SNL With Eli Manning: Best and Worst Skits

eli manning helga latelyEli Manning may not be the world’s most natural comic actor — and actually, referring to him as a “comic actor” of any level is a bigger stretch than bungee jumping off the Sears Tower — but that only made it more surprising that the New York Giants star’s Saturday Night Live hosting debut turned out to be reasonably decent. Below, find my picks for this week’s best and worst sketches:

Best: Helga Lately
A totally absurd Swedish twist on Chelsea Lately, with newcomer Kate McKinnon clearly having a ball as the vodka-swilling, sexually provocative talk-show host. Yeah, Manning’s segment was as unconvincting as his blonde wig, but that “coming up next” promo for Toop Chef (with a certain classic Muppet) and Helga’s insane martini-stirrer pushed this one into the ‘win’ column.

Best: Murder Trial
I could easily have put Bill Hader’s latest Herb Welch sketch (live from Occupy Wall Street) or the excellent cold open of Fox & Friends (those fact-checking disclaimers at the end — especially “Seeing eye dogs are neither able to nor allowed to drive” — were definitely DVR-pause worthy), but I thought it was only right to point out Manning’s best moment. Playing a murder suspect whose hapless booty-calling serves as his alibi, Manning scored a couple of comedic touchdowns with his emoticon faces and a flawless, self-deprecating punch line (“The banana is larger.”).

Worst: Miss Drag World
I’m sure SNL‘s writers figured if Manning was game enough to don a dress and heels, they had no choice but to make it happen. But why do a random local drag contest — with punch lines plucked straight from 1987 — when the very recent RuPaul’s Drag Race season finale was ripe for parody?

Worst: The Dictator Advertisement on Weekend Update
If SNL was going to let Sacha Baron Cohen hijack the show for five minutes as an extended advertisement for his tepid-looking new comedy, the least they could’ve done was insist the dude actually bring some real laughs. And honestly, I could’ve died a happy man without ever having heard a joke about popping out one of Roger Ebert’s testicles “like an edamame.”

What did you think of this week’s SNL? What were your picks for best and worst sketches? Sound off in the comments!