Edward Norton Hosts Saturday Night Live: Watch Video of the Best and Worst Sketches

Saturday Night Live Edward NortonThe good thing about Edward Norton‘s inaugural Saturday Night Live hosting experience: The Fight Clubber was fully committed to every sketch, no matter how mediocre, put before him. The not-so-good thing about the Halloween-adjacent episode: Norton had a whole lotta mediocre to work with.

There were a few high points during the evening, including Norton’s quite good impressions of Woody Allen, Woody Harrelson and Sir Ian McKellan during the Alec Baldwin-assisted opening monologue. But the host was more often the brightest point in an unfunny sketch, as was the case when he played a mulleted, backwoods critter enthusiast called in to help clean up an office possum infestation. (“In conclusion, work harder, not smarter and we’ll get ‘er done and my name has been Russell.”). Let’s take a look at the best and worst of the night’s offerings.

RELATED | 15 Black Women Who Should Be on Saturday Night Live‘s Hosting Shortlist

BEST: NEW HORROR TRAILER

Film auteur Wes Anderson was thoroughly skewed in this trailer for The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders, an imagining of how the quirky director would handle a horror flick. Washed in color and set to the sunny strains of “Me & Julio Down by the Schoolyard,” the faux promo had Norton’s Owen Wilson (another strong impression) and family – full of familiar Anderson characters – trying to evade a Strangers-like invasion by even more Anderson characters. The Royal Tennenbaums, Moonrise Kingdom and Rushmore were just a few of the flicks called out in this spot-on send-up. Stellar all around.

BEST: COLD OPEN: OBAMACARE

Healthcare.gov’s epic fail created great fodder for the episode’s cold open, which found Kate McKinnon’s Kathleen Sebelius offering the American public troubleshooting tips for the broken site (including IT’s go-to: restarting the computer), alternative sites to visit (such as Kayak “where you can purchase airline tickets to Canada and buy cheaper prescription drugs” and a porn site called Web M DDs – ha!) and when all of that failed, 1,000 free hours of AOL.

WORST: RUTH’S CHRIS

Norton gave it his all, but he couldn’t save this unfunny, one-note bit about virgin waiters at the steakhouse chain killing time by pantomiming how they’d go about having sex.

WORST: 12 DAYS NOT A SLAVE

Jay Pharoah’s newly freed slave can’t figure out why his white fellow southerners aren’t being friendly to him – after all, as he repeated a few times, “It’s been two weeks!” since he was freed. If you’re going to take on slavery, SNL, the comedy should be sharper – and the social commentary therefore more pointed – than it was here. As is, the parody of 12 Years a Slave felt like a belabored set-up for cameo-maker Miley Cyrus’ end-of-skit appearance as a twerking southern belle. (P.S. Please never bring her back again. Thanks!)

What did you think of this week’s SNL? How would you rate Norton as host? What were your picks for best and worst sketch? Take our poll, then hit the comments to expand on your thoughts!

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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31 Comments
  1. Tran 2.0 says:

    I give the Edward Norton episode a grade of C. It’s not that hard when first time SNL host gave it their all but in my opinion, Edward Norton wasn’t that good at all. Kudos to Kate McKinnon once again as one of the standout female players on SNL and of course her “eyes” which I really REALLY like. The Ruth’s Chris was indeed the worst but my favorite sketch by far was the Autumn’s Eve ad spoof featuring Kate, Cecily, Aidy and Vanessa. Let’s hope if Kerry Washington can top Norton next week.

  2. Probably my favorite bit from last night was the sketch in the photo above, with Norton playing a weirdo going through a pumpkin full of candy to make odd jokes and hilarious throwaway lines about his life. Probably the best 5-to-1 sketch in ages.

  3. Jill says:

    Miley ruined it for me last night. I di not understand why she had to be there. At the end o the show, it looked like she was looking for someone in the cast to “hug” & “congratulate” her & no one did…unless they did after they cut off the show. So over her. Ed Norton did not need her cameo.

  4. Cori says:

    I was really impressed with Edward Norton’s performance. He was a great host. I’d love to see him come back, but with better material next time. None of the skits were very good, but, like you said, he was very committed and the best part of last night’s show.

    • David says:

      The skits have not been well written in a very long time. That’s the fault of the head writer, Seth Meyers. When he moves to Late Night, I hope they replace him on SNL with someone new, someone who will hire funny writers and who will not allow unfunny sketches to air.

      • Marc says:

        I hope you are right, but I have long suspected that the problem is Lorne, not the writers or the cast. Over the years, he decisions on what to air have been puzzling. Bad characters get repeated. Good one are either ignored or run into the ground. And,more than half of the one-offs should never have made it on the air. The final decisions are his.

      • emor says:

        Just so you know, Seth is NOT the head writer this year. It’s a new couple of writers who share the role. Give them time to find their voice. And yes, more sketches like ed’s candy man. The wackier the better!

  5. Kim R says:

    Edward Norton was fantastic. Unfortunately, the skits were not as a whole. The backwoods character he played coming into to check out the critters in the air vent was hilarious but the sketch didn’t go anywhere. Sometimes it feels like there are a bunch of jokes and people forgot to tell us the punch lines.

    • DL says:

      Completely agree. Norton’s commitment was incredible, and he was a pleasure to watch even when the skits weren’t funny. And the way nearly all the skits ended was utterly bizarre! There’s always a skit or two where it ends on a kind of “okay, the skit’s over” note instead of a good punchline. But in this episode it was almost every sketch! Never seen that before. Mind-boggling.

  6. DavidSask says:

    I never laughed once, have more current new stories mocked and those who have valid celeb impersonations and a character that is proven funny give them weekly or bi-weekly segments. The hosts after the first few young ones this season also are skewed to old, if you must do that get a comedian! LETS DO A PETITION TO GET MAD TV ON THE AIR AGAIN!!!

  7. Shaun says:

    The horror movie one was the best.Great Owen Wilson impression.

  8. cjeffery7 says:

    oi yoi yoi. you said it Roots… all commitment, no content.

  9. EJ says:

    And where was McKinnon as Angela Merkel? Maybe next week with Kerry Washington as Michelle Obama?

  10. erin says:

    Janelle Monae was freaking fantastic!!! Really regretting going to the concert last week, I am such a huge fan of hers. Not a huge fan of Edward Norton, however, but I enjoyed the show more than I thought I would. I was very happy to see Nasim actually have roles in a couple of sketches, her talent is so wasted on SNL.

  11. Brendan says:

    Taran is easily the best SNL cast member now… where the hell was he? This is why this episode was the weakest this season.

    • JLK says:

      There’s a videotaped segment with him singing about being kind to jack-o-laterns at the website. It was cut from the broadcast last night, but it seems like you’d appreciate it.

  12. Toia says:

    I am not a fan of Edward Norton like at all and surprisingly he was the best thing about the episode. Unlike other hosts who you can see are giving the skit the respect they deserve, and lately it had been almost none. Norton was treated was sketch llike it was a serious part, kudos to him.

    It was still not a great episode. This whole season has failed to make me really laugh out loud much. The Wes Anderson horror movie spoof really didn’t do it for me. I could see the writers in the writers room comming up with that as it played out. It was just to on the nose to be funny for me, they where trying to hard. I did find the Autums Eve skit funny. Other than that it was shades of meh and not good. Honestly I was wondering in the midst of the comedy equlivany of beige that the show was last night why I watch it

  13. Zoe says:

    Both Norton and Monae gave it their all to terrible material. I wanted to like Janelle Monae more than I did, but maybe she picked the wrong songs- I’ll have to look up more of her music.

    I liked Anthony Crispino’s appearance on Weekend Update. (although, given the choice, give me Drunk Uncle any day.) Monihan is one of the better players now- again, fully committing to even the most awful material. Also, I really miss The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started A Conversation With At A Party. I honestly wish they has someone else as the new Weekend Update co-chair so that Cecily Strong could continue to do that dynamite character of hers.

    Also, Kate McKinnon. Just- Kate frickin’ McKinnon. She’s wonderful. I want to see her Ellen impression again.

  14. david says:

    I think this season has gotten better since the disappointing first episode but It’s still not where it could be. Kate Mckinnon really gets on my nerves and I kind of cringe when she’s on screen. I don’t find her funny at all and her facial expressions are really bad. The new Weekend Update anchor has gotten a little better so hopefully she will be good to go by the time she has to go solo.

  15. schu says:

    Kate McKinnon and Taran Killam are the saviors of the show at this point, in my opinion. But I also like Nassim Pedrad and feel like she is being totally underused. The skit with her as the lead character I did not find funny, but she can pull off characters so well usually but I feel like we rarely see her anymore.

  16. Bob says:

    Edward Norton. The guy who had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the set of ‘The Italian Job’ a few years back because he thought the script was lame, but he was under contractual obligation. How far the elitist has fallen.

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