Is there any recovery for an episode of Saturday Night Live after an opening monologue less funny than getting a nasty splinter smack in the middle of an ingrown toenail? (Sorry, dear readers, it’s the end of the season, and the metaphors are getting a little wobbly.)
Fred Armisen put that question to the test in a Season 41 finale in which the peaks were high, and the valleys oh so low.
But did the show vet ultimately succeed or fail? That’s up to you.
Check out my picks below for best and worst sketches, then take our poll and share your opinion!
BEST: “FINEST GIRL”
This digital short starring SNL vet Andy Samberg as ridiculous pop star Conner 4 Real took one joke — “She wanted to f–k me harder than the U.S. got government f—ed Bin Laden” — and brought it to hilarious places. Was there really a riff about “terrorizing that p—y” or was I laughing so hard that I misheard it?
BEST: FAREWELL, MR. BUNTING
Another pre-taped bit (on a show with the word “Live” in the title) found Armisen’s Dead Poets Society-esque teacher getting a beautiful sendoff from his loyal students — until their “stand on a chair” schtick led to Pete Davidson’s head connecting with a ceiling fan. Blood splatter never looked so funny!
HONORABLE MENTION: REGINE
Armisen’s brutally judgmental, far-too-easily aroused recurring character arrived on the scene with boyfriend Jason Sudeikis, hissed insults at her hosts and got her foot in the guacamole — all while resembling “Mona Lisa painted with her mouth wide open.” If enjoying this sketch was wrong, well, I don’t want to be right.
WORST: OPENING MONOLOGUE
Look, I know weirdness is Armisen’s calling card, but this extended riff about his Long Island boyhood, his SNL audition and bittersweet feelings about success suffered from a startling dearth of punch lines and far too much self-absorption? “Is this a dream? Is this a dream? Is this a dream?” Armisen asked. Oh, how we wish the answer had been “yes.”
WORST: WILLIE ON “WEEKEND UPDATE”
Kenan Thompson’s never-particularly-enjoyable optimist hit a new nadir with a long and arduous riff about his character’s childhood visits to “the Candy Van” — where he was “tickled and spanked by Old Mr. Cunningham.” C’mon, Lorne Michaels, can’t we do better than pedophilia jokes?
OK, it’s your turn: What did you think of this week’s SNL? Were you excited to see alums such as Sudeikis and Maya Rudolph (see her “Weekend Update” guest turn here) turn up? Grade the episode in our poll, then sound off in the comments.