Cold Opening – A Message From Ted Cruz
- This cold open feels a bit atypical for this new SNL era, and is rather reminiscent of those very dull Jim Downey-written political addresses that we were bombarded by especially during the 05-13 SNL era. Not a good sign to start an episode with.
- Taran is a great impressionist in general, and while he never nailed Cruz’s voice for me, I thought he did a solid job in capturing Cruz’s essence, but he’s been relying way too much on goofy facial expressions and that laugh which seems quite desperate for me. He’s bringing solid energy to an otherwise dull-but-not-bad cold open though.
- A funny part with Kate as Ted Cruz’s daughter avoiding his kiss, easily the best part of this open so far.
- Overall, a dull open. Yet, I’ll bump it up by half-a-star for Taran’s energetic & committed performance.
- Ah, already we’re getting laughs from Larry’s very Larry David-esque greeting to the applauding audience.
- I love Larry’s whole self-depracting spiel about not being a host, and questioning SNL’s whole host term. Some solid lines about how not generous he is when it comes to guests in his house, the dip line in particular is very funny.
- I’m loving that this is not only a stand-up monologue by Larry, but the topic itself about how he transformed from a poor schumck to a rich prick is hilarious & very Larry David/ Curb Your Enthusiasm-esque in its humor, which is absolutely great to me, as a massive, dedicated fan of both.
- I do know that Larry David wrote for SNL in the past, but I honestly never knew he also auditioned for the show.
- Very funny subversion by Larry at the end with how he says the traditional signing off tagline for the hosts before commercial.
- Yes! One of my absolute favorite sketches in recent SNL history!
- This also happens to be the very first of the famous Mikey Day & Streeter Seidell-written “inexplicable person” sketches in this era, like the upcoming David S. Pumpkins & Boo Boo Jeffries sketches amongst others. I’ve always found this one to be my personal favorite of those, even though I love the others too, especially the classic soon-to-come Space Pants sketch.
- A huge laugh early on from Larry’s look as Kevin Roberts, as well as his line “I’m Kevin Roberts, and I’m the coolest bitch in town! Where’s the party?”
- Cecily is very solid in her role here, as well as Kenan’s straight man performance & lines.
- A hilarious random Leslie appearance, and her line about being high on bath salts is freaking priceless.
- I’m loving how more and more random & absurdist this sketch is getting, especially with Bobby’s sketch-stealing brief appearance holding a donut and his line “Have you seen my friend Kevin Roberts? Cause I got that bitch a donut!”
- A great, great ending with the revelation that Kevin Roberts is the one who created this entire simulator; Larry’s hilarious facial expression in the portrait always stuck with me since seeing this episode six years ago.
- Overall, a true SNL classic, and one of the very best sketches from this era.
Bern Your Enthusiasm
- fyodoren: Anyone who watched/watches Curb Your Enthusiasm knows just how flawlessly spot-on this whole production is. Those who never have can rest assured: it’s about as perfect as a parody can be, from the shots to the pacing to the cadence of the arguments. This is a classic SNL piece on technical merits alone.
- Most crucially, the way Larry slips so seamlessly from Bernie to the (fictional) Larry of Curb is a sight to behold. Larry’s Bernie was never as uproariously funny as Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin, but it was every bit as spot-on. And Curb is a perfect canvas for it.
- Leslie sinks her teeth into this juicy role and excels without overtly screaming. I often come off harsh regarding Leslie’s work, but she doesn’t deserve all the blame, nor even really that much of it. Leslie brought something interesting to SNL, and I always felt she deserved 3-6 minutes (like Good Neighbor got) whenever she couldn’t be worked into Update. She’s got a real understanding of funny, and she worked just fine in pre-tapes. And she’s great here in a pivotal, tone-setting role.
- But the two who steal the sketch are easy. Cecily has a blast in the Susie role, immediately cussing out Bernie/Larry over a perceived slight.
- …aaaaand right on cue, Jay comes along to STEAL. THE. GODDAMN. SHOW. as J.B. Smoove’s Leon! There are no words to lay out just how great this is! We all know J.B.’s comedic style by now, and that’s EXACTLY who Leon is, both on Curb and here. Jay has the voice and ALL the mannerisms down; he’s just about interchangeable with J.B. here. It’s uncanny and it’s HILARIOUS! Like I said, it’s stealing the scene from like six other dynamite characters in the shot. Jay was always able to do that 2-3 times a season.
- Here’s yet another great character, with Taran impressing as the late Bob Einstein’s beloved Larry Funkhouser. Just killing it from all angles here.
- In true Curb fashion comes the ironic, self-defeating twist to knock Bernie/Larry’s dick in the dirt. This parody would NOT have worked without a great Curb ending, and this one was EARNED.
- Bravo to an easy ***** sketch and a classic of the era. Really one of the best pshot-for-shot-type take-offs they’ve ever done. There’s a big difference between stuff like this, Hobbit Office, or Undercover Boss: Kylo Ren vs. a looser TV show parody like Family Feud. The latter is designed to be broad and rooted in silly hijinx, and realism doesn’t matter there at all. But these have to be SPOT-ON, both technically and in terms of tone. And I really do look at this one as the pinnacle of the format. Just a perfect fit between canvas and subject matter, perfect work by everyone, perfect piece. One of the season’s best, and one of the 25-30 best pieces of the era. That might not even be enough praise.
- Larry is so perfect in this very Larry David-esque role as a complaining passenger.
- A surprising & very random Bernie Sanders cameo, which is obviously perfect for this episode.
- Bernie is bringing great & fun energy to this sketch with him playing one of his ancestors who acts and sounds just like him.
- This sketch is one of the more charming, fun sketches where an impersonator meets the real-life person he impersonates. Bernie & Larry are both very fun & charming in their interactions here.
- A great bit toward the end with Larry’s exchange with Bernie about changing his name when he reaches America so it doesn’t sound Jewish.
Totino’s Pizza Rolls / The X-Files
- Ah, the great Totino’s trilogy continues with our second installment.
- This is also our THIRD consecutive Vanessa Bayer showcase this season alone. I remember realizing with this episode how much Vanessa’s been killing it this season, after hitting a low point with seasons 39 & 40, where she would be wasted in dull roles and barely getting any actual comedic roles outside of the Update desk. Were there some new writers that wanted to use Vanessa in their shorts starting with this season instead of Cecily & Kate? I would assume that, as the sudden increase in airtime and showcases that Vanessa got this year only points to that in my personal view.
- I’m enjoying the subtle eerie atmosphere to this commercial early on with how the guys are repeating their chant, and it does a solid job in selling the twist later on.
- A great reveal that there is nothing even airing on the TV.
- An excellent & memorable visual of the guys slowly looking at Vanessa with their black, alien-esque eyes and repeating their chant yet again.
- I absolutely love Vanessa’s terrified yet hesitant delivery of her “WHAT HAPPENED TO MY HUNGRY GUYS??!!”
Musical Performance – “The Sound”
- Blood Meridian: pretty fun & charming interaction between Larry & Bernie Sanders, especially with Bernie doing Larry’s “Pret-ty good” catchprase.
- Jesse Nathan: Fun interaction between Larry and Bernie Sanders at the start.
- Wow, the audience is very hot once Larry introduces our musical guest.
- The vocals sound like they’re isolated from the beat, and I don’t like that.
- What the hell is up with Matt Healy’s look?
- Oof, the sound engineers really fucked up, as Matt’s vocals were drowned out by those singing backup.
- Good guitar.
- Not caring for Matt’s vocals or facial expressions.
- As someone who’s listened to the studio version a lot of times, the way this song is being executed right now pales a shit-ton in comparison to that version.
- Matt’s presence is hella awkward and is pretty much ruining this performance for me. A damn shame, as I actually really love this song.
- And now his vocals are being drowned out by the women singing backup.
- Good drum fill during the third chorus.
- Geez, these vocals are pretty much a miss the more this goes on.
- Okay, seriously, how much alcohol did Matt drink before doing this? Seriously, he’s acting as if he’s drunk off his ass throughout the entire thing.
- Oof, the guitar solo during the bridge that I love was extremely off-key and doesn’t match up with the instrumental AT ALL.
- Overall, dear God, this song, while excellent in studio recording, was not ready to be performed on live television AT ALL. Not to mention how “off” Matt seemed throughout the performance. You know, it pains me to give a failing grade to a performance of a song I love, but…
Rating: **½ (the latter for the song)
- A great breakdown by Colin of the already-hilarious footage of Ben Carson missing his cue to enter the debate stage. Some really great lines sprinkled throughout here.
- I love Kate, but not even she cannot save this weird Barbie commentary for me so far, even when she’s giving it all as always. Aside from few solid line deliveries, the rest of this commentary is washing over me.
- Here comes the most famous thing that Jon ever did in his entire short-lived SNL tenure, with this “Dirty Dancing” routine that he reportedly did in his audition for the show.
- Some really great energy & physical work from Jon in his miming of the famous “The Time of My Life”, and he is really owning the stage with his presence here. I recall being really impressed by this commentary of his, despite me not knowing much about the movie itself nor the song.
- This commentary ends up being the final big role Jon will ever have on SNL as he gets fired after this season, and will be barely used after this episode (not to mention how badly he botched his entrance in a sketch during the Peter Dinklage episode). I do recall having faith that he’ll be fine after this “breakout moment” and will have a good tenure, despite me never caring for him, so it was kinda surprising that this well-received commentary did nothing to help him with airtime.
- A very random & surprising Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson cameos as their Zoolander characters. I’m very surprised that I have no memory of this commentary before rewatching this episode just now.
- Yeah, Ben & Owen are performing this well and as professionally as expected, but this commentary is barely giving me any laughs, aside from that Hillary Clinton/ Kim Jong-Un photo.
- An overall solid Update, but aside from Jon’s commentary, the other two did not work for me which will make me lower my rating for this edition of Update as a whole.
- Vanessa’s just perfect in her straight man reactions here, without making it stale nor repetitive.
- A pretty questionable premise, but Larry is one of the very few people that can make this sketch funny.
- The more and more this sketch goes on, the more I’m convinced that Larry is saving its questionable writing with his always reliable line deliveries, much like an Anderlette sketch from his next hosting stint too.
A Super Bowl Greeting From Cam Newton and Peyton Manning
- Pretty weird not to see the host in a live sketch in this era of the show.
- Some charming interactions & performance by both Kenan & Taran here that actually gives this alright sketch a bit of an old-school feel.
- Another instance of Taran doing a very exaggerated laugh much like the Cruz open, it is not working to me here, much like the cold open.
Musical Performance – “Love Me”
- Jesse Nathan: Great guitar intro, and thankfully, there are no backup singers here, so let’s just thank God that there’s no vocalists to drown Matt out.
- Nice theremin.
- Again, Matt’s behavior here is so bizarre that I have to wonder if he did any drinking before this performance.
- Matt’s vocals were pretty poorly mixed.
- I like the guitar riff throughout the song.
- Good drum work.
- The moment where Matt went “Yeah? Yeah? No” didn’t work for me.
- I like the distorted guitar during the bridge.
- Wow, the theremin is going all out as the song ends. I like that.
- Always great to see this character of Kate’s back, as it’s been a while since her last appearance.
- Man, Larry is just PERFECT for this sketch, probably the best performer to do this sketch with Kate in terms of chemistry.
- As usual, some excellent line deliveries from Kate and very strong characterization from her for this character.
- Great bit with Larry being the “before” model for ads about teeth-whitening products.
- Very funny visuals with the tiny blinds that Kenan uses to close his face.
- Great ending with Kenan wrapping the whole bar with “Crime Scene Do Not Cross” as Larry & Kate are making out.
Segments Ranked From Best to Worst
Bern Your Enthusiasm / Totino’s Pizza Rolls / The X-Files (tie)
A Super Bowl Greeting From Cam Newton and Peyton Manning
A Message From Ted Cruz
- A very strong episode overall, and near flawless in quality, with the weakest segment coming off as just average. Larry David was a hilarious & excellent host as expected, and was utilized perfectly throughout tonight’s episode, giving committed and hilarious performances and even elevating some questionable material with his always-reliable delivery. I look forward to eventually reviewing his next (and hopefully not last) hosting stint in season 43.
- I’d also like to thank the great fyodoren for his excellent (per usual) review of the classic Bern Your Enthusiasm short, and his thorough and deconstructive work is always greatly appreciated here in this blog. So, thanks yet again for ANOTHER brilliant & thorough review of yours.
- Melissa McCarthy hosts with musical guest Kanye West.
4 Replies to “February 6, 2016 – Larry David / The 1975 (S41 E12)”
That monologue sure is great, but in all honesty, I kinda prefer his second monologue, partly because it’s longer, and partly because of how hilarious the material there is. Larry got a lot of shit for making fun of concentration camps, but I don’t mind when something is controversial as long as it’s funny. Fortunately, I find his concentration camp material hilarious, and this is coming from a half-Jew.
The Kevin Roberts sketch is a classic, made even funnier when you watch the behind-the-scenes video of him struggling to read his lines without cracking up (and I know you have seen it).
Not gonna lie, the Totino’s sketch in this episode has always been my favorite of the three, but as a kid, I felt that the X-Files twist was confusing and questionable.
And finally, I should mention that this was around the time I started to distinguish cast members. Back then, I couldn’t tell Vanessa apart from Kate, Jay apart from Michael, or Aidy apart from Melissa McCarthy. The only cast member I could instantly recognize was Kenan, and that’s only because I knew about him from Good Burger.
And as always, the averages:
Cyrus – 5.5
Schumer – 6.6
Morgan – 8.2
Trump – 4.2
Banks – 8.3
McConaughey – 5.8
Gosling – 7.2
Hemsworth – 6.0
Fey and Poehler – 7.1
Driver – 7.7
Rousey – 6.5
David – 7.8
Thanks for the kind words Blood! Always fun to break down the good… and the bad, as I’ll do here in a couple of episodes, yeesh..
Always LOVED the Totino’s sketch, and Bern Your Enthusiasm is a perfect parody of both Curb Your Enthusiasm & Bernie Sanders – everyone brought their A game, and Leslie looked GREAT. Hadn’t actually seen the FBI Simulator before reading your review, so thanks for recommending it, I loved it. Larry David is just a great performer in general and he was a great host.
FBI Simulator ****
Awesome sketch and lots of funny lines CAN A BITCH GET A DONUT?!?
Bern Your Enthusiasm *****
Great parody and for no reason the non comedic line from Bobby “Was it a cough and a wipe and a shake?” always made me laugh.
Totino’s Pizza Rolls ****½
Probably my favorite of the Totino’s sketches excellent reveal and ended up being incredible.