Kevin Hart, the most energetic comedian out there, returns to host SNL for a second time. Get on up, for the second half of the season!
Say what you will about his standup, but of all the comedians I’ve seen, Hart is a fountain of energy, committing to every bit no matter how the audience feels. As readers of this column know, the host can make or break an episode: this week, Hart made it. And then there’s Sia on the musical side of things. If you’re not familiar, she shot a video of a kid doing an amazing dance, then another of Shia LaBeouf being creepy.
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: 1/17/15
Host: Kevin Hart
Musical Guest: Sia
MLK Cold Open
Is it fair to call the show out for another political opener when the politics are historical? Either way, I appreciate the subversion of Martin Luther King, Jr. critiquing current social “progress.” Unfortunately, the sketch was brought down a bit by Keenan Thompson’s typical “impression.” 1/2 point
Much like Chris Rock’s hosting gig a few months back, this sounded like Hart trying out new material. That’s not a bad thing, though — the man is funny. And thank you, SNL, for letting a comedian do his thing instead of writing up uninspired Q&A or a big band tune. 1 point
Calvin Klein Ads
While Justin Bieber’s real world ads were certainly making headlines, this sketch did little to avoid the same levels of obnoxiousness. We get it, the kid’s a wimp. Nothing special here. 1/2 point
Why’d You Post That
Yep, people on social media suck. We’ve all seen the unexplained Instagram pictures or banal Facebook statuses. This was a good take on the whole thing. 1 point
Bushwick, Brooklyn 2015
Most SNL sketches don’t require a ton of prior knowledge, but in this case, it’s important to know that “Bushwick is a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood in Brooklyn.” (Thanks, Wikipedia!) Still, the cutaways were pretty funny. 1 point
Get On Up
This was hands down my favorite sketch of the night, but it’s hard to put my finger on why. Maybe it’s the brief, repeating guitar chord. Maybe it’s the look on the horn section’s faces. Maybe it’s the idea of this conversation actually happening in the middle of a concert. All I can say for sure is that it had me laughing the whole time. Great James Brown from Hart too. 1 point + bonus point
Soap Opera Reunion
And immediately after my favorite sketch was this slightly confusing one. Hart’s “limited English” was funny, but I feel like I missed the point. The “dumpy” music just didn’t do it for me, I guess. 1/2 point
It’s always tough to get back in stride after a break, but Colin Jost and Michael Che still delivered some good jokes. Kate McKinnon’s Mrs. Santini got a few chuckles out of me, as it’s a pretty accurate portrayal of every landlady I’ve ever had. 1 point
This pattern of awful post-Update sketches has to stop. This one had really slow start (and went too long), with very little payoff from Hart’s predictable punch lines. It couldn’t even be saved by fan favorite Leslie Jones. 0 points
I feel like we haven’t seen a “Jay Pharoah impression” sketch in a while. And though his Kevin Hart wasn’t perfect, the mannerisms and cadence were on point. A bummer the ending was so weak, but at least the sketch stayed entertaining and energetic. 1 point
They change it a little bit every time, but the “revealing inner secrets during a song” bit has been done to death on SNL. This one went on too long, but Kevin’s energy and a few decent lines managed to save it from being a total bomb. 1/2 point
Total: 9/11 possible points
A few missteps couldn’t stop this from being a solid episode. Kevin Hart made most of the sketches and even saved a few. For the first post-break episode, I’m very satisfied. Let’s see how the second half of the season goes.