Two questions were on the minds of nearly every Saturday Night Live fan last night.
The first: Will Colin Jost be a hit on his first Weekend Update?
The second – and the more important question for the upcoming eight sketches – will Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons be able to act like anyone OTHER than Sheldon Cooper?
Well, one out of two ain’t bad.
It looks like Jost will be asked back, but Parsons…well, he proved versatility isn’t really his bag by playing it safe with timid oddballs characters (like Cooper!) all night long.
Here are the highlights:
After a three-week hiatus (thanks to the Sochi Olympics) SNL kick starts it’s post-Winter Games hangover with an unfocused sketch featuring Kate McKinnon’s Ellen DeGeneres interviewing flamboyantly gay figure skater/commentator Johnny Weir, played by Parsons. Although he certainly dressed the part of Weir in a fuchsia blazer and feather head band, the actor didn’t exactly lose himself in the character – unless Weir has a Texas accent no one knows about.
Parsons claims he’s nothing like his Big Bang Theory character – and expresses this through song with the help of Steve Urkel, George Costanza, The Fonz, Cliff Huxtable, and Jessica Fletcher, all insisting they aren’t at all like the characters they play on TV. Did you know Angela Lansbury robbed 50 banks when she wasn’t shooting Murder She Wrote? Well, now you do.
CASTING FOR 12 YEARS A SLAVE:
This behind-the-scenes look at the casting of Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave shows very uncomfortable white actors awkwardly reading lines for “a hostile slave owner.” At one point, an actor is told to improvise slave owner lines to a black woman and given a whip to get him into character. It’s definitely edgy, but sometimes the sketches that make the audience squirm are the smartest and funniest of the night. This was the case last night.
Cowboys try to decide what to get their friend for his birthday. Three of them want to gift him with a card and some birthday cake, while one guy (Parsons) wants to surprise him by jumping out of the dirt naked. The next day, Parson’s character tries it out, only to be shot dead in a water trough. This is the last sketch of the night, and it just seems like they ran out of gas.
Good news: Colin Jost made it through his first Weekend Update bomb-free. Lucky for him, he has a lot of talented co-workers to take the pressure off his debut, like Jay Pharaoh and his cross-eyed Shaquille O’Neal, and Kenan Thompson with his exasperated Charles Barkley impression. But it was Taran Killam’s cranky 1860 film critic Jebidiah Atkinson who stole the Update segment by ripping apart past Oscar Best Picture winners. Choice critique: “Annie Hall? I’d rather let Woody Allen watch my kids than watch that movie again.” Oh yeah, he went there. In a classy move, former Update host Seth Meyers tweeted his approval of the newbie host, posting “Great job by @TheColinJost on his first @SNLUpdate!”
The upside of the six-year gap between Beck albums is that he gives us enough time to miss him. The two tracks he chooses this night are Blue Moon and the string-heavy Wave. Both are equally beautiful and haunting. It’s good to have him back.
OVERALL GRADE: C