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Saturday Night Live: 38.09 – “Jamie Foxx/Ne-Yo”

SNL is back after a two week hiatus (which actually felt much longer) with a new episode featuring Jamie Foxx as the host and Ne-Yo as the musical guest. This is Foxx’s 2nd time hosting. He hasn’t hosted since January 2000. Which actually surprises me. What was he known for back then? Just his Television series or did Any Given Sunday really bring him that much prominence? Just thinking/writing out loud for a few seconds. Let’s see how the show did…

Cold Open: Fiscal Cliff Negotiations Press Conference
President Obama holds a press conference to discuss the latest negotiations in the fiscal cliff talk. John Boehner is at his side, played by Bill Hader. Basically it turns into Obama saying how he feels sorry for Boehner because he is getting teased by other members of Congress. Boehner got his milk thrown away against his will and got his pants pulled down in the ladies room. Hader was slightly interesting as Boehner. But the sketch as a whole didn’t work. It didn’t make sense most of the time and didn’t really reflect anything happening in the media. Weak opening.

Jamie Foxx seems very comfortable doing the monologue, mostly because he has a lot of experience with stand-up comedy and he approached it as a 5-minute set. It worked well. Even if the material isn’t very strong, a comfortable host can make it work and make the audience a little bit easier knowing the host is so confident. He does a few “How Black Is That?” jokes followed by a trip to the piano (which just happened in the last episode with Renner and worked better). And at the end rapper 2 Chainz (actually the rapper, not Jay Pharaoh in costume as I had first expected) sings him to the commercial break.

Bitch, What’s the Answer?
This was an odd sketch. I don’t even know how to explain what was happening. Jamie Foxx plays a condescending game show that ridicules the contestants when they can’t give correct answers to vague questions. It doesn’t really work and Jamie Foxx stumbles over a few lines. It makes me think that this was a last minute edition and didn’t get a whole lot of attention from the writers. If that’s the case though, why did they do it so early in the episode? One of the weakest sketches of the season.

J-Pop America Fun Time Now!
This is a recurring sketch where two Michigan State host a talk show on the campus channel devoted to J-Pop/Japanese culture. Taran Killam & Vanessa Bayer are the hosts. I enjoy this sketch every so often. And it’s been a while since they’ve pulled out these characters so I’m looking forward to it. Jason Sudeikis is also back as their faculty adviser that realizes how ridiculous the show is and would rather be doing something else. He’s one of the reasons this recurring sketch works. Jamie Foxx also appears here as Dante, a graduate student that’s also interested in Samurai culture. I have to say, this was a little bit of a disappointment. Foxx doesn’t seem very committed to this character and he doesn’t really interact a lot with Killam & Bayer because he’s looking at the cue cards. This might be the point where the sketch needs to be retired, unfortunately.

Short Film: Tyler Perry Presents Alex Cross 2: Medea Special Ops
This is a funny concept. After the moderate/low success of Alex Cross, Tyler Perry takes control over the sequel and it becomes Alex Cross & Medea becoming detective partners and solving the mystery together. The catch is that Perry is playing both of them at the same time. Half of him is Alex Cross and the other half is dressed in drag as Medea. The visual is funny and provides for a few laughs. Killam also appears in the sketch as the villain that Matthew Fox played in the actual movie.

Ne-Yo – “Let Me Love You”
Ne-Yo’s first performance of the night. He’s at pretty great point in his career because this song is currently in the Top 10 and climbing each week. The chorus is really catchy. Ne-Yo knows how to work a stage too. Solid performance and the highlight of the show so far.

Weekend Update
The show opens with some topical humor, per usual. My favorite joke was about Anderson Cooper going temporarily blind after not wearing sunglasses while on a boat. “The condition can also be caused by looking at Anderson Cooper wearing a white t-shirt.” Aidy Bryant then comes out as the first guest. She’s dressed as Mrs. Claus and discusses about enjoying alone time on Christmas Eve. She enjoys watching Adult-On-Demand and wishes that her husband would manscape. “Manscaping hasn’t reached the North Pole. It hasn’t reached the South Pole either.” It’s a pretty solid appearance from Bryant. Next up…Jamie Foxx comes out dressed as a Hostess Ding Dong. He’s upset that people are so upset about the loss of the Twinkie, but nobody is paying attention or cares about the loss of the Ding Dong. “This is snack profiling.” The Twinkie became the face of the brand but the Ding Dong was pushed to the back of the aisle. But it doesn’t stop the Ding Dong from putting down the Snowball snack. This is the most convincing and funny Jamie Foxx has been all night. Some more jokes from Seth. A man ran 7 marathons in 7 days on the 7 continents…”Meanwhile, I fell asleep during a haircut.”

Dylan McDermott or Dermot Mulroney?
I have to say, I was cringing when the opening was another game show. But then the announcer says the name of the game show and I’m completely hooked. It’s a completely ridiculous premise and seems like an inside joke, but it’s hilarious. Bill Hader is the host of the show and the three black men, Jamie Foxx, Kenan Thompson & Jay Pharaoh are unable to tell the difference between the pictures of the Dylan & Dermot. It’s a really well written sketch. Hader has a few complicated parts and he nails it perfectly. The sketch has a twist ending where the actual Dermot Mulroney comes out at the end. Even the real one can’t tell the difference between the pictures. Also, Hader announces the show coming up next: three girls from Alaska have to tell the difference between Chiwetel Ejiofor & Djimon Hounsou. This has been the highlight of the show so far. Loved it.

Short Film: Marcus Banks: Tree Pimp
This is an odd film and I can’t believe it made it to air. Kenan plays a tree salesman that acts more like a pimp. He treats the trees just like prostitutes. It doesn’t really make sense and the style of the film doesn’t lend itself to the material. It’s a documentary style film where Kenan keeps talking to the camera. But the idea is so broad that it doesn’t work with the writing. Jamie Foxx also appears as Kenan’s rival in the tree pimp game. This can’t end quick enough.

Maine Justice
This is a court show, in the style of The People’s Court, that takes place in Maine. Although it seems like it’s taking place in a Southern courtroom instead. Sudeikis is the judge and channels Foghorn Leghorn. Foxx is the bailiff and Bryant is the defedant, wearing a country dress and constantly fanning herself. Charlie Day makes a random cameo as Bryan’t attorney, who is a big redneck and shows up wearing overalls and holding a mason jar full of moonshine. Moynihan is the plaintiff and is just as confused as the audience watching this unfold. It ends with a big musical rendition of “When the Saints”. This sketch was all over the place, but it was entertaining and provided quite a few laughs.

Ne-Yo – “She Is”
Apparently this is a duet with Tim McGraw, but McGraw is nowhere to be found here. This is such a sensual song that I can’t believe it’s supposed to be sung by two men. It’s a likable song but I can’t make it through the entire thing until I use the DVR to fast-forward through most of it.

Swarovski Crystals
Vanessa Bayer & Cecily Strong appear as two models endorsing Swarovski Crystals. They are airheads and constantly talk in a whiny/breathy voice. I’m not sure if this is supposed to be spoofing anything. Bayer & Strong are funny but it ends up being a little one-note. Jamie Foxx keeps popping in the commercial wearing a white tuxedo without a shirt underneath. I can see why this was the last sketch of the night. It’s not a fully realized sketch. It doesn’t take off but it provides a few light laughs.

The show started off really weak but had some of the best moments of the season following Weekend Update. “Dylan McDermott or Dermot Mulroney?” provided the most laughs of the night and will end up being one of my favorites of the year. “Maine Justice” was also a completely ridiculous sketch that ended up working. Ne-Yo was also one of the more solid musical guests they’ve had so far this season. I was also really surprised that Cecily Strong didn’t appear until the final sketch of the night. I felt like they were really pushing her as the Next Kristen Wiig, but only appearing in the final sketch doesn’t help that reputation. And not to mention that Kate McKinnon didn’t appear at all during the show. Not looking good for her either.

Next week: the Christmas show. Martin Short hosts and Paul McCartney is the musical guest. That combination is like the exact opposite of tonight’s combination. Should be interesting.

Jamie Foxx