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Saturday Night Live: 38.17 – “Melissa McCarthy/Phoenix”

The show took a three-week hiatus, but now it’s back with a new episode with returning host Melissa McCarthy. She had one of the best SNL episodes of all-time last season so I’m really looking forward to this. My expectations are a little high but I don’t think she’ll disappoint. This is also Phoenix’s second time as musical guest on the show. I only know one of their songs and it was the one that was popular in 2009 when they guested the first time.

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Cold Open: Kim Jong Un Addresses UN
Bobby Moynihan appears as Kim Jong Un addressing the U.N. and it turns into a speech about why he is changing his opinion about gay marriage. Nasim Pedrad is doing the translator voice. I don’t really enjoy these sketches that have long stretches of a foreign leader with a translator voice over their gibberish. The gimmick runs thin and I get tired of it. There were some funny jokes sprinkled throughout but I really wish that we had Melissa McCarthy is the cold open. Dennis Rodman makes a cameo at the end and gets to do the “Live from New York, It’s Saturday Night!”.

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Melissa McCarthy struggles to make it to the platform to do her monologue because she’s wearing ridiculously high shoes. She blames the band for shortening the intro and then just grabs a chair to help support her. It’s a great piece of physical comedy. McCarthy really commits to the joke and that’s what makes a great host on SNL. Taran Killam comes out to do a musical piece but she can’t even stand up to do it with him. She is really struggling to keep balance in the shoes and she takes a big tumble at the end. Let’s forget the cold open and consider this the beginning of the show.

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ESPN Outside the Lines: Sheila Kelly
Usually I write this while watching the sketch. I was laughing so fucking hard that I didn’t even type anything. Oh dear lord. Melissa McCarthy is amazing. Find this on Hulu now. This sketch alone could get Melissa McCarthy the Guest Actress Emmy in September.

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The Voice
Melissa McCarthy is a contestant on The Voice, the judges all love her even though she isn’t very good at all. Taran Killam is Carson Daly, Bill Hader is Adam Levine, Kate McKinnon is Shakira, Jay Pharaoh is Usher, and Jason Sudeikis is Blake Shelton. The sketch itself doesn’t have strong writing. It really relies on the impersonations from the cast members. It’s entertaining to watch but not as relevant or biting as the previous sketch. But then again it was going to be hard for anything to top that.

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Honey Baked Ham Bake Off
Melissa McCarthy is a contestant named Jean Carerra in a bake-off who apparently loses every year. She kisses the judges’ asses before they taste her ham. They told her last year that she needed to work on her presentation and she’s really taken it to heart. She’s added a whole dance presentation with two backup dancers played by Killam & Moynihan. It’s as fantastic as it sounds. The ending falls a little flat when she only gets 7th place out of 8 people, but she takes it as a victory.

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Commercial: The Bathroom Businessman
A commercial for a fully functional workspace in a bathroom stall. Kenan plays the businessman who needs this to improve productivity. When he tries to set it up, he ends up shitting himself. It then randomly turns into a PSA urging people not to text and send email while sitting on the toilet. Brought to you by: Decency.

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Phoenix – “Entertainment”
Phoenix takes the stage for their first performance. I bet Phoenix might sound a little better on a recorded track than when they do a live version. There was some interesting parts but I fast-forwarded after the first chorus.

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Weekend Update
“Here are tonight’s top stories.” Weekend Update time. Some political jokes about Obama, North Korea and gay marriage before the first guest comes out. Vanessa Bayer makes a return appearance as Jacob the Bar Mitzvah boy. I loved this character the first time around and it still worked again this time. I love the awkwardness of the character and the failed interaction with Seth. More “okay” jokes before the second guest of the segment comes out. Kenan brings back his Charles Barkley impression. He’s apparently lost a lot of money from doing a lot of betting on the NCAA tournament. It’s not well written but you can tell Kenan is having a lot of fun. More jokes and then Drunk Uncle makes an appearance. This is usually pretty great but Weekend Update is running a little long at this point. He goes on for a little before talking about watching Game of Thrones with her brother-in-law Peter Drunklage. It’s actually Peter Dinklage dressed in costume. He really saves this particular bit and makes it more interesting. “You know what’s in my tumbler? Regret.”

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Million Dollar Wheel
A take-off on Wheel of Fortune where the usual Vanna White is sick and she’s replaced by the host’s brother Tad’s new girlfriend Nanelle (that’s what it sounded like) played by McCarthy. The sketch is kind of stupid but it’s saved by McCarthy again. She’s really committed to the character and does best with physical material.

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Loan Application Interview
Melissa McCarthy gets a big applause when she enters the sketch and I wonder if people thought she was doing the Arlene character again. She looks similar but she’s a different character named Barb Keller. She’s applying for a business loan to start a pizza eating business. She basically wants to start a business where people bring her pizza to eat. McCarthy has a great bit where she envisions herself in an ad on the side of a bus and people recognizing her as the Pizza Eater. She’s hilarious and it’s fun to watch Jason Sudeikis try not to break.

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Phoenix – “Trying to Be Cool”
This sounds much better than their first song. The vocals from the lead singer are much stronger here and the tempo of the song is pretty cool. It reminds me a little bit of Passion Pit’s “Take a Walk” but with less energy. Better than the first performance but I still fast-forward at the end of the first chorus.

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The Art of the Encounter
A ’90s dating show hosted by Cecily Strong & Kate McKinnon. It’s one of the weaker sketches of the night because it’s so bizarre and I’m not sure I completely get what they are trying to do. The dating scenario portions with McCarthy & Killam are the saving grace. I love Strong & McKinnon’s outfits and hairstyles, but I just wish their material and characters were stronger and worthier of a sketch.

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Melissa McCarthy will get another Emmy nomination for her hosting duties and completely deserve it. She’s fantastic and completely committed to every sketch and character. She’s now joined the category with Justin Timberlake of people who you cannot wait to see host again. The Sheila Kelly sketch was amazing. I’m kind of glad that whole Rutgers scandal happened this week or they wouldn’t have had the idea to do that type of character. Loved it.

Next week is Vince Vaughn with musical guest Miguel. It’s sure to be a letdown compared to this week, but I can be optimistic about it.

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Melissa McCarthy

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