The Best and Worst of Last Night’s ‘SNL’ with Michael Keaton

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Michael Keaton hasn’t stepped foot on the Studio 8H stage since 1992, but his recent Oscars praise for Birdman compels him to join SNL audiences once more. Keaton has experience portraying a variety of comedic styles, and his timing is on point thanks to his improvisational background. His average-Joe-who-is-slightly-off appeal also gives him an edge with the late-night crowd. See how Keaton’s reunion with SNL went down last night, below.

The Best

“Michael Keaton Tribute Monologue”

Taran Killam and Bobby Moynihan want to play make-believe with Keaton, begging him to play Batman and Beetlejuice with them — in song, of course. Jay Pharoah channeling “Batdance-era” Prince seems impossible to beat — at least until we get a fun pre-recorded segment and Keaton intones, “I’m Batman” with a growl. Suddenly, I miss the innocence of the superhero genre circa 1989.

“CNN Newsroom”

CNN interprets breaking news with off-kilter animated reenactments, puppets, and performance art. The straight-lipped seriousness of it all really sells it. Bonus: you’ll be happy that you stopped watching the TV news.

“Prom Queen”

Now-absent cast member Mike O’Brien, who still has a seat at the writer’s room table, is back with another short that satirizes the teen romantic comedy-drama cliché about bets on the loser high schooler and prom. This time, a student and teacher relationship is fraught with tension. But the only person I really care about is Vanessa Bayer’s extremely sleepy wife character.

“Easter Hotline”

Sasheer Zamata’s sexy, goofy 1-900-grandma operator urges you to call MeMaw now so she can ask about those jeans she mailed you from K-mart.

“Neurotology Music Video”

This one might go over your head unless you’re fascinated by Scientology and/or watched Alex Gibney’s documentary Going Clear that recently premiered on HBO. This “Church of Neurotology” vid is a hilarious riff on the “We Stand Tall” music video that appeared in the movie. Points for the fruit flies shout-out.

“Weekend Update”

In case you still care about The Walking Dead, Pete Davidson talks getting high and the zombie TV series, with special guest Norman Reedus stopping by for a cameo as his character Daryl Dixon. Zzz. Thankfully Taran Killam’s Jebidiah Atkinson drops by to pick up the pace, talking about all the television shows he despises. “Mad Men: the most likable character on this show is cigarettes.”

“Smart Home”

SNL closes out the night with a few odd ones, including this sketch about a couple (Keaton and Cecily Strong) who preach the gospel about their “smart” inventions — a smart toaster with real human eyes and a smart couch with a built-in telescoping anal probe. The neighbors are spooked, but that doesn’t stop the duo from demonstrating how it all works. This could have gone bad real fast, but Keaton and Strong stay committed to the character in order to sell the sheer strangeness of it all.

“Easter Candy”

Keaton’s Easter-loving weirdo is the creepy uncle of Edward Norton’s Halloween-loving character (a real John Waters lookalike) from 2013 — except Keaton does it better. Keaton’s character looks and sounds like SNL favorite Stuart Smalley (Al Franken), right down to the sweater. He drinks egg salad cosmos and coughs up Peeps. It’s bizarre as can be, and Keaton delivers one-liners like the pro he is.

The Worst

“NCAA Tournament Cold Open”

Duke basketball player Jahlil Okafor can’t play in the championship game, because he has a biology test he has to study for. “College is the most important year of your life,” says coach Mike Krzyzewski. After last week’s hilarious “Rock Obama” opener, this one feels like a real snooze.

“Ad Agency”

The crew at Wallace Advertising have a few pitches they want to share and Keaton’s character’s ideas all involve boners. This sketch wanted to have that snappy, old-school, “Who’s on First?” vibe, but it’s a mess.

Musical Guest: Carly Rae Jepsen