Jonah Hill Hosts SNL: Best and Worst Skits

The most memorable moments of this week’s Saturday Night Live didn’t feature Jonah Hill. The second-time host was upstaged from the get-go (when Tom Hanks popped up during the opening monologue), and this trend lasted up until he ‘rapped’ up the show with Kristen Wiig.

There were a few chuckles throughout the evening — including the cast’s frequent character breaks — as well as some very strange impressions. Here are my picks for best and worst of the night:

BEST: Weekend Update
Even though Weekend Update saw the most character breaks of the evening, the jokes warranted the reactions. Highlights included Kristen Wiig’s butter-studded Paula Deen, Andy Samberg’s last-minute (and meta’ed) Sarah Palin (who’d have thought he’d be a capable sub for Tina Fey?), and the glorious return of Stefon. The latter’s explanation of ‘hoombas’ (“A human roomba — the thing when you put a midget on a skateboard and it slides around on your floor eating garbage”) was only upstaged by his shocking kiss with Seth Meyers at the end of the segment.

BEST: Brutus
This Planet of the Apes spoof found scientist Hill introducing Brutus, the ape that he taught to speak. But instead of reciting the alphabet or carrying on a simple conversation, Brutus — any guesses who was inside the costume? — spilled about the forced sex that the two of them had had. It’s a slippery slope when your punch lines include a lot of stuttered words about being “scared” and producing half-man, half-ape babies, but the characters played off each other surprisingly well.

WORST: The Rush Limbaugh Show
Talk about wasted opportunities. Instead of executing a fully realized sketch, this cold open felt like the writers threw together a bunch of random ideas, came up with a few fake logos, and lazily started the show. Taran Killam’s portrayal was neither here nor there, but the seemingly endless list of Limbaugh’s new sponsors (to replace the “sluts at TurboTax”) was not a good start to the night.

WORST: Liza Minelli Tries to Turn Off a Lamp
Like many other SNL misfires, this sketch relied too heavily on one motion and a lot of sound effects. Unfortunately, Wiig’s actions never really synched up with the orchestra, making the already boring skit fall flat. Hill spoke about five words throughout, and after Liza’s parade of acrobatic dancing and vocal tics, the skit ended with her turning off the lamp — but nothing happened. They may have missed the performance of CATS, but no one seemed too upset about it. I just want my five minutes back.

Honorable Mention: Anniversary Orchestra
When I first saw Kristen Wiig holding a rose, I thought it was going to be a Bachelor spoof. Then, as the skit began, I assumed the night was going to end on a sour note. And while it wasn’t the strongest skit of the night, watching Hill and Wiig rap Coolio’s “C U When U Get There” before the entire cast joined them in singing and dancing off stage was a nice way to end the episode. I may have been distracted by Bill Hader’s keyboard playing, however, which only served to make me miss Lord Wyndemere even more.

What did you think of this week’s SNL? What are your picks for best and worst skit? And how would you grade Hill as host? Sound off in the comments!

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76 Comments
  1. ag says:

    Really using the M word in 2012?! Why doesn’t “Stefon” evovle and use his imagination beyond the old stupid “pick on the little people” trick. Really, nothing else to fall back on? Thanks for backsliding by teaching and encouraging intolerance. Bravo!! “Stefon” and those that support him are proving ignorance and inhumnaity to be stronger than ever. It’s a bummer “Stefon” and those supporting him think supporting cruelty, poking at handicap people whom are struggling to live unafflicted, is soooo funny. Not so creative, certainly not original, and absolutely not funny. By the way the M out and so is ignorance. Grow a heart.

    • Michael says:

      Yep…it’s the use of the word midget that bothers you, not the fact that he is a flaming stereotype. Interesting.

      • scorpo says:

        I am not understanding what is the big deal about using the word midget.

        • Michael says:

          It’s technically un-PC to use the word “midget”. I believe that they prefer “little people”.

          • heather says:

            I don’t get why they prefer little people. That sounds more derogatory to me. Midget is a term for their body and little people just sounds like they aren’t a equal person to “normal people”

          • KevyB says:

            Midget is NOT derogatory to MIDGETS. It’s considered derogatory to dwarfs, who are different than midgets. Midgets are super-short but proportional, dwarfs’ limbs are not proportional. Many midgets and dwarfs hate “little people” and vice-versa. Herve Villechaize, a dwarf, wanted to be referred to as a midget, not a dwarf or a little person. So climb off your miniature pony!

    • Captain says:

      Wowww, calm down little guy. Take a nap.

    • amy says:

      Seriously? Now we’re calling it the M WORD? Good LORD.

    • Ruby says:

      It’s a comedy show, not Politically Correct 101. They make fun of EVERYBODY. If you can’t take it, turn the channel.

  2. Jaded says:

    The Shins kicked total ass!

  3. TVsChristina says:

    I’m pretty sure it was Fred Armison in the monkey suit.

  4. RobynBobyn says:

    I think you missed the point of the Liza Minelli sketch. I think the joke was that she was taking way too long and doing too many weird things just do the simple act (turning on the lamp). I’m not saying you should think it’s funny…but, I dunno, the whole point was that Minelli is too extravagant and “performs” all the time, even when she’s trying to do the simplest of things.

    • topsyturvy says:

      Also, wasn’t it a companion to the Ann Margaret Throws Away a Piece of Paper(or whatever that was) from awhile back?

      Is it just me or has Jonah been back in the pantry?

    • Amanda says:

      The main problem with the Liza sketch is that it is not topical. The current core audience of SNL is not familiar enough with Liza to get any joke (good or bad) about her.

    • Smith says:

      Exactly, I don’t think the reviewer got the point of the skit, if you saw her perform that is what she does

  5. Kevin says:

    I also believe Fred was in the monkey suit, and was the whole cast in the Anniversary sketch? I’m pretty sure it was all of them were in it minus Seth Myers of course.

  6. midget says:

    Is the M word midget?

    • ag says:

      Oh my gosh yes! The M word stands for Midget. Why do people think that word is ok to use still? Did people really not get what I was talking about or is everyone just jerking around? I think it is really irresponsible to promote labeling people and abusing people for their differences. That is what Stefon and those of you laughing at him are doing. I think Stefon could go for laughs that are not so cheap and think about the opinions he is promoting. I have given this character Stefon a few chances, but last night he was abusive in his skit. Laugh it up if you must. It makes me very sad to have to explain people like this and all of you laughing about this to my 10year old daughter.

      • K says:

        Maybe you should start by not letting your 10 year-old watch SNL!

      • Captain says:

        Your 10 year old daughter is awake at midnight on a Saturday? Maybe you should be a more responsible parent.

      • scorpo says:

        When did it NOT become ok to use the word midget. From my understanding there is a difference between a midget and a dwarf. I don’t know exactly but it has to do with technical physical traits.

        • Meg says:

          I think you can use dwarf as dwarfism is a thing, but you’re supposed to use little person/people for instead of midget. Something about midget being used to describe little people that were once sideshow acts in the circus?

        • MichelleR says:

          Midget used to be the term for someone who was extremely short, but “proportionate,” — picture an average sized person shrunk down — and harkens back to circus performers. Dwarf was the term for someone who was extremely short, but perhaps had a bigger head, or a longer trunk compared to leg ratio.

          Midget is now considered derogatory, while Dwarf or Little Person are the preferred terms.

      • Amy says:

        Ahhhh middle America, always protecting the children. Can’t explain to a precious child what the word “midget” even means. Now it’s “the M word.” I’ll bet fat people are the “F Word” and you have to explain to your child that they’re “weight challenged.” Poor people aren’t the “P word,” they’re “Monetarily challenged.” Help me J-word!

  7. andrew says:

    Your defense of midgets was funnier than the skit itself…

  8. bob says:

    i actually loved the liza sketch–personal fave for the absolute randomness of it all.

    • Ben says:

      The Liza Minnelli skit was funny in my opinion.

      I remember a similar skit in which Kristen Wiig did a similar routine but as Ann-Margret; I iked that one too.

      I imagine that people who don’t know a lot about the starts from several decades back wouldn’t find this humor funny.

      • Heather says:

        I think its also a parody of movies made for just those actresses where they created silly plots to get them to perform. I remember in one of Ann-Margret’s movies where she came home and her roommates were dancing, so she had to join in and dance to get to her room.

    • scrutinizer says:

      yes, i loved it too! just proves kristen can pull off something so bizarre as that skit and do it like no one else can. those dance moves, especially the fosse chicken neck, were hysterical. she really is a comic genius.

  9. josh says:

    haha who cares if they made fun of midgets its comedy they’re going to poke fun at everyone… if you’re that easily offended then just don’t watch the show

  10. raftrap says:

    The precocious six year old and J Pop America Fun Time Now returned!, that is all. And yeah, I think it was Fred Arminsen under there, it’s weird that SNL violated its “make sure everyone knows who’s under the makeup” rule.

  11. No jive says:

    You aren’t kidding! I’m cracking up!

  12. JJ says:

    I agree with Andrew…. AG’s rant has been the best part of my morning! Ha ha ha. It’s a comedy show, and everything is always fair game to comedians. If you’re so easily offended by someone saying “midget”, perhaps your TV should remain on PBS or Treehouse. Clearly can’t handle some simple jokes!

    IMHO, stefon was the highlight of the night!!! HOOMBAS!!!! Bwahahahaha!

  13. amber says:

    i normally love your weekly article, but i have to disagree with one thing…the liza sketch was hilarious. all the fosse dance references (“will a fosse neck do it?”, “ben vereen it’s long”, and all the ad libbing with the orchestra…i was laughing so hard i was crying. she’s brilliant. almost better than the real liza’s cameos on arrested development.

  14. Ella Bee says:

    The Liza sketch was hilarious. I just love Kristen Wiig.

    I also thought the six-year old sketch was pretty good.

    I think that was Fred Armisen as Brutus. I love his versatility. He always cracks me up.

    I don’t always “get” the Stefon character, but I always get a good laugh when he breaks character.

    The show was overall entertaining.

  15. JJ says:

    While I love Stefon am I the only one that thinks Bill Hader ALWAYS breaking into laughter isn’t funny? It was funny when it happened once because it’s not supposed to happen now it’s almost as if it’s a planned part. Stay in character Bill, the hilarity of Stefon is how dead serious he is about the ridiculousness if the clubs.

    The Rush Limbaugh opener was such a missed opportunity. Great impersonation, bad jokes.

    • Aaron says:

      You try saying half the things he does the way he says them and try not to laugh.

    • JessicaLauren0 says:

      The reason Hader breaks so much when he does Stefon is because John Mulaney, who writes most of the Weekend Update stuff, likes to change the cue cards right before Hader goes on. So he really doesn’t always know what he’ll be saying so it’s just as fresh and funny to him as it is to us. :)

      • Jennifer says:

        I’m glad he does cause it makes for more fun and interesting Stefon! I mean who wouldn’t crack up trying to read that stuff

  16. KD says:

    That was a horrifically awful episode. And it had nothing to do with Jonah Hill the writing is unbelievably bad.

  17. PG says:

    I second that!! Completely inappropriate to let your 10 year old watch SNL!

  18. Matt says:

    Brutus was totally Tom Hanks. His mannerisms. I didn’t see the beginning so didn’t know when I saw that sketch that he was on the show. I couldn’t figure out who it could be, because I watch enough to have a good sense of their mannerisms. As soon as I heard Hanks had been on, it clicked.

  19. cj says:

    the research monkey was HORRIBLE. with the exception of the opening rush limbaugh skit, i thought the skits (and musical performances!) were pretty funny up until and through weekend update (though i’m a bit weary of Stefon. he’s funny, but he never does anything new. he can make some weird sounds, but i just don’t LOL anymore). i missed the last half hour of the show, though did manage to catch liza manelli. kristin wiig committed brilliantly as usual, but it wasn’t one of her funniest.

  20. frogger says:

    1) a lot of pre-taped material – even the monologue??
    2) after seth meyers mentioned Game Change on HBO i changed the channel thinking it wouldn’t be interesting, i’d just see what it was like for 2 minutes…. it hooked me in. i missed the last half of SNL. merh.

  21. wmjindsm says:

    If you listen to the voice, I was thinking the monkey was Tom Hanks.

  22. JayD says:

    Pahaha. Really… Did you just call it the “M” word? Intolerance?

    You, sir or Madame, have successfully made me laugh harder than the idea of a midget on a skate board.

  23. ang says:

    LOL “Don’t say the *M* word” — but no word on J-Pop? WHAT a STOOGE! It’s a TV show — AG – Get over yourself. It was hilarious, all around! I liked Paula Deen’s “N” word…NUTRITION. baaahahahaha

    • scrutinizer says:

      yes, kristen as paula deen was really a standout! her sly way of buttering that turkey drumstick had me in stitches…LOL

  24. ang says:

    Agreed! Can we get AG to write for SNL, ‘Unfunny Overlly tolerent windbag’ needs a skit. Also I read in a interview the reason Bill Hader cracks up is because from rehersal to showtime Seth or another writer will change up the cue cards. Also the guy holding the cue cards TRIES to get him to break character.

  25. Josh says:

    Not sure why people feel the need to qualify comedy like this. How is a person’s singular view on what’s funny get to be presented as a definitive fact? Furthermore, why is this column needed? It doesn’t present anything creative or interesting about the show. Why waste our time?

  26. jaded says:

    The Jpop skit is funny. I understand the joke because I’m into anime and yes, jpop and have been to enough anime Cons where non Japanese girls and boys put “ne” at the end of every sentence and dressed for cosplay (dressed like anime characters.) What I think it really funny is how seriously they take themselves so I think that whoever wrote that sketch has been to a few anime cons or at least, has seen jpop.

  27. Brandon says:

    Spesk for yourself: Wiig’s Liza sketch had me ROLLING. Favorite of the night besides Weekend Update. I found the talking ape sketch pretty lackluster.

  28. Brandon says:

    Also, the monkey was clearly Fred Armisen.

  29. McJagger says:

    C’mon, the Limbaugh sketch had the biggest laugh of the show for me. Moist Books!!! Who left the books out?? We did!!

  30. Tim says:

    It looks like Robert Downey Jr in the monkey suit to me.

  31. Jennifer says:

    I agree about Weekend Update, BEST one this year!! Loved Andy as “new” Sara! One thing, re: Stefon: it was Boston Legal NOT Royal Pains.

  32. John Berggren says:

    Is Bobby Moynihan still on the show? I swear I haven’t seen him in a sketch in a few weeks.

  33. rachel says:

    as in typical SNL fashion – i thought this skit was hilarious when it started – The impression was funny and i was laughing. Jonah’s commentary was also funny – though i wish they had allowed him to specifically be someone – cary grant? someone — but it went on too long. Same with the monkey sketch -which also started out hilarious but soon dragged on.

  34. Velvet says:

    When I was a child I use to have a 45 of Short People by Randy Newman. I thought it was a fun, catchy son at the time…

    Short people got no reason
    Short people got no reason
    Short people got no reason to live

    They got little hands
    Little eyes
    They walk around
    Tellin’ great big lies
    They got little noses
    Tiny little teeth
    They wear platform shoes
    On their nasty little feet

    Well, I don’t want no short people
    Don’t want no short people
    Don’t want no short people round here

    Short people are just the same
    As you and I
    (A Fool Such As I)
    All men are brothers
    Until the day they die
    (It’s a wonderful world)

    Short people got nobody
    Short people got nobody
    Short people got nobody to love

    They got little baby legs
    They stand so low
    You got to pick ‘em up
    Just to say hello
    They got little cars
    That go beep, beep, beep
    They got little voices
    Goin’ peep, peep, peep
    They got grubby little fingers
    And dirty little minds
    They’re gonna get you every time

    Well, I don’t want no short people
    Don’t want no short people
    Don’t want no short people’ round here

  35. flutiefan says:

    sorry, honey, your razor-sharp instincts seem to have dulled. Seth Meyers already confirmed on Twitter that it was Armisen

  36. Justin says:

    I thought that he was one of the best hosts in A WHILE…the obnoxious 6 year old was hilarious

  37. w says:

    I really am amazed that so many people find Kristin Wiig so funny. Occasionally I’ll find her funny – like the Real Housewives of Disney. But mostly I find her so repetitive and obnoxious – I do not get it.

  38. k james says:

    Kristin wiig can do so many characters. Hilarious!

  39. me says:

    The LM sketch was the best ever.

    Stefon always wins.

  40. Riley says:

    21 Jump Street was a hilarious movie, so it can said that I was expecting more from watching Jonah Hill on SNL when I watched it on DISH Online the other day for free. I’m not really a fan of Jonah Hill, and his skits weren’t really the best. My favorite skit was Weekend Update, which of course didn’t include him. I watched it while I was on lunch at DISH where I work, and I wish this episode of SNL was better. After Maya Rudolph, the hosts haven’t been so great. I wonder who will be next.

  41. Smith says:

    I loved the Liza skit, if you ever saw her perform you would get it

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  43. Craig says:

    The term M I D G E T. Many average size parents of dwarf children have taken over the organization called Little People of America. These parents admitted via their guilt and transparency that when they were young they use to make fun of Little People by calling them “midgets,” not knowing they would in the future be parents of a child with dwarfism. The word MIDGET is NOT offensive, it is the INTENT to ostracize a person because of their size. Yet, these very PARENTS are notorious for ostracizing other individuals. The ACLU will eventually file a lawsuit against Little People of America for Freedom of Speech. However, the cult called Little People of America feels they can dictate to America free speech. Perhaps this organization called Little People of America should stop promoting reality tv programs, midget wrestling, midget basketball and misusing LPA’s 501c3 tax id in order to profit from the public.

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