Saturday Night Live “Amy Schumer/The Weekend” [41.2] | A-
Saturday Night Live has a structure in place that prevents the weekly change at host from crashing the entire show. However, there is no question that the host can add, and sometimes detract, from that structure. Often with stand-up comedians the show’s mechanisims work to ensure that the strengths [writing & a stand-up routine as monologue] shine while weakness [acting and improve] are hidden. This week’s host, Ms. Amy Schumer, while a stand-up, is so much more. Much like Louis C.K. of 2009-2014 she is the “hot” comedian who has the world as her personal play ground. She has found a way to break out in a profession that is renowned for the grinders and countless faces passing through open mics and dark stages at comedy clubs. Those that make it through and become household names do so because of a certain spark that makes their observations stand out and resonate. And much like Louis C.K. of 2009-2015 [who famously joked that he knew he had about five years before his ride ran out, seemingly has been surpassed by Ms. Schumer to be NYC’s “it” comedian, which seems to fit Louis C.K. nicely as he is focusing on his work as an film artist] Ms. Schumer appears to be nothing short of a comedic genius. What she does have that Louis C.K. has self-deprecatingly stated he doesn’t have, is a natural gift to act. Amy Schumer’s turn as a host this week then allowed SNL to rise and added a much needed spark to a show that still is struggling to figure out its cast.
The Fox and Friends sketch is reoccurring and due to the nature of the joke, the scroll screen of corrections, the premise has not run flat yet. It is rare to see this type of sketch as a cold open so in that sense it was a bit disappointing to see the sketch here rather than before or after Weekend Update, a more natural place for it. The surprise in this variation of the familiar Fox and Friends sketch was Pete Davidson actually doing an impression, that of Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R). Kate McKinnon channeled the awkwardness that is Democratic Party Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. For me one of the joys of these Fox and Friends sketches is Bobby Moynihan as Brian Kilmeade, which never gets old. As stated last week, I am a fan of Mr. Moynihan and enjoy anytime is gets to come out and ham it up. Also of note, Vanessa Bayer, who I suspect got a decent amount of screen time this week because Ms. Schumer, who has shown her strenght as a writer on her own show, Inside Amy Schumer, wrote her Trainwreck, co-star in more sketches then Ms. Bayer normally gets. I have no issue with this as Ms. Bayer is a strong player and should be given more chances to play a wider range of characters.
Just as Chris Rock and Louis C.K. last year, the writers were smart to simply hand Amy Schumer a mic (which they literally did on camera) and let her do a bit of stand-up. What surprised me was Ms. Schumer holding back punches in her monologue. As someone who has never shied away from saying what is on her mind and shows a willingness to charge the line and smash expectations, her routine was rather low key and milder than her normal stand up. Unlike Louis C.K.’s much written about monologue to end season 40, Ms. Schumer’s sketches and acting was the note to take rather that her monologue. I would suspect that a note was taken of how Louis C.K.’s monologue hung over the rest of his show and in the press the next few days overshadowed anything that happened during the remaining 90 minute show. What Ms. Schumer’s monologue did have was a strong central theme of powerful women. More so than in past years Ms. Schumer seems to realize the power of her voice and is using it as the weapon and megaphone that it can be.
It is rare that an episode of SNL puts out 8 sketches and none of them are awful. This episode was tight and put together really well. It was one of the few episodes in which I would have loved to see the rehearsal and sketches that where cut for time or left in the writer’s room. For a show that has to put 6-10 sketches on live TV, plus Weekend Update, there is no real surprise if one or two sketches are obviously at a lower level. For an episode to go wire-to-wire with higher level sketches is a key to being an A-grade SNL. While I know some people may not have enjoyed it as much, I felt the highlight was the first sketch after the monologue, Delta Flight. The physical comedy of Ms. Schumer and Ms. Bayer made me laugh outloud which I have not done for a while during an episode of SNL. It is also very clear that those two have good chemistry together. Also, as stated last year it looks like SNL is trying to get some bite back, as it took on guns, unlike years past where SNL has shied away from tackling big issues it seems this season’s writer’s room is up to the challenge. While it is obvious they are still feeling their way back to having a political bite it is refreshing to see the early stages of that path being cleared.
This week Michael Che said, “I never thought I would say this on TV” to set up a joke and I am going to say “I never thought I would type this on the Lionize” to set up this review. I never thought I would type this on the Lionize but I really liked this week’s Weekend Update. First I had the feeling that their political jokes were not landing and then everything seemed to fall into place. It seems that Colin Jost and Michael Che have figured out that they can do their own thing and work to their own strengths. Their interaction highlights Mr. Jost’s awkwardness. It is a smart move to turn around the most criticized part of Weekend Update, Mr. Jost, and use that to make the segment stronger. As always Kate McKinnon killed as Ms. Santini, Colin’s neighbor in his building, but before she came out Jay Pharoah came out for his [only] performance of the night as Solomon. It was nice to see Mr. Pharoah play an original character. Now back to Ms. Santini, she never gets old and her letters to neighbors are ALWAYS hilarious.
The Musical Guest
This is the second week in a row that I do not own nor listen to the musical guest, The Weekend. However I do know who Nicki Minaj is, as did the crowd who cheered quite loudly when she appeared onstage [could her dress be tighter? Props for being able to move around in that #womenskills]. I did recognize The Weekend’s second song since I own a radio and listen to music from it. I enjoyed both his performances and did not feel the need to fast forward either of them. He also passed the Studio 8h sound check so that’s pretty positive.
Thumbs up / Thumbs down
Thumbs up to
- Bobby Moynihan. He was on when he was on and he is a Lionize favorite
- Weekend Update. We hope they build on this week’s success and can string together a few episodes of good segments.
- The Weekend Update guest.
- The Delta Flight sketch
- Was it me or did the Porn Teacher sketch feel like a ten-to-one sketch? It felt like something that Kyle Mooney had a hand in writing [where was Beck Bennett this week!?]
- Amy Schumer. Great acting. She was a total team player and gave it her all every time she was on which was in 7 of 8 sketches. A sign that the host works well with the cast and everybody is confident of their ability is being written into so many sketches. The only one that she was not a part of was the political Fox and Friends.
- The wardrobe department for ensuring nothing popped out of Ms. Minaj’s dress [was that tape or a nipple cover that was popping out during the closing credits].
Thumbs down to
- The lack of Leslie Jones! She was in one appearance, the City Council Meeting, as a woman who was there for an AA meeting. She did great in her brief part. We want more Leslie!
- Was tonight’s ten-to-one the first time Sasheer Zamata has been on this year?
- The ten-to-one was really tame. It seemed to be at that spot because it was the weakest sketch not because of it’s oddity. In fact Porn Teacher should have gone there.
- I really thought the ten-to-one was going to be based on a great bit from Ms. Schumer’s stand up. It was not and I was disappointed. I get that the bit was played out in Trainwreck but not everybody has seen the movie.
Featured Player of the night [the Kate McKinnon award]
This is hard. The rock was spread around this week. My gut says give the award to Ms. Schumer but that’s a cop out because she’s the host and not a featured [or repertory] player. At first I thought Aidy Bryant would be a contender for her turn during Porn Teacher because she played a part that was not one of her two normal character types. But she was not around too much after that. Kyle Mooney had two parts but neither would earn him this weekly award. Taran Killam appeared a few times, but he always does. By default Kate McKinnon was gold when she was on.
Ok. Enough circling around the point, in a three way tie the winner is: Amy Schumer-Weekend Update-Kate McKinnon. I hear you, Weekend Update is not a featured [or repertory] player, however, it’s my website so comment below with your frustrations but do not send me any e-mails. I can do what I want here. I enjoyed Weekend Update which is rare and I want to celebrate that excitement.
- Pick anybody but the black guy
- Nominate Bieber’s penis for Speaker of the House.
- I am so sorry your baby is a car alarm.
- I teach my monkey to steal on the street.