Whether you know her from Wet Hot American Summer, Pitch Perfect, or The Hunger Games, you’ve seen Elizabeth Banks a few times. So how did the starlet fare?
The misguidedly praised Pitch Perfect 2 aside, Banks is a strong comedienne, actress, and director. She appeared in promotion of The Hungry Teens: Mockingbird Chapter V, a fitting time for an SNL hosting debut. Accompanying her was electro music duo Disclosure, and accompanying them were renowned singers Lorde and Sam Smith. It made for a show packed to the brim with talent. But were the laughs there?
[This episode’s score has been updated to reflect the new scoring system.]
Air Date: 11/14/15
Host: Elizabeth Banks
Musical Gust: Disclosure
SNL Paris Opening
Nothing really needs to be said here. Thoughts still go out to victims of what happened last week.
Wow, that’s quite a dress, Miss Banks. You all know my feelings on musical monologues… and this one just wasn’t quite spiced up enough. A few good cuts and comments from Banks salvaged a few chuckles, at least.
In the wake of With Bob and David, I have Mr. Show on the brain, and this sketch echoed those comedic sensibilities — that’s as good of a compliment I can give. Excellent premise, not too long. A model sketch.
Black Jeopardy with Elizabeth Banks
While it’s hard to top Louis C.K. in the debut of this recurring sketch, Banks did a great job playing the “sort-of-college-age white girl who thinks she knows a lot about society” (we all know the type). Keenan Thompson, Jay Pharoah, and Sasheer Zamata were as on point this time around as they were before.
First Got Horny 2 U
These music videos from the SNL ladies have been hit-or-miss (and frequent), but this one was great. Props to taking the sketch where it needed to go physically, and for twisting things with Vanessa Bayer and Aidy Bryant’s crushes. And it was oddly heartwarming to see Kate McKinnon discover her sexual orientation through Hanson.
High School Theatre Show with Elizabeth Banks
If I didn’t have to assess every sketch for this feature, I would be in Leslie Jones’ place here: getting up and leaving immediately. We’ve seen it far too many times for how barely funny it is. That said, I’ll give the score I give (this one last time!) for Thompson and Bayer’s legitimately good lines.
Colin Jost and Michael Che have been on a roll these past few weeks. While they’ve told more cutting edge jokes in the past, this week’s lines were still good for a laugh. Pete Davidson’s latest appearance brings the same thoughts to mind: he’s done better, but he did just fine. And how long has it been since we saw Kyle Mooney’s Bruce Chandling? The man plays awkward, anti-humor parts better than anyone else, and his slow decent after the “cheating” joke was an actual evolution of the character. On the other hand, McKinnon’s Olya Povlatsky brought nothing new to the
table desk. A real “pretty OK to good” Update if I’ve ever seen one.
Young Ben Carson
Like the sketch said, the media’s been dog-piling pretty heavily on Dr. Carson, but this was a genuinely funny take on the surgeon’s idiosyncrasies and bizarre claims. And Keenan Thompson as Black Jesus was one of the best visual gags all night.
Brilliant twist. Perfect escalation. This was the strongest sketch of the night, and one of the funniest of the season so far. Best of all, it was quick enough that the one-note joke never felt overdone. Also Bobby Moynihan in that getup looks weirdly like my dad.
Uber for Jen
I’ve used Uber plenty of times, and I’ve never had the issues people seem to have with the service (lucky me, I guess), so it’s hard to really connect with this sketch. That said, the series of events it presents is funny no matter what your vehicle-hitching sitch, and things take an even funnier turn after the bank loan scene. Why’d you have to stop performing, Mike O’Brien!?
Whether it meant to do it or not, this sketch satirized the same college girl from the Black Jeopardy sketch pretty brilliantly. The baby snitch line was great, and Pharoah showing up with an “Uber cart” made for a great compliment to the previous sketch. A good closer.
This week’s rank isn’t so much a “grade” as it is a barometer of whether or not you should watch the episode — or parts of it, at least. For every weak link (hello, High School Theatre Show), there’s a standout (thank you, Walk-On Role). So yes, by that score, you should give episodes like this a go. You never know what could happen, especially with the likes of Matthew McConaughey hosting next week.
Tony is Laser Time’s go-to guy for current Saturday Night Live info, and he’s probably gonna change the scoring system for this feature soon. Yell at him on Twitter if you disagree.