SNL Finale Recap

Fred Armisen Hosts SNL: Watch Video of the Best and Worst Sketches

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.

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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37 Comments
  1. Kris Schmidt says:

    Glad I’m not the only one that thought the monologue was painfully bad…

  2. cuius says:

    Is this still a thing?

  3. fred says:

    remember when SNL was funny? I haven’t seen an episode in a long time that really made me laugh. I’ve tapered off watching it, and when I give in just to give it one more chance I remember why I stopped watching it. It’s just not worth wasting 90 mintues, because that’s all it is. A waste.

    • The Beach says:

      By far my favorite this year has been the one hosted by Ryan Gosling. Several of those skits were SNL worthy. Most of the episodes this year have been throw-aways.

  4. Tom says:

    Who keeps telling them the high school theater troupe sketches are funny?

  5. I watched the monologue. It was good. In fact, much better than the usual opening because it was actually cerebral. Plus, we did it totally solo. What’s wrong with it?

    • Ummhi86 says:

      I thought it was hilarious! The show started off so strong Idk why so few people enjoyed it!

      • Matthew says:

        Don’t let the comments fool you, they are always the vocal minority. Take a look at the poll, much more people enjoyed it.

  6. TS says:

    Seemed like Armisen improvised the whole monologue on the spot. I think I laughed once because of the weirdness, but it was mostly painful. Was hoping for the return of Garth and Kat, but it was not to be…

  7. David says:

    Why is it so hard for SNL to find good comedy writers? Is everyone on staff a relative of Lorne Michaels? I know Michaels will probably always be with the show, and that’s the problem. What he thinks is funny….95% of the public does not find funny. And hasn’t Kenan been there long enough?

    • BillyBobJohnson says:

      He hires a lot of Harvard grads who think they’re funny.

    • Patrick says:

      When you get a job at SNL, you sign a long term services contract with Lorne Michaels wherein he gets a piece of future projects you do. You also sign away most of your long term rights to whatever you create while working on the show. Basically, he’s a Sith and signing on is choosing the dark side. It is a quicker path to success, but it comes at great cost. Back when there were only 3 TV outlets, SNL was a quick path to success for writers and performers. Now, with multiple media outlets, numerous college programs, and the internet, creatives don’t have to sign on to a program that basically becomes a vampire on all future projects and earnings. If you are really talented, and not afraid of hard work, there are other paths to success than SNL. Sadly, SNL’s writing staff has become a home for hacks and second tier talent.

      • Max says:

        Thank you for that explanation Patrick. It makes a lot more sense now why their writing staff has become so bad. A musician friend of mine was encouraged to go on “The Voice” and it was a similar situation. If you have any success you have to sign your career over to them with no creative control.

  8. Jodi says:

    I fell asleep during update, but if you’re saying dead poets society and regine were among the best, I’m glad I didn’t stay up. Love sudeikis, hated regine.

    Best of the night was the cold open and Dilma.

  9. Terry says:

    So glad I wasn’t the only one who didn’t get the opening monologue. When is Lorne going to realize that Keenan Thompson is NOT funny anymore, pretty much burnt out and needs to move on?

    • Chin says:

      Wasn’t this his last season?

      • iHeart says:

        this episode was a bit of a bummer even though this was the episode that probably had the least amount of Trump references this season. By the time the new season starts, the democratic nomination will be decided, etc, new stars and musical acts will be born and it’ll be a fresh start

    • Wayne says:

      Kenan has been around the show since 2003. I think he was signed through this season but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Definitely time for him to move on though. However, given the return last night of Jason Sudeikis and with Fred Armisen hosting, couldn’t they have done one more What’s Up With That? sketch. Fred was the sax player, Jason was the backup dancer and of course Kenan was the host. About the only sketch “regular” who’d be missing would be Bill Hader as “Livingston Buckingham” but he could have made a guest spot too. Bobby Moynihan has been with the show since about 2008. Probably time for him to move on too although he was pretty good in the taped Mr. Bunting sketch.

  10. A. D. says:

    BORING Opening Monologue….and no Californians sketch! Boo! Some of the worst hosts this year and musical guests….EPIC FAIL not having Deadpool host!

  11. dan says:

    The cold open with Hillary and Bernie was great, then the monologue was bizarre and not funny. The school sketch was mildly funny and the best part of Regine sketch was everybody breaking up. I loved the Dead Poets Society pre-taped bit and Andy Samburg’s digital short was funny in an “OMG did he really say that” way. Weekend Update was mediocre, didn’t like Willie or Dilma (they brought Maya Rudolph back for that? I guess they needed to promote her variety show). A mediocre end to the season which is appropriate for an overall mediocre season.

  12. colig says:

    way too much kyle mooney tonight. ruined everything he was in.he has got to go.

  13. So Slezak… Relating sex to the killing of the head of a major terrorist organization is “hilarious” but pedophilia is untouchable? Makes me understand why people around the world hate America so much.

    • gale1001 says:

      Exactly. Disappointed that Slezak found that profanity-lace, offensive bit “hilarious”.
      I doubt it was hilarious to families of 911 victims.

  14. Shaun says:

    Lol,the best part was when that woman wouldn’t answer him.

  15. Ron Aslan says:

    The best part of this episode was Maya Rudolph

  16. Asta Charles says:

    Lorne Michaels has been beating this dead horse for way too many years. SNL has not had a good set of writers, since the Tina Fey days. This last few years have been dredful. Lorne Michaels has also ruined the NBC late night, too, by firing everyone and putting in his SNL alums. Jimmy Fallon has become a weak egotistical howt, that has to upstage his guest, but back to SNL–It is time to throw in the towel. The skits have become painful. I noticed there wasn’t a way you could vote “bad” which is what I would have voted. I used to at least look forward to “Weekend Update”, but that doesn’t get s laugh, anymore. Someone needs to tell Lorne that his brand of humor doesn’t work and SNL needs to be put out of its misery and NBC needs to cut its losses with Michaels, all together, before it’s too late.

  17. Brandy says:

    There were some HILARIOUS parts, but with Andy, Jason, Fred, and Maya all in the house, it should’ve been much better.

    I was crying in laughter at Maya’s Brazilian president and it had me excited for her variety show (which I’m sure was the point).

  18. Carrie says:

    I thought this was a solid episode, especially with all of the surprise returns. Not sure why his opening monologue is considered terrible, when Drake’s lame attempt last week was praised. Drake made me cringe, Armisen was quirky and funny.

  19. Adam Bernard says:

    Apparently the notion of ‘spoilers’ is a new and unfamiliar concept to you. The Mr Bunting sketch would have been even funnier had you not announced the gag in your recap.

    • Yeah, the whole point of the Mr. Bunting sketch is the surprise. I get that this page is dedicated to talking about the episode and grading, but if you came here just to watch those highlights, you pretty much ruined the “punchline” for that one…

    • Morisot says:

      It’s a RECAP not a TEASER ! You are lucky they provide the clip — watch it BEFORE you read the recap!

    • Spencer Tracy Kong says:

      Since Dead Poets Society is a pop culture touchstone, and the ceiling fan is fully visible to anyone who’s paying attention, the upcoming visual punch line is obvious from the start. The fact that it’s still so funny when it happens is a tribute to how well it’s executed, unlike everything else during this episode.

  20. AnnieM says:

    Well, the ‘Mr Bunting’ sketch made me laugh so hard, it woke up my husband and startled the cat.