Cold Opening – Road to the Final Four
- Yet another sports-related cold open this season. I’m not complaining, as I know in hindsight the horrors that await me from the cold opens in two seasons from now.
- Bobby’s yet again steals another cold open with his very funny performance here.
- Kenan’s Barkley is always reliable for several good laughs, and some of his lines here are pretty hilarious to me, particularly when botched a certain term.
- A pretty good, fun cold open. I guess I should be happy that this season had this many sports-related opens instead of boring politics, even though some of the political opens were great, unlike the majority of opens that I’ll have to suffer through with Trumpwin (*shudder*).
- Some good laughs from Michael’s lines early on.
- And now we have Bobby & Taran join Michael up on stage to simply goof up and nerd out next to him. Both are coming even more likable than usual here, and their underrated chemistry is on full display.
- Ah, this turns it another musical monologue, not complaining due to always loving this one.
- Bobby is surprisingly convincing as The Penguin, Taran does a good Joker too.
- I’m getting good laughs from the contrast in production values between the Bobby & Taran scenes, and the low-budget behind the scenes footage of Michael.
- Hialrious facial expression from Bobby behind Michael as he has a badly photoshopped Beetlejuice on him.
- Good laughs from the recurring bit with Jay.
- Ah, and now there’s Michael’s “I’m Batman” and I LOVE his deadpan stare towards the camera.
- Yes, I love Michael reprising his Beetlejuice catchphrase “It’s showtime!” and I absolutely love how the crowd goes NUTS afterwards. Ah, Michael still got it.
- A great concept of low-budge reenactments to news stories, giving this sketch an old-school, conceptual feel.
- Very funny visuals of the low-budget graphics on display.
- The reenactment with the puppets is absolutely hilarious.
- Michael’s dance movements are having me in tears.
- An overall solid, fun, silly sketch.
- Always great to see another Mike O’Brien Short, and this one is amongst my favorites of his.
- As usual, great direction and production values in these shorts.
- A solid premise to this short, and as usual for Mike’s films, we have a beautiful mix of both comedy and sentimentality.
- Such heartwarming moments between Michael & Mike here, the emotions here are honestly making me feel warm inside.
- Vanessa is very solid here as Michael’s wife, and yet again, the subtleties of despair on her expressions are sublime.
- A great ending with Mike winning back Michael, while standing in front of his door’s house in the rain.
- Overall, YET ANOTHER excellent Mike O’Brien short, this man’s a genius, between this, The Jay-Z Story, Grow-A-Guy, and Sad Mouse, he wrote some of the finest shorts in the last decade,
Call Your Grandparents
- Very funny, relatable premise. And it feels great to see Sasheer in a starring role for a change.
- I love the juxtaposition between sexy late-night phone ad and the concept of calling your grandparents.
- Cecily is not convincing me at all with her old lady voice, which is surprising given her solid utility work.
- I see that Kate is using her RBG voice for this old lady character, which is also surprising given the famous. hilarious voice that she’ll use later on in sketches like Return Counter & recently the excellent Dream Home Cousins.
- Some solid laughs from all the things the old people are saying here, some well-written relatable humor on display.
- Michael’s stealing this sketch with his portrayal of an old man, He’s been killing it so far into the episode.
- A good laugh from Leslie’s joke bombing in contrast to Kenan’s.
- Already. I’m enjoying Michael’s characterization in this sketch, and he is a natural in playing dark, creepy, disturbed characters.
- A big cheap laugh from Michael demanding the mom to have “huge knockers”.
- I’m LOVING how well-written & well-performed this sketch is, it feels WAY different for SNL, reminding me of Monty Python and other excellent, premise-driven sketch shows, like several eras of SNL, including this one. This one, I could’ve seen both Michael Palin & Eric Idle perform in the original era. Or hell, Bob Odenkirk playing Michael’s role in an episode of Mr. Show. This sketch feels like Monty Python/Mr. Show hybrid and is right up my alley of humor.
- Ha! What’s with the random, disturbing part with Michael’s shirt suddenly becoming stained with blood? I’m loving how dark this sketch is getting.
- I’m loving how Michael’s character is now mixing perversion with violence, yet again it gives this sketch an old-school sketch comedy vibes.
- Love the ending. An overall fantastic sketch, and a true hidden gem. I’m surprised of how much I loved this sketch even more upon a rewatch.
- Here comes a very famous, daring short from this season.
- I remember the viral, cheesy Scientology music video that this short is spoofing, but it’s been ages since I last saw it, yet I do recall finding this short to be a spot-on recreation of that whole video.
- The annotations of every Neurotology member’s grim future are fantastic, and they’re giving this already-unsettling short an excellent, dark aura that surrounds it and somehow makes it even stronger than it already is.
- Bobby is perfect as the L. Ron Hubbard-esque leader of Neurotology.
- Hilarious cutaway to a smiling Colin, making a rare non-Update appearance.
- The “Has beat up everyone in this video” bit is absolutely hilarious, and I remember laughing out loud at it back when this aired, and that never changed in my current viewing.
- DAMN at the “switched to Scientology” part, absolutely ruthless, yet hilarious.
- Very catchy chorus near the end.
- A great, great ending to such a brilliant, daring, dark and beyond excellent short. An all-time SNL highlight.
Musical Performance – “I Really Like You”
- Jesse Nathan: Okay, so–Carly Rae Jepsen. Definitely an artist that comes to people’s minds when they think of the word “underrated”. Unless you were living under a rock in 2012, you might be able to remember when “Call Me Maybe” dominated the radio (not sure if Blood was following music at the time), causing many people to get sick of it, including yours truly (I’ve come around on it in recent years). Because of this, she often gets dismissed as “the ‘Call Me Maybe’ girl”, when she’d rather be remembered for anything but that (I think). Probably not the best time to bring all of that up, but I felt the need to. Anyway, let’s get back on track.
- Good intro, but it sounds a lot better on the album version.
- I like Carly’s vocals, but that honestly really isn’t surprising (By the way, is anyone surprised that she’s currently 36?).
- Why are the drums tuned higher than the vocals?
- Wow, the backing vocalists’ voices were miced just as high as Carly’s, meaning that we likely hear them more than the woman herself.
- Great chorus, but again, it’s a lot better on the album version.
- I like how Carly sorta looks at the camera occasionally.
- Carly’s facial expressions are pretty fun to watch.
- I surprisingly never noticed the colors of the lights throughout this performance.
- Funny Lethal Weapon bit from Colin.
- Some good jokes throughout this Update so far, continuing the super hot streak that this new era has been having between standout episodes and strong Updates, Colin is now starting to become the version we all know and love.
- A Pete Davidson commentary. Interesting to see him commenting about The Walking Dead, a time capsule to how insanely popular that show was at the time, before becoming the walking dead of a corpse that it was promoting.
- Pretty slow commentary from Pete, and the material is not the best, which is saying something as I never saw him as an above average comic.
- A welcomed cameo from Norman Reedus, who I could see as a strong host around this time.
- Funny Uber joke from Colin.
- Man, Jebidiah is already starting off harsh with the Mad Men dig which gets a great response from the audience.
- Jebidiah, on Game of Thrones: “Game of Thrones, oh great! A softcore porn with 100 hours of back story. At least in porn, you know how it’s gonna finish. Oh, and George R. R. Martin, you better hurry up and write those books, because from the look of you, winter is coming!”
- Jebidiah, on The West Wing: “The best lines on that show were the ones that went up Sorkin’s nose!”
- Love Taran’s ad-lib after throwing one of his index cards “Good distance on that one!”
- Jebidiah, in a meta moment, commenting on Saturday Night Live: “The same tired characters repeating the same tired catchphrases. (*throws his index card into the air*) NNNEEEXXXTT!!!”
- I love how the audience is ALREADY groaning in preparation to Jebidiah’s slam against I Love Lucy.
- Jebidiah, on I Love Lucy: “I Love Lucy. Hey, Lucy, you got some explaining to do like why you’d stay married to a man who rafted over from Cuba just to crush your dreams? They should have called this show, ‘I Love Lucy’s Ability To Get Me A Green Card!’”
- The usual excellent Jebidiah Atkinson commentary. Sadly, this is the final appearance of this great character, easily my personal favorite Update character of all-time. I don’t know if Taran tried to get it on Update during his final season, because IIRC, he doesn’t appear on Update at all in his final year. A real shame, as I’ve always enjoyed behind the desk, and especially as Jebidiah.
- (*sigh*) Between the accents, the clothes, and hairstyles, this sketch is pure Anderlette.
- Not caring for Cecily’s explanations, and particularly that voice she’s using.
- Ugh at the tube anally recognizing you. A staple of James Anderson-written sketches to have something to do with anal-probing, much like the wretched gay aliens sketch in the dreadful season 30 Johnny Knoxville episode, and the also-wretched Sacred Rock sketch in the upcoming season 43 Bill Hader episode.
- Leave the googly eyes shtick to the legendary Googly Eyes Gardner sketch with Walken, Anderlette.
- This sketch is bombing HARD when trying to do absurdist humor, which is typical of Anderlette. I’m still surprised that they wrote the excellent A Magical Christmas & Spaceship earlier in the season.
- Overall, leave it to motherfucking Anderlette to ruin this episode’s perfect streak.
Musical Performance – “All That”
- Jesse Nathan: For obvious reasons, it’s a bit bizarre that a musical guest would perform a song called “All That” (Hint: it has something to do with the longest-running cast member).
- I like the 80s-sounding intro, right down to the synth, blips, and slap bass.
- Carly’s vocals are once again pleasant to listen to.
- Good chorus, but not as good as the chorus in the last song.
- Because I’m running out of things to say, I will add that Carly looks very cute here, and I love that haircut.
- The guitarist on Carly’s left kinda looks like Machine Gun Kelly.
- Why are the backing vocalists not miced properly?
- Nice addition of scratching.
- What was that bizarre sound during the last “show me if you care”?
- I like Carly’s smile at the end.
An Easter Message
- I’m so happy to see another one of these creepy holiday sketches, too bad that this one, IIRC, is the final to air, and there are two CFT ones that will be posted online from the Kristen Wiig & Bill Hader episodes in seasons 42 & 43, respectively.
- I know I said this several times in this review, but Michael’s slaying me here. His greeting at the beginning was already hilarious to me.
- Great characterization and solid performance from Kate as the creepy side character in this.
- Funny “best Friday” bit from Michael.
- Michael, on the unleavened bread: “This is unleavened bread, which means, unlike Jesus, it doesn’t rise.”
- Michael, on Cadbury eggs: “I gave these up for Lent last year. Know what I gave up this year? Cocaine…………………almost.”
- Fantastic moment with Michael’s creepily delivering his random line “Something’s wrong with me.”
- Hilarious quick appearance from Bobby here.
- Very dark, yet hilarious bit with Kate feeding her “child chicken” a McNugget.
- I LOVED Michael’s comment about Kate’s character “This kid has aaaal the warning signs.”
- Michael, on his chocolate bunny being hollow “Some people like the solid ones, but then, how would you get your little wiener in there?”
- Man, I could basically quote this entire sketch here, so many hilarious, absurd, dark lines throughout with fantastic delivery and performance by Michael, and great supporting work by Kate & Bobby.
- Excellent reveal at the end that Michael was playing himself all along. What an outstanding way to end this phenomenal episode.
Cut For Time: Sporting Goods Sport-House
- A variation of the great Waterbed Warehouse commercial from the Martin Freeman episode earlier in the season.
- Like last time, Aidy’s singing and her face just kills me here easily.
- While this sketch is pretty much following the exact same formula as the first one, I’m enjoying its harmless, fun energy.
- Lots of fun visuals here, particularly of Aidy & Michael’s faced behind the cardboard.
- An overall pretty good follow-up to the original, even when it’s not as strong, it was still solid and harmless enough.
Cut For Time: Toby’s House
- Ah, yes. Here we go people!!!
- This is a sketch that garnered a lot of hype online after this episode aired, and was supposedly going to air in the live show but got cut at the last minute as evidenced by our 10-to-1 being just a band shot throwing us into commercial after the show just returned from one. I recall reading the dress rehearsal report on this sketch, and from then I KNEW that I’m going to love this dark, disturbing sketch.
- I love the brief opening musical intro, it feels like a Pee-Wee’s Playhouse/Blues Clues hybrid.
- Beck & Kyle are doing such a spot-on impression of the typical banter between the host and the objects around him in these types of shows.
- Ah, here comes the first reveal…
- Great delivery from Michael of his “They’re taking the house!” And I love his concerned, subtle facial expression, which will make more sense as the sketch goes on.
- A big laugh from Michael’s song getting interrupted by Bobby just opening the door nonchalantly and starting to just empty the house.
- Ah, here we go with the second reveal in this sketch, and the truth about Toby’s House is revealed.
- I love the pause after Kyle’s question about the location of the cameras in this supposed children’s show. And especially his outburst after Michael’s silence. Just excellent, disturbing, and brilliantly dark escalation to this already-excellent sketch.
- And we get even more disturbing and dark with the reveal that those three are friends who desperately wanted money and worked for Michael’s character in exchange of that.
- And we now get the final reveal in this sketch, with the reveal that Michael’s character is a sexual deviant who had sex with the various objects around the house. This is a dark, dark, enthralling sketch.
- I LOVED Kenan’s delivery of his “But these aren’t even magical”.
- A great ending with Toby’s House metaphorically falling apart all around him, such a masterpiece of a sketch. Just imagine for a while if this sketch replaced Smart House, can you even imagine how this episode would’ve been even more fantastic? A real shame this was cut at the last moment.
Segments Ranked From Best to Worst
CFT: Toby’s House
An Easter Message
Call Your Grandparents
CFT: Sporting Goods Sport-House
The Road to the Final Four
- Another outstanding episode from this great season. Like many episodes from this season, this episode featured many writerly, conceptual, and creative sketch concepts & shorts. With FOUR sketches receiving the perfect five-stars rating from me. Several of these sketches are amongst my absolute favorites in this whole season, like the brilliant, sharp Neurotology, and the emotional, yet funny Prom queen short, and we should not forget the hidden, dark masterpiece Toby’s House. What I also enjoyed about this episode is that some segments are now even stronger than I recall them being, mainly Ad Agency, and An Easter Message, both are now new favorites of mine.
- Michael Keaton, as highly-anticipated by fans, was a fantastic host tonight, and this episode was the perfect cycle with his history with SNL. From being put to the side and disrespected by Dick Ebersol in his season 8 episode, to coming back in season 18 and doing a great job in a solid episode, and now having an all-timer episode with a fantastic hosting performance. I’m still shocked that he never became a member of the Five-Timers Club considering the big career renaissance that he’s been enjoying since the mid 2010s.
- Taraji P. Henson with musical guest Mumford & Sons.
5 Replies to “April 4, 2015 – Michael Keaton / Carly Rae Jepsen (S40 E17) ”
“Overall, YET ANOTHER excellent Mike O’Brien short, this man’s a genius, between this, The Jay-Z Story, Grow-A-Guy, and Sad Mouse, he wrote some of the finest shorts in the last decade,” Yeah, he sure has, yet Julio Torres comes pretty damn close.
By the way, after writing that performance review, I’m still curious as to whether or not you were following the state of popular music back in 2012, again due to Carly Rae’s biggest hit being constantly overexposed, and that’s coming from someone who was only 8 at the time.
Once again, I find myself pretty much on the same page as you about these segments, so there’s nothing new for me to add. I will add that I’m actually planning on watching this episode later today as part of a project that involves the average that Stooge gave to this episode.
Speaking of averages, here are yours:
Pratt – 5.3
Silverman – 6.2
Hader – 6.4
Carrey – 7.2
Rock – 5.3
Harrelson – 8.4
Diaz – 6.0
Franco – 4.8
Freeman – 8.0
Adams – 6.0
Hart – 5.9
Shelton – 6.8
Simmons – 7.9
Johnson – 4.8
Hemsworth – 6.7
Johnson – 8.0
Keaton – 8.2
Overall average (so far): 6.6
CNN Newsroom ***½
Prom Queen ****½
Call Your Grandparents ***
An Easter Message ****
CFT: Toby’s House ***** (I remember dying of laughter when I first saw and I was being so loud my mom was wondering if I was ok )
And of course another incredible review
“Ah, this turns it another musical monologue, not complaining due to always loving this one.” Shouldn’t that line be moved up a few bullet points?
Oops, this is what happens when you decide to add few bullet points just BEFORE you send the review.
Cold Open: Road to the Final Four ***1/2
A bland and harmless CO, but world’s better than what we’ll typically get over the next several seasons. The extra 1/2 goes to Taran, who does a nice job impersonating a guy that’s not easy to impersonate.
One of the era’s truly great monologues. You can see right off the bat that Keaton is going to be game for anything, and that he’s bringing the perfect Michael Keaton energy to the night. His dismissive attitude toward Taran and Bobby at the beginning is subtly great, and the whole thing kicks into high gear for the song, which is both catchy and lovable. Deep, deep commitment here from Taran and Bobby, which is nothing new for two of the best cast members of the past 15 years. Neither got the respect they deserved, but thank God we still have Cecily and Kate. Yeesh.
Weekend Update ***1/2
As Blood points out, there are great jokes all over this one, continuing a sneaky-great WU stretch here in S40. Colin continues to be as interesting as wet bread, but Michael’s potential as a sarcastic anchor in the vein of Dennis Miller has been obvious from the start, and it’s on display here.
Two commentaries, one boring and one fantastic. Pete’s very first WU piece was hailed as a classic, and rightfully so, but I believe they slowly went downhill from there. I’d say his second-best was his one with Mulaney, which we’ll get to in a few seasons. At least this one has a pitch-perfect Norman Reedus walk-on.
Jebediah, awesome as always. This was one of WU’s best recurring characters to pop up in YEARS, and I miss it tremendously.
A bona fide classic, in the running for best sketch of the season. Deeply biting and honestly not far from reality (I wonder what Chloe thinks about this one.. ?) Every quick gag is fantastic, and everyone does a great job of collaborating. No one really stands out here, and that’s a good thing. Great quick gags, through, particularly from Pete and Colin. I stress again: this is an SNL classic, with a real “holy shit, what an on-the-nose takedown” feel to it. I even remember where I was when I first saw it.
Call Your Grandparents ****
This era’s writers, stagers, and cast were just amazing at relatable, slice-of-life pieces like this one. Great work all around, from Sasheer (who looks very comfortable and VERY… nice… in a rare lead role) to those playing the elderly folks. Fantastic lines everywhere – who hasn’t been mailed a nonsensical amount of food by their grandma? And whose grandma DOESN’T have a scribbled address book that’s missed the memo on your last four moves?
CNN Newsroom ****
News show leadoffs are nothing new, but this is a very original skewering of the 24-hour news cycle and its pathetic, desperate need to be IN OUR FACES while adding nothing to the story. The animations are fantastic, and the meta mention of Money for Nothing landed GREAT (because we were all thinking it, for God’s sake). More great Sasheer work here, and Keaton’s dancing is just too much for me to handle.
Ad Agency ****
A great and subversive little gem tucked away inside a great episode. I like the opening gag with Leslie, and Keaton does great work here, continuing to amp up his character’s ridiculous demands. This is a type of niche comedy I especially love: corporate bigwigs who are so exaggeratedly stupid that you wonder how they every climbed a company ladder to begin with, let alone become such important people. See the always-excellent AT & Love sketches from Kids in the Hall for even better examples.
Easter Message ****
I love these (who doesn’t?) and while I do consider this the weakest of the three, it’s nothing against Keaton. It’s more just a reflection of how perfect Buscemi’s and Norton’s were. But this is still packed with mostly great lines from start to finish.
CFT: Toby’s House ***1/2
I know I rate this lower than just about any hardcore fan. It’s definitely a good sketch with a strong premise, and everyone does great work here, particularly Kenan in a tiny, understated role. And it gets off to a KILLER start, with Toby’s chickens coming home to roost and his “friends” slowly realizing something’s amiss. Kyle’s unsettled delivery of “Why don’t we ever see the cameras, Toby?” is pitch-perfect. On its way to being a true CFT gem.
THEN, we go off the rails. Not enough to damn the sketch, but enough to annoy me into docking a full star. Really, really, really could’ve done without the “having sex with everything” angle, which was a predictable and lazy attempt at punching up a sketch that didn’t need punching up.
It’s a lazy trope SNL tends to rely on too much, and has dating back to at least the early 1990s. Introducing a dark or disturbed character, then feeling the need to push them all the way into total loser/psycho/deviant territory. We still see it to this day – think about Jonah Hill’s piece, or Krasinski’s . Both could have been understated gold, but both felt the need to dovetail to the point that none of the characters are relatable and nothing is funny. It reeks of desperation, and it sacrifices all the emotional action of the character.
It’s akin to Anderlette’s need to jam ass rape and ass probing into everything. The difference is, most Anderlette sketches NEED punching up. They usually NEED a dumb, subversive angle to draw laughs. This one DIDN’T; it was already pretty damn dark and subversive without it. And it was on its way to ****1/2 before (somewhat) derailing itself.
One of the great things about the phenomenal I Think You Should Leave, on the other hand, is that it keeps its weird characters in a weird place. And it knows not to leap off the ledge in desperation for cheap laughs.
CFT: Sporting Goods Sport House ***
The original iteration of this sketch, from back in the Martin Freeman episode, is a true era favorite of mine, and I’ll love it until I’m in the ground. So, of course, in comes the desperate need of the writers to rehash it line-for-line, gag-for-gag a few months later. Unsurprisingly, the result is a very mediocre effort that lands nowhere close to the original. Aidy is her usual perfect self as Janine, but yeesh, not EVERYTHING brilliant is destined for great recurring installments. Nobody wants Pulp Fiction 2.
Smart House **1/2
Here’s one with good bones that COULD have been pulled off. The concept is shaky but funny enough – and we can’t pretend SNL can’t make vapid, one-note premises work out. Keaton does a fine job selling the creepiness, and there’s enough funny stuff here (“pants glue” just cracks me up) for good sketchwork to drag this to ***1/2. But we don’t. Need. Cecily. Doing. This. Crap! Yet another workable sketch she’s torpedoed with her need to overwhelm us with the sheer Cecily of it all. We don’t need the voice, we don’t need the robotic acting – in general, we just don’t need Cecily front and center here. UTILITY work means SUPPORTING the funny stuff, Cecily, not muscling your way into it.
Prom King **
I know I’m in the minority here, but for all of Mike’s great work on these short films, this one absolutely booooores me to tears. I barely cracked a grin and found myself more annoyed than anything. We have a deeply tired premise, a “twist” that’s figured out within 20 seconds, and then just one long gay-but-not-gay joke. It feels like a sketch that never really figures out just HOW funny it’s trying to be, and the result IMO is a boring slog. If not for Keaton’s mega-committed performance – he truly GETS the concept here and launches into it unapologetically – this would be even lower for me.