Saturday Night Live: Season 41, Episode 6 — Matthew McConaughey, Adele
Saturday Night Live is a little late to the Matthew McConaughey party. If we’re being totally honest here, The McConaissance is over. This guy is no longer the joke actor we always saw on romantic comedies. He’s a bonafide dramatic, Oscar winning mega star. There’s not a single person out there who doesn’t think this way anymore. If anything, it would have made more sense to bring him in last season. Maybe scheduling just didn’t match up, so now here we are, 14 years passed from the last time McConaughey was here, and there’s nothing lined up for him to promote. It should be a good night though. He has an unflappable cool and plenty of charisma, something that always works well.
Adele is probably the bigger news. 25 just came out and people are already fawning over it. Yeah, she’s got some of the best pipes music has ever seen. I’ve very excited to watch her performances.
McConaughey had to play a lot of weird characters last night, and each had their own varying levels of success. The best was definitely as the world’s first 3D printed human being. His incredible commitment to this performance is what made it so funny. There’s no question at all who was the fabricated man, but it’s impossible not to laugh at McConaughey saying his favorite food is “every single one of the bananas” and that he’s “cool and smooth like a sunglasses guy.” That robotic walk was something special too. A close second is Buster Little, a chef/hunter/butcher who looks like he’s from Duck Dynasty and is super high on oven cleaner. “Right Side of the Bed” is definitely entering the phase of diminished returns, but McConaughey’s dedication to his very bizarre character kept things afloat. I wonder if that was an actual turkey he shoved his hand into.
“Star Wars Auditions” was a really funny and much better version of the usual “put as many impressions as you can” into a sketch. Perhaps what made it work so well was the inclusion of the actual actors from The Force Awakens plus a few special guests like Jon Hamm, Michael Buble, and Emma Stone. I’m sure at some point we’ll have Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and maybe even JJ Abrams on their own shows, but for now, it’s amazing that we got them here. What the cast members had to do with their impressions was the best part. Taran Killam’s David Beckham “bending” poor BB-8. Bobby Moynihan’s Danny DeVito rolling around the stage. Poor, sad, George Lucas (also Moynihan) trying to get a Coke Zero with Force Persuasion. Dame Maggie Smith (Kate McKinnon) not knowing how to use a blaster rifle. It was all so good. Also, Hamm wanting to be called Hamm Solo and Stone saying she can convincingly play a half-Asian woman are pure comedy gold.
Weekend Update continued it’s massive upswing in quality. Last night was the most I’ve ever laughed at the combined efforts of Colin Jost and Michael Che. What really got me was the two anchors briefly trading off jokes that the other wrote. It was a great combination of clever writing and the legitimate chemistry we’ve seen in Season 41. Che saying that German’s can read Mein Kampf on “Mein Kindle” is only bested by Jost walking right into his own penis surgery joke. They’re far from the best Update duo ever, but they are undeniably better than last year. The correspondants were something special too. Vanessa Bayer trotted out another precocious youngster with Laura Parsons and Kenan Thompson brought back his extremely happy David Ortiz. Both performances were executed beautifully and contributed to making this one of the best Updates in a while.
Adele was the subject of some greatness too. Obviously, her performances were incredible and it’s great to see her legitimately humbled by the crowd going nuts over her. What was unexpected was “A Thanksgiving Miracle” where the only thing stopping a family from arguing is “Hello” at full blast. Watching various cast members quickly evolve into full on Adele was hilarious, and some physical comedy was thrown in too once people were moved outside into strong wind. Definitely a winner on all counts.
Lastly, the parody of Fox & Friends is nothing new, and overall was an okay opener, but I have to say that Jay Pharoah’s Ben Carson continues to impress. If we can get a sketch with Larry David’s Bernie Sanders and this Carson together, we could have something very special here.
In terms of cleverness, “Should You Chime In On This” definitely gets some points. Its message was a simple one: Unless you have knowledge or are personally connected to an issue, you should not provide your two cents on it. Yet people do that anyway and those were the contestants on this mock game show. As McConaughey’s character masterfully put it, sometimes all the justification you need to voicing your uninformed point is having a mouth. People looking for humor though won’t find it here. The entire sketch was a fairly laughless endeavor with the live audience barely responding to jokes. It was honestly the beginning of a quality drop that saw the show end on a lesser note than how it started. “Right Side of the Bed” came immediately after this, and as I already said before, it had diminished in quality.
After “Right Side” came the definite worst sketch of the night, “Town Hall Meeting.” It’s not that this bit was poorly acted or didn’t have an interesting concept behind it. It just wasn’t that funny. For whatever reason, despite McConaughey willingly going weird throughout his appearance, this final bit didn’t have him go weird enough. He’s supposed to be the resident town weirdo and you see that with his digs against people having two hands and actual shoes, but it mostly just comes off as another angry, uninformed person. Also, the references to Age of Ultron, including the very last joke, was just too random to work.`
A few cast members we sidelined last night, and the most glaring was probably Pete Davidson. It’s a given that Featured Players don’t get as much screentime as the main cast. Back in Season 39 when the cast was very overstuffed, some featured people would go weeks with a single appearance. Lately though, with much more manageable numbers, the show has always found a way to give everyone at least a few lines. Yet this time around, Davidson only appeared once, and it was told hold a picture up in the very last sketch. It’s never a good sign when a cast member appears and your first thought is, “Where have they been all night?”
This was a fairly solid night of comedy. Matthew McConaughey was a very game host and was more than willing to do whatever was asked of him, which is always good. In some cases, like his role as the 3D printed man or Buster Little, he actually made a sketch better. The rest of the show was a pretty balanced set of both good and bad, making this a slightly above average evening. Fortunately there’s nothing so outrageously terrible that it makes one forget about the truly great moments, like Adele’s performances or those amazing Star Wars auditions. If anything, it’s a good way for the show to go on a bye week. Hopefully when we return with Ryan Gosling on December 5th we can get a refreshed cast and writer’s room for our last three episodes of 2015.