Cold Opening – A Paid Message From The Russian Federation
- We have now officially entered the Trump presidency in SNL’s timeline, which will be an absolute torture to endure these next few seasons. Some new lows for the comedy institution will be reached during this presidency, and more and more desperate, pathetic, and deplorable attempts to stay relevant will be attempted during these next few seasons. Needless to say, almost everything revolving around this presidency during SNL’s timeline will age very poorly, to say the least.
- Good Russian accent & pronunciation by Beck, and his natural charisma is carrying this cold open with ease.
- Olya!!! Great to see her outside of the Update desk, and this sadly turns out to be her final appearance, despite Kate staying for five seasons and a half after this episode.
- Funny bit from Kate’s Olya, and her supposed “smile” is very funny.
- An overall good cold open, with a solid Beck Bennett performance, and a nice assistance from Kate.
- It feels great that I get to review another stand-up monologue so soon after reviewing Dave Chappelle’s terrific set earlier in the season.
- As expected, some hilarious observations & clever jokes from Aziz early on in his stand-up set.
- Fantastic & priceless bit about Chris Brown, which always stood out to me as amongst this monologue’s best bits.
- I’m loving Aziz’s whole bit about “lower-case KKK”, as it is such a trademark of his stand-up style, and another clever, sharp, and very funny observation from him.
- Much like the aforementioned Dave Chappelle monologue, I love the serious, slow parts that Aziz is going through in his stand-up set, and how the punchlines are always worth the wait to get to them.
- Very solid bit about what causes Islamophobia, which is, IIRC, similar to a bit that Kumail Nanjiani would do in his also-great stand-up monologue next season.
- A strong & fun stand-up set from Aziz as expected.
Beat the Bookworm
- Aziz looks hilarious here, and this feels like a role that he would easily nail.
- An interesting premise to this game show sketch, and a solid game show host performance by Mikey.
- A big laugh from Aziz’s character’s panicked yell of “Noooooo!” in reaction to the 90s Pop Culture Category.
- Solid running bit with Mikey’s game show host and his understated frustration with Vanessa’s character.
- Surprised that this sketch is wrapping up already, which should make me happy that a solid lead-off sketch like this one was written & performed concisely & to-the-point.
- Ah, this is reminding of the fantastic sketch with Dwayne Johnson, back in his outstanding season 40 episode.
- A hilarious premise to this interrogation, with it being over the then-hot new movie La La Land, and how Aziz’s character merely likes it instead of absolutely loving it.
- A big laugh from the cam footage of Aziz mildly criticizing La La Land.
- Cecily is doing a fantastic job in selling her character’s intensity, as she always excels at playing tough roles like this one.
- An absolutely hilarious reaction from Beck after Aziz’s admission that he fell asleep while watching La La Land.
- An overall excellent sketch, and one of my favorites from this entire season.
- Ah, our first of several Keyllanne Conway shorts, with Kate’s strong performance, these will be a blast for me to review.
- It is also great to see Kate being paired yet again with Beck this season, as both are the strongest performers in the cast right now, and make for an underrated duo.
- I know this is kinda weird for me to point out here, but Kate is looking even more attractive than usual in this short, I guess it has to do with the lighting of the short as well.
- Great Chicago-esque turn to this short, and Kate is nothing short of fantastic in her performance during it, with her natural charisma easily carrying the whole short with ease.
- Solid bit with Kate’s Kellyanne naming the many political shows she’s been a guest on.
- A very solid short overall, and a much better take on Kellyanne Conway than SNL’s previous, baffling take. I’m looking forward to covering the upcoming shorts that revolve around her.
Broderick & Ganz
- Jesse Nathan: I’d like to thank Blood Meridian for agreeing to let me review this hidden gem of a sketch.
- The initial sight of Bobby front and center made me groan when this first aired, since I couldn’t STAND Bobby at the time. 5 years later, I now view him as a valuable cast member who can do no wrong.
- Immediately, you can tell that these two are the wrong pair, as Kate’s toughness serves as a jarring, yet funny, contrast to Bobby’s cluelessness.
- And now the main comedy of this sketch begins, with Aziz questioning how the other people in the ad got over a million dollars, while he got only 6,000.
- The contrast between Kate and Bobby’s personas continues to be solid, as I love how Kate’s detailed explanation of her experience is immediately followed up by Bobby bluntly saying “I am also a lawyer”.
- The more the testimonials continue, the more we realize how different these two lawyers are. The fact that Sasheer, Melissa, and Pete got a huge amount of money for light injuries, while Aziz got a light amount of money for a huge injury is hilarious.
- Bobby: “You can’t touch his gun, but you can see it.” Aziz: “He DID touch his gun! And it definitely affected the case!”
- Aziz’s explanations of Ganz’s actions are a riot, and Aziz’s delivery of them makes them even funnier.
- I love how Bobby’s cluelessness is in full display during the frequent cutaways to him, mainly the moments where he fails to put a book back on the shelf and when he fails to do a convincing hands-on-hips position.
- And there’s my favorite line of this sketch: “This guy’s walking around with NO KIDNEYS?!”
- Great callback to a previous statement of Aziz’s, with Bobby’s final scene ending with him “blacking out”.
- Great, subtle implication at the end that Bobby supposedly gave Aziz his personal number instead of the number onscreen.
- An overall hidden gem, and proof that even with him struggling in his final year, Bobby’s still got it.
Musical Performance – “Bounce Back”
- Jesse Nathan: Interesting intro.
- I recognize that producer tag, but I can’t remember what song it was from.
- Not loving Big Sean’s flow. It sounds a little too sleepy for my tastes, and it needs some livening up in order for this song to truly work.
- What’s the deal with him holding out syllables during the first verse?
- Okay, Sean’s flow is getting somewhat better as the verse continues, and it’s actually what I expected from a song like this.
- Not caring much for the chorus, and the constant repetitions of “bounce back” are starting to somewhat annoy me.
- The more this goes on, the more I find myself wondering if Sean’s flow sounds a lot better on the studio recording, as the sleepy monotone in his voice isn’t very convincing for this song.
- I think the verses work a lot better than the chorus, mainly because Sean is able to spit out mad-fire raps during those parts.
- “Last I took an L”? What does that even mean?
- This “real one” part isn’t really doing much for me.
- Didn’t care for that Michelle Obama photo, and Michael’s whole bit about it is basically “sassy black woman” which is such a tired trope to me.
- I got such a big laugh from that piece of shit Nazi getting punched well into his face.
- I love Colin’s commentary/breakdown of that insane Sean Spicer video clip just now.
- Still don’t care for this running gag with Michelle Obama’s photo.
- Damn at that Lenny joke, the audience’s reaction says it all for me.
- Another Leslie Jones commentary this season, I’ve honestly lost count.
- Great that this commentary is not the typical Leslie commentary, and instead focuses on Black History Month; a promising topic for Leslie to dive into.
- Some solid lines from Leslie throughout this commentary, and she is doing a good job in making this work & not fall into clapter territory.
- I’m still not caring for the running gag with Michelle Obama’s photo.
- Ah, great to see Mikey in his first, of many to come, Update commentaries. This remote Update piece is a good change of pace from the usual Update commentaries from this era.
- A very funny premise to Mikey’s commentary, and he is both coming off likable & pulling the premise quite well.
- This is a role that Cecily always sells to perfection, which is no surprise that she was cast in for this commentary, even when I would’ve loved Melissa instead, being paired with Mikey as the two newbies in their first Update together.
- That baby bitch line is probably the biggest laugh that I’ll get from tonight’s episode. Just so random & hilarious.
- A great twist with Cecily being stolen by Michael, with a heartbroken Mikey.
- An overall great Weekend Update, and the best in a while. Aside from not caring AT ALL about the Michelle Obama running gag, there were lots of solid jokes, and I enjoyed both commentaries quite well.
- A very famous sketch from this season, and one of my favorite things that Melissa ever did on the show.
- A fun premise to this sketch, with Melissa’s character’s inappropriate & out-of-place “dirty talk” choices.
- This sketch is such a solid use of Melissa’s naturally charming & adorable personality, which we sadly barely got to see on the show throughout her tenure.
- A pretty huge laugh from Melissa’s “Do me, dad!” line, and she’s been killing it with the studio audience throughout this sketch.
- I love the whole learning disability & 6th grade running gag throughout this sketch. There are so many solid lines here for me to choose from.
- Very funny moment with Melissa showcasing her great Owen Wilson impression as a one of her “dirty talk” choices.
- Great ending. And I absolutely love how contained & very to-the-point this sketch was for me.
- Ah, Bobby’s fantastic night continues, as this is a piece of his that I’ve always loved.
- Not only a very solid premise for a short, but great execution & tone as well.
- A huge laugh from Bobby playing Indian music on the car radio, assuming that Aziz was going to like it.
- This short has some of the best usage of inner thoughts by characters in SNL’s recent history, as the inner thoughts of both Aziz & Bobby are not only funny, but also enhances the already-great material even more.
- A funny & charming turn with Aziz and Bobby bonding over Black Mirror, of all shows.
- Terrific & unexpected dark turn at the end that had me laughing so hard right now.
- Overall, ANOTHER excellent segment in tonight’s episode, and our second fantastic Bobby showcase in this episode ALONE. This episode is on a freakin roll so far with all of its killer sketches.
- A solid laugh from the reveal of the animatronics, as played by Aziz and some of our performers.
- Great robotic movements by the performers, especially Aidy & Bobby, both of which I’d never expect to pull off these robotic movements so accurately to an eerie degree.
- Very catchy song & music; Aziz’s voice in particular is so perfect for this type of a sketch.
- While this sketch has the same basic template as the classic Space Pants sketch, I’m still enjoying it and it is an overall good, fun sketch.
Musical Performance – “Sunday Morning Jetpack”
- Jesse Nathan: This piano intro is somewhat more promising than the last song.
- Still not loving Sean’s monotone rapping. I prefer him when he gets very silly, like in “Dance (A$$)” or “I Don’t Fuck With You”.
- I’m beginning to feel as though this song would work a lot more if it was done by someone like Kanye West or Chance the Rapper, as they would actually sound believable, unlike Sean, who just sounds bored.
- Decent addition of violins, but the mixing makes them sound more like synths.
- Okay, I do kinda like Sean’s rhyme scheme.
- The lyrics are actually getting better as the song goes along.
- When Sean mentions “Jhené”, I assume he’s referring to Jhené Aiko.
- Okay, the song’s gonna get more lively as soon as the drums kick in. I dig that.
- And now Sean’s singing is starting to sound a bit too similar to that of Kid Cudi.
- Boy, he sure ran out of rhymes for “inspiration” very quickly, didn’t he?
- The constant repetition of “elevation inspiration” is kinda starting to annoy me.
- I’m surprised it’s over already.
- Overall, these performances were okay at best. I feel like maybe these two songs are not really in Big Sean’s wheelhouse. Or rather, maybe not in my wheelhouse. I myself am not a fan of these types of songs.
To Sir With Love
- (*sigh*) Hoo, boy, there comes another infamous moment from this season.
- I was never a big fan of Barack Obama during & after his presidency, for several reasons that I don’t feel the need to discuss here. Yet, I didn’t hate him like some people did. I’m just not a fan of seeing SNL, a show that started subversive & anti-establishment, sucking up to and praising politicians and taking valuable airtime away from sketches & actual entertainment. I recall also not being happy when they had Senator Elizabeth Warren on, a person that I love & admire, for a few moments of laughs & jokes. Just keep politicians & bad takes away from my SNL, please.
- Look, I’m sure that this tribute is well-intended and means well, but it is PAINFUL to sit through right now, and a terrible way to end an otherwise fantastic show.
- An overall new low for SNL, and in over 40+ years on the air, that’s saying something.
Rating: N/A (non-comedic segments are not rated)
Segments Ranked From Best to Worst
Broderick & Ganz
Beat the Bookworm
A Paid Message From The Russian Federation
- A phenomenal episode, and amongst this season’s finest. Lots of highly-rated sketches throughout the night, with FOUR getting a near-perfect score from me, and are easily amongst this season’s finest pieces, and several other really solid pieces as well. This episode is also a great turnaround for this season after episodes that ranged from awful to average. And as expected, Aziz Ansari was a hilarious host who fit perfectly into the SNL format & felt just like a cast member, blending in with his committed performances throughout the night, and easily played a part in this episode’s very high-quality overall.
- Kristen Stewart makes her hosting debut with Alessia Cara.
3 Replies to “January 21, 2017 – Aziz Ansari / Big Sean (S42 E12)”
While my memory of the episode as a whole is admittedly a bit fuzzy, I am very fond of the strong segments. Hell, I’m even fond of that Pizza Place sketch a little bit. That being said, though, this episode does have plenty of strong highlights. I feel you neatly captured why those segments work so well, which is to be expected from you these days.
And as always, the averages:
Robbie – 7.7
Miranda – 6.3
Blunt – 7.1
Hanks – 8.1
Cumberbatch – 6.6
Chappelle – 8.0
Wiig – 6.5
Stone – 6.9
Cena – 6.7
Affleck – 5.2
Jones – 6.0
Ansari – 7.9
Beat the Bookworm ***
This was fine, the nooooooo from Aziz was funny and Mikey constantly telling Vanessa to not say damn, but in the end, nothing really stood out to me in this.
A premise I wouldn’t usually care for but both Beck and Cecily did fantastic in this that it ended up being a really good sketch.
Broderick and Ganz ****
Bobby continues to crack me up and surely did it in this sketch Aziz was great too in this.
Dirty Talk ****½
Melissa was hilarious in this and I enjoyed this from start to finish.
Five Stars ****
Great sketch and a great accent from Bobby, loved the ending.
Pizza Town ***½
Everyone especially Bobby did great robotic like movements, Kenan was hilarious in this too.
I haven’t seen Sir with Love but would love to know why its a controversial piece.
To Sir with Love is a controversial piece due to SNL’s sheer hypocrisy when it comes to it, as they had Armisen, who’s not black, play the nation’s first black president for four years, while slathering his face with “honeyface” to make it look darker. And when they had a black cast member fit (Jay), they had him wait two full seasons till he got the role. And not to mention that them sucking up to Obama just before leaving office contradicts both their own take on him, and also makes SNL an establishment show instead of the genre-bending, anti-establishment comedy show that it was established as.