SNL’s 40th season is three episodes deep, and this week we were treated to host Bill Hader and musical guest Hozier. So that’s a legendary cast member and a singer-songwriter you’ve probably never heard of. How did they fare?
The usual SNL airing pattern is three shows and a two week break. Leading us into the first break of the season is Bill Hader, one of the greatest cast members SNL has ever had (seriously, when is that “Best of” coming out?). Then there’s Hozier. Yeah, I’d never heard of him either, but the dude’s music has such a nice vibe.
So how does this work? 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: 10/11/14
Host: Bill Hader
Musical Guest: Hozier
Cold Open: Kim Jong-un
I do love Bobby Moynihan, even though he’s basically the white Keenan Thompson. That said, both have a habit of hamming it up in a sketch with little substance–this was a prime example. 1/2 point
During Hader’s time on SNL, his female counterpart was Kristen Wiig. The duo tore through the show, bringing huge laughs every week–sometimes even the only ones to do so. So why, SNL crew, would you force these two powerhouses into a 10% funny musical number? Hader’s speech beforehand was funny on its own! 1/2 point
Herb Welch: Virginity Pledge Drive
If you haven’t seen the video this sketch is based on, do yourself a favor. Then go back and watch the other times Bill Hader has done the same sketch. Is it funny? Always, even though I wouldn’t call it the best of the night. Hader’s less-than-best is still better than most though. 1 point
It’s young adult season, and SNL has taken that trite garbage to task for the second week in a row. This sketch proved two things. One, Pete Davidson can hold his own as a lead. Two, Bill Hader sells any character. Whatever that Maleficent/Hunger Games/Snowpiercer hybrid was, it was hilarious. 1 point
Hollywood Game Night
Did you know this is a real game show? Me neither. But the sketch worked, coming across as an update to the classic Celebrity Jeopardy. SNL’s impression-offs usually work well, and this was no exception. Cecily Strong’s Sophia Vergara is a standout. 1 point
I’m likely in the minority here, but something about this sketch made me extremely uncomfortable. It was clearly a Leslie Jones standup bit turned into a sketch, so that’s a plus I guess. 0 points
Jan Hooks Tribute
No score to be given here, as comedy wasn’t the point. This was a wonderful, heart string-tugging clip–it didn’t help that the departed Phil Hartman starred opposite Hooks. N/A
Once again, Colin Jost and Michael Che made some solid jokes. One more week, and I think they’ll have it. Pete Davidson did some more standup, and though it wasn’t as good as his debut, it was certainly entertaining. And yes, we saw the (predictable) return of Stefan, possibly Weekend Update’s greatest character of all time. 1 point + bonus point
Like Herb Welch, this sketch has been done before (though hosting duty is the right time for SNL players to revisit their classics). Once again, Hader’s wartime puppet took the sketch from lighthearted to quite dark–exactly what the show earned its early reputation for–and the new flashback took the sketch in a new direction. Well done. 1 point
Inside SoCal 2
Another returning sketch, this one from the Good Neighbor crew. Pete Davidson made a good addition to the Southern Californian doofuses, and Hader’s art review was hilarious. 1 point
Two weeks in a row, the closing sketch has gone places I didn’t expect. Well done making the “five to one” sketch worth it, guys. 1 point
Total: 9/10 possible points
With the show now in its two week break, we have a little more time before another episode. Hader and company made this one a good sendoff. This season’s off to a decent start.
Bonus: Coal Miners
This sketch was cut for time, but it’s so worth a watch. Check it out!