Jim Parsons Hosts Saturday Night Live: Watch Video of the Best and Worst Sketches

“How long is this elevator ride?” Jim Parsons desperately asked, bringing to a close a wretched Saturday Night Live sketch about an executive trying (and failing) to hastily exit his office building while clutching a bag containing his soiled underwear.

Alas, that question could’ve applied to the Emmy winner’s overall experience hosting an episode of NBC’s sketch-comedy series that featured not one but two unwelcome recurring segments (those inane cowboys and Spotlightz Acting Camp); multiple bits where the writers didn’t bother to concoct a plausible ending; and (aside from the 12 Years a Slave casting session and a so-so Johnny Weir on Ellen bit) very little emphasis on current pop-cultural or political happenings.

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Putting it another way, Parsons tried gamely — committing to even the lamest setups — but you can’t squeeze blood from a rock.

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Below, my picks for the week’s best and worst sketches, and if you want to dish Colin Jost’s “Weekend Update” debut, click here for my colleague Matt Mitovich’s review:

BEST: 12 YEARS A SLAVE OPEN CALL
Newbie Brooks Wheelan got a rare moment on camera — and proved quite funny — as an actor coming in to read for the role of a friendly guy in a field, but then asked to portray a “hostile slave owner.” Vanessa Bayer and Cecily Strong also killed it as the breezily oblivious casting agents, but the MVP here was Jay Pharoah as a camera guy serving up such sternness that Parsons’ thespian almost couldn’t bear it.

BEST: THE BIRD BIBLE
SNL‘s pre-taped ad spoofs all too frequently trump its live segments, and this bit about a feathery, kid-friendly twist on the Bible proved no exception. “See that talon coming down from the sky?” asked Kate McKinnon (brilliant as always). “That’s God!”

BEST: CHARLES BARKLEY & SHAQUILLE O’NEAL
Pharoah’s impression of a profoundly infantile, possibly post-head-injury Shaq is beyond brutal — but undeniably guffaw-inducing. And Kenan Thompson has so much fun playing off his partner as a bemused/horrified Barkley — “when he says long words, his mouth just gives up!” — just adds to the laughs per minute.

WORST: COWBOY’S BIRTHDAY
I really thought we’d seen the last of the cowboys when Christoph Waltz hosted, but nope, they were back again here — with Parsons’ dimwit character determined to springboard naked from a pile of earth to surprise a fellow cowhand for his birthday. What exactly was supposed to be funny about this sketch? And — ay dios mio! — is it possible that there were even less funny setups during dress rehearsal that were cut in favor of this?

WORST: MURDER MYSTERY TOUR
Parsons got saddled playing an uptight guy uncomfortable with being asked to play the character of a “harmless oversexed nutball” at a Murder Mystery Dinner. Press play below, then hit the comments and share if this made you laugh even once.

WORST: SPOTLIGHTZ ACTING CAMP
Spotlightz wasn’t exactly a classic the first time SNL introduced it, but it’s clearly becoming a case of diminishing returns watching Vanessa Bayer do her “enthusiastic kid” shtick while reenacting scenes from The Wolf of Wall Street and Dallas Buyers Club.

What did you think of Parsons’ SNL outing? Grade the installment in our poll below, then sound off in the comments with your picks for Best and Worst!