Paul Rudd Hosts Saturday Night Live: Watch Video of the Best and Worst Sketches

The stars came out to help Paul Rudd host Saturday Night Live this week, but the veteran funnyman wound up shining brightest of all — scoring genuinely big laughs in roles as varied as a One Direction fan, a male model in 1500s Italy and Santa Claus in the middle of a midlife crisis.

Granted, the writing was (in typical SNL fashion) a mixed bag, but Rudd — along with Steve Carell, Will Ferrell, David Koechner, plus Harry, Zayn, Liam, Louis and Niall — worked overtime to ensure an above-average installment. Below, my picks for best and worst sketches:

The concept of a fortysomething dad freaking out over the world’s most popular boy band was a brilliant one, but Rudd upgraded it by nailing the ecstatic facial expressions and breathless enthusiasm of his fellow grade-school girls. And that “you don’t know your basic facts” taunt (to the tune of “You don’t know you’re beautiful”) was the funniest moment of the whole episode.

Rudd served as the centerpiece of a sketch about a male model careening from excitement to humiliation after the unveiling of Michelangelo’s famous sculpture and the revelation that he’d served as “the exact replica down to the atom” — including David’s tiny penis. Sure, the jokes were obvious, but Rudd’s complaint that his future kids would someday see the work, followed by Taran Killam’s Michelangelo responding, “I don’t know if you’re gonna be able to have children” had me guffawing in spite of myself.

Rudd’s self-deprecating shtick about having been upstaged by the show’s musical guests during his prior two hosting gigs yielded amusing results when the members of One Direction ambled onto the stage behind him to the roaring approval of the crowd. But the wackiness quotient doubled when Rudd was joined by his Anchorman costars, insults began flying (“sit on Santa’s lap and ask for a pair of balls”) and everyone joined forces for a “Nine Direction” cover of “Afternoon Delight.”

Here’s a prime example of how SNL misses the mark when skewering topical pop-cultural events. Instead of mining the rich comic territory of Carrie Underwood’s, um, unexpressive acting (opposite stunning Broadway vets) in NBC’s high-rated live musical, the show trotted out Kristen Wiig’s tiny-handed Dooneese as one of the von Trapp kids. When, “Ray, the guy in the bar that tries to lay on me,” is your best “Do-Re-Me” tweak, it’s time to retire the character.

Why Kenan Thompson is allowed to keep bringing back his unfunny impression of the MSNBC host is a mystery worthy of an entire Dateline episode. The introduction of Rudd as “unpaid contributor to the Huffington Post” was pretty damn funny, but the actor was totally squandered with punchline-free dialogue thereafter.

What did you think of Rudd as SNL host? Grade the episode in the poll below, then sound off in the comments!

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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  1. Ben says:

    Once again Jebediah Atkinson gets overlooked?

    • Dr. Bombay says:

      I liked it..but it wasn’t as good as the first time he did it IMO.

      • Steven says:

        It was way too soon to bring him back; the joke wore thin really quick. In true meta fashion, his best line was chiding Seth Myers for bringing him back at all–“It’s been three weeks. Run things into the ground much?”

        • Amanda says:

          Yes too soon, but “Charlie Brown, you have a pube on your forehead,” had me laughing all night!

          • Aeol says:

            My aunt just gave my daughter a Charlie Brown doll last week, and all I could do was look across the room where Charlie and his forehead pube were staring right at me. I’m STILL dying.

    • cjeffery7 says:

      when his quips are the same as kristen wiig’s aunt linda but in an old timey voice? yeah. easily overlooked.

  2. dude says:

    The Dan Charles sketch was probably my favourite of the season.

  3. Chana says:

    I plan on using Oh,oh,oh, you don’t know your basic facts, no, no, no every day. Paul Rudd was a very enthusiastic host. The White Christmas movie trailer had me laughing. The Macklemore of movies.

  4. Tran 2.0 says:

    One of the best SNL episodes of the season. Can’t believe a few of former SNL stars making an appearance like Fred Armisen, Kristen Wiig and of course Will Ferrell (Rudd’s Anchorman co-star). Best sketch of the night: Dan Charles as a One Direction fan. Worst sketch: Al Sharpton’s Politics Nation. Overall I give the Paul Rudd episode of SNL an A. Wonder how John Goodman would fare next week as he returns to SNL for the 13th time and I’m so excited for Fallon and Timberlake on December 21st (could it be Seth Meyers’ final SNL episode before he takes over Late Night in February 2014?).

    • Bob says:

      No, it will not be Meyers’ final episode (although I wish it were). He’ll be there until the Olympics start, and it’s been suggested by Michaels that he can stay beyond the start of his Late Night gig.

  5. Marianne says:

    I sort of agree and disagree about The Sound of Music opening. You are right, they did not need to bring the Kristen Wiig character into it. That was pure spoof worthy without having to add in something dumb. But, I did like it for the most part.

    • Kim R says:

      I felt the same way about it. Although I must be one of the few that laughs at the tiny hand Wigg character. :) I kept waiting for them to make the joke Carrie’s poor acting but they did not go there. I found that odd.

      • TV Gord says:

        Why kick her when she’s down? Everyone knows her acting wasn’t very good, so I think it would be perceived as cruel to rub it in…especially on the same network. SNL has (almost) always stayed away from going too far.

  6. Jess says:

    Loved the Dan Charles skit. Everything else was pretty much a let down. However, I would pay good money to see Nine Direction perform.

  7. Brendan says:

    Good episode. Not as good at the Lady Gaga episode though.

  8. Mike D. says:

    Probably my favorite episode of the season, even though I personally wasn’t a fan of the male model sketch, and as weird as it was my favorite sketch was probably the divorce sketch. Overall I thought it was a return to form for snl.

  9. veronica says:

    I flippin’ loved the Sound of Music open…and I love that character…best episode of the year.

  10. Steph says:

    My faves were The Sound of Music, Jebediah Atkinson, and Dan Charles.

  11. Carrie says:

    Good episode. Paul Rudd is extremely likeable and genuinely funny. His natural charm and comedic timing made even sub par sketches easier to watch. (Can you tell I like him?) The best parts of the night were the opening monologue, The Dan Charles sketch, White Christmas and Jebediah Atkinson on Weekend Update.

  12. Ewa says:

    I didn’t get why White Christmas was supposed to be funny; to me, apart from the comments how it was the genre of black movie, it looked like any other family Christmas movie… Seriously, they are always horrendous, whether about white or black people, and the plots and typical characters are always the same. Do white Americans really believe “white” family movies are in any way more ambitious/polished/innovative?
    Now, show me a movie with a mixed cast and none of them being a racial stereotype – I’ll believe that’s something new!

    • KiP says:

      I suspect this skit is in response to recent discussion of how Best Man Holiday did well and how at least one news outlet claimed that it was because this was a big year for movies about race. There were several responses about how the movie is not about race, it is a movie with black actors, and about how there is a perception that movies with predominantly black casts are somehow unrelatable for white viewers or must be viewed as a kind of statement whereas the same movies with white actors are just seen as “regular” movies.

  13. Koolaid says:

    why make fun of penis size… so old , why not make fun a girl who has small breasts or weird shape breasts, why not make fun of a vagina that is too pink, or miss shaped? Maybe even make fun of a veteran that has no legs. Shame Saturday Night Live Shame. That was literley the stupidest sketch I have ever seen.

    • S. says:

      Methinks thou dost protest too much. And “literley”? Why not make fun of someone who can’t read good SNL? For shame! PS. Check out the Derek Zoolander center, Koolaid. You can be helped. It’s not too late!

    • Lynne says:

      Probably because women dont care near as much about their boob size as guys care about their penis size?

    • It ain't all that says:

      While I don’t think it’s right to tell someone to “kill yourself” over a physical flaw that can’t be helped, I can think of very few shows where there has not been a joke about this. Something you have to accept as a tv fan.

    • TV Gord says:

      I guess you never saw the Lord and Lady Douchebag sketch back in the final season of the first cast.

  14. Shaun says:

    There was that twitter thing in Sharptons sketch that was funny.

  15. cjeffery7 says:

    i for one was glad they didnt mock carrie underwood. it would have just been cruel. do an impersonation of her in a few weeks on weekend update and make her self-depricating. don’t kick the girl while she’s down.

    • Elf says:

      I think she was only spared because the actual SOM live airing didn’t happen in time for them to build the skit around Underwood’s performance. I’m sure if they had more lead time they would have. Though I did expect the Maria character to at least keep slipping in and out of various accents.

  16. keith says:

    To bill brasski!

  17. Butters says:

    The question is why is Kenan Thompson still allowed to be on SNL?

    • Flygrrl40 says:

      Ya… good question. With all those new people ripe to get out there, what IS he still doing there? Wait, my left brain just answered my angry right. Could it be they’re reticent to get rid of (one-of-two) remaining black dudes – with all that “color” controversy? Gosh, I HOPE not!

  18. DF says:

    Episode: C
    Paul Rudd: A

  19. Brandy says:

    Wiig’s Dooneese character will NEVER get old to me. I laugh hysterically every time I see it and loved having her back last night!

  20. JD says:

    it’s the Mackelmore of movies.

    awesome line.

  21. TV Gord says:

    This is the first time I enjoyed that Kristen Wiig character. It seemed perfect for the Sound of Music parody!