It’s been a great season for Saturday Night Live alumni returning to their old stomping grounds. Two months after Jimmy Fallon’s fantastic stint at the show’s helm, Maya Rudolph returned to Studio 8H to host an episode that was consistently funny, and occasionally hilarious. Rudolph didn’t bring back her famed Oprah impression, nor did she attempt her well-know Whitney Houston (no surprise there), but after a cute opening monologue, she brilliantly channeled Maya Angelou, Beyoncé, and (less successfully) Michelle Obama.
Of course, the current star of NBC’s Up All Night got a little help from a trio of special guests: Amy Poehler, Justin Timberlake, and — wait for it — Bill O’Reilly?! (Well, two out of three ain’t bad.) Let’s break down the night’s best and worst sketches.
Best: Bronx Beat
Poehler joined Rudolph for a brilliant revival of gum-snapping talk hosts Betty and Jodi, dishing everything from Jennifer Lopez’s young new beau (“why don’t you smoke a doobie spliff with your hip-hop boy-toy?”) to their own sex lives to episodes of Hoarders (where people find “open cans of Dinty Moore beef stew under a blanket of adult diapers”). The insanity got cranked up to 11 when Andy Samberg and a “hirsute” Timberlake went from camera guy and boom operator to Betty and Jodi’s amorous guests.
Best: Super Showcase
Rudolph and Kristen Wiig’s unhinged game-show “showcase models” were so bizarrely funny — even (especially?) when I couldn’t understand half their words — that both Wiig and Bill Hader (as the program’s host) broke character with cases of the giggles. But how could one resist laughing as Rudolph gingerly stroked a raw whole “Chicken Man” brand chicken, and declared “Each chicken looks as good as this one: That’s the chicken man guarantee!”
Best (Honorable Mention): Weekend Update’s “Really!?! With Seth & Amy”
A rapid-fire series of zingers about women’s reproductive rights coming under attack by Congress and Republican presidential candidates. My two favorites? Poehler commenting on Rick Santorum’s major donor Foster Friess saying he was sorry for his recent comment that women used to inexpensively practice birth control by putting Bayer aspirin between their knees: “Well, we’d love to accept your apology, Foster, but you made a mistake. And now you’re going to have to live with that mistake for the rest of your life.” And Seth Meyers wondering if the “life begins at conception” argument would soon turn to “life begins at last call.”
Worst: What’s Up With That?
Why bother booking Bill O’Reilly and Sports Illustrated covergirl Kate Upton to sit in silence while Kenan Thompson drags out one of his least funny characters, BET talk show host Deandre Cole? Thank God for Jason Sudeikis’ running-man moves bringing a few hearty chuckles to a sketch where punch lines went to die.
What did you think of this week’s SNL? How did you feel Rudolph did as host? Sound off in the comments!