Bruno Mars kicked off his Saturday Night Live hosting gig with a musical number in which he worried about living up to the standards set by another R&B vocalist-turned-comedy-MVP, Justin Timberlake. It turns out the “Runaway Baby” singer had nothing to worry about.
Mars’ impressive array of impersonations and off-kilter characterizations, and his willingness to try on everything from hoochie-girl drag to an eye patch to a giant mouse costume, helped make his one of the funniest SNL episodes in recent memory.
In fact, this was such a terrific 90 minutes that I’m going to switch up my usual format of picking the week’s two best and two worst sketches, in favor of identifying the three best and one worst — and I’m still leaving out a very strong appearance by Stefon (that “or is it piss?” punch line almost knocked me to the floor), and a “Brad Pitt for Taco Bell” ad that had Taran Killam extolling the virtues of “pouring loose meat and cheese into a bag of Doritos.” Without further ado…
Best: “Donkey Punch the Ballot”
I always enjoy Jason Sudeikis and Nasim Pedrad’s Underground Records’ festivities, but this politically themed installment was chock full of random/priceless zingers. From the event location (a KFC in Syria) to the secret ingredient in the homemade salami (“You just ate Rafalca, bitch!”), I had to rewind my DVR to catch some of the punch lines I missed from roaring so hard the first time through.
Best: Sad Mouse
The laughs were much more subdued in this digital short about a depressed guy (Mars) who gets a job working Times Square in a mouse costume, and asks the haunting question, “What if they don’t wave back?” No lie: I’d be the first in line to watch if NBC greenlit this as a series.
Best: Technical Difficulties at Pandora
Here was an excellent (albeit rare) example of SNL‘s writers tailoring a skit to highlight the host’s specific talents. Technical glitches at the internet radio company led to Mars’ plucky intern imitating hits by Green Day, Katy Perry, and Michael Jackson. Young Devin’s impersonations were spot on, but even funnier was the random touches like rhyming “sushi” with “douchey” on “Smooth Criminal.” (Alas, this one’s not available online, probably due to music-clearance issues.)
Worst: Presidential Debate Cold Open
Why is it that SNL almost never throws away the template of closely following what we’ve seen on TV? Wouldn’t it be funnier to see things taken in a more heightened/absurdist direction? Why not let Kate McKinnon bring back her terrific Ann Romney in some sort of pre-debate coaching session? Heck, that could’ve been alternated with Sudeikis’ ridiculous Joe Biden trying to give pointers to President Obama. But nope, all we got were small tweaks on the actual town-hall event, and Jay Pharoah in a suit that was a size or two too big.
What did you think of this week’s SNL? How would you rate Mars as a host? What was your favorite sketch? Sound off in the comments!Follow @MichaelSlezakTV