Sunday, January 31, 2010

SNL: Hamm & Buble, together at last

Haven't written about "Saturday Night Live" for most of this season because, frankly, most of the episodes have been so terrible that it hasn't been worth the effort. But Jon Hamm's second appearance last night was in some ways even funnier than his first. Some thoughts on it (along with plenty of video links) coming up just as soon as I feel the wind blowing...

There was the requisite Don Draper parody (this time as part of a monologue depicting some his pre-Draper roles), and of course a sketch playing off his handsomeness Hamm as Scott Brown). But there were also weirder turns, like his work as the symbol of a gypsy curse in the Digital Short, or his random, disturbing testimonial in the middle of the already bizarre Closet Organizer ad. (I also liked the very low-key, late-in-the-show sketch where Hamm played a guy meeting the star of that ad.)

Not everything worked. The first post-monologue sketch was another one where they rode a Kristin Wiig tic into the ground, and I really wish they had left the "Greg is not an alien" sports talk show as a one-time thing. (Though Hamm did a decent Bill Hader impression in this one.)

The Digital Short's climax was the night's comic highlight for me, but a very close second was the inevitable sequel to Jon Hamm's John Ham, here with Hamm and musical guest Michael Buble opening the Hamm & Buble restaurant.

"SNL" is often only as good as its host, and in Hamm they've found a guy who's game for anything. Here's hoping his stints become an annual event.

What did everybody else think?

38 comments:

Laura said...

Loved the Hamm and Buble sketch - never knew Buble had such great comic timing. And I was surprised by how much I laughed out loud at the Sergio and Scott Brown bits.

I loved that Bobby Moynihan's Snooki was back, but I'm really disappointed that they basically used the same dialogue from her last appearance. Lame!

Alan Sepinwall said...

The Jersey Shore sketches are a waste, basically Moynihan repeating actual dialogue from the show, and it's funnier coming from the real, oblivious Snooki than it is from a comedian trying to put a spin on it.

Michael Proper said...

Bobby Moynihan reminds me of a mole I should have removed.

Zach said...

Thought Michael Bubbly did a great job in that skit with Jon Hamm. I agree SNL may have found a good host for the next few years.

That being said [ahem Curb Your Enthusiasm], this still doesn't wash the horrible taste out of my mouth from when January Jones hosted earlier this year.

Hyde said...

Scott Brown was pretty good and the digital short was appropriately bizarre. But I thought that first sketch really summed up the problems with SNL. Not only was it Kristen Wiig doing that one characterization she has one more time, but it seemed literally endless as it was taking place. I can imagine a lot of viewers gave up on the episode then and there.

Hamm is a good sport for being willing to do these gags based on his last name, since one can imagine he heard every bad joke about it while growing up. In SNL terms, he's really about where Alec Baldwin was when he began hosting, because at the time (films like Beetlejuice aside), no one really thought of Baldwin as a comic actor. He used SNL to build up his rep in that area.

Ben said...

As I was watching the episode, I knew I was enjoying it more than normal because I was hoping that you would comment on this episode.

Jon Hamm was very good and the episode overall was solid, a stark contrast to the brutal Betty Draper one.

In the end, I think most of the time the success or failure of the show comes down to whether the guest host is willing to go all out. There has not been a breakout character from a member of the cast (i.e. Wayne and Garth) in forever so it really comes down to a Justin Timberlake or Alec Baldwin or yes, Jon Hamm to help bring home "some" laughs.

jasctt said...

I didn't think it wa funnier than his first because some of these sketches didn't work, but once again, Hamm showed he does have a very good comic timing about him. Overall, I give it a solid B.

J said...

The Scott Brown sketch and the digital short boiled down to the same thing: Having Hamm writhe around shirtless is funny. The goop at the end was a nice gross touch, if predictable, but <a href= "http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9J4RhJYLAk0>this parody of SNL's digital shorts</a> is so spot-on that I'm not sure I'll enjoy one for a good long time.

Closet organizer was the show's highlight, and the callback was a good idea.

Really wish they'd just had Sharon Jones as the musical guest. No funny last name (they'll never top Peter Sarsgaard's SARS Guards), but she could have blow Buble off the stage had she let loose.

J said...

Ack. That link is here. (Close quote.)

Bitsy said...

The new girl was pretty funny as Sonia Sotomayor.

I really loved the "Greg Is Not An Alien" thing, but I think you're right that they shouldn't do it very often, since it's kind of a one-note joke. They were able to make it funnier with him cloning himself, and with the funny deadpan comments from the football fans over the phone.

They seem pretty desperate to keep recycling things that have worked in the past, though, which is probably why they used it again, and the same reason why they overuse Kristen Wiig.

Whiskey said...

I dunno... I didn't laugh a whole lot this time. I don't really agree with this:

In the end, I think most of the time the success or failure of the show comes down to whether the guest host is willing to go all out. There has not been a breakout character from a member of the cast (i.e. Wayne and Garth) in forever so it really comes down to a Justin Timberlake or Alec Baldwin or yes, Jon Hamm to help bring home "some" laughs.

I think maybe the writers have come to believe this and that's why they're being so lazy, and why they're giving Wiig so much airtime. Sigourney Weaver was game when she hosted and it was awful, it pained me to watch her do the material they gave her. I think I agree more with what jasctt stated. I would've given up after the first sketch if Jon Hamm hadn't been on the show. I was kind of shocked that a shirtless Jon Hamm gyrating his pelvis wasn't enough to make this episode more memorable (given the fact that I consider the man hotness personified). I do hope someone appreciates his willingness to do whatever it takes for a laugh and that he will be rewarded with well-written comedy role in the movies, a la Steve Carrell on 40-year-old Virgin.

A few other thoughts: I can't tell the three newest female cast members apart, it really bugs me that their "look" is so similar. (and this brings back to mind a lot of the stuff that's been said recently -- especially during the Letterman blackmail brouhaha -- about how tough it is for women to make it in comedy television) It used to be that SNL's women were all very different in their looks as well as their comedy style. Weekend Update was actually pretty funny this week until the Snooki bit, and it made me wonder why the heck Seth Meyers can't get his staff to write better stuff for the rest of the show. But I do love it when the musical guest is game to be part of a sketch or two, and Buble did a great job holding his end against Hamm.

Anonymous said...

its every yr the same thing is talked about. how snl is terrible and not funny and peaked yrs ago. face it. the show hasnt been good for 30 yrs. there is no "fixing" it

Jared said...

Is there ANYONE cooler than Don Draper?

Chazz Goodtimes said...

I think this was probably the best SNL of the year, at least 2-3 sketches were laugh out loud funny. The closet organizer sketch was hysterical, and reminded me of some of the more oddball humor from the height of the Will Ferrell years. Hamm and Buble along with Scott Brown were also notable highlights.

And honestly- isn't that about the most SNL ever delivers? I think all the 'best of' compilations combined with being able to selectively look for certain sketches on the internet have left a lot of people with a warped memory of how good their favorite era actually was.

Clearly there have been some up and down years but even at its best SNL never delivered 90 minutes (less the music guest) of hilarity. I think the mark of a good episode is a handful of laugh out loud moments and one or two sketches to talk about on Monday.

This is the first time they've hit that mark for me this season. Too often they've done these sketches where the premise is evident in the first 30 seconds, and then followed by way too much time executing that premise that honestly has me reaching for the remote to fast forward. We get it- Gilly misbehaves, the teacher accuses everyone else, and then Gilly says sorry in a soft voice.

Sorry for the long post- SNL is a franchise that I've cared deeply about since I first snuck down from my bedroom to watch the McCauly Culkin episode 20 years ago. I want the show to be better than it has been, but at the same time I think it unfairly gets compared to a too high standard from past seasons that just didn't exist.

bjc5379 said...

SNL this season has had it moments but the only complete show I enjoyed was the one with Taylor Swift. I was surprised how good she was.

One thing about SNL I don't like is Seth Meyers doing Update by himself. His delivery is ok but his material lacks most of the time.

Jenn said...

I loved Senator Robert Byrd's image of Scott Brown. This episode made me laugh -a lot- which SNL hasn't done at all this season.

Undercover Black Man said...

I haven't watched regularly this season... but was this Fred Armisen's first "Barney Frank"? That is a bold caricature... and funny.

Paul Worthington said...

Thanks for putting those funny links together, Alan.

compain87 said...

Best Episode of the season and it wasn't even close. I thought Weekend update was really good but I did not like the jersey shore parody because frankly what is funnier than the actual show. I really enjoyed the Randy and Greg Sports Show, always enjoy that sketch. I still think it was best with The Rock. Hamm & Buble was even more enjoyable than Jon Hamm's ham.

erin said...

I rarely watch SNL unless someone else mentions it (and I heard about the Scott Brown ad from another blog, and it made me howl with laughter). I do love me some Jon Hamm as an SNL host, so I checked these out, and I was pretty much crying. I agree with the poster who said Buble had good comic timing...he recovered from his almost-laughter at the beginning and delivered a really funny sketch. Hamm as a crazy, pork-loving abductor was dang amusing.

Also enjoyed the Closet Organizer sketch and Jon Hamm's reaction to MEETING the closet organizer...poor guy can't catch a break. Pie! Pie! Pie! Hamm definitely is one of the more consistent hosts, thank goodness!

Anonymous said...

I think it's pretty telling of the state of SNL that the funniest sketch of the night (Hamm and Buble's restaurant) didn't involve any actual SNL cast members.

Nicole said...

Along that same vein, the skits where I laughed the least were the ones that focused on SNL cast members and not Jon Hamm (the 1920s party and the court stenographer).

I haven't watched every episode this season, but it is definitely the strongest of the year of what I have seen. It also makes January Jones' turn look even worse.

I actually laughed out loud at the Sergio, Scott Brown and Hamm and Bubbly skits, and that doesn't happen that often when I watch SNL.

I really think they use Kristen Wiig too much. She was painfully unfunny in that 1920s skit and was only decent when she was a supporting character. She does weird characters, but the skits beat them to the ground and I really was going to stop watching this episode but for the presence of Jon Hamm.

Milo said...

I want those images of Jon Hamm dancing in the various senators' dreams to be my screensaver. I will always be in the mood for a smexy semi-nude dancing Jon Hamm, particularly one wearing a flapper dress. And I, too, loved the Ham and Champagne sketch.

This was the first show in many, many moons that I laughed multiple times during SNL. I hadn't even bothered channel-surfing through it since the last time Don Draper was on. Given that, I thought the Snooki bit was actually kinda funny, but, again, it was the first time I'd seen it. His vivid orangeness was enough to deserve a hearty chuckle.

LA said...

I thought it was a bright spot in a very dismal season of SNL. The bottom line is Jon Hamm makes everything better.

Mike F said...

the Hamm/Buble skit was very funny, I thought...as was the Closet Organizer at the bar skit...those were my faves of the night

didn't really enjoy the digital short much or more than the first 30 seconds of most of the other skits

seth's weekend update jokes were pretty strong, I thought...but yeah, no need to make fun of the jersey shore cast

just read Jay Mohr's book about his time on SNL...pretty interesting read, breezed through it in less than a day...have you read it, Alan...if so, what did you think?

Joie said...

Oh my, that Scott Brown skit had me crying from laughing so hard. Those lines Hamm was throwing as he gyrated as Brown were hilarious...if this wasn't a family blog (?) I'd repeat them all here. Is it too much to ask that Jon Hamm make's his Scott Brown a recurring appearance, ala Tina Fey as Palin? He even had his Boston accent down.

IA that Buble was surprising funny and effective in his skits. Hamm and Buble make a good comedy team. But that just might be my female psyche taking over.

Anonymous said...

But they have to use Kristen Wiig. She's the only female cast member I can recognize! Can't tell the new ones apart. It's to the point I think SNL should totally do a skit on the fact they all look the same.

Maybe it is simply seeing a half naked Hamm gyrating, but had the giggles just hearing him say "Sergio!". It was just the right amount of weird for it to be really hilarious for me.

Otherwise, it was a good episode compared to the season so far, with a couple of good skits and some less good ones, but I'm not sure if having a good host once in a while is enough to get SNL out of the hole it's been in.

Chrissie said...

Has SNL ever done a callback to a previous sketch like that, in a separate premise (i.e. not a recurring bit like MacGruber)? I really loved the surprise of that reveal and felt like it would be a better direction for SNL to take in future episodes.

Matthew L said...

Really enjoyed the episode. For me, the best moment was probably the Closet Organiser callback, not because it was that funny (alhough it had a couple of laughs), but more because I thought the idea of having the out-of-nowhere callback in an unrelated sketch was a nice idea, and felt like the SNL writers were actually trying.

Matthew L said...

Also, I was intrigued to see Bobby Moynihan in the credits wearing a Dharma Swan Station sweatshirt, and he was seemingly trying to move around to avoid Sharon Jones and make the shirt visible while using his hands to point at the shirt. He's clearly a Lost fan, but one wonders how NBC feels about him trying so hard to remind people that the show starts this week.

jasctt said...

Whatever SNL writers make, it's too much.

@MAtthew: trust me, NO ONE cares what Bobby M. is trying to say.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE the Greg the Alien sketch but they went in completely the wrong direction. Hader is the genius there and simply watching him mimic humans and then have alien freak out reactions is sweet absurdity.

Mr Whirly said...

I had never heard of Michael Buble and every time I saw him I thought it was Andy Jr from NYPD Blue. Compare the photographs.
http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/lost/images/e/ee/MichaelDeluise.jpg

http://notquiteamerican.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/michael-buble-rp19.jpg

Anonymous said...

Heh, Mr. Whirly ... I have said for years Michael Buble looks like one of Dom DeLuise's long-lost sons! Except cuter than either Michael or David. And sings better.

Matthew L said...

@MAtthew: trust me, NO ONE cares what Bobby M. is trying to say.

I realise that - it was a bit of a rhetorical question. (After all, you wouldn't know about his shirt unless you were a Lost fan, in which case you're unlikely to need to be reminded that it's starting.) It was more that I was amused by the fact that he seemed to be behaving in a very "Look Ma, I'm on TV" way, which seemed odd for someone who has been on the show for a while now, and who I don't remember ever noticing behave like that - and then I realised he was actively trying to get people to see the shirt.

Anonymous said...

I haven't watched SNL in ages, and when I tried to watch the most recent episode, I was reminded of why.

The show habitually mistakes being merely irritating for being funny.

They have fallen into a predictable rut, in which they have a character do something odd & irritating, then simply repeat that irritating behavior over and over until you just want to throw something at the screen.

They seem to believe that is funny. It isn't. It is merely irritating.

There's a difference, guys: People like to laugh. They don't enjoy being irritated.

A perfect example was this week's "Don't make me sing!" bit. anyone who sat through the entire bit got what they deserved. I had been hitting the TiVo "skip" button before that routine, but hit the "delete" button midway into that one...

DaveMB said...

I just wanted to note that Hamm also nailed his Boston accent. I haven't heard the real Brown speak much, but Hamm's Brown sounded exactly like someone from Wakefield.

WV: "reampa" -- how the Italian analog of Spinal Tap gets to eleven

dez said...

I like Bobby Moynihan. I wish they would use him and Jason Sudeikis more. Maybe Jason can co-anchor Weekend Update.