He might not be known for his comedy — that is, until the forthcoming release of The Nice Guys, featuring alien-abduction survivor Ryan Gosling — but the one-time Gladiator could’ve fooled us, as he committed to a number of outlandish characters, from a holographic Henry VIII to a German professor who, let’s just say, grew up in a house full of old women.
Make no mistake: the Academy Award winner’s Studio 8H debut wasn’t a home run, but after a harmless (if forgettable) opening monologue that wisely kept Crowe far away from open mics (those Les Misérables vocals still haunt me to this day), the thespian did his absolute best to elevate some obscenely sophomoric humor involving gropey museum exhibits, Western-European accents and a mullet-bearing family friend.
Lo and behold, my picks for best and worst sketches:
BEST: 100 DAYS IN THE JUNGLE
We don’t know too much about Nathan’s uncle’s friend Terry, who has a mullet, loves duck vaginas and is dating a professional credit-cards thief, but Crowe’s most outrageous character of the night was an absolute hoot. A sketch loosely based on Survivor wouldn’t have felt fresh even a decade ago, but Crowe masterfully drove attention away from the conceit with a performance so enthusiastic that you couldn’t help but laugh at even the most juvenile of punchlines.
BEST: OPRAH WINFREY: A LIFE OF LOVE
This latest Mike O’Brien Picture was the digital short all of us knuckleheads deserved. This peculiar biopic fit perfectly at 12:55 am ET, with O’Brien assuming the role of the one-time talk show host who went on to build a media empire. It even managed to make Kyle Mooney funny (don’t tell TVLine’s regular SNL recapper Michael Slezak, who’s on vacation this weekend!) with a halfhearted take on Michael Jackson’s moonwalk. Most bizarre was the cameo by Jason Sudeikis, who assumed the role of Whoopi Goldberg during what was allegedly not a loose reenactment, but an actual scene from The Color Purple.
HONORABLE MENTION: MATCH FINDERS
This Game Show Network segment launched a not-so-subtle-yet-focused campaign to make me uncomfortable. Nevertheless, Crowe’s vagina-obsessed German professor (we’re sensing a pattern here) was so over-the-top, and so painfully inappropriate that we’re gonna have to give this Beautiful Mind an “A” for effort (and for not crawling out of his own skin as he described all of the ways he’d enjoy pleasuring every orifice on a woman).
WORST: POLITICS NATION
A cameo from the real Al Sharpton couldn’t save this miserable sketch, which never quite found it’s “Al Gore rhythm.” Though Kenan Thompson has previously done fine work as the polarizing MSNBC host, it’s perhaps time to retire this character, which at this point is just a series of unfunny pronunciation errors.
WORST: HENRY VII: THE EXPERIENCE
“Bear me a son!” was Crowe’s refrain in this sketch. More like bear me a better sketch, am I right!? There was nothing particularly smart or humorous about this horny hologram who yelled at female museum goers to have his child — before eventually fondling Aidy Bryant’s breasts.
OK, it’s your turn: What did you think of this week’s SNL? Grade the episode in our poll, then sound off in the comments.