Anna Kendrick Hosts Saturday Night Live: Watch Video of the Best and Worst Sketches

Saturday Night Live KendrickQuestion: What do the Little Mermaid, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, NCAA March Madness and, er, dongs have in common?

Answer: They all contributed to Anna Kendrick’s highly successful maiden voyage hosting this week’s Saturday Night Live.

OK, sure, Kendrick actually only appeared in two of the four sketches mentioned above, but the Tony- and Oscar-nominated actress also scored laughs in a trio of recurring sketches (Fox & Friends, Les Jeunes de Paris and Booker T. Washington High School — none of which are ever guaranteed to be great) that hopefully earned her a sophomore enagement emceeing NBC’s sketch comedy series in the not-so-distant future.

Below, my picks for Best and Worst Sketches — plus a poll where you can grade the Kendrick-led installment:

Kendrick was terrifically funny mimicking Ke$ha, Selena Gomez and especially Britney Spears in a skit that imagined a deluded Ariel thinking the voices of today’s Auto-Tuned pop stars would offer the best trade with sea witch Ursula for a pair of legs. Bonus points for Jay Pharoah’s ridiculous Sebastian, complete with a performance of Sean Paul’s “Temperature.”
[Video not available due to music rights.]

Another slow, meditative digital short from Kyle Mooney, but this one was also very amusing. Mooney and Vanessa Bayer both nailed the rhythms of apartment-building neighbors too shy to admit their mutual crush. Mooney’s so-wrong-I-howled “I’ve got poop on my underwear” was topped only by Bayer leaning in for the kiss, then zagging at the last second to open a washing machine door. The denouement — with Bayer innocently sharing “I’m just gonna go f*** this guy, then we’ll go on a date” — was a rare instance of SNL squeezing one more joke from a setup and actually having it pay dividends.

Kendrick, Aidy Bryant, Cecily Strong, Kate McKinnon and Sasheer Zamata — side note: whatever happened to Nasim Pedrad? — delivered just the right balance of clever and crude in this parody of rap tunes about dudes traveling for sexual conquest. Best line: “196 countries/ And that’s a lot of dongs/ All I packed is travel shampoo/ And 1,500 thongs.” I loved Icona Pop’s guest appearance, and who knew Kendrick’s rap game was quite so solid. (Imagine if she teamed up with Kendrick Lamar for a Kendrick-Kendrick duo?)

For my money, Kate McKinnon is the MVP of the current SNL cast, and she proved it here as by bringing back her impersonation of the German leader as a tighly wound rule-follower who’s desperate for some fun. Seriously, how come Angela always has to be the one to hold Spain’s hair when it pukes? And why can’t, just once, she trade her men’s blazer for a men’s Hawaiian shirt?

I get that Kendrick isn’t a standup comic like last week’s host Louis C.K., and I get that she has a pretty singing voice the writers might’ve wanted to exploit, but none of the above explains the utter lack of punch lines — or, to put it another way, the total absence of anything amusing — in this song and dance number. All it really accomplished, ultimately, was to show how bloated the current SNL cast has become (after both the repertory and featured players all hit the stage behind Kendrick).
[Video not available due to music rights.]

I’m sure newbie Brooks Wheelan is under a lot of pressure, considering his first season is more than halfway finished and he’s made very little impression on viewers. But this extended “comic” tale of how, at 20, his roommates put a stick of butter down his pants after a night of blackout drinking was so lame, it might as well have been subtitled The Comic You Wish Hadn’t Started a Bit at a Weekend Update. (And yes, that’s my way of saying I miss The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party.)

What did you think of Kendrick’s SNL outing? Grade the installment in our poll below, then sound off in the comments with your picks for Best and Worst!

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