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Saturday Night Live: 38.15 – “Kevin Hart/Macklemore & Ryan Lewis”

Hey everyone! It’s been a while since I’ve done an SNL recap (the Martin Short/Paul McCartney Christmas episode was the last one so this makes it the first one in 2013). I’ve been a little busy and mostly focusing on the awards season shows. Now that they’re over I’m going to try to get back to recapping. Dancing with the Stars returns in a few weeks and I will definitely be covering that. Let’s get to the show…

Cold Open: Obama Sequester Press Conference
Jay Pharaoh is back to practicing his impression of Barack Obama. I’m still not completely sold on him as a performer, especially as Obama. He’s had a few hits in Obama sketches, but he’s not a compelling performer and I don’t look forward to his bits. The cold open itself was okay and had a few laughs. Most of the cast was featured here as people who are facing budget cuts thanks to the sequester that is taking effect. There was a Village People/YMCA bit that went a little too far. We got the joke with the costumes and didn’t need to be taken further with Obama basically reciting the chorus from “YMCA”.

Kevin Hart takes the stage. Hart is a noted stand-up comedian so this will basically end up being a short stand-up set. That’s usually a good thing for this show. It’s a usual break from having the host sing something. He goes into a story about seeing a homeless man palm a man’s sandwich in NYC. I’m not overly familiar with Kevin Hart’s stand-up. I’ve seen a few bits (the swearing at the teacher routine) and that was actually hilarious. Hart seemed a little too manic here. It was probably nerves and it really affected his timing. His tone was also flat too. He’s usually very confident on stage but his nerves got the best of him and the writing of the material wasn’t his best showcase. He also didn’t interact with the studio audience. His eyes were glued on the camera the whole time and it was another reason why it didn’t work.

The Steve Harvey Show
Kenan is back doing his Steve Harvey impression. I kind of love that he brought this back out. Kenan was on The View a few weeks ago and did a hilarious Steve Harvey impression for the ladies. Steve Harvey then came on the show two weeks ago and they showed him Kenan’s impression. Harvey was pissed and didn’t like it. He even said something along the lines of, “Fat boy better watch out.” Harvey obviously doesn’t have a sense of humor about himself and I love that Kenan is still going strong with the impression. Harvey then brings out a guest who’s scared of horses, played by Kevin Hart. Kenan really steals the sketch. I love his interpretation of Harvey being egocentric and completely devoid of empathy, which is really a requirement for a talk show host. The sketch overstays in welcome and falls apart when Nasim Pedrad comes out as a horse trainer.

The Situation Room
Two TV show sketches in a row, seems a little uninspired so early in the show. Jason Sudeikis is Wolf Blitzer and Cecily Strong is a reporter talking about the new Pope being selected. She announces that the new pope is 9 year-old Oscar nominee Quvenzhane Wallis, played by Kevin Hart. I take back what I said at the beginning, this seems much more inspired. Hart’s wig falls apart at the beginning and he tries to fix it halfway through. It’s a little distracting and it’s all I can focus on when they show Hart in the sketch. It doesn’t really go anywhere and probably should’ve been saved for later in the show.

Short: Starbucks at Home Brewing
This is a repeat, I think. Starbucks can now be brewed at home with Verismo pods. You still have to give the machine your name, which they of course get wrong. And they also get your order wrong when you tell it.

Barnes & Noble Firing
This is a semi-repeat of the McDonald’s firing sketch earlier in the season, which was actually one of my favorites of the season. This time Bobby Moynihan & Cecily Strong take their employee smackdowns to Barnes & Noble’s. This time the sketch doesn’t work as well. The takedowns aren’t as creative and it’s not as fresh and original as the McDonald’s one. Kevin Hart is also sidelined here and doesn’t do anything until Tim Robinson makes him break towards the end. That was the most entertaining part of the sketch for me.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz – “Thrift Shop”
This song is really weird. I like the beat but I found Macklemore to be a little bit of a joke and I can’t take it too seriously. The music video is much more entertaining. But I also appreciate that he’s an independent artist and is one of the few (maybe the first) independent artists to get a #1 on the Hot 100. So good on him for that.

Weekend Update
Weekend Update time! Jokes about the sequester and the Pope resigning open the segment. None of them really land. Seth then introduces Dennis Rodman & Kim Jong-Un to discuss their new friendship. Pharoah & Moynihan play them. I have to admit, I’m a little weirded out by Moynihan’s impression. It seems a little offensive because it plays on old Asian stereotypes. And the fact that he’s not Asian makes it harder to laugh at then if an Asian performer did it. Some more jokes. The best one about Downton Abbey added a black cast member: “He’s said to have moved to Downton Abbey because he got in one little fight and his mom got scared.” Obviously a reference to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song, which can never go wrong. Then Seth & Kevin Hart do a “Really?!?!” segment about Supreme Court Justice Scalia’s comments about racism in America. Hart stumbles over his first line and it’s more awkward than funny. Did he rehearse at all this week?

The Walking Dead
Taran Killam, Bill Hader, Kate McKinnon & Nasim Pedard play characters from The Walking Dead who stumble upon a new survivor named Lyle, played by Hart. They discuss whether to accept him into the group. While they have their back turned, he gets bitten by a zombie and slowly turns into a vampire over the course of the sketch. It was an okay sketch and it was the most solid Hart has been all night. Pedrad was my favorite part though. She played the 12 year-old boy Carl and kept making references to his crumbling mental state. It was really the only reference to the series and that’s made the jokes land so well.

Shark Tank
4th TV show sketch of the night! The writers really uninspired here. I really like Shark Tank and I’m happy to see it’s known enough to get a sketch on SNL. It has Sudeikis as O’Leary, McKinnon as Barbara, Kenan as Daymond John and Hader as Mark Cuban. Where is the fifth shark, Robert? Oh well. It starts off with Tim Robinson as a guy pitching a new clothing item that’s the opposite of a vest. Then Kevin Hart comes out and pitches an idea of putting sunglasses on a lamp. The sketch really doesn’t work and I don’t think any of the writers watched the actual show it’s based on. Because there are a lot of things to mine from the show to make a good sketch and none of them appeared here. Worst of the night.

Short: Z-Shirt Commercial
This is a commercial for a new product called the Z-Shirt. It looks like it’s from the late-80’s or early-90’s. It’s a little random but the commercial embraces the bizarre nature and it works because of it. Tim Robinson is featured again and this probably makes the episode his most prominent one yet. I had a feeling he was going to be dropped after this season, but maybe not after all.

Dove Chocolate Radio Commerical Audition
Kevin Hart & Vanessa Bayer play voice-over actors audition to do a radio commercial for Dove Chocolate. Bayer is obviously the better choice because she has a soothing voice and will appeal to the target audience of women they are going for. But Hart is the complete opposite and is much louder and crass. The producers still don’t know which one they want to pick. It’s a solid sketch but it doesn’t get a whole lot of laughs. It was a good idea that needed a little something extra to make it more memorable.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Ray Dalton – “Can’t Hold Us”
This song is slightly better than “Thrift Shop”, mostly because it’s less ridiculous and has a nice beat behind it. It’s not good enough that I don’t end up fast-forwarding through most of the performance.

Z-Shirt Funeral
This is a really random “sketch” thrown in towards the end. It looks like a funeral sketch is about to begin and then Kevin Hart pops out as the Z-Shirt character. I don’t even think it lasts more than a minute. I have no idea what that was.

360 News
“News in every direction.” Kevin Hart plays the host who was in an accident and is wearing a neck brace. He has to keep switching cameras while reading a piece of copy. It’s a funny idea but it’s not executed very well. Hart plays the same note during the entire sketch and it ruins the idea. Tim Robinson is here again. He’s probably been in the show as much as Hart was tonight. Was this his chance to shine or is Lorne just giving him as much time as possible before letting him go?

It was a below average show. Kevin Hart was probably the weakest host of the season. He’s not very versatile and he seemed to lack a self-confidence that’s required to host a show like this. It was a little weird because I liked Kevin Hart at the VMA’s and some of his stand-up is inspired. None of that was on display here and that’s a shame because this was probably his biggest exposure to date.

Next week…Justin Timberlake pulls double duty for the third time. A third Guest Actor Emmy on the way for him? We shall see.

Kevin Hart

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis