Saturday Night Live: Sarah Silverman & Maroon 5
October 5, 2014 5:58 AM - Season 40, Episode 2 - Subscribe

Sarah Silverman makes her triumphant return to the SNL stage in a show that smacks less of triumph and more of coasting.
posted by Etrigan (12 comments total)
But, did she fast?
posted by sammyo at 6:15 AM on October 5, 2014

Cold Open: We're back to political affairs this week, as Beck Bennett plays some 60 Minutes talking head interviewing Barack Obama (Jay Pharoah, of course). The show starts with a resounding Meh as gags about ISIS's use of social media and the Secret Service scandal fall flat.

Monologue: I saw Sarah Silverman doing her version of crowd work at the Oddball Festival this summer, and it worked better here (probably because she didn't pick a drunk handsy middle-aged guy), but still didn't really light the place up the way other comedians have done with their monologues (*cough*LouisCK*cough*). Nor did her callback to the many "audience member" questions she asked during her stint on the show in the '90s. The combination of the two made the whole thing very disjointed, but at least it wasn't another song about how nervous the host is.

The Fault in Our Stars 2: The Ebola in our Everything: This one hit it out of the ballpark, lampooning both the ebola panic and teen romance movies. I said last week that Cialis Turnt set a high bar for ad parodies this year -- this one cleared it.

Roast of Joan Rivers at the Pearly Gates: I would not have expected Silverman to be the biggest line-flubber of the night, but she ruined at least three jokes in this wan takeoff on SNL's own imitation-fest sketches. Bobby Moynihan does what he can as Ben Franklin (who doesn't get any of the references), but this skit was both too soon and not enough.
Also, OH HAI Cecily's boobs.

Whites: You know how sometimes SNL can do pretty much the same joke as everyone else but still make it work? This one did that, with the various white cast members (and Mike O'Brien! We missed you Mike!) talking about how white people won't be in charge for much longer, but they're gonna ride it out as long as they can.

Forgotten TV Gems: I admit I'm a sucker for Kenan Thompson hosting some random cable-access-level show, and Reese De'What does not disappoint. The idea of a soap opera where the women are supportive instead of bitchy was funny, but dragged very quickly.

Weekend Update: Ah, now this was what we were waiting for, right? Some good old-fashioned uncomfortable-white-guy bits? It worked, but it's going to be a hard well to go back to every week. Guests included feminist folk group Garage and Her (Kate MacKinnon and Silverman), pronounced Guh-RAH-chay, which mostly worked; and Al Sharpton via Thompson, who does his usual Sharpton shtick (the joke this week is that he thinks he works for Ms.NBC). Better than last week, but still not hitting a stride.

Riverboat Proud Mary: A callback to Louis CK's Mr. Big Stuff, with Cecily, Sarah and Sasheer Zamata (and Kenan, of course) telling their woes between verses. Never really took off.

Proposal Gone Wrong: For some reason, this one worked for me. Piling in Adam Levine (who is so, so much better in skits than he needs to be) was a nice touch, and Bobby staring straight into the camera as the destroyed would-be fiancee just kept getting funnier.

The December Generation: At this point, honestly, I'm not sure whether I'd pick Good Neighbor or The Lonely Island as the best contributors to SNL during their respective not-really-tenures. However, I will note that all of the non-live bits this week worked, and precious few of the live ones did.

Vitamix: The worst ten-to-one in recent memory, just because it didn't really try to be anything, and it still didn't succeed.

Maroon 5 was... there, I guess? I dunno. Their music ain't my bag, and the only thing that happened of note was Adam Levine trying to do bits in the song live that clearly didn't need to be (e.g., vocal effects that are patently vocal effects and don't need to be duplicated live, like echoes).

So, low C- on this one, and I'm being generous to Kenan Thompson.
posted by Etrigan at 6:49 AM on October 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Good Neighbor is definitely weirder and more abstract than the relentlessly crowd-pleasing Lonely Island was, and I have to say, I'm liking it a lot. I don't actually know if I find it funny or not, but it clicks with me in a way I enjoy anyway.
posted by maxsparber at 8:48 AM on October 5, 2014

I disagree. I liked this episode a lot, more than I've liked most SNL I've seen in the past few years. I was impressed how consistent it was; usually the writing drops sharply after the first half-hour.

The difference was that Silverman's fingerprints were all over this episode. I don't know whether she participated a lot this week, or—maybe more likely—had a lot of unused material sitting around from her Comedy Central show and brought pages with her to SNL. But I would suggest that liking or disliking this week's show is more about a person's appreciation for Sarah Silverman than SNL, because this show was largely her. You know how some shows become about the host because, like Jack Black or Justin Timberlake, that host totally throws himself into the show? This was the writing analog to that.

The callback gag to finish her monologue? I would love to know if I'm right, and I'm open to being corrected if anybody has inside info...but I'll bet twenty bucks to charity that's an idea Silverman has had in her pocket for years. I'll bet she she's pitched it to friends: "I used to just ask questions on SNL. If I ever host, I should answer them all." It cracked me up. Some comedy is more about the idea than the execution, and Silverman's often is.

I would not have expected Silverman to be the biggest line-flubber of the night, but she ruined at least three jokes

Including last week's episode, we now have at least six cast members making the same flub, including both hosts and "Weekend Update." That's pretty strong evidence we're not talking about a flub, but a cue card problem. It was much better this week but props (or whatever department) really needs to get their act together.
posted by cribcage at 9:04 AM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

But I would suggest that liking or disliking this week's show is more about a person's appreciation for Sarah Silverman than SNL, because this show was largely her.

I love Sarah Silverman, but this just never came together for me. I didn't really get that "Oh, this is all about Sarah" vibe, either -- the best bits she was in weren't really even due to her (The Fault in Our Stars 2 was all Taran Killam's reactions; I don't recall a single funny thing she did in the botched proposal sketch) and the monologue -- where she should have killed -- was two good ideas that were executed well but just didn't go well together (I agree that the "questions she asked 20 years ago" bit was probably totally her, and I wouldn't be surprised to find out that she went waaay over on the crowd work part).
posted by Etrigan at 10:41 AM on October 5, 2014

Partway through the show I had a stray thought that this was going better than last week, but then I stopped and realized that nothing really stood out as really good. My favorite bit didn't come until the proposal sketch later in the show.

The Al Sharpton bit was enhanced in my mind by assuming that all of his "mistakes" were references to Colin's poor performance last week.

I remember enjoying Maroon 5 in 2004. In 2014 I found them bland.

The opening credits were a lot clearer, so I'd say they found the sound levels they were missing last week.
posted by ckape at 12:00 PM on October 5, 2014

Separately both of the monologue bits were good, at least compared to the low bar of most SNL monologue bits, but putting them together the "Hey, remember how we have a long history of putting plants in the audience?" bit undercuts the hanging out with a random audience member bit.
posted by ckape at 2:44 PM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ah, I didn't think this episode was that bad, but I agree these first two shows have been kind of a disappointment compared to previous seasons. I have to say the River Boat skit and the Wedding Proposal skit were both highlights that pushed this episode to "better than the premiere" level. I hope the new cast comes together soon and makes the magic again.
posted by mathowie at 3:16 PM on October 5, 2014

My first real laugh came during Weekend Update, when Michael Che asked, "Who goes to Texas *and* Africa?" And though I didn't actually laugh during the River Boat bit, I did, at least, enjoy it. And "Whites" was so appallingly true that it was, sort of, funny.

I have never understood Sarah Silverman. I watched her show, I've watched her standup, and I keep waiting, but outside of her fairly subtle "Her" in Garage & Her (which will have me thinking of my breakfast milk as a strong, Catholic woman), I was left unmoved. I know it can be her style, but I was still sickened by her comparison of carrying/feeding/bathing babies to the experience of quadriplegics, and I was caught up in all of her flubs throughout.

And I'll take Che being tickled by his own jokes over Jost's plastic performance. I have been watching SNL since I was in second grade, and Jost's is the first WU anchor who never succeeds in making me laugh. Bummer.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 4:36 PM on October 5, 2014

I was thrilled when Michael Che landed this job. I've been a fan of his stand-up for a couple years. He's a terrific writer. Honestly after two episodes I don't think it's a great fit, but it'll raise his profile. Hopefully he doesn't follow in the steps of people like Kenan Thompson or Bobby Moynihan, who—albeit with less talent—should have moved on long ago. I'm glad he's behind the desk now; I'll be disappointed if he's still there in 2017.
posted by cribcage at 4:46 PM on October 5, 2014

I think this show was an improvement, but they have a lot of ground to cover. I think only the opening sketch was a true piece-o-crap, but the sketches felt like they had beginnings, middles, and ends. No Aidy Bryant, except for one taped appearance, but hey, Sasheer Zamata had the biggest "part" i'd seen from her in a long time, since the Black Jeopardy sketch, it feels like.

Darrell Hammond still sounded like he was talking into a cardboard box or something under the rest of the opening glitz.

Weekend Update is interesting... Colin Jost is wooden, but the jokes are funny. That "Japanese Cheerleader Robots" joke, my SO pointed out, was like an old-school Norm McDonald joke, but the way Jost delivered it was only enough to make the joke good. Also, we agreed that Colin and Michael are sitting way too far apart, and the best moments for Colin are when he's interacting with Michael. I am hoping Colin... does... something? Michael however seems like he's well on his way to becoming good in the chair. In my fantasy SNL line-up, Cecily and Michael would still be on the desk. She was in plenty of sketches last year, too, while being on the desk; the appearance of "girl-at-the-party..." isn't worth her absence there on the desk. They'd be like the next Jimmy and Tina, Seth and Amy, Jane and Dan.

Sarah Silverman is funny enough in my book. Other than botching Joan Rivers (she could have done better, I am sure), she was okay; I sometimes find her grating, but sometimes I think she's brilliant. I think she nailed the little crowdwork in the monologue. They used her a lot, compared to Chris Pratt. I'm looking forward much more to Bill Hader next week.

My favorite thing was Good Neighbors -- they fill the Short-Taped-Segment slot perfectly. Those taped segments have always been off-kilter. I was watching an SNL from 1985ish, and they had taped segments as disparate in the same season as "Tippy Turtle" (the worst) and their 60-Minutes segments (this year's writers should refer to 1985's Sixty Minutes sketches as the gold standard). Good Neighbors is absurdist, well-shot, subtly funny... so I look forward to their stuff the most this season. My next favorite thing was the Marriage Proposal, and I liked the Vitamix premise a lot, but they didn't quite land on the funny. The rest of the show, okay. Kenan always makes me laugh, and Bobby Moynihan, too -- it'll be sad to see him leave. (He's leaving at the end of the season.)

And no Pete Davidson? They REALLY need more of him. And Kate McKinnon.
posted by not_on_display at 6:31 PM on October 5, 2014

Dear Lorne Michaels,

Never let anyone named Colin host Weekend Update. They are not good at it.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:20 AM on October 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

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