This weekend brought Louis C.K. back to Saturday Night Live as host for a fourth time. There hadn’t been a new episode in nearly a month since Scarlett Johansson hit the stage in Studio 8H last month, so the writers and cast were refreshed and ready to go. The wait for a new episode was worth it, because with Louis C.K. on board as host, they delivered a fantastic episode where even the average sketches had more laughs than the usual middling ones and there were only two sketches that didn’t really work.
After the jump, we run through the best and worst sketches from the Louis CK hosted Saturday Night Live.
Birthday Clown – The way Louis C.K. plays this so straight is a huge part of what makes this work so well, but Bobby Moynihan does an amazing job of being on the verge of being scared and just going on with his show in this weird situation. Even though having Ernest turn out to be a weird killer is a solid ending, I was hoping it would go in an even stranger direction eventually. But despite that, the sketch was still the best of the night.
Pepsi Commercial – After all the uproar about this commercial, you knew that SNL was going to have their own take on the situation. Instead of taking the easy way out and making a new commercial in the same vein of the real tone deaf Pepsi ad starring Kendall Jenner, they followed the ad’s writer and director as he slowly realizes just how bad this commercial is going to be just before he shoots it. Finally, the sketch goes out with a bang by taking one final swipe at the clueless Kendall Jenner. Great stuff.
Soda Shop – The constant chipper 1950s tone of voice in this entire sketch makes the inappropriate advances by Louis C.K. and the manipulative, passive aggressive flirting from Cecily Strong is what brings the laughs. Even as Cecily Strong is slowly creeped out in the beginning of the sketch, her face looks uneasy, but her voice still keeps that upbeat attitude. Louis C.K. takes it to another level though when he keeps turning down the advances of Vanessa Bayer in a way that’s mean but sounds kind as ever.
Tenement Museum – With any other host, Tenement Museum may have just been an average sketch. It’s hard to know how funny the final sketch of the night really would have been if it was relying only on the jokes themselves, though the writing here is provocative and hilarious. But what really makes this sketch hilarious in this instance is Louis C.K. completely botching his Polish accent. I do wonder how much he’s intentionally leaning into making the accent bad (especially when he says “my wife” like Borat), but it doesn’t make it any less funny, especially with Kate McKinnon (who rarely breaks) unable to keep her composure. Louis C.K. even mocked himself in the goodbye at the end of the episode by doing the accent again.
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Thank You, Scott – The fact that this is a musical sketch makes the low hanging fruit of the premise work more than it would if it played out with dialogue. Even so, pointing out that posting a Facebook post and having it change the world is only mildly amusing since it’s something that’s been mocked for awhile now. The funnier parts actually come from mocking the other kind of posts that Scott makes on Facebook.
Sectionals – Since the last sketch of the night ended up being a more traditional one, this was clearly the 10-to-1 sketch. It’s Louis C.K. selling sectional couches in the weirdest way possible, but then it turns out that he’s not really selling them, he just has a warehouse full of them all for himself. It wasn’t extremely funny, but it does have some amusing moments, especially the part with Aidy Bryant wanting bigger couches.
The O’Reilly Factor with Donald Trump – Admittedly, I got excited about the prospect of seeing Alec Baldwin do a fantastic impression of Bill O’Reilly, right down to his signature smug facial expressions. And then it got even more exciting when his guest was Donald Trump. This sketch sticks it more to Bill O’Reilly than Trump, which is worth some laughs, but the trick of having Baldwin play both roles live on TV wasn’t flawless, and it messed up the timing with some of the jokes. Still, it was a solid effort, and Bill O’Reilly deserved to get taken down a couple notches.
The Lawyer – This could have easily been a 10-to-1 sketch, which is why I was so surprised to see it so early in the show. Louis C.K. is a lawyer with distracting, big eyelashes, and the entire court can’t resist them. That’s it. The sight gag of Louis C.K. with these big eyelashes is funny at first, but the sketch doesn’t really go anywhere beyond that and falls rather flat.
Trump’s People – This is one of those instances where Saturday Night Live just couldn’t mock the insanity of the Trump presidency and make it funny. Maybe it’s because it’s too soon after the attack on Syria, but the jokes in this sketch were far more depressing than funny. It’s an ongoing problem when trying to make satire out of the Trump presidency.
Continue Reading Louis CK’s SNL Review >>
This was where Saturday Night Live succeeded in lampooning Trump since the sketches featuring Alec Baldwin as the president weren’t that great. The stories from the top of Weekend Update taking aim at him and Jared Kushner were top notch, as were the non-political jokes as well. It wasn’t a remarkable edition of Weekend Update, at least until…
Cecilia Gimenez on Cristiano Ronaldo Bust – You can always rely on Kate McKinnon to be a great Weekend Update guest. Even more surprising is when SNL gets mileage out of a character that you would think could only appear once. But they’ve made great and sparing use of Cecila Gimenez, the woman who tried to fix a piece of historical art herself with laughable results. This time she offers commentary on the hideous statue of soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo, and if this was a traditional sketch, it would have been the best of the night. I absolutely lost it with the line about petting a bunny too hard until it died. Comedy gold.
It’s usually great when a seasoned comedian comes to Saturday Night Live, and with Louis C.K.’s fourth time hosting, this was no exception. With the added break for a refresh, the writers and cast came together to create a great episode, seemingly one of the best of the season. In addition to his solid performances in the sketches, he gave a hilarious monologue about animals and racism, reminding me that I need to watch his new Netflix special 2017 immediately.
Louis C.K. – This could have easily gone to Kate McKinnon, but her presence and successes during this episode were not as remarkable as Louis C.K. this time. Even though they’re in most of the sketches, it’s not always easy for the host to be the best player in the episode. But Louis C.K. was having a great time, and he made every single sketch better.
The Final Word
This was a great way for Saturday Night Live to return for the spring. Hopefully the writers and cast will come through just as strongly when Jimmy Fallon returns to his old stomping grounds as host on April 15. There might even be some other SNL veterans who come back for some of the fun, or even Fallon’s buddy Justin Timberlake. We’ll find out next weekend.