Elizabeth Banks Hosts SNL: Watch Video of the Best and Worst Sketches

After last week’s laughs-free, Donald Trump-hosted catastrophe, even a boiled parsnip probably would’ve sounded like an upgrade in the Saturday Night Live emcee department.

Thankfully, Elizabeth Banks’ time in Studio 8H ultimately provedfar superior to the Republican presidential candidate’s turgid tenure, though I still wish she’d been given more to do in the pre-“Weekend Update” portion of the telecast… or that EP Lorne Michaels shaken up the order of sketches to move some of her stronger contributions to the front of the installment.

Banks nevertheless showed real range — nailing characters as diverse as a dramatic high-school boy, a harried Uber passenger and an actress in a TV crime procedural — in an above-average outing. Let’s recount the best and worst moments:

Bobby Moynihan played a middle-school administrator excited about winning a charity-auction role in a crime procedural called The Bureau — that is, until Banks and Jay Pharoah’s FBI agents got on camera and busted his fictional character for sniffing teenagers’ one-piece bathing suits and exhibiting “pervert eyes.” A slight, silly premise upgraded by the actors’ goofy enthusiasm.

Cast-member-turned-writer Mike O’Brien popped up in this taped sketch about a woman whose Uber driver fails to heed instructions — instead dragging her along on errands such as buying lunch at a drive-thru and visiting his local bank for a mortgage. I may be a bad person for LOL-ing at O’Brien killing a pedestrian and then leaving him in an alley — all because he turned around to answer a question about Clueless Vs. Mean Girls — but I’m confident I’m not alone.

SNL‘s ladies — in this case, Banks, Aidy Bryant, Kate McKinnon, Cecily Strong and Vanessa Bayer — joined forces as girl group Infinity Plus Five to extoll the virtues of their girlhood crushes. With lyrics like, “I got up on the couch/ And I knocked my first one out,” it wasn’t tasteful, but it sure was amusing.

Mind you, I almost never laugh at anything when Kyle Mooney is central to the action, but the return of his clueless standup-comic character went from lame to grotesque when the big payoff turned out to be the fact that Chandling learned he was accidentally committing statutory rape against a teenage “girlfriend.”

Pharoah nailed Carson’s glassy-eyed belief in himself, but you need more than a facial expression to get true gut laughs, no? The sluggish pacing and tepid punchlines undercut Pharoah’s efforts, but hopefully we’ll get to see this impression put to better use as the season progresses.

Your turn. What did you think of this week’s SNL? Take our poll below, then sound off in the comments! (We’ll post video as soon as it’s available on Sunday a.m.)

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. Colton says:

    Though I respect the review’s opinion, I feel exact opposite about which sketches he finds best and worst. I think Kyle Mooney is the hidden gem on SNL right now!

  2. Much of the evening’s sketches seemed pre-taped, which might not have been a bad thing considering the circumstances. I was glad there was no regular opening, and Cecily Strong’s message was the right one. Uber for Jen was the funniest sketch, but Sam Smith’s inclusion seemed like an afterthought and was wasted in an up tune that didn’t showcase his talent. It must have been hard to be funny after what happened in Paris the day before.

  3. H says:

    Shouldn’t have done it at all. Not this week.

    • Evan says:

      You laugh after tragedy.”Too soon” is an urban myth.

    • Guy says:

      Not everyone else wants to let terrorism win like you apparently do. Going about our regular daily lives, remembering to laugh and still enjoy life is the starting point to overcoming terrorism. The second you let it affect your life and how you live day-to-day is the second terrorists win.

  4. Willioam Moore says:

    Why not bring back Melisa McCarthy or some other comedic actresses like her, or comedic actors for that matter. I watched last night’s show for about 30 minutes and that was enough for me.

    • The Beach says:

      Yep, I must have been watching a different show than most of the posters. I thought this was one of the worst and unfunniest shows I’ve seen in a very long time…a total bust.

  5. Raftrap says:

    I just gotta say this, Pete Davidson and Leslie Jones for Weekend Update, Collin and Michael can be in sketches, I really don’t hate them, but they are just never gonna work for Update, change Weekend Update now, it’s really hurting the show.

  6. Rose Bianco says:

    Kyle Mooney’s Bruce Chandling piece may not have been funny but it was amazing, transcending normal tv fare

  7. smartysenior says:

    I guess the reviewer doesn’t quite get it that Banks is a professional entertainer while Trump is….well, Trump. Why he would compare the performances of the two is beyond me, but even so Trump got the biggest numbers by far. It’s better to leave your personal bias at home, it just looks dumb in an otherwise well written article. And no, I’m not a Trump fan, I’m a fan of good writing.

  8. Mr. Tran K says:

    I give the Elizabeth Banks episode of SNL an A. Much better episode than last week’s Trump showing. The First Got Horny 2 U sketch was the best and this is why the women are still my favorite part about the show. Mooney is the one cast member I can’t live without even at his worst especially his Bruce Chandling take on Weekend Update if only BFF Beck Bennett is better at it. Can’t wait for next week’s episode with Matthew McConaughey and Adele.

  9. Shaun says:

    First got Horny 2U was great.Every time those ladies do a sketch together it’s usually the greatest thing all week.Also enjoyed Banks singing monologue.

  10. Jenna says:

    I thought this was the most entertaining SNL in a long time. Banks was awesome! Loved Uber for Jen and the monologue, and Black Jeopardy. EB has such a range of talent.

  11. OhMy says:

    Having Lorde follow the high school drama presentation skit was probably not a good idea — it was too difficult to differentiate them.

  12. Topsy Turvy says:

    I LOVE Banks and thought this was a pretty strong show but she really missed an opportunity to ad-lib when there was that “slight pause” as the stagehands took off her dress.

  13. liame says:

    What is going on?

  14. Faye says:

    People seem to either love or hate Mooney. My household is divided. I cringe every time he appears on screen but my roommate thinks he’s hilarious.

  15. Margo says:

    High school theater is one of my favorites sketches! Actually I love sketches with Kate and Aidy, they are so funny.