Democratic Presidential Debate
- Oh no, the debut of Jon’s notorious Anderson Cooper impression, with him playing Cooper in a stereotypically gay manner. And what makes this whole impression worse is the resurface of a whole bunch of homophobic tweets by Jon after it was announced that he has been cast in this season. AND that the real-life Anderson Cooper took great offense to this homophobic portrayal and complained openly about it. Ooof to say the least.
- While he’s barely attempting an impression, Kyle is pretty funny as Lincoln Chafee.
- A super random Alec Baldwin cameo as Jim Webb. I recall being pretty surprised when he cameoed, then I remembered who our host is.
- Alec’s slaying me with his badass portrayal of Webb, giving my usual laughs from him. That kinda makes me sad that I have only ONE episode with him as the host to review, not to mention how difficult it will be for me to sour on him as Trumpwin (*shudder*).
- Ah, the debut of Larry David’s Bernie Sanders impression, possibly the ONLY stunt casting that worked for me in this era.
- Kate & Larry are FANTASTIC here, their chemistry is so much fun to watch. I recall this debate sketch being the moment where I realized that Kate is an SNL legend, after impressing the hell out of me last season with her major breakout role in the classic Office Costume Contest sketch. Knowing how highly-regarded she is right now, that just proves my point about her trajectory as a cast member.
- Huge laughs from Larry-as-Bernie screaming about the doom that awaits us.
- Some guilty laughs from Kate-as-Hillary’s whole bit about losing to the “cool black guy” Obama in 2008, but NOW, in 2016, she IS the “cool black guy” in this race.
- An overall excellent debate sketch, and even its length was excusable due to the MANY great jokes, lines, deliveries, and infectious energy in the air.
- I do recall also finding the upcoming debate sketches this season to be also strong, and I recall also surprisingly loving the Impeachment Town Hall sketch from the season 45 premiere, considering it the main highlight of an otherwise shaky episode. I sure hope it lives up to my very positive memories of it.
- Ah, it feels so good to see Tracy back home, being deservedly applauded and being his usual hilarious, lovable self up on the host’s stage.
- Some good self-deprecating jokes from Tarcy regarding his tragic car accident, showing us his pure & kind spirit.
- And we now get our obligatory 30 Rock reunion, with a live scene being performed as supposedly being in 2012.
- I love the details at the bottom of the screen as this is going on, particularly the ad for the TV show Smash.
- Ah, I see that Tracy still got it, as he’s being his usual hilarious self in this scene.
- Such a nice, feel-good ending to this monologue.
- An excellent reveal of the second family being the new family of Tracy’s, and the first family is the one he left including his ex-wife, as played by Leslie. Kenan’s reaction as Steve Harvey, with him exclaiming “Aw, DAYUM!!” stuck with me since I first saw this sketch when it originally aired.
- Perfect casting of Leslie, and I recall this sketch being one of her shining moments in the early years of her tenure. It’s only with season 44 that Leslie will do most of her best work, at least in my opinion.
- Very solid understated anger from Leslie here, and I love her answer to the question about what people frequently forget, with confidence saying “Their family?”
- Tracy’s whole bit saying “no man should be forced to watch his son play the CLARINET!” absolutely slayed me.
- Kenan’s a fantastic straight man here.
- Excellent development with Che (in a rare sketch role), leaving his family to join Tracy’s, claiming that they’re happier.
- Leslie’s whole rant against Tracy is fantastic, one of my favorite things that Leslie ever did on the show.
- A great, great ending with Kenan’s “Show me ‘I forgot to pull out’!”
- An overall fantastic sketch, somehow even better than I remember.
Brian Fellow’s Safari Planet
- Great to see our obligatory Brian Fellow sketch of the night.
- I see that Tracy is as hilarious as he always is as Brian Fellows, his dumb remarks are still giving my expected big laughs.
- Huge laughs from Tracy trying to interrupt Aidy’s long intro by yelling “I’m Brian Fellow!”
- The whole smoking beaver thought bubble bit is absolutely priceless. I wonder who voiced that beaver, his voice is slaying me.
- I’m loving how this edition is subverting the usual way these sketches go on, with both Aidy and the camel having their own thought bubbles.
- Excellent ad-lib from Tracy as the camel blocks the camera as he’s signing off the sketch, his shouting “I can’t see, camel!” is such a Tracy moment.
- Overall, the usual hilarious, priceless Brian Fellow sketch.
Mitchell’s Fake Cocaine
- Here comes a fake ad that I’ve always loved and considered a definitive piece from this era.
- I’m loving how hilariously random, and full-on absurdist this ad feels, it’s giving me old-school sketch comedy vibes.
- Beck’s fantastic here, his whole characterization, and general work in selling this premise is excellent. Reminding me of the coming classics Undercover Office Potty & Boop-it. Beck’s display of both despair and vanishing pride are both supremely displayed in his commercial work. And this fantastic fake ad is an early example of the greatness he’ll display throughout his great eight-year tenure.
- Cheap laughs from the reveal of the fake poop side product, this commercial feels like the usual priceless, clever ad parodies from the late 80s/early 90s SNL & the 2nd half of the 90s/early 00s golden years of SNL, the latter, particularly 95-02 are my personal favorite era in SNL history.
- A great ending.
Musical Performance – “Cool for the Summer / “Confident”
- Jesse Nathan: Boy does that first title take me back to 2015, when that song was the shit. And I should know, I had recently finished elementary school at that point.
- Not sure why, but Tracy’s Tracy Morgan-esque delivery of “Lovato” made me chuckle. It might have something to do with his emphasis on “-vato”.
- Demi’s opening pose seems somewhat familiar to me.
- That’s a rather…appealing outfit Demi’s wearing.
- Demi sounds great here.
- Cool lighting.
- Why does the instrumental sound off?
- Demi’s sexy moves are eliciting strange feelings in me that I really shouldn’t have.
- The refrain was poorly mixed.
- Not too sure about the addition of horns in place of guitars.
- I like Demi’s hair-whipping.
- Boy, someone must have fucked up Demi’s mic during the chorus.
- Wow, we’re ALREADY going to the next song, when this performance isn’t halfway done? If they were gonna do that, then why couldn’t they just perform this one rather than do a medley? Maybe Demi just wanted to get the audience’s attention with a song that they were bombarded with over the summer.
- Well, at least they managed to understand you can say “bitch” on SNL.
- Geez, the backup singers’ mics must not have been turned on, as they can’t be heard AT ALL during the chorus.
- I love Demi’s “tonight”.
- Why is Demi just vocalizing during the second chorus?
- Great held note from Demi.
- The last chorus fell kinda flat.
- Great rapid lighting.
- I like Demi’s smile at the end.
- Great Playboy Magazine/Cat Fancy joke from Michael.
- Great to see Tina doing a stand-up-esque breakdown of the whole Playboy Magazine news, reminding me of her excellent bit about Hugh Hefner’s girlfriends back in her early years as an Update anchor.
- The usual funny, sharp comments from Tina, particularly with her trademark reliable delivery. I especially love the whole armpit spiel, which is yet another throwback to a bit she did back in her days in the cast.
- Very funny physical work from Tina atop the Update desk, the energy in this episode in general has been tremendous.
- An overall solid and funny commentary from Tina as expected.
- I’m loving Willie’s commentary about Halloween gifts, his line about his dad is absolutely priceless.
- Ah, the nostalgia tour continues tonight with the return of Tracy’s Woodrow character.
- Man, Tracy sure still got it as Woodrow, he didn’t even lose a touch with this character.
- A great ending with Woodrow’s usual hilarious, bizarre, and nonsensical singing, this time with Willie dueting with him.
The Loveliest Kingdom
- Great set design and costumes.
- Tracy’s whole rambling here is killing me as usual, he’s so naturally hilarious to me.
- OH NO. Here comes the main “comedic” conceit of this whole sketch, and what it was building towards since the very beginning: the reveal of a homosexual relationship between Taran & Jon’s characters. Is SNL freaking kidding me with this sketch?!
- Man, this attempt at shock humor, with not only Taran’s relationship reveal, but to say that Jon is his “boy-child” is coming off so desperate and is tanking this sketch HARD.
- Tracy is trying to save this sketch like the ultimate professional that he is, but Taran’s character awful takeover of this sketch with this outdated, if not flat-out homophobic “LOL it’s funny because they’re gay!” bit making me sour so much on this sketch. Geez thanks Taran & YOU too Jon.
- Overall, leave it to motherfucking Anderlette to ruin YET ANOTHER phenomenal episode’s streak with their wretched, tired writing.
- Yes! A short starring Tracy! This is one of the things that I love about how this era when it comes to hosts from previous eras of the show, like Will Ferrell or Eddie Murphy, being given roles in semi-dramatic shorts that are quintessential to this era of the show. Tracy in particular is perfect here.
- Man, I’m absolutely loving the semi-dramatic atmosphere of this short, and Tracy is performing the HELL out of the material. I’ve never seem him act like this before during this tenure, which again makes it a fun novelty to see performers from previous eras perform pieces like this.
- Taran is making up for his role in the previous abomination with his solid, dramatic role here. Sadly, I recall this one of the very few solo showcases that Taran got in this season.
- I’m loving the sentimental turn in this short, it feels like Mike O’Brien’s typical work, and his sense of pathos and emotions are prevalent here, even though I’m sure that he didn’t write this short. This one feels like the precursor to Julio Torres’ typical work of brilliance in the upcoming three seasons.
- An overall YET ANOTHER excellent segment in tonight’s episode; and another great short from this era. Man, tonight’s episode is firing on all cylinders.
Musical Performance – “Stone Cold”
- Jesse Nathan: Looks like we’re getting a serious piano ballad.
- What’s with Demi’s tattoos?
- Great opening vocals from Demi. In fact, their voice kinda reminds me of Idina Menzel.
- I like Demi’s facial expressions.
- I’m having a hard time trying to distinguish the verses from the chorus.
- Demi’s putting their all into this performance, but this song is starting to feel a little all over the place, and kinda hard to figure out.
- Demi killed it on the vocals at the end.
Yo! Where Jackie Chan at Right Now?
- A hilariously random premise, and this type of weird, random, absurdist humor is right up my alley and caters specifically to my comedic taste.
- Tracy & Kenan are a perfect duo here, and their trademark delivery works perfectly in the context of this absolutely random premise.
- I’m LOVING the cutaways to random celebrities in this sketch.
- The usual laughs from Bobby’s priceless Steve Seagal.
- Sasheer is perfectly cast as The Chief from “Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?”.
- Leslie (who’s been having a great night), is perfect here as herself.
- A great ending.
- A fantastic, clever fake-out with this supposed spoof of The Martian turning out to be our obligatory Astronaut Jones sketch of the night.
- Ah, Astronaut Jones, one of the MANY favorite things that Tracy did back in his original tenure that made me absolutely adore him to this very day. So many laughs and good memories from this sketch, Brian Fellows, and pretty much everything with Tracy just being himself.
- A great, flawless line delivery from Tracy towards Demi Lovato as the Martian, and this HAS to be one of Jones’ funniest raunchy lines, which is certainly saying something. An excellent way to end tonight’s outstanding show.
Cut For Time: Not Scared
- (*sigh*) A Good Neighbor short cut for time, not the last time that this will happen this season.
- A perfect Tracy-esque role for Tracy in this short, his horror scene with Kate at the beginning is very funny.
- Good straight performance from Kyle, his understated fear from watching the Dr. Demon movie is solid.
- Great horror-esque turn with this short, and the cutaway to Beck once again is priceless in these shorts.
- I love the cliched horror movie scream at the end.
- A solid short, as per usual for Beck & Kyle. A damn shame this was cut in favor of that Anderlette sketch.
Segments Ranked From Best to Worst
Mitchell’s Fake Cocaine
Democratic Presidential Debate
Yo! Where Jackie Chan at Right Now?
CFT: Not Scared
Brian Fellow’s Safari Planet
The Loveliest Kingdom
- An outstanding episode. Lots of very highly-rated sketches, with almost everything rated between 4-5 stars. It also cannot be expressed more of how good it felt to see Tracy up on stage back home, being his hilarious & lovable self, and getting the treatment he deserves. He was a fantastic host tonight, and is 2-for-2 in terms of strong episodes. Man, even his goodnights speech almost put a lump in my throat, so happy to see him back and absolutely crushing it and with the material that utilizes his comedic voice perfectly.
- The feel-good vibes stop prematurely as SNL reaches its ultimate NADIR with host DONALD. TRUMP. and there’s also the poor, poor musical guest Sia.
4 Replies to “October 17, 2015 – Tracy Morgan / Demi Lovato (S41 E3) ”
I am always fascinated in an odd way about how so many bad Anderlette pieces made it into the final show.
Not funny Tracy! Shew, that fakeout at the beginning is BALLSY, and it honestly made my wife and I tense up the night this aired. Of course, it was just Tracy being Tracy, followed by plenty of hilarious commentary on his accident. Then we get a killer 30 Rock scene in which literally every line is funny. Yet another truly classic monologue, on a par with the flawless one from Miley’s season opener. This is not only a great monologue, but a hallmark moment for fans of Tracy, who spent a long time wondering how he would come out of his accident. What a way to announce your return.
Weekend Update *****
There he is! There’s Woodrow! I had assumed they would give Tracy the ten-to-one slot to do a Woodrow, so I remember being THRILLED to see him pop up here next to distant cousin-in-spirit Willie. God, the sheer brilliance of Woodrow goes to show just why Tracy worked so well on SNL, and why his voice was so necessary during an up-and-down era. Woodrow is built so well on a mix of silliness, poignancy, and a clearly deep love for the character. Not to sound corny, but Woodrow clearly means the world to Tracy, and it comes out in every Woodrow piece he’s ever made. Between this one and Tina’s awesome, awesome Playboy commentary, this winds up the first time I’ve ranked Update as the night’s best segment
Brian Fellow’ Safari Planet ****1/2
Astronaut Jones ****1/2
No, these aren’t quite as perfect as the old iterations, when Tracy was young and fresh and wildly energetic. But these remain among SNL’s best recurring sketches two decades later. Tracy still doesn’t get enough love for all of the silly recurrers he was responsible for in his tenure, which was under-the-radar legendary. Between these and Woodrow, I’d stack up his long-term characters with just about anyone’s from the past 20 years. I will say, I could have done without Aidy’s twist in the Brian Fellow piece. The focus should be on Brian as the insane one, with everyone else playing 100% straight. Any change to that fundamentally changes the concept by making Brian look (almost) normal in comparison. Still, these are so good that that’s nitpicky. Thrilled that they brought these back, and that they did them so well.
Family Feud ****
Many view this as a sheer classic, and while I’m not willing to go quite that far, it’s a very clever and wildly enjoyable piece. The concept is hilarious, most everyone does great work, and Kenan’s Steve Harvey is at its peak here. I would rate this higher if it had a few “laugh at loud” moments – though I respect that that’s not what this sketch is going for. And I did get a good chuckle out of Tracy explaining why he cooks in his underwear.
Mitchell’s Fake Cocaine ***1/2
Here’s a Beck piece I enjoy quite a bit, even though it does carry some of those Good Neighbor flourishes that tend to annoy me. GREAT, great premise, and I love love love that we’re introduced to a second silly product to help cover for the first one. Beck does a great job “selling” both of them – I actually really dig his tone and mannerisms here, in contrast to the way he usually (in my eyes) overdoes this kind of stuff. Here he’s subtle and expressive without going Fake Frat Boy, so good on him there. Unfortunately, there’s no escaping the Good Neighbor tendency to streeeeeetch a good concept into something overlong and desperate for (more) laughs. I really could have done without the final third or so of this piece, which added nothing and ended with our obligatory Leslie Shouts!!! conclusion. As good as this one was, to me it’s a far cry from SNL’s truly elite commercials, the ones that stuck to a manageable number of gags and didn’t beg for laughs.
Yo! Where Jackie Chan At? ***1/2
Here’s a fun slice of silly I had completely forgot about. It’s not legendary, but it doesn’t have to be! You have to love Tracy’s look here, and I LOVE Kenan’s comprehensive rundown of Jackie Chan’s decades-long career: “He was in movies, and also in karate!” Honorable mention goes to “We checked with Asia – he’s not there!” The celebrity appearances are great – even Leslie, who somehow manages not to scream at the camera.
The Standoff ***1/2
Good, harmless fun. I agree with Blood that this feels like a spiritual sister to Mike O’Brien’s short films, in that it weaves between silliness and sentimentality pretty well. Like with Family Feud, I really like the concept and the execution, even if it didn’t make me laugh from my gut. Tracy and Taran (particularly Tracy) get high marks for their subtle, nuanced performances here.
Cold Open: Democratic Debate ***
Another in a long line of near-identical debate sketches. At least this one folds in a few new faces – good ones, too, like Baldwin’s killer Jim Webb. I do understand why Blood rated this one so high, as it’s fundamentally sound and features a cool quirk or two. It’s just not memorable enough for me to go beyond three stars.
CFT: I’m Not Scared **1/2
Sorry Blood, but this one just washed right over me. Blood knows how I feel about Beck and Kyle overall, and how their Good Neighbor work is VERY hit-or-miss in my eyes. Much of that comes from Beck’s tendency to overdo his level of absurdity, though that’s not the issue here. (I actually liked Beck’s super-brief interludes here.) Rather, we’re stuck watching Kyle try his best to act like an actual person, which doesn’t succeed at a great rate. It’s honestly hard to know what they’re going for here, as Kyle meanders along only to be occasionally interrupted by too much abrupt escalation. This went from slice-of-life to “she’s a murderer and I don’t care” in the blink of an eye, which is not my type of absurdist humor. I’d much rather see the absurdity from the start, then watch it build and grow to silly levels. I also don’t know what the hell to make of that tacked-on ending. Now he’s scared of going to a hippie documentary fest? That wasn’t the joke – what happened to “Kyle is scared of silly Halloween tropes”? Why are we spinning new concepts here at the end? Overall, there are good bones here, but in my eyes the concept just got Kyle’d and left us with a mess.
The Loveliest Kingdom **
This one started out decent enough, at least as a vehicle for Tracy to say dirty Tracy stuff as only Tracy can. And he does get in a handful of great one-off lines, boosting this sketching entire star. Then, of course, we have to dovetail into a bunch of hacky gay humor, and for some reason we’re stuck in the same phase of gay jokes as we were in Season 20. Shouldn’t 27 years have freshened that up a bit? I love this season overall, but sketches like this one are clear cry-outs for the brilliant gay voices of Julio Torres and Bowen Yang, who will come along shortly after this and usher in a fresh new dimension of gay humor.
“I wonder who voiced that beaver, his voice is slaying me.” Well, according to SNL Archives, the beaver’s voiced by Kenan.
Back to the review, I’m pleased that you loved this as much as Stooge. I feared for a second that you didn’t, seeing as how this isn’t really a well-known or well-liked episode by the general public. Then again: online fans > critics and general public. I’m also happy that you loved the Family Feud sketch, as I feared that you wouldn’t be as high on this as Stooge, given your feelings toward the LESLIE SHOUT! pieces. Too bad that the next episode dropped the ball.
And as always, the averages:
Cyrus – 5.5
Schumer – 6.6
Morgan – 8.2
Cold Open ****
Family Feud ****
Brian Fellow’s Safari Planet ****
Yo! Where Jackie Chan at Right Now! ****
CFT: Not Scared ***½
God bless you for the next one
Surprisingly I remember watching the episode on the NBC App during my early days of the show so every sketch will get a rating from that episode