SNL With Russell Brand: Best and Worst Skits?

Picking the best skit from this week’s Saturday Night Live, with host Russell Brand? That’s easy: A hilarious “Weekend Update” enlivened by the presence of Taran Killam’s Eminem, Jay Pharaoh’s Lil Wayne, and Bill Hader’s New York nightlife correspondent Stefon. Awarding the dubious honor of the night’s worst skit, however, is a much tougher task, as three separate segments — “Royal Taster,” “A Spot of Tea,” and “George Washington” — couldn’t muster up a single decent laugh among them.

I’ve embedded “Weekend Update” in three parts. Seth Myers was batting pretty close to a thousand in the anchor’s chair — scoring big wins with jokes about Dick Cheney presenting a “Defender of the Constitution” award to Donald Rumsfeld at CPAC 2011 (“yes, the irony was lost on them”) and AOL’s purchase of Huffington Post where a spokesperson for the former company was quoted as making the antiquated “dial-up” sound. Still, I howled hardest when Myers showed a shirtless Craigslist ad photo of resigning U.S. Rep. Chris Lee, and noted, “Say what you want about Hosni Mubarak, but at least you don’t know what his nipples look like.”

The Eminem-Lil Wayne bit centered on the rappers attempting to shed their misogynist reputations by recording a Valentine’s Day single for the ladies. The punch lines weren’t revolutionary — the song’s verses ended with uncomfortable words like “throat” and “knife!”– but Killam’s unvarnished aggression as Eminem was absurdly spot-on.

And as for Hader’s Stefon, I won’t spoil any of his choicest bits. Let’s just say the segment was hilarious enough that I can’t hold it against the guy for breaking character a couple of times to suppress a fit of the giggles.

If I had to single out one sketch as the evening’s worst, I guess I’d have to choose “A Spot of Tea,” mainly because the should’ve-been-great premise of Brand, Hader, and Andy Samberg as elderly British ladies hosting a talk show was reduced to a single weak formula — hot tea + fault line x shrieking British accents — that didn’t get any funnier with continuous repetition.

It’s a shame, really, because Brand seemed like a wacky and willing participant all evening — he was uproarious in the spoof trailer for Don’t You Go Rounin’ Roun to Re Ro — but for the most part, the material failed him.

What did you think of this week’s SNL? What were your favorite and least favorite skits? Sound off below, and for all my TV coverage, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV.

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