Saturday Night Live With Zooey Deschanel: Best and Worst Skits?

zooey deschanel snlIt was a good night for celebrity impersonations, and not so good for period sketches, as New Girl star Zooey Deschanel hosted a lively episode of Saturday Night Live this week.

Highlights included Bill Hader’s remarkable Clint Eastwood, Nasim Pedrad’s Arianna Huffington, and Andy Samberg’s Nicolas Cage — plus Abby Elliott’s Deschanel sitting opposite Deschanel’s Mary Kate Olsen, Taran Killam’s Michael Cera and Kristen Wiig’s Bjork. There were also surprise appearances from the real Nicolas Cage (more on that in a moment), and The Artist‘s Jean Dujardin, who brought some authentic French flavor to the loopy “Les Jeunes de Paris.” And an 1860s letter-writing bit so dreadful, I dare not speak of it again.

Here are my picks for the week’s best and worst:

Best: Bein’ Quirky With Zooey Deschanel
Deschanel proved her gameness as a host by playing opposite Elliott’s version of herself — a wide-eyed, twee actress extolling the virtues of Blossom, yarn (which got a genius one-word theme song), and bringing home garbage. Deschanel’s Mary Kate Olsen blew in on a breeze to make a cozy for her Starbucks cup, but Killam’s Cera (a giggling, mealy-mouthed delight) and Wiig’s Bjork (“if you like screaming, make it music!”) scored plenty of laughs, too.

Best: Get in the Cage
Honestly, I don’t know the real Cage managed to keep a straight face during a bit that explained the two-step formula for his most successful movies: “All the dialog is either whispered or screamed.” And “everything in the movie is on fire.” Amazing stuff.

Best: Clint Eastwood/Chrysler Ads
Fourth quarter in America means it’s “overtime in China,” and that the pants on Hader’s Eastwood go higher than ever.

Worst: Daily Post
I appreciated Jason Sudeikis and Kristen Wiig trying to capture the rhythms of old-time screwball comedies, but the writing didn’t give Deschanel any wiggle room to take her befuddled reporter in an exaggerated or funny direction. The result was the waste of what should’ve been an amusing setup.

Worst: Crab Legs
A perfect example of SNL creating an interminable sketch with a puncline so obvious it might as well have run on a ticker across the bottom of the screen.

What did you think of this week’s SNL? How would you rate Deschanel as host? Sound off below!

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. Kathleen says:

    Cage, Quirky, & Eastwood skits were so funny they saved the rest of the show! I’ve missed Bjork! Deschanel’s Olsen was spot on, and Jean Dujardin revived that French Cafe skit!

  2. Captain says:

    I loved the Daily Post sketch. It was such a funny satire and Zooey was hilarious.

    • Rhonda says:

      I also loved the Daily Post sketch except for the ending. It seemed to end suddenly in the middle of the sketch with no explanation. Previous to that I was loving it!

      • Kim R says:

        I totally agree. I thought it was a funny sketch that didn’t have an ending. It just stopped, which took away from the funny.
        I loved Nick Cage! So funny. :)

    • Daniel says:

      I loved the Daily Post sketch as well. Nice throwback to the classic screwballs–the type of film that just does not really get made anymore, not without the predictability and lack or originality that we get with romcoms these days.

    • Mr. Furley says:

      Me too!!! One of the best IMO.
      That kind of dialogue in old movies like that
      always cracked me up,
      I would have responded exactly as Zooey’s character did.

  3. Zack says:

    I loved all of the ones you mentioned as well as the Piers Morgan skit! Definitely one of the best episodes in awhile!!

    • Janie says:

      The piers morgan sketch was a good idea but there was ONE thing that bothered me.. either someone at SNL didnt do their research or they felt that their audience wouldnt care.. but Piers Morgan and Madonna have been having a feud and Piers said he would NEVER allow Madonna on his show
      I loved the quirky sketch and quick talking news reporters
      did anyone else notice they gave Zoey a lot of Emma Stone’s parts?

  4. Brendan says:

    Taran’s Michael Cera was the highlight of an otherwise terrible night.

  5. David says:

    Except for Bein’ Quirky, the show was awful. I don’t think there was one sketch where Zooey didn’t completely read her lines off cue cards. That’s not talent. The Daily Post was the worst of the sketches. It has never been funny. SNL is desperately in need of new writers and a new producer.

  6. Brandon says:

    I was in TEARS laughing at the Bein’ Quirky sketch, and I rarely get like that with SNL. I actually really enjoyed most of the episode except the crabs and “making technology hump”. The newspaper sketch was really amusing to me, but cut off right when I thought it was about to get good.

    • Carmichael says:

      I mostly enjoyed it, but I’m sorry, the only thing I’ve ever liked Michael Cera in was Juno, and Killiam’s impression, to me at least, came across more as a human Mickey Mouse. Am a bit ambivalent about the Daily Post sketch, and I agree with those saying it ended before it could get good. I also wasn’t crazy about the crab sketch, it just seemed to go on forever.

  7. Eliza says:

    Darn, forgot to watch and now I find out Jean Dujardin made an appearance. Will have to catch that on On Demand.

  8. nyguy says:

    Best episode of SNL since Betty White (although the Jimmy Fallon one was really good too).

  9. Rob says:

    I thought this was one of — if not the — best episodes of the season. The quirky sketch was nothing but brilliant.

  10. John Grose says:

    The Cages were awesome. Les Jeunes was good, but I wished they’d start inventin’ some new stuff.- John

    • cj says:

      i was not a huge fan of the Cage sketch. except the last line where they were gonna have a three way with the declaration of independence. it felt like the real cage was disapproving of the impersonation and wanted to come on and point out its stupidity. LAME. but i found it interesting to note that after the Arianna Huffington bit, the jokes and the energy of Update was greatly improved… go nasim!

  11. Ross says:

    Mostly all awful. Bu the “Being Quirky” sketch was very funny. And Wiig was a standout-her Bjork was hysterical. “I made a sweater for an octopuss. With an extra hole for his hopes and dreams.” Most I’ve laughed at SNL in ages.

  12. Buffy Freak says:

    I turned it off after Weekend Update. I know Zooey is kind of teflon at the moment…you can’t say anything bad about her without getting blasted by her fans…but she was dreadful in the skits I saw. She stammered over her lines and was so clearly reading the cue cards.

    • cj says:

      EVERYBODY reads horrifically off the cue cards, give me a break. vanessa bayer stumbles over her lines every week. go watch chris walken – he stares pretty blankly at his cue cards – and he’s still funny!

  13. TVAddict says:

    I liked Daily Post. Zooey made me laugh on that one…and it was really cool hearing Wiig’s rat a tat tat delivery.
    Crab legs was even worse than letter writing.

  14. D. Hansford says:

    Best: 2 Nic Cages! Worst: Hump technology …
    And I think it’s time to book an established musical act, and stop trying to create buzz from nada.

  15. ana muller says:

    I knew it’d be good since they confirmed she would host, Zooey can do no wrong.

  16. amanda o says:

    I loved last night! But there must be something wrong with me… Because I even liked Crab Legs. Spit your drink out moment for me: “these Mexicans are like my pants.”

  17. Cana says:

    I loved the Quirky girl sketch. But Taran Killiam’s Impression of Michael Cera nearly ruined the Quirky girl sketch for me. Every time he talked it was painful to watch. I remember hating his impression of Michael Cera when Emma Stone hosted SNL for the first time. I am a huge Michael Cera fan. That Impression is just insulting to what makes Michael Cera so great. If i see a good Michael Cera i will love it. Like i love Abby Elliots Zooey. All Taran is doing is talking like Mickey Mouse and Rambling and Being Awkward. Its seems more mad TV worthy than SNL worthy. Plus Michael Cera’s voice is not that Skeaky either. I am a huge fan of Michael Cera’s i know his work very well. Tarrans Impression was not even close. It was some basic things Michael Cera does but it was not spot on. It seems like Michael Cera is easy to impersioante but he is not. Michael Cera is a very subtle performer. You really have to pay attention to him to understand why he is funny. Try being More subtle Karan. Also watch some Arrested Development. If you really want to do a good Michael Cera impression.

  18. S. from A. says:

    there was not enough bill hader in this episode!

  19. Dave says:

    “Deschanel’s Mary Kate Olsen blew in on a breeze..” Just reading this sentence already make me laugh, that line literally made me ROTFLMAO yesterday

  20. The Squatch says:

    I always wondered why so many, if not all, of the hosts have to read from the cue cards so blatantly. At the very least, the actors who host should be able to memorize at least a good portion of their lines. It’s like no one even tries any more. I know they rehearse and do a run-through before the live show and yet 90% of the people seem to be just staring at the cards the entire time while they read their lines. I know it isn’t really a huge deal, but sometimes I find it to be pretty distracting and spend more time focusing on the person doing it than what is going on in the skit. Just a pet peeve, I guess.

    • maggie says:

      They make lots of changes in the script between the run-through and the live show. The run-through is to see what works in front of an audience, and what doesn’t. That leads to many last-minute changes.

      • janie says:

        yes this is true. I recently read Darrell hammond’s book and he said that a lot of times they are given entirely new skits to do right before the live show.
        i think the people who do the best are the people who are best at improv.. even though its not improv.
        If you look at someone like Jason sudeikis or Kristin wiig, it never lookslike they are reading.. they are always able to carry it off because they come from improv backgrounds..

    • The Squatch says:

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m not attacking them for it and I know they make a lot of changes. It just seems like, in the past, the hosts as well as the cast seemed to at least try to hide the fact they were doing it. These days they all just stare at the cards to the point where they never even make eye contact with the person they are supposed to be talking to. heh

  21. Danielle H says:

    LOL @ the Cages and Bein’ Quirky. Zooey’s MK Olsen was so dead on, she even looked like her!

  22. arial says:

    Until SNL, I thought Zooey’s popularity was all hype. But last night, she was funny, musical and dead-on in her MKO impersonation. She’s got talent.

  23. maggie says:

    Loved Bein’ Quirky, the 2 Nic Cages, Clint Eastwood. Hated the crab sketch, and the girls from the 1860’s writing to each other. Uneven episode, with more good than bad.

  24. Mantis says:

    What about Karmin! From YouTube to national television! Awesome! One of the best SNL musical guests in a while!!

  25. fugly says:

    I was VERY disappointed that Stefon was not on to tell me where the hottest Valentine’s Day clubs were in NYC. I hope we don’t have to wait until Easter to see him again, he makes SNL!

  26. Rick says:

    I thought it was a great show, on the whole, with solid celebrity impressions throughout and a few notable exceptions you mention above.
    However, I’m surprised you didn’t mention the cold open, which was kind of lame until the dog started barking uncontrollably, clearly off-script because Sudeikis jumped back a bit, seeming genuinely startled at first, before dealing with it and pushing through his shpiel.

    • Alex says:

      I was in the audience, and distracted during the entire skit because of the dog. It was on the set the entire time, pacing around, and its handler was trying to control it. The barking thing was MOSTLY controlled, but it went on a bit longer than it should have. It was supposed to go on for a bit, but then was supposed to stop and didn’t, so Jason had to ad lib a bit.

      • Rick says:

        Haha, that’s what I thought. I’m surprised they took the risk having the dog there anyway, but Sudeikis handled it well, I thought.

  27. Sarabi says:

    Zooey’s monologue song was better than most performances by musical guests on SNL, if not all. Bein’ Quirky and Chrysler commercials were fantastic, but… Two Nicolas Cages! THAT was hilarious! Also, I liked Jean Dujardin’s cameo.

  28. Yawn says:

    I didn’t see the ep but sought out the Bein’ Quirky skit after hearing it was hilarious, and I was very disappointed. The humor of it was very one-note – yep, these people are quirky, I get it. Abbey Elliot’s impersonation is OK, but lacks the bite to be truly good parody (and certainly I don’t credit Deschanel with being ‘game’ for playing opposite such a soft parody, as this and other reviewers are claiming). I do really like Wiig, but I thought her Bjork was really off-base. The voice was more like Katharine Hepburn on helium, and Bjork’s true oddness was not tapped into – she is not really just a giggly, silly little-girl type. She has been better captured by Alex Borstein on Mad TV, or even Winona Ryder on SNL some years ago.
    Worst of all, though, was Deschanel’s Mary Kate Olsen – she captured nothing about her beyond what her costume and props conveyed. She inconsistently pulled odd, overdone pouts instead of believably mimicking Olsen’s expressions, and most notably, she did not even come close to a decent impersonation of Olsen’s voice, which is quite distinct. I’m kind of stunned anyone thinks this was a good impression when she didn’t seem to even attempt to capture her voice or mannerisms. The delivery of her lines was not just bad as an impersonation, but bad, period. When she had a couple of lines in a row, she couldn’t even intone them beyond someone obviously (and poorly) reading off a cue card.
    The writing for this character was terrible too – nothing but cheap shots at her being frail (what does this have to do with being quirky again?). I’m no fan of Olsen’s, but knowing she had a public battle with anorexia, I think this made the writing not just lazy but a bit cruel.
    If this is the ‘best’ SNL currently has to offer, I’m going to keep staying away.

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