James Franco Hosts SNL: Watch Video of the Best and Worst Sketches

Anyone else feel like Saturday Night Live needs to work harder on its cold open/opening monologue combos?

I wonder how many folks tuned out after this week’s dismal one-two punch — a laugh-free and utterly toothless look at the Eric Garner grand jury decision and a James Franco intro that felt like an afterthought — and wound up missing several solid sketches (and a few incredibly weird ones) in the subsequent hour.

The star of the upcoming comedy The Interview got a couple of assists during the episode from his pal Seth Rogen (as well as musical guest Nicki Minaj), and his range — nailing Christopher Walken’s turgid Capt. Hook, capturing the rage of a mayoral candidate who lost an election to a toddler, and adding to the laughs of the closing “Former Porn Stars” bit — was impressive.

Below, my picks for the week’s best and worst.

As mentioned above, Franco’s take on Walken was a highlight, but so too was Aidy Bryant’s gutter-y Tonkerbell (ready to kill a hummingbird and land on some raw meet) and Cecily Strong’s Allison Williams-playing-a-very-womanly-Pan. Hat tip to the show’s writing staff for reacting quickly to a major pop-cultural event from just two nights prior.

A random but quite funny spoof of the nativity through the eyes of MTV. Pete Davidson’s KaTyler Smith (host of Drunk or High) introduced a collection of hip-hop and R&B stars reenacting the birth of the baby Jesus. Sasheer Zamata’s Rihanna, Taran Killam’s Eminem and Kate McKinnon’s razor-sharp Bieber were my favorites, and even Nicki Minaj scored a few laughs with her “flawless” Beyoncé.

The most recent addition to the SNL cast did a bit about dating web sites for marijuana lovers — which quickly devolved into a very weird but intermittently hilarious screed about a bad experience with mushrooms, topped off with this bit of ridiculousness: “Have you ever been called a bitch by Harriet Tubman?”

Kenan Thompson really needs to make sure the audience is laughing before he begins cracking himself up as MSNBC host Al Sharpton, no? If this is the best SNL can do with hot button issues of race and law enforcement in America, maybe it should stick to less incendiary material.

Bryant and Kyle Mooney played young lovers attempting to cross a bridge guarded by Franco’s troll and Strong’s chain-smoking, low-rent pal. The end result felt like a three-way collision among a trio of equally laugh-free sketches.

What did you think of Franco’s SNL episode? Grade it in our 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. Tran says:

    I give the James Franco episode of SNL a B. I knew his Interview co-star Seth Rogen was going to make an appearance and kudos to Aidy Bryant returning as Tonkerbell.

  2. A. D. says:

    Worst part is Weekend Update…God they are horrible….used to be the best part of the show for so many years! God they suck!

    • Tran says:

      Guess SNL fans were upset about Cecily Strong being replaced by Michael Che. He and Colin Jost are doing OK this season.

      • ame says:

        Actually they shouldve replaced Colin Jost with Michael Che. SHE was good, he is not funny at all.

        • Angie_Overrated says:

          Totally disagree. Jost isn’t great, but Strong was a giant ball of unfunniness on update. She’s doing much better as a castmate now that she has more bandwidth to do character sketches, which is what she’s actually good at.

  3. slestak says:

    Loved the Home Alone and Jurassic Park references in the nostalgic memories sketch. Funniest 20 seconds of the night.

    “He left us? He left us?!”

  4. Patrick says:

    The Leslie Jones bits on WU are getting old. She is an angry screeching female, and it isn’t at all funny.

    • eddie says:

      ive skipped her segments ever since her first one, which was really offensive (joking about slavery aint funny cuz it was real and horrible). i watched like 30 seconds of her second WU segment but immediately changed it because she was loud and grating.

    • TL says:

      Let’s agree to disagree on this one…her segments are something I look forward to.

  5. B.P. says:

    i thought the the whole episode was solid. Nothing was terrible and nothing was outstanding… But everything was enjoyable.

  6. Stacie says:

    Nostalgic Brain Skit wasn’t hilarious but extremely clever, who doesn’t have a random song that they can recite almost word for word from 15 years ago stuck in their heads? I also liked that the brain knew only 2 lines of Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” song in his head becasue it really wasn’t about the song, Minaj was a good sport. In fact she did a really great job with the night. Her songs were great and she performed really strong. She knew all her lines and delivered pretty perfectly.

  7. ninergrl6 says:

    My fave was the brain sketch. So many spot on random 90’s references! Jurassic Park, Fresh Prince, Titanic, Nsync, even Ashley Parker Angel (though the dude totally screwed up the “All or Nothing” lyrics). And I’ve had that Savage Garden song stuck in my head since last night.
    Also loved the angry politician’s rant about Frozen: “He likes Elsa! I thought Elsa was a bitch! Why won’t you play with your sister you bitch?!” I genuinely laughed out loud & rewound that part a few times.
    Honorable mention to the Star Wars trailer spoof. Timely & clever.

  8. Amber says:

    I loved the mayoral candidate sketch

  9. LAwoman says:

    I liked the Star Wars trailer the best.

  10. Kim (@AD76) says:

    I didn’t think it was that bad of an episode. I agree with the cold open and monologue being bombs. While I disliked having to sit through the only two Nicki Minaj songs I’ve ever heard, I thought she did okay on her other speaking bits. Something is still off with Weekend Update. Che seems to be getting more comfortable, but I want to say it’s the combo with Jost that just isn’t hitting it out of the park.Then again, I didn’t like Strong very much at the desk either.

  11. Tom says:

    For once I pretty much agree with your calls, the only thing is I’m not crazy about Aidy Bryant. I do agree the line of the night was “Have you ever been called a bitch by Harriet Tubman?” That cracked me up. She needs to host Update

  12. Kirty says:

    I miss when Weekend Update was funny. These hosts are horrible. And why are they pushing Kenan Thompson so much? I like him, but not enough for him to be in every sketch

  13. Sharon says:

    Love Tonkerbell!

    Also loved the nostalgic memories skit and the kid mayor skit.

  14. Absurdist says:

    But better than all of these was Cecily, Kenan, Leslie and Franco in the “cut for time” Rise & Smile St. Louis.

  15. You’ve seriously neglected Grow-A-Guy. funniest sketch of the night!

  16. Jack says:

    Ugh, I cant believe you listed the Peter Pan sketch as one of the best…Any sketch that has Aidy Bryant as one of the main characters is guranteed to not be funny.