May 7, 2016 – Brie Larson / Alicia Keys (S41 E19)

Cold Opening – Church Chat

  • Dana Carvey!!! Church Chat!!! How do I not remember this cameo?!
  • Ah, I see that Dana still absolutely got it as Church Lady.
  • A good laugh from Church Lady calling Taran’s Ted Cruz Satan.
  • Man, this open is really taking me back to the whole feud between Trump & Cruz, especially how the latter was pretty much despised by the entire GOP leadership, so much so that they eventually went with Trump instead of him.
  • I’m not caring AT ALL for Taran’s Ted Cruz here, even moreso than usual, and THAT “hilarious” laugh is starting to get on my last nerves each time I hear it.
  • Ugh at Darrell’s Trump. Thankfully, there is only one more appearance by him that I have to suffer through, even though his replacement is not that much better.
  • I see that Darrell’s Trump is still stuck in 2004, which is one of my biggest gripes with it, at least the replacement captured modern-day Trump perfectly.
  • Kate is stealing the sketch with her appearance as one of Trump’s models, and I’m not going to deny how damn fine she looks here…
  • I would say that Dana is absolutely saving this cold open, with his trademark funny remarks and line deliveries, as both Trump & Cruz are doing nothing for me here.
  • Jon is stuck in his typical bit role for the billionth time this season. A sign that always means that the cast member will be fired after the season.
  • An overall pretty good cold open, and a true breath of fresh air this season, and this open was almost entirely saved by how great Dana was in it, as the writing wasn’t as strong as usual in these Church Chat sketches.

Rating: ***1/2

Monologue

  • Right out of the gate, Brie is coming off very likable and with good stage presence.
  • Interesting to have a Mother’s Day-themed monologue, instead of a full-fledged one like the terrific Reese Witherspoon monologue from last season.
  • Beck steals the monologue with his quick appearance.
  • While this monologue is pretty rushed, and unfocused in its presentation, it is still good and with enough charming moments to excuse not committing to an actual, full-fledged Mother’s Day monologue like last season.
  • Kate’s mom is coming off really fun here, and it is so charming to see how Kate is looking at her during her bit.

Rating: ***

President Barbie

  • A variation of the classic Asian American Doll commercial; this ad seems to be strangely more popular than the aforementioned classic, at least on YouTube.
  • Solid voice-over work from Cecily just like in the aforementioned classic, even though I recall getting sick of having her do a voice-over in almost every single piece that requires a voice-over work, as I do find Beck to be a superior voice-over performer than her, and possibly my favorite since Chris Parnell’s terrific work.
  • The girls in this commercial are doing a really good job questioning the product, and their increasing questioning is providing both good laughs and biting satire.
  • This commercial could’ve been slightly improved if it went a little bit darker in its presentation, and with biting critique of the political system no matter who’s on top, whether it was a male or a female president. Yet, I’m enjoying the content of this commercial as it is.
  • Solid ending to an overall pretty solid commercial, even when it didn’t reach the heights of the aforementioned work of brilliance, it is still a timely piece, with good lines and solid performances.

Rating: ****

Near-Death Experience

  • So, they had to unnecessarily make this sketch, which should’ve remained a one-and-done classic into a recurring sketch, and as we all know, it would go on to be the textbook definition of diminishing returns.
  • Yeah, not even the initial look of Kate’s character is giving me more than a mere smile, instead of the solid laugh that I got from her last time.
  • Kate’s delivery remains as sharp as ever, but the dialogue isn’t doing her any good, as it is coming off as a mere imitation of the absurdly excellent lines she was given in the original classic.
  • Overall, not too great. Although, the coming sequels will be even worse, and reach a new low in their laziness. Aside from Kate’s fantastic, emotional sendoff, this sketch should’ve remained a one-and-done classic.

Rating: **

Baby Shower

  • Wow, very rare to see the under-appreciated Sasheer get a lead role in a sketch, I couldn’t be happier to see that happen to such a talented, yet underused performer.
  • I’m enjoying the premise to this sketch, and it is a very good showcase for the female cast.
  • The whole discussion about “the cut” is a pretty promising concept for this sketch, especially with the dramatic, thriller-y turn that the sketch suddenly takes.
  • Vanessa almost steals the sketch with her great delivery about getting “the cut”.
  • Great mock-dramatic turn with Brie’s growing motherly traits, and Brie is executing this very well.
  • Love the ending with Brie finally getting “the cut”.
  • Overall, a pretty great, creative sketch, and a one that I’m surprised that I forgot about after all these years, especially for how solid it is.

Rating: ****

Musical Performance – “In Common”

  • Jesse Nathan: Nice-sounding intro, and it’s honestly not what I expected to hear from an Alicia Keys song.
  • Very cool seeing Alicia’s big piano in centerstage. It almost reminds me of, well, as Blue put it, “a UFO that’s landed on Earth”.
  • Good opening vocalizations from Alicia.
  • Surprisingly, Alicia’s vocals are softer than usual. I’m guessing she’s planning on raising them higher later on.
  • Why did they play the pretaped vocals during the chorus?
  • Not too crazy about this chorus.
  • I like Alicia’s smile during the chorus.
  • Kinda having a hard time understanding what Alicia is saying.
  • Huh, so now she’s no longer on the piano. That’s cool, but I don’t know if there’s gonna be any more piano later on, and that’s where she truly shines.
  • The bassist seems to be having fun.
  • This chorus is starting to feel like a waste of Alicia’s vocals, as she’s spending the entire portion singing in her lower range, and again, that’s not where she truly shines.
  • Okay, looks like she’s going back to the piano.
  • Never mind, that turned out to be a fakeout.
  • Ah, so now Alicia’s using her higher vocals near the end.
  • Something about this performance felt rather lackluster, but it was still decent.

Rating: ***

Weekend Update

  • Ugh at the Trump taco bowl photo, thanks SNL for bringing to me what I wanted to block out of my mind for years.
  • Great breakdown from Colin & Michael of the aforementioned Trump taco bowl photo, especially how Colin mentions that taco bowl is what Trump would call a group of Mexicans in a hot tub.
  • I love Michael’s breakdown of Trump’s office, especially the ridiculous TWO bubbleheads of Trump in the background.
  • Yet another Laura Parsons commentary from Vanessa this season.
  • Geez, is this a history book or Weekend Update? Even Laura’s commentary starts out with it being about Trump. It really makes it hard for me to enjoy these Updates as this era progresses, and it will be even tougher when I reach the Trump Fatigue phase of this era.
  • Great to see Sasheer in another Update commentary, considering how much I enjoyed her last one.
  • Why is Sasheer giggling through this commentary? It is ruining the flow of it, and drags it for me a bit.
  • Pete Davidson makes another visit to the Update desk this season.
  • An ok premise for Pete’s commentary that is fitting for Mother’s Day.
  • Holy hell, did Bieber really call Lorne “Lauren”? That is hilarious.
  • Fun involvement from Pete’s mom at the end that actually put a smile on my face and made me enjoy this ok commentary of Pete’s slightly more.

Rating: ***1/2

Game of Thrones

  • As a (former) Game of Thrones fan, this will be an interesting sketch to watch.
  • Solid Ser Davos voice from Taran, and he looks the part in this makeup & hair combo.
  • Kate is a perfect choice to play Melisandre, and it is a good thing that she’s not using that Maggie Smith voice for this character.
  • Ok, I get having characters, played by Brie & Cecily, calling out Game of Thrones’ slow scenes, but was it necessary to have them speak in modern-day way? And their increasing questioning isn’t giving me the laughs I expected.
  • The cast is really committed to the material, as this sketch, while not bad, feels a bit slow, which is ironic as it is spoofing GOT’s slow-moving scenes.
  • A weak, baffling ending.

Rating: **1/2

Quiz Whiz 2018

  • A pretty good sketch concept, and an interesting idea for a game show sketch to take place in the future.
  • Cecily is very solid as the game show host; a role that I’m actually surprised she never played as much as she could throughout her tenure.
  • Solid lines from Cecily early on, and as expected, she’s anchoring the sketch well.
  • I love the final question being asked, and how obvious it is that the answer is Ted Cruz.
  • I love Cecily’s delivery of “That’s him!”
  • Great reveal that Brie is playing Heidi Cruz, as she does bear a resemblance to her, and does look like her in this sketch.
  • Solid ending with the anthem, and Trump being called “fearless leader”, considering the cult that will surround him and his presidency from his supporters, even after he’s thankfully booted from the Oval Office.

Rating: ***1/2

Kickstarter

  • Great to see Kyle’s Chris Fitzpatrick back on SNL.
  • Oh, I absolutely love Beck’s voice and characterization here.
  • Brie is coming off excellent here, feeling just like a cast member with her performance.
  • This short is a pretty spot-on imitation of the typical edgy teen attitude. Even when I’m not getting many laughs so far, the short is pretty solid on its own.
  • Brie steals the short with her personalized rap bit towards the end, easily the biggest highlight of this short.

Rating: ***1/2

Musical Performance – “Hallelujah”

  • Jesse Nathan: Seems like this is gonna be a serious piano ballad. While I’m generally not a fan of when musical guests perform this type of song on SNL, this is what Alicia’s mostly known for.
  • Ah, I see Alicia’s using her higher register that I was hoping that we’d get to hear more of in the last performance. And thankfully, her piano is the only instrument in this song, so her vocals aren’t getting drowned out.
  • I spoke too soon about the piano being the only instrument here, as we now get the addition of cymbals and bass.
  • Despite my positive points, I’m finding myself getting kinda bored during this intro.
  • Okay, this song is starting to get a tad bit more interesting as the drums kick in.
  • I like the harmonies of the backing vocalists.
  • Alicia sounds amazing when she joins in with the backing vocalists.
  • Ooh, I’m enjoying the part with everyone clapping.
  • Alicia is killing it on the bridge, unsuprisingly.
  • Great ending.
  • That was honestly far better than I thought it would be.

Rating: **** (that last ⅓ brought my rating up a full star)

Dead Bopz

  • An interesting, fun concept to this commercial, and Beck is coming off likable and leading this piece quite well.
  • Taran’s Roy Orbison is pretty weak, and has absolutely NOTHING on John Belushi’s fantastic impression back in the original era. I’ve been noticing that Taran’s been half-assing some of his impressions as of late, like his Ted Cruz throughout the season and his Paul Ryan in the last episode.
  • Brie absolutely STEALS this entire commercial with her appearance as Lesley Gore, quite possibly the most memorable moment in this entire episode.
  • An overall fun commercial, despite some of the musical performances being not as fun as they could’ve been.

Rating: ***1/2 (the latter for Brie)

Cut For Time: Oregon Trail

  • Man, Taran’s been showing us that he got pipes in these last two seasons of his, between the opening of this sketch, and his role in The Journey sketch last season. I’m surprised that he didn’t become a big Broadway star, as he certainly got both the looks and talent for it.
  • Good voice & characterization from Kate, as usual.
  • BAH at the conceit of this sketch, with the two old-timey characters, played by Aidy and Brie, singing and acting in modern way in a total contrast to the others around them. It just reminds me of how much I hated many pieces from seasons 43 & 44 that focus more and more on humor that I can’t STAND.
  • I would say that Aidy & especially Brie are coming off well here, and bringing some energy into this stale and bland sketch, elevating it from being an outright disaster.
  • Weak ending with Kenan, even though he came off his usual lovable and funny self.

Rating: **

Segments Ranked From Best to Worst

Baby Shower

President Barbie

Quiz Whiz 2018

Church Chat

Dead Bopz

Weekend Update

Kickstarter

Monologue

Game of Thrones

Near Death Experience

CFT: Oregon Trail

Final Thoughts:-

  • Another good episode from this great season, even though not a lot stood out to me in this episode, I was greatly pleased that it barely had any flops. And even with the lowlights, they weren’t as bad as they could’ve been. Brie Larson was a also a very solid host who fit perfectly into the SNL format and stole sketches with her commitment and versatility. I’m actually very surprised that she didn’t return at least one more time after this hosting stint.

Up Next:-

  • Drake returns to commit to a double duty hosting stint for the second and final time so far.

3 Replies to “May 7, 2016 – Brie Larson / Alicia Keys (S41 E19)”

  1. “this ad (President Barbie) seems to be strangely more popular than the aforementioned classic (Asian American Doll), at least on YouTube” Yeah, there’s a reason for that. It’s because AAD is not made available to the country, whereas this sketch is easily accessible.

    “I’m surprised that he (Taran) didn’t become a big Broadway star, as he certainly got both the looks and talent for it” Well, to be fair to the guy, he did once play King George in Hamilton.

    I actually remember about a year ago, that clip of Brie as Lesley Gore went pretty viral for reasons that I don’t even know. Yeah, it’s a pretty good clip, but honestly, I fear it might be one of those times where the clip is only funny when taken out of the sketch, similar to the Sound of Music sketch from Mulaney’s S45 episode.

    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
    McCarthy – 6.6
    Hill – 5.0
    Grande – 6.3
    Dinklage – 8.3
    Crowe – 5.5
    Louis-Dreyfus – 7.5
    Larson – 6.6

  2. This one is the prototype for consistent, good-not-great S41 episodes. Yes, there’s filler they HAD to do (Kate’s rehash, Game of Thrones). But even those weren’t awful, and just about everything else works GREAT. Four really strong pieces and minimal holiday schmaltz. (Not that I dislike the more involved, Witherspoon-type Mother’s Day stuff – just a big fan of short-n-sweet efficiency as well.)

    The Cut is indeed a great 4-4.5 caliber oddball that gets forgotten too often. And I welcome any Chris Fitzpatrick I can get – I think it’s Kyle’s signature Buckwheat-type role on the show.

    But the night’s highlight had to be Brie just burning down the house with her Heidi Cruz reveal! She locked it down like a full-on comedian and brought a 3.5 sketch to 4.5 with two lines of dialogue.

    Cold Open ***
    Monologue ***
    President Barbie ***1/2
    Near-Death Experience **1/2
    Shower/The Cut ****
    Weekend Update **1/2
    Game of Thrones **
    Quiz Whiz 2018 ****1/2
    Kickstarter ****
    Dead Bopz **1/2

  3. Cold Open **
    As much as I love church chat this was not good

    Monologue ***½
    Pretty good Beck scene was hilarious

    President Barbie ***½
    Funny beginning and and always great commericial voice from Cecily

    Near Death Experience **
    Basically everything you said

    Baby Shower **½
    Ehh I see why people like this but I’ve seen this multiple times any rarely ever like it.

    Game of Thrones **
    Kenan lines was hilarious this sketch not so much

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