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Saturday Night Live: Season 38.08 – “Jeremy Renner/Maroon 5”

We’re back for another week of sketch comedy with SNL. Jeremy Renner is hosting and Maroon 5 is performing as the musical guest. Let’s see how they did…

Cold Open: Booknotes – Paula Broadwell’s All In
Obviously the show had to do something with the whole General Petraeus scandal that’s been unfolding this week. They started off the show with a take on it. It was an episode of CSPAN’s Booknotes where Cecily Strong as Broadwell read from her book. She’s basically reciting parts of her book where she is fooling around with the general. This is a really weird opening. It’s not as broad as the show usually goes and there’s not a lot of physical comedy, but there’s something interesting about what they were attempting here. I also think the show is really trying to push Strong as the next star. I feel a little bad for Bayer & Pedrad since they’ve been there longer, but Strong is a strong (pun!) screen presence so I can’t blame Michaels. I don’t think the cold open worked as a whole though. Also interesting: the “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!” wasn’t even done by a cast member but by the voice actor doing the CSPAN narration.

Jeremy Renner comes out and starts taking about what he’s known for in the movies, being an action star. He doesn’t do comedy a lot and if he laughs in one of his movies “somebody dies”. What I completely loved about this was the few moments where Renner broke during the monologue. Right before he sits down he seriously says “I can’t believe I agreed to do this”. You can tell he’s really digging deep for this. Then he sits at the piano and there’s an audio problem where nobody can hear the piano. Don’t know if it was planned but Renner handled it perfectly. “This is a great way to start the show.” It makes me more comfortable that he handled those issues so well. He then starts playing some songs that he wrote for The Avengers, The Bourne Legacy & Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol/The Town. Much stronger than the cold open and one of the best monologues this season.

Commercial: Visit Your Childhood Home
It’s a commercial where instead of promoting a tropical vacation resort, it’s a similar commercial but it’s promoting your childhood home. It’s really funny and has some very truthful moments. “It features a work out center and a business center, all conveniently located in your bedroom.” Killam is trying to sleep while Bryant is working out and Hader is printing things off of a computer. I really liked this one.

The Californians
Oh boy. Why are they doing this sketch again? It was mildly funny the first couple of times, but it has run it’s course and it plays on the same exact jokes every time they do it. The cast looks like they’re having fun while doing it, and that’s the most entertaining part. Armisen almost broke a couple of times. The premise is tired at this point and I hope that they don’t do this again. Renner also seemed uncomfortable here and had a little trouble picking up his cues.

The Situation Room
“I’m Wolf Blitzer and my face continues to be haunted by an old beard.” Sudeikis as Blitzer opens up the sketch with that comment. The show does some more material about the General Petraeus affair. CNN keeps show the same footage of Jill Kelly walking to her car. It’s pretty accurate. I’m surprised that Strong was Kelly also. If the show continues to mine material from this scandal, how is Strong supposed to play both Broadwell & Kelly? There’s also a great moment where the same footage of Kelly is reenacted by Tim Robinson as a CNN correspondent. Renner appears here as the ‘self-proclaimed’ mayor of Tampa. He’s much better here and more comfortable than the previous sketch. Maybe he just realized that the writing for The Californians was so terrible he couldn’t commit.

Short: The Stand Off
It’s a take on a Mexican stand off between three hitmen played by Renner, Killam & Moynihan. They move from a parking garage to a taxi cab to Renner’s house with his children. It’s a great concept and it’s well executed. They also continue it during a Thanksgiving dinner, at a urinal, on the skating rink at Rockefeller Plaza. Adam Levine also makes a cameo as himself to try to make it a four-way stand off but is unsuccessful. At the end, Moynihan is taking out by the other two. Then it continues on with only Renner & Killam. I loved this.

Maroon 5 – “One More Night”
This is the #1 song in the country at the moment and I mildly like it, but I wonder how it’s going to sound live. First of all, the entire band is wearing the same berry red color in all of their outfits. It looks weird and kind of takes away from the performance. The song loses some edge without some of the studio production on the actual track. But Levine is a commanding presence and makes it more entertaining.

Weekend Update
Surprise, more Petraeus Scandal material! Seth Meyers does a Winners/Losers segment on the scandal. One of the losers: anyone writing a biography because they are going to be questioned about having an affair with whoever they are writing about now. Another loser: People trying to have an affair in the digital age, if the C.I.A. director couldn’t keep it a secret then nobody can. Then Jay Pharaoh makes an appearance as stand-up comedian Katt Williams. I forgot Pharaoh did other people besides Obama recently. The costume and makeup are spot-on but I don’t really know much about Williams to enjoy it any further. It’s short and gets to the point so I appreciate that. Up next: a cameo from the actual Governor of New Jersey: Chris Christie. Christie has a charismatic personality and he really owns his segment. He nails his lines and actual lands a few laughs. He’s a little too glued to the teleprompter but I can’t blame him for that. A pretty strong Weekend Update overall. I think they should stick with the format of more jokes from Seth and less reliance on the guests/correspondents they usually use.

The Avengers
Wow the show is going with an Avengers sketch. This should be interesting. Sudeikis is Iron Man, Hader is Thor, Killam is Captain America, McKinnon is Black Widow, Moynihan is Hulk and Renner reprises his role from the film as Hawkeye. The Avengers need to save the world again. Capt. America sends everyone off to do good, but went it comes time for Hawkeye to put in his effort: he’s out of arrows. He only brought 11 of them to fight thousands of aliens. I enjoyed seeing the cast members in all of the costumes but the sketch plays on one joke the entire time and doesn’t do it successfully.

Thug #2
Renner plays himself on a movie set where he gets ready to confront the character of Thug #2. The thug is played by Jason Sudeikis and it seems like a take-off on Vin Diesel. The actor’s name is Dick Fuel, so that solves that “mystery”. Sudeikis is great but making fun of Vin Diesel seems so irrelevant. And other aspects of the actor don’t really provide a lot of laughs either. Renner doesn’t get anything to do here. It’s all about Sudeikis and I think the sketch suffered because of that. They should’ve had Renner play someone beside himself to step up the sketch and get it off the ground.

Maroon 5 – “Daylight”
Maroon 5’s second performance of the night. I’ve never heard the song before but it sounds pretty good. Not sure what the recorded version sounds like, but it probably translated better to a live performance than “One More Night”.

Animated Short: Midnight Snack – Cool Drones
An animated short that’s a propaganda film about using Drones. It’s really random and I’m not sure I actually understood what was happening most of the time. This might become the new TV Funhouse, which hasn’t been used in years. I like the animation style but I wish the concept/writing was much stronger.

Hader plays a coroner and Sudeikis plays a detective who need Renner to identify if Killam’s body on the table is Renner’s brother. Renner keeps guessing celebrities and musicians instead of letting them know if it’s his brother or not. The guesses are pretty random and funny. “Lucy Liu!” “Steven Tyler!” etc. Hader saves this sketch too. While Sudeikis is interrogating Renner, Hader is playing the bongos on Killam’s chest and rubbing his hands all over his face. Then the twist at the end is that Killam actually isn’t dead.

This was a mixed bag overall but I think the good outweighed the bad. Renner wasn’t the strongest host this season and I think that’s what brought it down ultimately. And another detracting point was the lack of cast diversity. Jason Sudeikis, Cecily Strong & Bill Hader seemed to be in every single sketch while others were completely ignored. On a more positive not: Weekend Update was strong and I also loved the Stand Off short and everything they did with the Petraeus scandal.

The show returns December 8th with host Jamie Foxx and musical guest Ne-Yo. Not really looking forward to that, have to be honest.

Jeremy Renner

Maroon 5