anthony skit and exit pole were the funniest to me… As was his opening monologue. All in all I didn’t find myself reaching for the fast forward button too much. I would like to see him again in the future.

  9. Dorothy says:

    Like everyone else, I felt bad for poor Daniel to have to work with the terrible writing that has become the norm on SNL. The Target sketch was painful to watch! I think Casey Anthony’s dog worked, but only due to Dan’s ability to pull it off. He was a trooper for sure and did prove he do any type of character, just too bad the material was so weak and most sketches went no where. C’mon SNL!

  10. Captain says:

    It was a good episode and Daniel did great. I don’t think there were many sketches that were bad (although I have to agree about the Jersey Boys one) and even though they could have done more with it, it was nice to see Target Lady back.

  11. Sam says:

    Best: Last night.
    Worst: This recap.

  12. Eli says:

    Actually I thought there was only one bad sketch last night, Target. I actually liked the Jersey Boys Sketch. ( I could be partial as I’m friends with a cast member in one of the productions) Casey Anthony Dog was brilliant as were most of the sketches. I liked the theatre sketch it reminded me of Carousel of Progress in some ways and The Swift thing was brilliant. But I suppose that is why Baskin Robbins has 31 flavors. Last week I was counting the seconds for the little prince scene thingy to be over (forgot his name)

  13. scooterbeanbag says:

    I thought the Harry Potter sketch was pretty damn funny. I thought we might get a Rupert or Emma cameo, but it actually played out better than expected.

    I think he did rather well, overcoming even the weakest of all sketches (They need to retire Target Lady already.)

    I won’t even get into how horrible Lana Del Rey was. I am a huge fan of hers, but she does not transfer well from a studio recording to live performances. She really needs to become more comfortable and less restrained when she’s on stage.

    • Laura says:

      I completely agree with your comment about Lana Del Ray. I was so excited that she was going to be performing on SNL, but it was a huge disappointment. When I watched it I cringed. I had to turn it off.

      • GMom says:

        I had heard of Lana Del Ray, but I listened to her free download on iTunes and didn’t like it (or download it). I thought her performance was awful and I couldn’t understand a word! Bring Kelly Clarkson back!
        I agree that Daniel did an awesome job with what he was given.

    • Rock Golf says:

      As one well popular Tweet put it, was Lana Del Ray an extension of the “You Can Do Anything” sketch?

  14. readmyblipps says:

    2nd best epsiode of the season – Melissa McCarthy is still #1. best: You can do anything/Target Lady. worst: spin the bottle digital short – what is the obsession with “hobos” lately?! My patience is starting to wear thin with Jay Pharoh.

    I loved everything that Wiig was in. enjoyed Glenda Okones – it was like a hybrid of cher & sarah palin. Please oh please oh please let Wiig be working on a Cher impression (like Rudolph did w/ Whitney Houston and Donatella Versace).

    Maybe Pharoh and Wiig could do a dueling autotune song as Cher and T-Pain.

  15. skeletonboy says:

    Worst “sketch” of the night: Lana Del Rey’s performance of Blue Jeans. Cringe-fest.

  16. Rick says:

    I don’t know why, but I expected this to be a terrible episode- didn’t have high expectations at all for Daniel Radcliffe- but he completely surprised me. I thought last night was generally hilarious. Last year there had a been a string of so-so episodes, even when higher-profile guests and comedic actors were hosting, but lately SNL has been getting it right. Usually I’m half-asleep by the end, but last night’s show kept me up the whole time. I <3 Casey Anthony's dog.

    • Rick says:

      Oh, and I love Kristin Wiig but had no idea why the Gloria Whoever campaign commercials were funny. Am I just completely uninformed? Is she someone well-known?

  17. Mari says:

    OMG Dan was OFF THE HOOK!!!! Loved it all! Best SNL in a long long time!!

  18. Guest McGuesty says:

    Not as bad as Target Lady? I love me some Target Lady

  19. Adrian says:

    That Harry Potter sketch closely resembles one they did on a Disney Channel Show called “So Random” a few weeks ago. Harry was a movie theater usher and Ronald and Hermione are on a date and he acts pretty much the same as Daniel did in that sketch, as though time hadn’t passed and Ronald and Hermione were trying to move on. When adults are taking cues from kids shows, maybe they need to step down and let new writers in.

  20. Jules says:

    Well, again I feel bad for every host..bcuz even with poor material they are better than the cast itself…
    And been a while since I watch in full without zzzzzz or simply watch a movie instead…
    Maybe it’s just me, but GOD can y flush thoses boring wannabes and being back Dana Carey & Mike Myers, Dan Aykroyd or even bring back for the dead John Belushi & Phil Hartman…miss thoses guys,funnier and best moments

  21. Sarah says:

    Best SNL episode I’ve seen in ages. Who knew Daniel Radcliffe was such a gifted comic actor?! What a fantastic surprise.

    “Dogs can be sarcastic, too. Its not just for cats.”

  22. Ruby says:

    Daniel Radcliffe’s creepy 34 year old fans writing dirty fanfic about him when he was 11 turned me off of this kid early on, but I have to admit he did a great job with what he was given. And I was really impressed that all of his accents were dead on and never sounded like he was “doing an accent”. My favorite was the “Spin the Bottle” skit. I was laughing my ass off because it was so absurd.

  23. Jennifer says:

    I thought it was entertaining more then funny but I really enjoyed Daniel as host. Really liked the monologue, most hosts are predictable and boring. Broadway clearly agrees with Daniel. That Jay Pharoh show thing wasn’t worth the time. I liked the Harry Potter stuff, Hader as usual nailed it in that scene. Loved exit poll & Weekend Update with the dog, who wouldn’t be terrified to be that dog! Okomas ads should have quit after second ad. Where was Andy? Usually see lots more of him. Need less of the woman who does Miley Cyrus, every skit she was in all I could see was gum, teeth and Miley.

  24. Mary says:

    Must have been good. Daniel Radcliffe gave me the first SNL in a long time where I only went to Dr. Who during the commercials…

  25. Jack says:

    I thought it was one of the best SNL’s of the season. “You Can Do Anything” was entertaining and a dead-on indictment about the internet. I loved the take on Harry Potter and the impersonations of the popular characters. Wish it went on longer. Of course, not all were good–the X27B Theater was lifeless. Jay Pharoah’s interview with Radcliffe never got off the ground. I get the feeling the SNL staff don’t know what to do with the guy except showcase his impersonations. And sorry, but a little of Kristen Wiig goes a long way. I don’t understand why Radcliffe played straight-man to her when he was the guest star.

  26. Amy says:

    I thought Daniel Radcliffe was terrific especially given the terrible material he was given to work with. They seriously wasted the Harry Potter sketch. Could have been so good. Also thought he did great with the American accent since almost every sketch required him to be American. I really hope they have him back with better material next time. The show could do with host who have that much earnest enthusiasm.

  27. Len says:

    Daniel Radcliffe did an excellent job. The SNL writers threw a lot of weird sketches at him to perform and he handled it quite well.

  28. timshel says:

    Pretty weak sketches but Radcliffe is a pretty talented guy so he managed to make it a pretty decent show. Enjoyed the Potter sketch, but mostly because Hader is a master. Lizzy Grant’s awkward, atrocious, mess of a performance was painful. She had no business being there.

  29. Carol C says:

    Couldn’t watch this in Canada. Any suggestions for viewing?

  30. Allie says:

    I don’t know, as someone who just visited The Magical World of Harry Potter at Universal today, I have to say that the 20 years later sketch had me giggling all day. ESPECIALLY when I was waiting in line for the castle ride and they had the video sequences of him, Rupert and Emma, because all I could think about was the sketch. It may have been cliche but I thought it was hilarious.

  31. Marie says:

    Daniel Radcliffe was fun, energetic and tried to lift up the material. But oh, the material. It was not good. And in your list of worst, you’ve managed to leave off the terminally unfunny futuristic movie theater? Really? It was terrible.

    Worse than some of the skits was the musical guest – Lana del Rey needs to learn to perform before taking on a live, national performance. She was in way over her head.

  32. Walrus says:

    All I could think of while watching this show was ‘how will there be any picks for ‘best’? I haven’t watched SNL regularly in a very long time, so I’m not sure how consistent they’ve been. I only saw the Jason Segel/Muppets one, Jimmy Fallon, and this one… all tuned in because of the hosts. The others were hit/miss (mostly hit) and made me laugh more than a few times. This one… not so much. I can’t think of any real laughs, maybe a couple half-hearted smiles during Weekend Update (mainly the dog) and the exit-poll.

    Not taking anything away from Radcliffe, I think he’s very talented (which is why I tuned in to begin with) but the show was just ‘meh’.

    Also, maybe it’s just the three episodes I’ve watched, but the musical guests seem to be lifeless and boring. How about something up-tempo?

  33. Alienate says:

    One word for the entire show: Lame

    The only decent segments were the 2 songs by the singing guest.

  34. Volcfom says:

    Radcliffe did a fine job as host. The mix of forefront and straight-man characters was good; it’s nice to see the show not shove the host in the background. I hope he comes back in the future!