I liked the idea of the Cherry Battle Digital Short more than the execution.

By Gina Carbone
gina_carbone@comcast.net

“Saturday Night Live” was painful last night. I spent a good portion of it looking at my feet because I felt so bad for Gabourey Sidibe, who tried hard and gave a lot of energy, but kept stumbling over her lines and messing up her timing.

Not that she had a lot to work with. When SNL is good it’s very good and when it’s bad it’s lazy and self-indulgent, as it was last night.

Another long, dull Obama cold opening. (It’s like they know we don’t find them funny and they air them just out of spite.)

Her monologue was a peppy musical number, but it pales in comparison to Taylor Swift and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Still, that was one of her highlights.

Kristen Wiig was allowed to do more annoying voices — Suze Ormon and Judy Grimes (Just kidding! Just kidding…No, I’m not. Yes, I am. Just kidding…).

Why choose nervous Judy to bring back to Weekend Update? I’d like to see Nicholas Fehn (Fred Armisen) return to make more attempts at commenting on news stories, before cutting himself off mid-sentence.

Bill Hader once again cracked himself up as Stefon, who was supposed to give family-friendly advice to tourists on what to see in New York in the spring. Instead he talked about the hottest and most disgusting clubs in the city. That was probably the only time I laughed out loud, and partially because Hader always has so much trouble keeping a straight face.

Seth Meyers is the head writer on the show and you’d think he’d spend a little more time focusing on the writing for the hosts and not his own solo Weekend Update endeavours.

Instead, he brought out one of his writer friends to give a spoken-word essay on how he’d like to buy Girl Scout cookies all year round. Well, yeah, me too. And I’d also like to have pumpkin muffins from Dunkin Donuts year round. And Shamrock Shakes from McDonalds. (Shut up, they’re good!) And Cadbury Mini Eggs beyond Easter. It was classic Seinfeldian “you ever wonder…” stuff that came off as filler for a weak night.

I love Will Forte as creepy white supremacist Hamilton and his love story with Gabourey at the end of the night was a half-decent sketch. But it can’t touch anything from, say, host Blake Lively’s hosting gig and Blake’s night was only really notable for that Blessed From Above potato chip skit.

Last week Ryan Phillippe also performed on a weak show and I didn’t write anything about it because I was too busy trying to figure out how his voice had dropped. “Cruel Intentions” was on the other night and his voice is about an octave higher there. He has (supposedly) already gone through puberty, so … does working out a lot do that? Or taking steroids? Or just working hard to sound manly? I’m curious.

Either way, I can’t think of anything from his skit last week that I loved, but he also gave it his all. More bad writing.

He wasn’t quite up to January Jones‘ high standard of Worst Host Ever, but Gabourey fell into the same traps of obvious nervousness, line flubbing and bad timing. She’s not naturally funny in a live forum, which does not mean she’s not funny in real life. SNL producers (Lorne!) need to do a better job of distinguishing the difference.

I’m going to post the entire list of hosts from season 35, in order of my preference. For now, I am giving Gabourey a slight lead over January, but I may change my mind tomorrow.

Don’t forget: SNL is a repeat next week, then BETTY WHITE! They will not let her fail, so look for all the best material to have been saved for her. I hope that’s what they do, anyway. My God, can you imagine if they screw up Betty’s night?

SEASON 35

This list was just copied wholesale from Wikipedia and re-ordered, so that’s why it has dates and crap at the end. I don’t feel like deleting any of it.

Keep in mind, some of these are ranked higher than others because of non-host stuff — like the digital short, inclusion of a particularly good skit or (rarely) the musical guest.

1. January 30, 2010 Jon Hamm/Michael Bublé (35.13, live)

2. November 7, 2009 Taylor Swift (35.5 live)

3. October 3, 2009 Ryan Reynolds/Lady Gaga (35.2, live)

4. October 17, 2009 Gerard Butler/Shakira (35.4, live)

5. March 6, 2010 Zach Galifianakis/Vampire Weekend (35.16, live)

6. November 21, 2009 Joseph Gordon-Levitt/Dave Matthews Band (35.7, live)

7. December 5, 2009 Blake Lively/Rihanna (35.8, live)

8. April 10, 2010 Tina Fey/Justin Bieber (35.18, live)

9. January 16, 2010 Sigourney Weaver/The Ting Tings (35.12, live)

10. December 19, 2009 James Franco/Muse (35.10, live)

11. October 10, 2009 Drew Barrymore/Regina Spektor (35.3, live)

12. March 13, 2010 Jude Law/Pearl Jam (35.17, live)

13. September 26, 2009 Megan Fox/U2 (35.1, live)

14. December 12, 2009 Taylor Lautner/Bon Jovi (35.9, live)

15. January 9, 2010 Charles Barkley/Alicia Keys (35.11, live)

16. February 6, 2010 Ashton Kutcher/Them Crooked Vultures (35.14, live)

17. February 27, 2010 Jennifer Lopez (35.15, live)

18. April 17, 2010 Ryan Phillippe/Ke$ha (35.19, live)

19. April 24, 2010 Gabourey Sidibe/MGMT (35.20, live)

20. November 14, 2009 January Jones/The Black Eyed Peas (35.6, live)

***
Coming soon: May 8, 2010 Betty White/Jay-Z (35.21, live)

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