The Best and Worst of Last Night’s ‘SNL’ with Paul Rudd

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Last night was Paul Rudd’s third time hosting SNL, and the Anchorman actor was ready to nail it — with reinforcements. The episode didn’t work to play to Rudd’s comedic talents as much as it showcased a number of past cast members (and a former head writer), leaving us to wonder how several of SNL’s 16 current players (most ridiculously underused) spend their time during moments like these. It was a safe episode, with a few passable funnies — all featured, below.

The Best

“Sound of Music Cold Open”

I find it hard to file a sketch featuring Kristen Wiig under “the worst” of the evening, but I do wish SNL would have mined the hokeyness of The Sound of Music instead of relying on Wiig’s Dooneese character. Still, I did miss those plastic baby hands something fierce.

“Paul Rudd Monologue”

Three fellow Anchorman-ers and former SNL-er (one who helped voice the “Ambiguously Gay Duo”) show up to assist Paul Rudd with his opening monologue and a rendition of “Afternoon Delight” with guest band One Direction. You saw this coming when they announced Rudd was hosting, but it’s still fun.

“One Direction Concert Line”

Paul Rudd plays Dan Charles — One Direction’s number one fan who isn’t above ripping on preteens during an impromptu round of trivia while waiting in the concert line. It’s a pre-recorded segment, but the girls’ bemused reactions appear genuine as Rudd awkwardly swoons over the band.

“Weekend Update: Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy & Jebidiah Atkinson Reviews”

Sorry, I’m a little tired of Jacob even though I realize this is one of the few characters audiences have really bonded with. Bayer seems to be having a day, as they say, and things get sentimental when Jacob tells Seth he’ll miss him. Was this Jacob’s last appearance at the “Weekend Udpate” desk? We’ll find out soon enough when the crew bids Seth farewell in a few weeks. Cecily and Seth welcome back 1860’s newspaper critic Jebidiah Atkinson, who goes “full bitch” on A Charlie Brown Christmas and other beloved holiday movies. It didn’t take long for SNL to bring Taran Killam’s character back, and Jebidiah offers a self-aware wink when he states, “Run things into the ground much?”

“Michelangelo Unveils David”

The SNL writers have exhausted their horrible jokes about vaginas and women, so they’ve moved back to men and penises for a while with this sketch about Michelangelo’s David. He apparently has a small weenie. Sigh. I do, however, think the banter and energy between cast members was enjoyable, so there’s that. And don’t worry, the War on Terror on Vaginas will return next week.

“Memories”

Cecily Strong’s neglected woman waxes nostalgic about the great lovers of her past who pay a visit via her imagination. To her dismay, Victor from the airport Papa Johns shows up to remind her of their bathroom boinkfest after seducing her with a round of free garlic knots. It’s nice to see Strong out from behind the “Weekend Update” desk, reminding us she can do more than grin and read a teleprompter. Those who have doubts she can carry “Weekend Update” after Seth’s departure might feel somewhat reassured after watching this one.

“Bill Brasky”

SNL from another era, written by Anchorman director and former SNL head writer Adam McKay.

The Worst

“Politics Nation”

Rudd didn’t even need to show up for this turkey, which relentlessly makes fun of Al Sharpton in the unfunniest ways possible.

“White Christmas”

Yes, Tyler Perry’s movies are terrible and reminding the world of that fact is a public service, but this thing felt uncomfortable — especially considering the racial problems of the show. Paul Rudd does look like he’s auditioning for a Mrs. Doubtfire remake, which is somewhat grin-worthy.

“Santa Meeting”

“Santa lost 150 pounds, and with it, his sense of humor. Next!” — Jebidiah Atkinson

And finally, NBC won’t release a video of the dancing divorced couple played by Rudd and Vanessa Bayer who meet with their lawyers to settle on an agreement, but wind up shaking their thang to Fleetwood Mac’s “I Don’t Want to Know” over and over again. It felt like SNL was trying to revive the magic of last episode’s use of The Outfield’s “Your Love,” but it just didn’t cut it this time around.