Saturday Night Live: “Melissa McCarthy/Lady Antebellum”
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Saturday Night Live: “Melissa McCarthy/Lady Antebellum”

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Saturday Night Live

“Melissa McCarthy/Lady Antebellum”

Season 37, Episode 2

Look, I like Melissa McCarthy. I’m a big Gilmore Girls fan. And she gave it her all here! But I’m automatically predisposed to not like SNLs that begin with The Lawrence Welk Show. It’s just not gonna happen! That sketch, which we’ve seen what, five, six times by now, should have been one of those weird end-of-the-episode skits that isn’t funny but strikes you in how odd it is. Instead, Lorne Michaels et al seem to be intent on running it into the ground, giving it their primo slot where, you know, sketches about contemporary issues often go. I know Kristen Wiig was in this movie Bridesmaids and so was McCarthy, and they want to milk that for all it’s worth. But you’re starting your show off in the worst possible position with this shit.

I think I feel the same way about this episode as I did about last year’s second episode, also starring a recent Emmy winner (Bryan Cranston) which struggled to give its host a multitude of characters to try out over 90 minutes. McCarthy was totally front-and-center in this episode, mostly playing some variety of “obnoxious weirdo,” but after one segment, you’d basically seen it all. I didn’t laugh a lot at her uncomfortably (but amusingly) long flirty routine with Jason Sudeikis where she rubbed balloons all over herself, but to quote my colleague Myles McNutt, the sketch “gets points for clear narrative structure, complete with foreshadowing.” At least it had a beginning, middle, and end! The whole thing played as a fairly obvious hat-tip to McCarthy’s aggressively sexual character from Bridesmaids, but it honestly could have been even more obvious, and for that I’m thankful.

What I was really dreading was the monologue, where a person famous for something comes out and says “so, I was recently in this thing you all heard of,” then pauses for applause. But McCarthy slipped in the Bridesmaids shout-out rather nicely (her kids are “just kinda getting over that sink scene”) and didn’t even brag about her Emmy (which I’d be bragging about). The rest of the monologue was the usual “We don’t have jokes, so let’s just do some singing/dancing number” shtick that emphasized that Wiig and McCarthy weren’t going to do any actual dancing. How did that come about? In the writer’s room, did McCarthy give a list of things she’s good at, as well as mentioning “I don’t really dance too much,” and the writers said, “Great! Let’s do a sketch about you NOT dancing!”

McCarthy was high-energy the whole episode, and I appreciated that, because a lot of the sketches were pretty dull and she was the only thing that kept them going. But like I said, her characters all seemed to hew around the same point: She’s a big crazy wacko getting in everyone’s face. The salad dressing thing had Abby Elliott, Bobby Moynihan, and Taren Killam (who was in EVERYTHING this week) playing everything completely straight while McCarthy just bounced off the walls, to varying effect.

I preferred her shut-in weirdo “Da Truf” on “The Comments Section” (which was, inadvertently or not, a real homage to H8R) as one of those people who believes every conspiracy theory even though they come into obvious conflict with each other. That was the one sketch I wished had lasted longer. It seemed to abruptly conclude without a final joke, and Moynihan and Killam’s characters got skipped over rather quickly. But McCarthy was appreciatively dry in that one. “Are you really a lawyer?” “No, I am not.”

“Do Not Disturb Me Not” (in which McCarthy played a brassy, provocative lady, but in the 1930s!) went on way too long but was saved by Sudeikis’ tag as Robert Osborne trying to resist the demon drink and referencing David Niven pretending to lose an Oscar (“classic Niven”). McCarthy falls down stairs with extreme aplomb, and I laughed when she tried to go up the banister (“Doesn’t seem very logical!”), but after a minute, basically everyone got it, and just had to wait for her to fall down a couple more times.

Honestly, I thought the last bit of the night was the best use of McCarthy’s comedic persona, sticking to the same general area but playing her off Samberg as a kindred spirit who calls women Dog the Bounty Hunter in bed and bathes in vinegar “for medical reasons.” Samberg had more to do there, mostly reacting calmly to complaints from all of his lovers (“Number one, tiny penis,” “Dig it”). There wasn’t much to the joke, but all of the escalation made me laugh, up to the final tasing of Hader.

Weekend Update was a bust once again (although I thought it was funny that Fred Armisen was playing a friend of Qaddafi, a character he plays) with Kenan Thompson’s Tyler Perry “impression” sticking to his usual formula: show up in a half-assed costume, read a bunch of jokes in your normal voice, and get by on how funny they were (in this case, they were… fine). Still feels like the segment is getting a lot less play this year for whatever reason.

Also, for you naysayers out there, Jay Pharoah was FRONT AND CENTER this week, dazzling us with a Chris Rock impression in an otherwise unfunny skit about him invading Broadway musicals with actual Chris Rock bits, and also getting a lone “woo!” for his first appearance on the show this season, as a balloon deliveryman in the Arlene sketch.

At this point, I’ve basically abandoned any hopes that this year’s gonna be much different from last year, which isn’t that surprising, considering there wasn’t much shakeup in the cast. Next week, we’ll have Ben Stiller promoting Tower Heist in what is, amazingly, his first hosting gig since 1998. I would say the cast will likely be running on fumes by that point, but doesn’t it seem like that’s already happening now?

Stray observations:

  • The HPV doll made me laugh. “And she’s got her own phone!” Wiig’s final glance at the bucket of them staring creepily was a nicely subtle final gag.
  • "I'm actually Polish and Ukranian." "I like that mix. Kinda messed-up countries."
  • The Digital Short was better than nothing, but I feel like spoofing Stomp and the Blue Man Group is coming about 10 years too late. I think for Samberg, they’ve become so lame that they’ve looped around to being funny again, which is… kinda true?
  • "Dumbass old lady. Haha your hat fell off. Kill yourself."
  • Hader’s best performance of the night was that guy who punches the commenters in the stomach.
  • Tyler Perry had a couple choice lines, like “I own Atlanta!” and, re: The Help, “It teaches black women the lesson that if you work hard enough and hum loud enough, Emma Stone will come and save you!”
  • Also, his next movie is called, “Child, Why You Gotta Bother Me When My Feet Are So Weary?”
  • I liked McCarthy’s Spock T-shirt in the ranch dressing skit.
  • "The only thing complicated is vegetables!"
  • "Your butt looks like Ebenezer Scrooge." "I disagree."
  • Okay, so this morning I go online and find this. Which would have been an awesome cold open. Why the hell is this just a web item?