SNL Viewers Club: James Franco & Nicki Minaj

SNL, Saturday Night Live, Viewers Club, James Franco, Nicki Minaj, NBC, episode, review, Season 40, Laser Time

The freaky, geeky James Franco returned to host Saturday Night Live in promotion of The Interview.

Forgive me, as I’m going to go full film school for a second. Comedy changes. The written classics like Animal House and American Pie have fallen away to Will Ferrel/Judd Apatow improv, but it’s time for the genre to change again. Watch the trailer for The Interview and try to tell me it looks genuinely funny; try to tell me you don’t want to punch James Franco in the face. This is only a recent feeling I’ve had, but this smugness and mojo loss definitely showed in this week’s episode. End rant.

So let’s break this down. People like numbered scores, so I’ve chosen to rate every sketch at 0, 1/2, or 1 point. A sketch not worth watching at all receives a 0, a sketch that doesn’t stand out but didn’t totally flop gets a 1/2, and a sketch that does its job of entertaining and delivering a few laughs will earn 1 point. A standout sketch that goes above and beyond will receive the normal point plus 1 bonus point. Cool? Cool. Let’s talk about it!

Air Date: 12/06/14

Host: James Franco

Musical Guest: Nicki Minaj

Cold Open: Politics Nation

It’s another political opener (it’s in the name!), but Keenan Thompson’s Al Sharpton is still great. It’s one of the few one-note characters SNL hasn’t run into the ground.  1 point

Monologue

I’ve already stated my feelings on the state of comedy film, and the Rogen-Franco duo is definitely a part of that. But hey, I seriously appreciate an actual monologue over yet another musical number. 1/2 point

Peter Pan Live!

Aidy Bryant’s Tonkerbell hasn’t been seen in a while, but she’s still hilarious. Unfortunately, Franco’s horrible Walken impression brought the sketch down. 1/2 point

Star Wars Teaser

Taran Killam’s old Harrison Ford impression is gold, and the lightsaber walker gag with Franco’s retired Luke Skywalker was very well executed. I had some decent laughs throughout the whole piece. 1 point

Jingle Ballerz Special

The good: Kate McKinnon’s Beiber (still funny) and Killam’s Eminem (not seen in a while). The bad: the rest of the sketch. There was no arc and no real point, and that makes it hard to build punchlines. 1/2 point

Grow-A-Guy

It was nice to see Mike O’Brien again–I suspect the sketch was written by him. The hard left turn with the exploding friends was a good idea, but the sketch overall wasn’t impressive. 1/2 point

Magic Bridge

Cecily Strong can always get a few chuckles out of me, but this sketch was quite weak overall. And the kiss between Franco and Kyle Mooney was played for pure shock value…which means it wasn’t funny. 1/2 point

Weekend Update

While I like the idea of having a “lead story” on Update (the Kardashian “internet breaking” photo comes to mind), Colin Jost and Michael Che spent an uncomfortable amount of time ranting about the Eric Garner fiasco with little jokes. It’s a bummer when I look to the duo to save weak shows. As far as guests, recurring character Anthony Crispino is starting to lose his luster, Leslie Jone’s latest standup correspondence was just all right, and Nicki Minaj as Kim was passable (as far as jokes, not the impression itself). 1/2 point

Kid Mayor

The premise here was great, but the sketch just wasn’t very funny until the last few jokes. I blame this on the aforementioned Franco douche aura. 1/2 point

Porn Stars with James Franco and Seth Rogen

This must be the eighth time SNL has done this bit, but it’s still funny thanks to the expertly played ditziness of Strong and Vanessa Bayer. One of these days Brecky and whatsername will get those product names right… 1 point

Total: 6.5/10 points

This is two mediocre shows in a row. Hopefully the next one–hosted by Bilbo Baggins himself, Martin Freeman–will do better.

7 thoughts on “SNL Viewers Club: James Franco & Nicki Minaj

  1. Wait, who did Martin Freeman play in The Hobbit? I’m pretty sure Frodo doesn’t appear for a while (or, he appeared a while ago,) either way, he wasn’t Martin Freeman.

  2. i’d never sit through all of these episodes myself, so thanks for curating the whole thing for us. I might not comment every week, but the effort is appreciated.

  3. I think this was one of the better ones this season actually. Would like to see Taran Killam have a big game one of these episodes though – I suppose we will be due for the 18th century critic guy sometime soon.

  4. Gotta disagree this time… James Franco did a pretty great job. Weekend update was probably the best it’s been this season, Peter Pan and Star Wars were on-point parodies, Pharoah’s baby Jay-Z-sus was a hilarious surprise, and the subversiveness of Grow-A-Guy and Kid Mayor pushed the episode over the top. The only skit I didn’t really enjoy was the Magic Bridge skit, especially since this gem was cut for time:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVzCih9RnWg

  5. The Franco political ad was probably the one of the best bits this season. Definitely the best one-man bit on the show in years. Jingle Ballerz was also a purely impression-based skit, and all of the impressions in it were fantastic, more than enough to carry it.

    Also, I’m a fan of how they handled update. I don’t think it was supposed to be funny- if it made people uncomfortable, I’m glad. That’s the idea- it’s not a cool situation and they wanted to make their statement somehow. SNL will always have its political slant, but some situations don’t warrant too much joking.

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