In an episode seemingly made in comedy heaven, Saturday Night Live grad Andy Samberg – has it really been two whole years since he bid adieu to studio 8H? – made a hotly anticipated return to host the Season 39 finale, with more than a little help from his friends.
Samberg’s opening monologue (highlighted by well-timed appearances by SNL legends Seth Meyers, Bill Hader and Martin Short!) showcased a mostly-amusing, rapid-fire array of impressions, including the likes of Jim Carrey, Keanu Reeves, Larry David, the guy who does the Entourage theme song, and Osama Bin Laden (“no, no, no, no, no!”). As the night unfolded, the SNL faves just kept coming – including Maya Rudolph, Kristen Wiig, Paul Rudd and Fred Armisen — adding up to a highly memorable (and mostly winning) adieu.
But without further ado, here are my picks for best and worst sketches (in a week with a lot of candidates for the former, and very few for the latter):
Best: “And Now a Message From Solange & Jay-Z”
In the inevitable, you-know-it’s-coming take on perhaps the most famous elevator scuffle in history, Maya Rudolph’s always memorable take on Beyonce (“if you think I condone this invasion of privacy…then you must not know ’bout me…”) highlighted this clever stab at the real backstory behind the infamous security-cam footage: Solange (Sasheer Zamata) rescuing a terrified Jay-Z (Jay Pharoah) from a rogue spider (“get it, I got arachnophobia”). Best and most easily missed line, as Solange innocently explained away those Jay-Z directed kicks: “Foot five!”
Best: The Vogelchecks
What do you get when the likes of Rudd, Armisen, Rudolph, Hader, Samberg, & Wiig all show up in one sketch? A highly inappropriate, tongue-infused, gross-out mock-fest playing off the recent “controversy” (insert eye-roll here) over Michael Sam kissing his boyfriend on ESPN. Bottom line: Any sketch that makes Armisen break up (twice!) makes the Best list. To echo Taran Killam’s final line: “That’s what I call a touchdown.”
Worst: “Legolas from The Hobbit Tried to Order at Taco Bell”
Other than giving him a chance to rock the dead-ringer long blond wig, what was the point of forcing Samberg into this (thankfully) brief, but nonsensical sketch?
Worst: Confident Hunchback
On a less stellar night, this mildly amusing sketch featuring little more than painful pick-up lines (“Meow, claws are out, but I’ve got a hunch I’m gonna be making your breakfast tomorrow”) might have avoided a slot on the ‘Worst” list, but even Samberg’s energy and enthusiasm ultimately couldn’t make it great.