Adam Levine got a little help from Jerry Seinfeld, Cameron Diaz and Andy Samberg to kick off his first Saturday Night Live hosting gig, but things might’ve worked out better had those bold-faced names mentored the show’s writers instead.
Indeed, the setups this week were so unimaginative, the Maroon 5 frontman wound up playing himself not once, but twice, and even worse, other sketches (the firehouse meltdown, The Sopranos Diaries, even that “YOLO” short) relegated him to nothing more than a bit player with little to no chance of scoring a laugh.
Below are my picks for the week’s best and worst sketches:
BEST: Biden Bash
The week’s final skit was (surprisingly) the funniest, as Jason Sudeikis’ Vice President Biden kicked off his second term at the Dover Motor Speedway in hilariously low-rent fashion. Levine’s Neil Diamond…Impersonator of the Year…Contest Participant was great, and “As the saying goes, ‘What happens in Delaware.'” A nice reminder that sometimes shorter = better.
BEST: Opening Monologue
Okay, it wasn’t fall-down funny — and the show’s writers missed a chance at a great joke by making Levine’s shirt removal completely random instead of the final act in choosing Samberg or Diaz as mentor over Seinfeld — but I’m gonna give this a slight edge over Nasim Pedrad’s fine Arianna Huffington and that goofy Levine-vs.-Pat Monahan bar fight (with Sudeikis’ amazing Jason Mraz). Best parts had to be Levine’s joke about carrying on the tradition of singers overreaching into acting; Diaz and Samberg’s gross-funny stuff about Ben Stiller’s bodily fluids; and especially Samberg’s recounting of having been in “100 digital shorts as well as three live sketches” during his SNL tenure.
WORST: Martin Luther King, Jr. visits President Obama
Jay Pharoah didn’t attempt a single punch line as the newly inaugurated POTUS, content instead to play the straight man to Kenan Thompson’s Dr. King. That put all the weight of the Cold Open on the latter character, making tired pop-cultural observations (“Did you see that girl Beyoncé?” Thompson-as-King crowed, “‘Cause I was like whaaaaat?”) that could’ve plopped out of any historical figure with equally stilted results. Depressing stuff.
WORST: Circle Work on The Gay Network
Thompson and Levine starred as Tracy Allstar and Todd Anthony, hosts of this groan-inducingly titled talk show trying to solve straight people’s problems but ultimately concluding that every heterosexual man with issues is secretly “gay as pastry bags filled with lemon creams.” Nothing about the sketch was outrageous enough to elicit shock or guffaws, nor sharp enough to make any observations on the rise of metrosexuality or the continued existence of down-low culture. The average episode of NBC’s sweetly earnest The New Normal is 50 times edgier, and that airs on Tuesdays before 10 p.m.
What did you think of this week’s SNL? How would you rate Levine as host? What did you think were the best and worst sketches? Sound off in the comments!