The Best and Worst of Last Night’s ‘SNL’ with Louis C.K.

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Between the lapses in episodes, one host who brought the series to a screeching halt (sorry, Jim Parsons), and the cast changeovers (just breathe, Colin Jost), the latter part of SNL’s 39th season has felt disjointed at best. Louis C.K. is the funny we need to cure what ails us — the first in a trio of back-to-back guests who promise to get the show back on track (with Anna Kendrick and Seth Rogen to follow). The comedian was nominated for an Emmy after his 2012 SNL appearance for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series. Will his return to Studio 8H reap another reward? Find out, below.

The Best

“HealthCare.Gov Meeting Cold Open”

It rambles on here and there, but this continuation of Obama’s recent Between Two Ferns appearance has Kate McKinnon’s hilarious Justin Bieber impression, Kyle Mooney as the Pope (or perhaps Roberto Benigni in a Pope costume), and Pharrell’s hat.

“Louis C.K. Monologue”

This is Louis C.K. doing what Louis C.K. does best — stand-up. He defines First World Hunger (“I would like a donut”) and it’s all up hill from there. When the clip is over, you’ll be asking yourself when the fourth season of his series Louie premiers (and that would be May 5).

“Black Jeopardy”

There are no black history questions on Black Jeopardy, but there are categories like “It’s Been a Minute” and “Psssh.” Back in the day, the Jeopardy sketches were a goldmine, but it’s been ages since they felt fresh. This one changes the game, with thanks due in no small part to Sasheer Zamata (who poses her answer as a question in the best way ever) and our host (C.K.’s Michael Vick line is perfect).

“Office Boss”

The absurdity of Beck Bennett’s CEO rolling around on the floor like a toddler has worn off somewhat, but we get baby vomit and cake in the face this time around, making it hard to resist. Bennett’s physical comedy is still aces.

“Cleaning Product”

Quantity is guaranteed when you use Jos. A. Bank’s cheap suits in place of paper towels. A clever little bit that gets right to the point.

“Doctor Appointment”

A dark spoof on the One to Grow On PSAs, in which everyone thinks they have a Darth Vader action figure stuck up their ass. Mike O’Brien’s doctor to the rescue! If SNL is going to resort to potty humor, then this is the type of sketch I’m ok with. At least it was unexpected.

“Cop Show”

First there was Cagney & Lacey. Then, there was Dyke & Fats — Kate McKinnon as Dutch Plains as Officer Les Dykawitz and Aidy Bryant as Velvy O’Malley as Officer Chubbina Fatzarelli. I’d watch this so hard. The sketch could have devolved into a redundant rip on 1970’s detective shows, but the kickback at C.K.’s police chief at the end elevates it.

The Worst

“Weekend Update: Stephen A. Smith”

TV personality Stephen A. Smith talks March Madness with Colin Jost, and what’s that I just fell asleep. He’s still new to the desk, but Jost’s failed impression of Seth Meyers (or whatever you’d call this delivery of his) is really dragging down the banter.

“Mr. Big Stuff”

The ladies of SNL unite for an R&B girl group-style takedown (in song, even) of Louis C.K.’s lost passerby. Halfway through, he breaks character and delivers a trademark C.K. monologue. As much as I love the comedian’s style, we’ve already seen him do his thing several times tonight. This felt like the easy way out. Perhaps I was just disappointed that this didn’t wind up being a return to the Outfield/Josie format.

“Private Eyes”

A play on the detectives with sexual tension trope that got totally weird and wasn’t very funny (apart from the pronunciation of “pineapple”). Was this ad libbed on the spot? Did Louis C.K. just say he was “good with a lot of holes?” What is happening?

“Chris for President”

When he’s on, he’s on. When Kyle Mooney is off, it seems to infuriate people. Here’s another lo-fi video short made for die-hard Mooney fans that will most likely shun everyone else. We probably all know this character, or someone like him (if you’re not a ‘90s kid), but nostalgia alone doesn’t cut it.

“Romantic Speech”

“Shhhhhhut up.” This one was intentionally all over the place, but never brought the comedy in focus for a lousy minute.