Written by Melissa Jouben and Mark Henely
Saturday Night Live – Russell Crowe (Host), Margo Price (Musical Guest)
Melissa: I’m sure you were like most of the world in thinking Russell Crowe wasn’t going to pull this off. Hopefully, you were like me in thinking that he…. Kind of did pull this off? When SNL has a host with as much dud potential as Crowe, they usually hide them behind the rest of the cast and do a song or a Q&A for the monologue. I think it was smart to instead put this very idea front and center and say “Russell Crowe is not a comedic genius, and we’re going to make sure you know that.”
Look, I know the results of this were probably pretty polarizing. If I hadn’t completely recovered from the cold I had this week, it would be easy for me to dismiss this whole episode as some bad fever dream. But I was not only blown away by how far Crowe was willing to go for the sake of the sketch, but also by how many times he mentioned or referred to vaginas in this episode. Was anybody keeping count?
Mark: I have to agree with Melissa, I thought Crowe did a good job in his role as host of SNL. Or, he at least didn’t completely embarrass himself.
Crowe goes into a category of host (along with Daniel Craig) that I like to think of as the “real actor” category. Crowe is a real actor who has an incredible ability to drop in character completely. He used that skill to really commit to every role he played and commitment is really the key to a strong sketch performance.
The fact that he used the monologue as a forum to brand himself as the “non-comedian” really helped him tonight. It gave him a fresh slate and he proved that he can deliver a funny performance with a few wigs and a strong roster of support around him. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pop up in a comedy film after a night like this.
Best Sketch: “Oprah”
Melissa: Had this episode played out differently, maybe I would have said it was “Interactive Museum Exhibit” because of the fact it received maybe the most laughs (albeit uncomfortable ones) and it set the tone for the whole episode. But then they came in at the last minute and hit us with “Oprah.” One of the last things I was expecting to see was former writer and cast member Mike O’Brien who, prior to the start of this season, announced he was not going to be involved with this season of SNL. The VERY last thing I was expecting to see was Mike O’Brien playing Oprah. Mike O’Brien has done this before with “The Jay Z Story,” but for some reason I feel like the idea of him playing Oprah sat better with the audience. Mike O’Brien continually poking fun at himself for being the meekest, whitest boy is just a joy to watch.
Mark: My favorite was “100 Days in the Jungle.” As a diehard Survivor fan who remembers when Survivor was the most popular thing to parody, it was cool to see a new Survivor sketch that was steeped in the reality of the show. Beck Bennet should get a special shout-out for some of the very Jeff Probst faces he was making during the whole thing.
Worst Sketch: “Politics Nation”
Melissa: I have to give this to “Politics Nation.” I was definitely delighted to see Al Sharpton make an appearance, and I was extra delighted to see him make some jokes at the expense of Keenan’s no-longer-very-accurate portrayal of him. But the sketch lost me because it was a little awkward, and not in the same way the rest of the sketches were awkward. It didn’t have the same charm that Russell Crowe imbued into all his weirdo characters of the evening, and instead it was just a political sketch in a sea of vagina jokes.
Speaking of vagina jokes, I was thinking about declaring “100 Days in the Jungle” the worst sketch of the episode but whenever I thought about it, I couldn’t bring myself to declare that a sketch in which Russell Crowe yells “hell yeah, player!” and eats a duck vagina could ever be a low point.
Mark: Worst sketch of the night for me was “Interactive Museum Exhibit.” It only had one punchline that was screamed over and over again. It was a sketch about how funny sexual harassment is and I was not impressed.
Melissa: I had to google Margo Price before this episode started, because I have never even heard of her before. At first it felt like she was a really strange counterpoint to everything that was going on elsewhere in the show. Honky-tonk isn’t necessarily a pallet cleanser, but I think it worked – although I imagine Margo was watching the sketches in her dressing room and saying “oh my” a lot.
Mark: Margo Price is a very pretty lady with a sweet voice that breathes fresh air into a genre of music that, I’ll be honest, I enjoy a lot. Seems like she’s pretty up-and-coming, so I’m actually excited to see more of her in the future. The little tribute to Merle Haggard was also a nice touch.