Saturday Night Live: Felicity Jones, Sturgill Simpson
January 15, 2017 6:23 AM - Season 42, Episode 11 - Subscribe

Host: Felicity Jones; Musical Guest: Sturgill Simpson

  • Donald Trump's First Press Conference - Alex Baldwin, Pete Davidson, Vanessa Bayer, Sasher Zamata, Melissa Villaseñor, Mikey Day, Alex Moffat, Cecily Strong, Kyle Mooney, Bobby Moynihan, Kate McKinnon, Kenan Thompson, Aidy Bryant, Beck Bennett
  • Opening Monologue - Felicity Jones
  • Beard Hunk - Beck Bennett, Cecily Strong, Vanessa Bayer, Felicity Jones, Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant
  • Shondra & Malik - Vanessa Bayer, Leslie Jones, Kenan Thompson
  • Albee Durberry Theatre - Vanessa Bayer, Felicity Jones, Mikey Day, Beck Bennett, Kate McKinnon, Kenan Thompson
  • The Princess and the Curse - Aidy Bryant, Kate McKinnon, Beck Bennett, Feilicty Jones
  • The Susan B. Anthony House - Alex Moffat, Aidy Bryant, Felicity Jones, Vanessa Bayer, Cecily Strong, Melissa Villaseñor, Kate McKinnon
  • Sturgill Simpson - Keep It Between The Lines
  • Weekend Update - Micheal Che, Colin Jost
    • First Impressions - Pete Davidson
    • Pop Sensation - Beck Bennett

  • Fandango All Access - Cecily Strong, Kyle Mooney, Felicity Jones, Beck Bennett

  • Sturgill Simpson - Call To Arms

  • Corporate Retreat - Mikey Day, Sasher Zamata, Beck Bennett, Cecily Strong, Felicity Jones, Melissa Villaseñor, Kate McKinnon

posted by DizzyOnBugSpray (28 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I missed the cold open but the rest of the episode was just awful. Timing was off, sketches were weak. I don't think I laughed once.

I guess they were due for a dud after such a strong season but I hope this isn't how the second half is going to go.
posted by bondcliff at 7:06 AM on January 15, 2017

Ms Jones (the British one) seemed uncomfortable in the monologue but did the writers intentionally not give her any actual jokes? But she killed it as HotRobot!
posted by sammyo at 7:20 AM on January 15, 2017

More misses than hits in IMHO, but both performances by Sturgill Simpson were off the charts fantastic.
posted by vverse23 at 10:37 AM on January 15, 2017 [3 favorites]

Pete Davidson!
posted by General Malaise at 10:55 AM on January 15, 2017

The prop folders in the cold open are vastly more believable than the prop folders in the actual press conference.

Everything about the cold open was meant to draw blood. Bravo.
posted by porpoise at 1:55 PM on January 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

The sketches were mostly fine, just ended up being too long (Weekend Update was great except for the Beck Bennett bit).

Adored 'Corporate Retreat.'

All of Felicity Jones parts had the common theme of being anxious/nervous, is that a 'thing' of her personality or a particular role she's played recently? Tina Fey is awesome.
posted by porpoise at 2:47 PM on January 15, 2017

I had the impression Felicity Jones was genuinely terrified throughout, poor thing. I judged her performance accordingly. "For somebody who is scared out of her wits, she's not doing too badly."

A real B+ evening, but I quite liked the Shondra and Malik thing. It was almost a flashback to those great 70s SNL bits that were more like little bittersweet playlets than sketches. (Well, except for everybody exploding in the end.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:39 PM on January 15, 2017 [4 favorites]

There seemed to be more attempt at commentary in the writing than usual. For me, the (possibly) deeper satire conveyed outright sadness in a number of sketches.

Susan B. Anthony = our limited willingness to learn from the past, historical figures have been reduced semiotically to one dimension, a few bits of trivia, a consumable; it is possible to read this sketch as having about as much deeper meaning as I've ever seen in an SNL bit but I don't know if I'm way off here.

And the trashy-movie cast & crew interview was one of the coldest bits of satire I've seen in a long time. Or was it? Superficially the writing followed a style common to SNL and seemed repetitive. But this time it seemed intentionally used as a thin patina that when scratched left us with a strong message that we are investing way too many mental and cultural resources in the shit that is spewed at us by capitalism. I imagine it's not a coincidence that Trump will be president next week.

Even the body-image obsessionality addressed in the Princess Curse fell in with the above for me. But what was different from a standard SNL bit?--I don't think anything, but I also don't think I was in some mood where I was predisposed to do pseudo-philosophy on SNL... and now that I think of it, the 'This is my block/Broken car' sketch hinted at the need for people to drop superficial postures, and, in crisis, unite. What's happening!

Just the fact that SNL got me thinking was neat and very strange though. I'd like more of that, even if it's not funny, because it's an appropiate time to not be funny and it was never that funny anyway.
posted by sylvanshine at 3:47 PM on January 15, 2017 [5 favorites]

I admit to being an old, but I couldn't understand a single word that Sturgill Simpson sang.

And the rest of the episode wasn't much better.
posted by Etrigan at 5:52 PM on January 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

That's funny Etrigan, yesterday I was thinking about how I pay attention to some lyrics but just don't in most music. Even though I have an above-average interest in music.

And so watching SNL and hearing about how Simpson was a smart person's country music, I was going "I want to hear more of what he is singing" and I literally put my ear right up to the speaker to prove it to myself and I was like "nope, can't get 60-80% of it even when I try real hard" (second song I think?).

With many musical guests on SNL recently, I have felt that their voice is too low in the mix, but it's not like I know anything about that. Bruno Mars, I felt strongly that way.
posted by sylvanshine at 6:10 PM on January 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

> There seemed to be more attempt at commentary in the writing than usual.


Mulling it over a little bit, I am smitten at Tina Fey's reassurance of Jones.

That defiant bark of laughter from Fey in response to Jone's incredulity that the President of the USA reviews the show - and negatively at that. "Hee yah! The President! Yeah, it's fine, no one cares.

"Bit nervous..."; being an 'SNL host while woman' in the current morass - how much social media/irl harassment is she expecting to get, on top of her being the female star(?) of a new Star Wars movie?
posted by porpoise at 6:11 PM on January 15, 2017

A few impressions after watching this episode:

1) The opening was great, and Tina Fey was great in the monologue ... and prescient in that the rest of this episode sucked, and people would probably be writing about it, and fairly enough. Because this was a turd in ano otherwise shiny season. The host — poor kid, had she ever seen SNL before? It seems like it was a flubbed attempt at corporate entertainment synergy. Felicity was wooden, more wooden than almost any host I have ever seen. This season has been very heavy in the UK-commonwealth-host department, but at least the rest of them seem to have fit in better. Did anyone on the writing staff bother to ask her beforehand, "Hey, do you do American accents?" This show may have been vastly improved by asking that. one. question.

Which all reminds me I have to go and listen to this past weekend's Wait Wait Don't Tell Me hosted by Tom Hanks.

2) The rest of the show was written with great premises, but really shoddy execution in the writing of the bits. It was BAD. The writers took funny ideas and just did not extract the right jokes out of them. Even the short film, which was the best "sketch" of the evening (aside from the obligatory Season 42 Trump cold open), suffered from an overly trite ending. The theater sketch was pretty offensive, and not because of the bodily and other fluids, but because it was mean to old people. It seemed better suited to Kids In The Hall circa 1993, and even then it would have sucked.

3) Every sketch except the short film featured Beck Bennett. He even had a bit on Weekend Update, but it was him at his most annoying. Kyle would have KILLED the same bit. Beck's great at Putin, and a good lunkhead in everything else (especially Kyle/Beck sketches), but come on, Beck in every sketch? Where was Bobby Moynihan? I saw him in the goodbyes! HE WAS RIGHT THERE, PEOPLE. That said, not even Kate McKinnon or Lesley Jones or ANYONE could have saved any of these sketches.

4) It's not often I'd say the best part of the show was the musical guest whom I'd never heard of. (Maybe once, and that was when the Spanic Boys substituted for Sinead O'Connor. The rest of THAT episode sucked, too.) And that the best song was the second one. And that they were considered country. That wasn't country, that was some awesome mixture of funk and blues and soul and funk and an awesome horn section. I guess alt-country? Like The Band or Muscle Shoals? And they trashed their shit, because they earned the right to do so. (Stugess who? Preston Sturges? Willie Stargell? I'll go look up his stuff right now... What did they say his name was again, Meredith Burgess?)

5) The news was great. Keep it up. More Pete please.

There were other things, too. This was a D-minus episode in an otherwise great season. The last show before the break (when they're exhausted)and the first show afterwards (when they have to find their groove again) usually are not the best, but these past two shows? Even worse when compared to how refreshingly great the rest of the season's been.
posted by not_on_display at 8:43 PM on January 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Trotting out Steve Harvey during the cold open just seemed like a lazy excuse to bring out one of Keenan's impersonations, until I got to Weekend Update and they mentioned that no, Trump actually met with Steve Harvey.

There was also a ad which wasn't funny, but I didn't recognize anyone in it so it was probably just a real ad with poor timing.

"If you take out Kenan Thompson, the studio will explode.” "Is that why he's been on the show so long?" "Well that, and he has a family."
posted by ckape at 9:08 PM on January 15, 2017

Baldwin's cold openers have become an act of political resistance & an effective one at that. They're targeted at one individual in the world & boy are they hitting it dead center:

.@NBCNews is bad but Saturday Night Live is the worst of NBC. Not funny, cast is terrible, always a complete hit job. Really bad television!

Loved Sturgill Simpson, especially the second number. First musical act I've really liked on the show in quite a while. Reminded me of nothing so much as the Blue Brothers, between the horn section, high energy (keyboardist jumping onto his keyboard!), all black clothes & of course the venue.

I also liked the digital short, it broke out of the predictable mold SNL falls into so easily.

The rest of the show was neither here nor there for me. Nothing I hated but nothing I loved. But listen, as long as it enrages Lord Littlefingers they can read from Wikipedia the rest of the show & I won't complain.
posted by scalefree at 9:12 PM on January 15, 2017

I thought it was an interesting episode. The opener made me laugh even so I was sure it wouldn't. The other sketches were more like think-pieces. Like hmm yes, this is an interesting scenario, very good, well done, golf clap. They were just missing jokes. Like the Susan B Anthony was basically word for word what would transpire if that were to happen. And, yknow, I'll take it. I read jokes all day on Twitter. If SNL just wants to do interesting theater that's ok with me. They just need to include more of the cast. Where is Bobby? Where is Sasheer? Why does Beck Bennet get to be in everything?
posted by bleep at 9:26 PM on January 15, 2017

It's no mystery why Beck Bennett gets to be in everything. He does have that tape, after all.
posted by ckape at 9:43 PM on January 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh and also, RIP Tony Rosato. Another little donkeypunch.
posted by not_on_display at 11:02 PM on January 15, 2017

Sasheer was in the opener and the corporate retreat skit, of which I did like that "one makes your whole day and the other makes your hole weak" joke. I'd been getting tired of Baldwin's Trump, but this one was good. All hits, you're right.

Weak-host problems in general. Anybody else peep the Jedi emblem on Simpson's guitar in the second song?

Probably the least of the season so far, but it's gotta be someone.
posted by rhizome at 1:00 AM on January 16, 2017

"one makes your whole day and the other makes your hole weak"

I felt like that sketch, like a lot of other ones, could have killed if the timing was right and they had more energy but the show seemed to lack momentum. And I am an SNL fan generally but a lot of the jokes after the cold open seemed sort of lazy and poorly times. Lke sometimes the sketches have arcs where they start, peak and wrap-up and a lot of these just seemed to be stringing attempts at jokes together until they ended. I agree with not_on_display, I got the feeling that Jones had never really seen the show before, doesn't have a lot of comedic chops and was just really struggling.

And for a cast with so many women, I was surprised how much of the humor seemed to be punching down at women this time around which is usually not the case. The weird princess sketch, the Susan B sketch, the hot robot. I like Beck Bennett and it was good to see him in stuff but he's not that great and his bit on Update seemed like a reprise of Garth and Kat (my least favorite thing of all) so I found it unwatchable. Good Update, great band, looking forward to Aziz.
posted by jessamyn at 5:48 AM on January 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

It didn't help that the "vintage" episode they aired at 10:00, which was the Carrie Fisher episode featuring the Blues Brothers as musical guests, is one of the genuine All-Time Classics of SNL.
posted by briank at 6:03 AM on January 16, 2017

I think the joke in the princess sketch was at the expense of the prince's superficiality, and the hot robot thing was about the pretenses of these people making an absolutely ridiculous movie. I didn't think either sketch was truly misogynist at all. (I thought the ending of the princess sketch kind of tripped over itself, with the prince strongly refusing to lose half an inch of penis length and the princess' "we can't spare it" almost an afterthought. If the point was that the princess was really just as superficial as the prince was, I think it would have been better if the prince had been like, "Well..." before the princess rushed in with "We can't spare it!")

But the Susan B. Anthony thing was odd and I didn't quite get what they were going for there. My girlfriend was convinced it was a misogynist thing, but I doubt all those actors would agree to appear in it if they thought that was the intention. Given how SNL works I wouldn't be surprised if some of those actors WROTE the sketch, so maybe they felt like it was OK because it was women making fun of women? If the sketch had aired back in the Sandler/Farley bro-y era I would have said it was straight-up misogyny, but airing now, with this cast, it's more confusing.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:38 PM on January 16, 2017

Yeah, I rewound the Susan B. Anthony sketch because I wasn't quite paying attention, but I still couldn't get the hook. I thought there was something in the way they were talking about all this stuff that had been invented since SBA's era, but it didn't gel.
posted by rhizome at 2:22 PM on January 16, 2017

I mean I dunno I have definitely known people like that, even myself, where they're willing to show up for the hugs and the girl power and the "soooo inspiring! #squadgoals" but aren't interested in actually engaging. It reminds me of when I was little and my grandma would try to tell me about the old days and I would respond with these patronizing "Woowwww amaaaazing" but I was way too self-centered (as children are) to really step outside myself and engage with what she was telling me, ask the right questions and really learn something useful. Like if she were in front of you would you even care, try to ask her questions, or would you be preoccupied with your day to day bullshit. Are you really that self-absorbed to not be willing to make space in your head for what's going on around you. I think it's also related to that little moment on Election Day where people were showing up to put stickers on her grave but had no idea about her actual viewpoints or what she did. And I'm saying this as 100% a member of this group. Although I like to think I would have said "Wow Susan ok let's talk, I can go home later!" But it think it's highly appropriate for sociopolitical groups to do self- introspection and call themselves out - otherwise who will?
posted by bleep at 2:24 PM on January 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

It also reminded me of that episode of Community where they're talking about Sadie Hawkins dance (where girls are supposed to ask boys for dates) and Britta gets all smug and proposes a "Sophie B. Hawkins" dance instead. She was thinking of Susan B. Anthony but didn't even give her enough space in her head to even have her own name. Just like in the sketch the women weren't interested in giving Susan anything more than a pat on the head.
posted by bleep at 2:35 PM on January 16, 2017

Maybe the Susan B. Anthony sketch clunked a little because it presumed a level of complacency regarding feminism and women's rights, but it was going out at a moment (a week before Trump takes office!) when women's rights feel under siege. Maybe it was a little NY millennial feminist bubble-y and the people writing it were women who felt like they were just tweaking their friends and maybe themselves a little, but they weren't realizing that showing twerpy feminist hypocrites might not work so well going out to a mainstream US audience in 2017. (It's appalling to think how differently this sketch would have played just a few months ago, when we all thought Hillary had the election in the bag!) It was way too easy to take the sketch as "Modern women may say they're feminists, but it's all bullshit. And Susan B. Anthony was anti-choice anyway, so F her too." A sketch isn't working when you kind of have to find out who wrote it and what their intentions were before you can decide if it's feminist self-deprecation or misogynist trolling.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:12 PM on January 16, 2017

Well this is super interesting to me - I watched the sketch and I was totally with it every step of the way; the idea that it could have been written by a dude, or be criticizing legit feminists or actual feminism never even occurred to me! Discussion is interesting and good :)
I guess I trust Queen Kate more than I thought (maybe too much) - I figured she'd be showing up as Anthony and that she wouldn't do us wrong.
posted by bleep at 3:26 PM on January 16, 2017

The Susan B sketch bugged me because apparently the writers have NO IDEA WHERE ROCHESTER ACTUALLY IS
posted by Lucinda at 9:07 AM on January 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

The Susan B sketch bugged me because apparently the writers have NO IDEA WHERE ROCHESTER ACTUALLY IS

Everything in New York is like an hour from New York City, right?

Joking -- I lived in Syracuse for two years and went to Canada more often than I went to the city.
posted by Etrigan at 6:29 AM on January 19, 2017

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