Gather ’round y’all for Miley Cyrus hosted Saturday Night Live this week. Though it was made clear many times she’s was not pulling double duty and also serve as musical guest I think someone didn’t get that message because Cyrus, who just turned 18 wasn’t stretching much of her acting muscle last night and sang something pretty much every chance she got.
So would Hanna Montana be able to rise to the occasion and lampoon herself and her contemporaries? Let’s break it down and find out…
The cold opening was one of the most solid openings we’ve seen in a long time with Charlie Sheen hosting his own talk show called “Duh! Winning!” This was a risky move, mainly because everyone and their sister has mocked Sheen this week including Jimmy Fallon’s spot-on impressions so there’s a chance this bit could’ve come off stale and re-treaded but it didn’t. Bill Hader (in what turned out to be his only duty of the night) put together a passable Sheen impression delivering the line “highly evolved warlocks” with such panache. Taran Killam’s John Galiano impression was terrific then Fred Armisen’s Muammar Gaddafi pretty much blew things up, making me hope we’ll see more of the impression. Lastly there was Miley’s portrayal of Lindsay Lohan…dud, total dud. Would this preface her performance of the night? Unfortunately, probably, yes.
Most SNL monologues are pretty simple and nothing special and Miley’s was just that. Oh look! Instead of her talking or saying something funny, let’s get her to sing a song. Miley sings y’all but she’s not the musical guest. Oh and we got ourselves another Charlie Sheen joke, I’m sensing a pattern.
Before we rolled into a break, the trend of rehashing an old commercial continues with the Baby Spanx bit. Lorne, can we do something about this? Everyone is fired up for something good and funny, and then you bust out something that’s been used before, it’s kinda a letdown.
The Our Time With Taboo and apl.de.ap. bit was such a fantastic idea for a bit. Hosted by the two people in the Black Eyed Peas that no one cares about and give ’em a talk show. Even during their opening song, they just sing just their accent parts. What didn’t work was Jay Pharaoh as Will.i.am nor Miley’s take on Fergie. But it was lines like “I am from the Matrix” and “Taboo was on the cover of Vaguely Asian magazine,” that sold the bit.
The follow-up Essential Sound of Music bit with lost bits was pretty great with Fred Armisen pulling off the stereotypical Hispanic comedian placed in a classic movie like The Sound Of Music. We got more singing by Miley during this scene which keeps the streak alive. There’s no video of this clip floating around which is kinda a bummer since it was pretty funny.
For my money, one of the best bits of the night was The Disney School of Acting with Keenan Thompson doing the heavy lifting doing a Raven Symone impression (I say that in the most general way possible). I think starting tomorrow I’m going to put the Pause and Dis into play.
This brings us to the moment of the evening that everyone saw coming and about half thought was a good idea. The Miley Cyrus Show is usually pretty great, Vanessa Bayer’s impression of Cyrus is pretty terrific, but no one wanted to see 3 minutes of Miley talking to Miley. The writers musta heard our prayers because they rather had Miley square off with Justin Bieber. To me, this was a place where Cyrus had a chance to shine if she pulled off a terrific Justin Bieber impression. What we got wasn’t really much of anything, again, she was given the chance to mock herself and poke her peers but she just couldn’t pull it off. I was hoping for a Mick Jagger-as-Keith Richards moment but got, well, something less than that. But we did get a Jason Sudekis / Billy Ray Cyrus mullet.
Musical guests The Strokes were on hand to perform some new songs from their forthcoming album. The their first song, “Under The Cover Of Darkness” sounded very Strokes-y there wasn’t anything edgy about the performance other than frontman, Julian Casablancas’ dropping of the F-Bomb in the last 10 seconds of the live broadcast.
Weekend Update was pretty great. Obviously Charlie Sheen jokes needed to be made but Seth Meyers handled it well, skewering the use of the phrase “winning” in the “winners and losers” bit:
Boby Moynihan revived the second hand news correspondent Anthony Crispino, and second to Stefon may be my favorite recurring character on Weekend Update.
The second part of the show was kicked off with a revival of the Les jun de Paris mime dancing bit. It worked really well when it was first debuted on the episode Emma Stone hosted, but this time around didn’t have the same umph to it. Oh well, at least it wasn’t 6 minutes long until we moved onto the next bit.
A spoof of the Beastly movie trailer followed up the freaky deaky French dancing. It featured Andy Samberg doing a version of a shy Ronnie-esque character. The bit was okay, but came across as a cast-off Digital Short more than anything worth mentioning beyond that.
The two final bits were definitely the worst of the evening. They also marked the return of Kristen Wiig who was pretty absent other than a small bit during the monologue and it didn’t have the impact it usually does when she’s on screen. The New Products sketch fell victim to the fast forward button on the TiVo but the one redeeming quality was it featured virtually no singing from Cyrus, even though she was playing a woman who sings.
The Strokes give us one more jam, it was slow, and forgettable, just in time to wrap up the final bit, will Miley sing and bat nearly perfectly? Let’s see…
Cruise Ship Entertainer was completely forgettable, was done before by SNL and way better. But Miley sang, so her acting chops were fully stretched.
At the end of the night, they launched CBS Gurney Month Commercial which was good for a chuckle and probably should have been in place of the Baby Spanx commercial when we’re looking for the new material.
Then we get the goodbye, hugs all around and time to rate Miley. I’d say Miley was okay but I’d also say I had literally no expectations headed into this episode, so Cyrus did better than that. There were some terrific laughs but it seemed like none came from the host, then again she was probably told by some publicist or manager not to leave her comfort zone.
The night also seemed like some of the heavy hitters like Fred Armisen, Jason Sudekis, Bill Hader, and Kristen Wiig sat things out this week which might mean we’ll see them a lot next week when Zach Galiafinakis hosts and Jessie J is the musical guest.
See y’all there! It’ll be pretty cool.