Anna Kendrick Hosts Saturday Night Live: Watch Video of the Best and Worst Sketches

Saturday Night Live KendrickQuestion: What do the Little Mermaid, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, NCAA March Madness and, er, dongs have in common?

Answer: They all contributed to Anna Kendrick’s highly successful maiden voyage hosting this week’s Saturday Night Live.

OK, sure, Kendrick actually only appeared in two of the four sketches mentioned above, but the Tony- and Oscar-nominated actress also scored laughs in a trio of recurring sketches (Fox & Friends, Les Jeunes de Paris and Booker T. Washington High School — none of which are ever guaranteed to be great) that hopefully earned her a sophomore enagement emceeing NBC’s sketch comedy series in the not-so-distant future.

Below, my picks for Best and Worst Sketches — plus a poll where you can grade the Kendrick-led installment:

BEST: LITTLE MERMAID
Kendrick was terrifically funny mimicking Ke$ha, Selena Gomez and especially Britney Spears in a skit that imagined a deluded Ariel thinking the voices of today’s Auto-Tuned pop stars would offer the best trade with sea witch Ursula for a pair of legs. Bonus points for Jay Pharoah’s ridiculous Sebastian, complete with a performance of Sean Paul’s “Temperature.”
[Video not available due to music rights.]

BEST: NEIGHBORLY ROMANCE
Another slow, meditative digital short from Kyle Mooney, but this one was also very amusing. Mooney and Vanessa Bayer both nailed the rhythms of apartment-building neighbors too shy to admit their mutual crush. Mooney’s so-wrong-I-howled “I’ve got poop on my underwear” was topped only by Bayer leaning in for the kiss, then zagging at the last second to open a washing machine door. The denouement — with Bayer innocently sharing “I’m just gonna go f*** this guy, then we’ll go on a date” — was a rare instance of SNL squeezing one more joke from a setup and actually having it pay dividends.

BEST: “DONGS ALL OVER THE WORLD”
Kendrick, Aidy Bryant, Cecily Strong, Kate McKinnon and Sasheer Zamata — side note: whatever happened to Nasim Pedrad? — delivered just the right balance of clever and crude in this parody of rap tunes about dudes traveling for sexual conquest. Best line: “196 countries/ And that’s a lot of dongs/ All I packed is travel shampoo/ And 1,500 thongs.” I loved Icona Pop’s guest appearance, and who knew Kendrick’s rap game was quite so solid. (Imagine if she teamed up with Kendrick Lamar for a Kendrick-Kendrick duo?)

HONORABLE MENTION: ANGELA MERKEL
For my money, Kate McKinnon is the MVP of the current SNL cast, and she proved it here as by bringing back her impersonation of the German leader as a tighly wound rule-follower who’s desperate for some fun. Seriously, how come Angela always has to be the one to hold Spain’s hair when it pukes? And why can’t, just once, she trade her men’s blazer for a men’s Hawaiian shirt?

WORST: OPENING MONOLOGUE
I get that Kendrick isn’t a standup comic like last week’s host Louis C.K., and I get that she has a pretty singing voice the writers might’ve wanted to exploit, but none of the above explains the utter lack of punch lines — or, to put it another way, the total absence of anything amusing — in this song and dance number. All it really accomplished, ultimately, was to show how bloated the current SNL cast has become (after both the repertory and featured players all hit the stage behind Kendrick).
[Video not available due to music rights.]

WORST: DANGERS OF ALCOHOL PSA
I’m sure newbie Brooks Wheelan is under a lot of pressure, considering his first season is more than halfway finished and he’s made very little impression on viewers. But this extended “comic” tale of how, at 20, his roommates put a stick of butter down his pants after a night of blackout drinking was so lame, it might as well have been subtitled The Comic You Wish Hadn’t Started a Bit at a Weekend Update. (And yes, that’s my way of saying I miss The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party.)

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

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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70 Comments
  1. Tom Charles says:

    The digital short was funny? Really? Did we see the same thing, because I wasn’t all that impressed. Otherwise I’d mostly agree with your assessment, and I also enjoyed McKinnon in the cold open.

    • Lucy says:

      EW’s recap and TvLine recap have some thing’s in common…except for the recapper…seems like they shared notes. Check them both

      • Olive says:

        On numerous occasions both websites have had different takes on SNL episodes. Just because both recappers opinon happen to align for this episode does not mean they are in cahoots.

        • tvguy420 says:

          IMHO, this reviewer is constantly missing the joke or missing the point of sketches entirely. i don’t think i have ever agreed with any of his best/worst picks, in fact most of the time the ones he thinks are the best are the ones i think are the worst and vice versa.

          i thought brook’s PSA was one of the funnier moments of weekend update. and the ONE cecliy sketch that everyone thinks is sooooo hilarious was only moderately funny at best and only stuck out because everything else at the time was so piss poor. not a cecily strong fan at all.

          and naseem got cast in some sitcom (which i read about on this website) so i think you know that is where she is. and really? an anna kendrick/kendrick lamar joke? really? you would fit right in with this current crop of writers.

          put the show in the hands of kyle mooney and all the olds need to stop reminiscing on what the show used to be and let it have a future. its best moments lately are the digital shorts and the more meta sketches and just flat out bizarre moments.

          and just because a sketch has kate mckinnon in it doesn’t mean you have to love it. her spot on weekend update was awful. i actually like her and think she is very talented but that character is played out and wasn’t thaaat funny the first couple times.

          • Angie_Overrated says:

            I agree with some of what you’re saying. I didn’t hate the Brooks Whelan PSA and I am also not a Cecily Strong fan. And yes on the Mooney / Bayer / Bennett sketch.
            All that being said, Kate McKinnon’s Hold Me Closer, German Chancellor and “for boob touches” were the highlight of the show. I think every sketch could be McKinnon doing her Merkel impersonation and it would still be funny.

    • Angie_Overrated says:

      The digital short was the single best part of the episode! Beck Bennett coming in towards the end saying, “I’m ready now. Come on!” was comic genius. The the poop in the underwear was the first time I laughed the entire episode.

      Dongs all over the world was embarrassing to watch. I still don’t get the point.

  2. I thought the monologue was terrific: joyous, infectious, accomplished. Not every monologue has to be hilarious or joke-filled. I liked this approach.
    My second favorite bit was Les Jeunes De Paris; I always love this absurd sketch, and this may have been the best one yet.
    I also thought Kyle Mooney’s short film was good.
    Meanwhile, some of Slezak’s favorites were my least favorites: Ariel and Dongs.

    Different strokes, I suppose.

    • Tammy says:

      I agree, I liked the monologue musical number a lot. I wished they used Anna more because she killed in everything she did. For once someone acted instead of staring at the queue cards and reading their lines flatly. To each their own I guess. (Loved the little cups reference in the Le Juenes skit.)

    • brandy says:

      Agreed. I was a huge Beauty and the Beast fan, and was amused at how well it lined up with the original song. Enjoyed this immensely more than any other recent monologue.

  3. Sd says:

    Cold open was good. Monologue of Beauty and The Beast–bonjour was awesome. Otherwise agreed with everything above. Except I found dangers of alcohol mildly amusing due to memories of crazy college antics towards those passed out.

  4. M3rc_Nate says:

    “Dongs” didn’t make me laugh once…and im pretty sure I was as uncomfortable watching that as a female would be if it had been all the guys on SNL talking about banging all the “Snatch” in the world and tons of close ups of the privates of women in bikinis…

    • will says:

      I loved it! I love anything that turns the tables and sexually objectifies men because it demonstrates 1. That objectification is patently absurd in the first place. And 2. That if everyone were objectified equally in the name of self-aware humor, the world would be a far better place.

      • M3rc Nate says:

        Well id say first off, two wrongs dont make a right….and the first key to any comedy bit, it needs to be FUNNY…it cant stand on message alone. I have no problem with a play on objectification of men for comedy when its funny…it just wasnt a good skit. The punch line was what..? they want dongs? closeups on dudes junk? not even a chuckle.

      • David says:

        Turns the tables? Please. Men are objectified all the time, just as much as women. It’s not rare, and hasn’t been for quite some time.

    • DDB says:

      “Dongs” borrowed heavily from Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty,” which is currently in the Top 5 of the pop charts.

  5. mabell says:

    You didn’t even mention Big Joe. So funny. I thought the butter/Brooks Wheelan bit was very funny because I can remember several times when I wish I had thought to do that to some well deserving passed out acquaintances. Would they have mentioned it in the morning??? (I wonder how many people will wake up this morning in just this same condition). I thought the opening was fun, not everyone is a stand up comic. I will give kudos to the costume dept. tonight, the clothes and wigs were great!

  6. MC says:

    Anna Kendrick is always delightful. She is super talented. ITA with the recap above. I actually enjoyed the show tonight. The misfires were kept to a minimum. The March Madness highlight reel was my favorite, but I was on the same wavelength with Michael. The sketches he listed as “best” were genuinely funny.

  7. DV says:

    Definitely one of the better episodes of the season. I loved the opening monologue and I really didn’t think id say that because when I found out she was hosting I thought to myself “yeah they’ll have her sing her monologue ….yawn” and was so entertained. SNL is comedy/variety and the monologue really showcased that. I agree though, too many people in the cast and they all seem the same.

  8. Billie says:

    I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who really enjoyed the opening monologue. I completely agree with your assessment that it had essentially zero jokes in it, but it was so completely and utterly FUN that it sort of made up for the lack of funny. I had a huge grin on my face when it was over by any means. And that’s a lot more than I can say for some of the recent cold opens that had discernable jokes in them. Given this season of SNL, I’ll take what I can get.

  9. Patrick says:

    When does the Anna Kendrick SNL episode air? Tonight, during SNL’s regular time slot, my local affiliate preempted it so that it could air an extended audition for some musical theater production. I hope I can catch SNL later.

    Hollywood, please take note:

    MUSICAL THEATER IS NO LONGER A LEGITIMATE THING!

    • DV says:

      If you really hate musical theater that much….you really don’t want to watch Anna Kendrick’s episode of SNL.

      • Patrick says:

        I did. My point was that it wasn’t an SNL episode. It was an extended musical theater piece.

        • will says:

          Has anyone ever called you out on being a close-minded ignoramus or would this be the first time?

          • dude says:

            Or maybe he just doesn’t like musical theatre. I’m sure there are things in the world that you don’t like. Does that make you closed-minded?

    • If Musical Theatre is “no longer a legitimate thing”, you might want to tell that to all the people that made a crap-ton of money off of “Pitch Perfect,” “Les Miserables,” and what was that other little movie…. Oh right, “Frozen.” There are also three or four more movie musicals (some starring Anna Kendrick) coming out this year, so, if you really hate Hollywood doing musicals, you might want to continue burying your head for a while. And by the way “Saturday Night Live” is filmed in New York, not Hollywood.

      • tvguy420 says:

        lol, u mad bro? pitch perfect, which you may like it, wasn’t that big of a movie. then you mentioned a disney movie for children and a musical remake “blockbuster” from a few years ago as “proof” that musical theater is still thriving? i’m not saying its not necessarily, but those aren’t really good examples.

  10. Peter says:

    Fairly solid. Dunno if I’d call it an A but considering how many hosts fell flat recently and how worried I was about Kendrick hosting (I am a fan of hers I was just skeptical about her talents transitioning to live TV well) I gave it to her in the poll. Even the weaker stuff (I don’t mind laugh-free monologues really) was fine.

  11. Marianne says:

    Agree with most of this except for the monologue. It was cute and fun.

  12. Maria says:

    How can you not like the opening monologue?!?! heartless.

  13. Brooks Whelan has to go, maybe just hide him away in the writer’s room and give someone better more screen time.

  14. Monica says:

    I thought the opening monologue was great!

  15. Anna says:

    Shouldn’t an impersonation bear at least SOME kind of resemblance to the person who is bein impersonated?? Because I thought the Angela Merkel bit was awful, Kate McKinnon was nothing like Merkel! You could at least do the hand-thing she always does, instead of just doing a very bad fake German accent…

    • JLK says:

      I have to agree with that. Very bad fake German. If you don’t even know to pronounce Volkswagon as Wolksvagon, well, find someone else to do the German accent.

      • Anna says:

        I don’t even know if you’re being serious nor not. “Volkswagen” in German is pronounced as “Folkswagen”, NOT as “Wolkswagen”. Only Amercians do that.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Normally I would agree with you regarding impersonations. For instance, I find ALL of Kenan’s impersonations fall flat for this very reason. But, I love Kate McKinnon’s ‘Angela Merkel.’ She clearly is very good at impersonations (see her Justin Bieber) but in this case, I think it is more important that the characterization be funny, rather than true to life. I suspect most Americans have no idea what Merkel actually sounds like (I don’t).

      • Anna says:

        True, her Justin Bieber is awesome! Maybe it’s just me being German, because I do know what she looks like/talks like/acts like…

  16. william says:

    I was blown away with the talent of this young lady, the opening was a highlight, you have a musical theater guest give her what she does best and let her shine with it and she did, what was so great was that it was also a parady of bad musical theatre too, she gave it her all. We watched it twice. For the show in total.. She hit it out of the park.

  17. A. D. says:

    Great Episode…FARRRR better than the horrid episode of last week…the opening was awesome…Kyle Mooney is so UNFUNNY as is the horrid Jost….he’s like a statue that smiles…he has NO personality…Poor Cecily kills it and then we switch over to Mr. Awkward….please replace him ASAP!

  18. No says:

    Brooks is amazing funny always!!!!!!! Colin Jost still not funny and still finding nuts to store in his mouth. Weekend Update used to be my ultimate and now I fast forward unless Brooks or Taran is on

  19. cjeffery7 says:

    the opening monologue was so fun! its always nice to see the entire cast on stage. im conflicted about the Dong Song cause at first i was like oh great, this was written by a dude, but then i realized it was just as much about the ridiculousness of the word dong than it was a spoof on male conquest songs.

    weekend update is ROUGH. i think they did only like 5 jokes before introducing angela merkel. then 2 more before introducing brooks wheelan (sorry dude, but no). more jokes and fewer bits please. and the only good joke was when cecily forgot they’d already started update.

  20. Kida says:

    Ha, I adored the opening monologue. It was fun and hilarious. Continually impressed with this girl and I haven’t enjoyed an entire episode of SNL like this since…. um…

  21. Terri says:

    Loved the opening!! And enjoyed Pharrell! As usual, many of the sketches had weak, unfunny endings. :(

  22. NMC says:

    I loved the opening monologue!

  23. Jenna says:

    I agree with many here: I loved the opening musical monologue! I also was pleasantly surprised how much the cast brought to the musical numbers. Loved Pharrell too. The skits were hit and miss as always. Thought Anna was good; she added an energy to the show. I’d love to see her back.
    And Angela Merkel gets 5 stars!

  24. Wire Dream says:

    Oh, #SNL! What the f@%k are you doing to my Anna Kendrick!?! She’s a national treasure! Why-oh-why couldn’t you hire REAL comedy writers for at least THIS week? This show was abysmal.

  25. Cookely says:

    With JT at awesome the very talented Kendrick comes in at above average.

  26. Cookely says:

    With JT at awesome lets say the talented Kendrick is above average.

  27. noa says:

    i just read the EW.com review and it kinda looks like she copied everything Slezak wrote.

  28. John DeMayo says:

    Anyone else think Noel Wells is extremely under-utilized. She’s by far the most talented of the first years, but just like Nasim Pedrad, she seems to disappear for entire episodes.

  29. jenna says:

    george clooney admitted that she was so great in up in the air that it forced him to up his game. i can see that it wasn’t a singular event– the girl is super uber talented.

  30. gat says:

    The dangers of alcohol was the funniest bit they have done all year. Brooks need more to do on snl.

    • S. says:

      I wish he’d turned it into a character instead of doing himself because however he spun it might’ve caught on in a recurring bit, but maybe he was hoping it would resonate as in “Yes, you just heard something funny from me, Brooks Wheelan. Once again, that’s Brooks Wheelan, and I’d very much like to continue on SNL.” I thought he was funny though. It felt like he told that story to various people working on the show, and someone (I assume Colin) wanted it on Weekend Update because that’s the only way it’d fit anywhere in the show. Don’t get why it was listed as a worst sketch. Summarize it and it’d seem lame as most frat pranks are, but Brooks sold it.

    • Yes! I was laughing so hard I was crying! The Brooks Whelan bit was hilarious and fun, kind of like getting a mini standup in the middle of the show.

  31. EJ says:

    Jost, Wells, Mooney and Whelan absolutely have to get pulled completely off the show, with O’Brian and Milhiser making occasional appearances. Zamata and Bennett are good enough to stick around as regulars for the 40th season.

  32. dude says:

    The delightful Anna Kendrick rapped Iggy Azalea. That’s all I needed to love this episode.

  33. wingsstef says:

    I thought the intro and The Little Mermaid skits were good. The rest,that I have seen, were bad, but to be fair, I didn’t even see Weekend Update because after the Romantic Comedy skit, “I have poop on my pants!” I turned the TV off. It wasn’t because it offended me, except for my opinion that poop jokes are weak, grade school material. Blech. Before last night, I haven’t watched SNL in a while. I will probably won’t again for a greater while.

  34. flutiefan says:

    especially in comparison to the rest of this season, it was an A! and i’m also going to disagree about the monologue… its was fun and cute and entertaining and yes, funny!

  35. Karen says:

    The women on SNL definitely outshine the men, and not just this week. Talented group of ladies! My favorite bit was Les Jeunes De Paris…so bizarre, so funny. And Angela Merkel..she’s hysterical. I didn’t think the opening was that bad…thought it was fun…entertaining.

  36. Kimm says:

    Best SNL this season.

  37. Sianna says:

    Opening number was pretty fun. Kendrick’s voice was absolutely beautiful…I don’t think she shined comedically in her other sketches, but she certainly shined in the monologue.
    I don’t find Mooney or Bennett to be all that funny, and frankly I’m sick of the digital shorts of just the two of them at the end of every episode. Because of this, I thought “Neighbors” was agonizing to sit through.
    Jost was unimpressive, as usual.
    I’d like to say SNL is making progress with all these newbies, but I don’t know anymore :(

  38. Glen says:

    I thought it was another poor episode. Not really anything funny at all. I always look for Nasim. She was hard to find again. Just a backup singer in the monologue. Telling that she was all the way to the side, barely in the shot. She did well as a backup dancer in the Paris sketch. I think she crossed the stage late with a single line. Not sure it was her and don’t remember the sketch. I think the sitcom is on hold, but don’t see her coming back either way. Don’t understand why we keep seeing Aidy Bryant. She offers nothing. The addition of Sasheer Zamata has really cut the other women’s time. They are really forcing her onto the show. She’s ok, but not worth the amount of time she gets.

  39. Aaron says:

    I think the women they have on the show right now are amazing – every week they just seem to get better.

  40. Let Kyle Mooney do whatever he wants. He’s the breakout star here, along with Kate McKinnon.

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