Blake Shelton Hosts SNL: What Were the Best and Worst Sketches?

Blake Shelton has been the breakout comedic star of The Voice since its premiere in April 2011, and yet it’s taken ’til January 2015 for him to land a hosting gig on Saturday Night Live? (Whoever’s in charge of cross-promotional synergy at NBC has clearly been in a professional freefall since the demise of Law & Order: LA.)

Better late than never, though, I suppose. The country music star proved an absolutely terrific choice of emcee — scoring laughs in a wide range of scenarios and not relying on cue cards nearly as much as you’d expect for a neophyte. I’ll need a few days to digest the installment before I’m willing to rank Shelton at No. 1 on the list of hosts for the 2014-2015 season, but he’s definitely a contender.

Below, my picks for the night’s best and worst moments:

BEST: Magic Show Interrupted
Shelton was at his goofball best in the episode’s final sketch — playing a cantankerous audience member who, following an impressive card trick, begins making demands on Taran Killam’s exasperated magician. Just when I worried Shelton’s “Make me rich!” mantra was getting stale, he began a rapid-fire list of increasingly outrageous requests: “Give me indestructible bones!” “Guns for hands!” “Give me the power to go down on myself!” The last of those doozies led to Shelton gamely fumbling around behind the curtain, then — wish definitely not granted — triumphantly shouting, “He’s a fake!” Shelton, on the other hand, is the real deal.

BEST: Farm Hunk
The women of SNL had a blast in this obvious take-down of the current season of ABC’s The Bachelor that’s focusing on Iowa farmer Chris Soules. (Why didn’t SNL just call the sketch The Bachelor, though, I wonder.) “I’m a second grade teacher — in my pornos,” cooed Vanessa Bayer, while Aidy Bryant’s increasingly unstable contestant capped a series of breakdowns by revealing she was kidnapped as a child on the same day as JonBenet Ramsey. How Shelton avoided breaking down in laughter is a minor miracle.

HONORABLE MENTION: “My Darlin’ Joan”
I was ready to give the honors to the equally amusing “Wishin’ Boot” music video, but “My Darlin’ Joan” gets the edge because it was actually live. This one found Shelton as a musician who’d helped his 97-year-old recently widowed landlord put his feelings about his late wife to music — leading to a deeply uncomfortable segment on the Topeka Today morning show. Shelton’s musical earnestness was delectable — especially juxtaposed against crazy-dark stream-of-consciousness like, “My darlin’ Joan, I’d hide in the closet and read my Bible for strength/ My darlin’ Joan, our dinners were silent and we never had sex.”

WORST: Celebrity Family Feud
On paper, this face-off between the judges from The Voice and American Idol should’ve been a comedic slam-dunk — but the execution was downright baffling. Beck Bennett’s Harry Connick Jr. impersonation was a White Castle burger in a back-alley dumpster trying to pass itself off as filet mignon at Morton’s. Meanwhile, the show’s writers inexplicably skewered prior Idol panelists Nicki Minaj and Steven Tyler — even though Sasheer Zamata and Kyle Mooney brought almost nothing to the characters — and missed their chance at more current targets Jennifer Lopez and Ryan Seacrest. OK, Kenan Thompson scored a couple laughs as host Steve Harvey — and the final Blake Shelton-Adam Levine romantic awakening was amusing — but this was one of the bigger missed opportunities in recent SNL history.

WORST: Parole Board Hearing
Kenan Thompson hammed it up as a cannibalistic sociopath known as The Texas Man-Gobbler, who made new-age-y, quasi-spiritual pleas for lenience (with swelling music behind him) despite the abject disgust of the panel in front of him. If there was a single laugh to be found in this sketch, feel free to explain it down in the comments.

What did you think of Blake Shelton’s SNL hosting gig? Take 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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67 Comments
  1. Becks says:

    Best was The Bachelor and worst was the Hee Haw at the beginning.

    • TV Gord says:

      I liked the Hee Haw opening. It was bad because it was supposed to be, as I learned week after week, back when I had no control over what channel we watched. Stupid family life that I would retreat to in a heartbeat, as much as I loathed it. ;-)

    • Kim R says:

      I actually enjoyed the Hee Haw opening. So nostalgic to a time when dad had the con. :D

      • TV Gord says:

        Hahaha! When dad had the con! Beautiful imagery of a nightmarish time of my childhood. I’ll never forget the day my dad died. My two brothers and I all dove for the remote at the same time. I won! Classic! Thank God he’s gone. :-D

        (Only slightly embellished for comedic effect. Very slightly. :-D )

    • TD says:

      The Hee Haw sketch was notable at the very least for being something different in the guest monologue spot, which in the past couple of years has usually been pretty predictable.

  2. Jodi says:

    Wasn’t a fan of the Magic Show or Wishing Boot, thought the latter was more corny than comedy.
    Loved the Cold Open and Farm Hunk. Also loved both his performances.

    Hated the parole and Magic Show.

    And someone please tell Pete Davidson enough with the “I’m not gay but I could be” jokes.

    • Evan says:

      He hasn’t had enough life experiences yet to know there’s more than just gay jokes.

    • dave8077 says:

      Wishing Boot was more “corny” than comedy? What are you even talking about? It was an absurdist take on a country song. A satire of the genre’s conventions via a nonsensical and absurd subject matter. Also, no one says “corny”, the correct phrase you were going for is “cheesy”. Although that’s a terrible description for this sketch.

      • S. says:

        Have to correct you, Dave. Plenty of people say “corny.” Nobody in your circle does, apparently, but it’s not a weird thing to hear for most people. There’s no need to correct someone else’s meaning when they said exactly what they meant to say, and it’s totally a valid word choice. Also, satire doesn’t mean something isn’t cheesy or corny because sometimes they’re doing it on purpose. Those words don’t automatically mean that they were unaware of how it was coming across. In this case, they were playing off of country songs that do come off kinda cheesy so not being so here would’ve felt like they weren’t getting the satire right.

    • Lucie Loing says:

      I don’t get him. He has very few appearances on the show but always seems to be looking at the prompter for his next line. I can’t ever remember so many flubbed lines as there have been this season. Are they not rehearsing enough, or the writers are making last minute changes? It kind of upsets the flow of the sketch when they have to go back and correct themselves.

  3. Scott says:

    the parole board hearing was supposed to be from the Shawshank Redemption

    • Cass says:

      Exactly, I thought it was pretty hilarious. I didn’t find the Bachelor sketch amusing at all(except for Leslie Jones at the end)but I think maybe you’d have to watch the show to enjoy the lampooning of it.

      • Lucie Loing says:

        I hate to admit it, but I’ve watched some of The Bachelor this season and thought the sketch was great. I think it was a little too specific to this season for everyone to get it though. A reviewer on another site said that Blake looked uncomfortable in the sketch which is exactly the behavior of this season’s bachelor.

  4. Rachel Kovach says:

    More Blake! More Blake!

    • Alex says:

      I second that! Guy is a natural entertainer.

      • Patrick says:

        I wouldn’t go so far as to say he’s a natural ACTOR, but he’s a great singer, and he did fantastic last night. I think the secret to his success was that he was willing to be the butt of jokes, which a lot of the hosts are unwilling to do. Other hosts also want to “show off” acting, singing, or comedy skills. Blake went with the flow and didn’t try to be the star of any bits. And it worked. I liked all the skits. Even the weakest skits last night would have been solid in some other weeks. All around great show. Maybe the best this year.

  5. Cass says:

    The Topeka Today sketch was probably my favorite if for no other reason the lyric “Do they let you use your humidifier in hell?”.

  6. Et al says:

    There hasn’t been a single laugh to be found in anything Kenan Thompson’s ever done.

    • DL says:

      I’m the first to admit that he’s constantly mugging for the camera, but I find him pretty funny actually. I really miss “What Up With That?” now that Sudeikis and Hader are gone. Whether you enjoyed that sketch or not, you have to admit Thompson gave it his all; every single time he was pouring sweat by the end.

    • Pia says:

      I laughed when he said he wanted to nibble a man’s arm like an ear of corn.

  7. Roberta says:

    Shelton was great! IMO the sketches sucked that they came up with. Shelton is a natural the writing on SNL has much to be desired.

  8. Lee says:

    I was hoping for a Joni Ernst/bread bags for boots skit, SNL dropped the ball by not doing one IMHO.

    • Brandy says:

      TOTALLY agree!

    • Steve Ungrey says:

      Disagree. SNL went for the right cold open and the right sketch instead of the customary “rip a Republican” sketch that usually opens the show. I do agree that, if SNL were to do something with Ernst, then Weekend Update should have mentioned it. Just my two cents.

  9. Ashly says:

    My favorite parts of the night…My Darling Joan, Riblet, the opening sketch with Taran playing that football guy.

    Worst sketch…Family Feud. SNL is trying to make it like Celebrity Jeopardy but they can’t. Most of the current cast just can’t do impersonations very well so they need to steer elsewhere

    The show was pretty good. I’d give it a B which is generous but I love Blake and it’s not his fault the writing was bad.

    Side Note: I found the Parole Board sketch creepy but slightly amusing. Kenan was funny to me. I especially liked when he said, “Does that make me rehabilitated? I think it does.”

    • Gabby says:

      I agree with you on Kenan. IMHO, I’ve grown up watching him on All That and Kenan and Kel, and have always found him hilarious. I think the writers just need to find his sweet spot and give him more characters like the ones grew up playing. Maybe bring a little Pierre Escargot to Saturday Night Live?

      • KatsMom says:

        It’s been a long time since he did the character, but wasn’t Jean K. Jean, the “French” stand up comedian tapping into the Pierre Escargot thing a bit? I always got a couple laughs out of Jean.

  10. snlfan says:

    The parole board skit was funny because it’s a perverted twist on the pivotal, emotional scene in Shawshank Redemption where Morgan Freeman’s character, after years of being denied parole, demonstrates that he is truly ready to be released. So Kenan’s squeaky voice and disgusting crime and lack of self-awareness are in direct contrast to Morgan’s beloved character Red. I guess the SNL writers assumed Shawshank is on every American’s top ten list and revere it as much as they do. The author of this article has to do some homework on Netflix tonight!

  11. Amy H says:

    SNL is such a hot mess these days, but Blake Shelton definitely made it worth watching.

  12. Maria says:

    Worst: weekend updated.

    replace both dudes with Riblet.

    • knd says:

      I couldn’t agree more. Weekend update is just painful to watch.

      • Patrick says:

        WU’s problem has always been that it relies on targets. There has to be some news stories to be made fun of for the sketch to work. Only, today, there are a myriad of late night programs that do exactly that on a nightly basis. By Saturday, all the good jokes have been made and seen ad nauseum. Heck, NBC has two former WU anchors on every night (Seth doesn’t do Friday shows). And the writing staffs of both shows have a SNL flavor. So, again, all the jokes have already been made. There is no material left for WU by 11:30 on Saturday.
        .
        Really, the bit only exists now for the actors on the show to do stand up bits that cannot be shoe horned into other skits. There is nowhere else to stick Riblet, Girl you wish you hadn’t met at a party, or crazy Russian woman. They need to have someone lob them softballs without having to do any set up. WU is perfect for this.

    • Et al says:

      If Michael Che can’t be bothered to learn his lines, I wish they could at least teach him how to read.

      • Linda Foltz says:

        I agree! He’s the weakest part of SNL, in my opinion. I miss the old, old days – “Jane, you ignorant slut!” :) We need a duo who can verbally spar with one another. It’s too boring and dry.

  13. Gabby says:

    I’ll be completely honest, I think SNL is running out of laughs and material. You can maybe get one or two laughable sketches out of each episode, but I thought Blake did a fabulous job. When the monologue started, I had high hopes, but it was the cast that completely tanked it, not Blake. And I think it should say something that Blake referred to the cue cards fewer times than any of the cast members.

  14. michael says:

    Wishing Boot has to be one of the best music videos SNL has done. Topeka Today and the Bachelor spoof were great as well.

  15. Tran says:

    I give the Blake Shelton episode of SNL an A. One of the best this season in my opinion and I have a feeling he should be in the Top Five of the best SNL hosts of Season 40. The best was the Bachelor rip-off and the worst was Celebrity Family Feud and I was freaking out to watch Kate McKinnon impressing Keith Urban and Cecily Strong as Christina Aguilera and does everybody know that Cecily is Latina heritage? As for Ms. Strong, she’s my MVP of the night. This was a way better episode than Kevin Hart did last week and I hope that Blake should make an SNL encore sometime in the near future. Can’t wait to see what JK Simmons has in store next week.

  16. knd says:

    One of the best episodes not involving Justin Timberlake in years

  17. Dude says:

    Beat was The Bachelor but I didn’t think the Wishing Boot, Dearest Joan or Magic Trick ones were all that good. Blake was great but the material failed him.

  18. ThetruthshaIIsetyoufree says:

    Got talked into watching SNL last night. Everything that is wrong with America happened last night. When it started with the Hee-Haw skit I felt it might actually have some decent old country jokes in it, but it instantly went to raunchy sex, and over the top vulgarity. Sex was peppered throughout the entire routine, along with terrible monologue and cringe worthy acting.

    The weekend update was almost unbearable. All the left wing political butt munching could be seen in plain view. If it wasn’t that, it was a 5 minute spot about gay porn, then some ignorant white ghetto rap dude always dropping a mic, that wasn’t even close to funny.

    Shelton’s songs showed where country music has gone as a genre, and was embarrassing to watch. That blonde in the background was trash, as were his band, vocals, and lyrics. I love how country music today is ghetto rock with a twang, and as long as they mention a piece of country history like a tractor, or Hank, it somehow still makes it country.

    His music is a disgrace to country, as is he, and I actually feel embarrassed to think I used to enjoy SNL. I can’t even hardly get over the weekend update, and how plain and unoriginal the actors are. The only jokes worth laughing at last night were them.

    • Et al says:

      Are the damn kids off your lawn yet?

    • My favorite is that you talk about the raunchy sexual innuendo and vulgarity and then say “left wing political butt munching.” Congrats. You are a hypocrite.

    • desi says:

      I totally agree with you, brother! Sex is so gross and unnatural and people just need to stop talking about it and stop doing it. Ewww! And I felt the same way about that trashy blonde slut singer. I was so offended when she came on screen because I do not like trash, blondes, sluts, or music. It needs to stop.

      • TV Gord says:

        So true, Desi! All that sex on TV is quite distasteful. That’s why I come to the internet. There’s no sex here. So refreshing. :-)

  19. Shannon F says:

    I thought the Keenan Thompson. was parole board sketch was HILARIOUS!

  20. Can’t believe they didn’t include that song about pickup trucks as a worst sketch. I didn’t get that at all.

  21. Brandy says:

    The first half was awesome, but I thought the second half tanked. I also agree that some of the Family Feud impressions were dreadful (no Shakira? No Jlo? No Ryan? Have these people ever seen Nicki/Harry/Steven talk?) BUT Kenan’s Steve Harvey makes me laugh so much, I didn’t care.

  22. Tammy says:

    “If there weren’t cameras in this room, I’d kill you myself, you sick son of bitch!” — just Blake saying that was funny in the Parole Board! 😂

  23. ME says:

    This is how SNL should be every week, relevant and funny.

  24. raftrap says:

    Blake was awesome, and I loved the parole sketch, don’t ask me why, I just did.

  25. Daniel says:

    The parole board hearing was the best one!

  26. Budrow says:

    I don’t understand why Blake Shelton would lower himself to appear on SNL, an already disgusting program lacking talented performers and professional writers. Shelton’s dialogue during the magician sketch was unnecessary and so out of his class. You disappoint me Blake Shelton.

  27. Janine says:

    The parole board/Shawshank spoof was hilarious!!

  28. Luis says:

    I call this episode “above average” because the average has fallen so low. I only found the cold open, the “Farm Hunk,” and the “My Darlin’ Joan” sketches funny. Somebody please tell Bobby Moynihan to take Niblet out behind 30 Rock and put him out of our collective misery – bring back Drunk Uncle! I’d like to see some more growth from Michael Che on “Update;” I’m not really feeling the funny from him yet. Blake Shelton was an amiable presence and clearly game – he ought to come back. That first song he did got stuck in my head – in a good way.

  29. Ann VerWiebe says:

    I think the entire referencing Shawshank didn’t work because, even though it’s a cult classic, it’s 20 years-old! And, the Family Feud flopped because none of the cast members actually watch those shows. All of the accents were wrong (Keith has a weird Aussie/Nashville mix).

  30. Amy says:

    I agree the parole board wasn’t entertaining but I thought the wishing boot was stupid. I will say Shelton was amazing as actor. He’s just naturally fun. Loved him and loved that he can do the musical guest too win-win :-)

  31. chris says:

    Parole Board hilarious. Not an all time show, but definitely above average…that’s all i’m looking for these days!

  32. chris says:

    Best line of the whole show, in the Parole Board skit “Would I do it again?…Point me towards a homeless shelter”
    Celebrity Family Feud might be the worst I’ve ever seen.

  33. Linda Foltz says:

    I really, really dislike Michael Che on Weekend Update. I was trying to cut him some slack, but he continues to mess up his lines week after week. I have to put captions on for that part because I can’t understand what he’s saying. And he’s just not funny. It was a HUGE mistake for them to put him on the show.

    They need to have a duo that has some chemistry for Weekend Update and these two don’t. It’s hard to believe that they can’t find two people who would do this better.

  34. DJ says:

    My favorite line in the whole show was, “I’ll shuck your corn all night” from the Farm Hunk sketch. I cracked up!

  35. Emmit says:

    So, I just watched this episode for the first time tonight as a rerun.

    Family Feud was pretty bad.
    Joan/Topeka was great.
    Magician was high-larious.
    The Hee Haw send up was pretty much spot on like a flashback to grandma’s in the summer.

    And I really liked Che and his girlfriend’s fight until the end when Riblet showed up, though I found him doing Che’s job better than Che very funny… and probably a reaction to all the Che haters.

    I guess most of you missed that the Magic boot video was Martina McBride, Wynona Judd, and Alan Jackson. Mind you while Martina and Wynona were actually pretty good, Shelton’s Alan Jackson was spectacularly bad… which was funny in and of itself.