Despite having a legendary performer as the host–and not just a legendary performer, but a legendary performer of late night sketch comedy–this week’s episode was about the same as every other week, which is to say that there were some pretty funny moments, and some pretty unfunny moments, and a musical guest, and a surprise celebrity cameo. Can we talk about THAT for a second? Justin Bieber, who was not scheduled to host or play music on the show, appeared in two sketches and prominently on the stage to say goodbye? Huh? It’s not actually that impressive that Saturday Night Live is friends with famous people, so it would be kind of nice if they could ground their surprise cameos in some kind of logical context for them being on the show. (And maybe it’s just me, but personally I think it’s gross when Dana Carvey makes a joke about Justin Bieber’s effect on little girl’s vaginas? Even if he is wearing a pant suit.) Anyway. The saddest part of the episode was the very first second of it, when a pre-recorded Phil Hartman ghost voice announced the Wayne’s World sketch. It kind of puts a damper on tripping down memory lane when you’re immediately reminded that half of the houses have burned down. Eek! Oh well. As Deidra Wurtz would say, that is just the way it goes and we have to move on and it’s tough for all of us but that’s just how it is ok?
So, Wayne’s World:
And also the Church Lady:
Do these old sketches hold up? I don’t know. It’s certainly hard to imagine a modern teenager watching the Church Lady sketch and finding it to be particularly compelling (much less funny). Even Justin Bieber probably couldn’t correct for that. It is true that we still have a deep divide between the flagrant indulgence of popular culture and the rigidity of religious moralists, and there is probably some good comedy there, but it doesn’t really work when it’s also steeped in nostalgia. Wayne’s World maybe fares a little better, although mostly it’s just nice to be reminded that it existed. It’s like how a decent Zwan song will remind you of a really good Smashing Pumpkins song.
You can never go home again!
In the grand tradition of that Unstoppable movie trailer parody they did a couple weeks ago, there was a parody of the trailer for The Roommate:
It’s weird that more people will see this than will see the movie it is making fun of? It seems kind of like picking on someone way smaller than you. But it was funny. At the very least it didn’t have any celebrity impersonations in it. ENOUGH WITH THE CELEBRITY IMPERSONATIONS ALL THE TIME, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE! Good grief! Is this a generationally-defining late night comedy show that follows the zeitgeist in order to remain startlingly relevant over multiple decades, or an early bird dinner theater performance at a Florida nursing home?
This was the best sketch of the night:
And this was the best fake ad of the night:
Returning to the place where you once made a name for yourself will definitely earn you a hero’s welcome, but it comes with a cost, because it’s impossible not to also be reminded of the fact that everyone’s kind of doing fine without you. And that the world has changed. When Dana Carvey created the Church Lady character, he was in his 20s. Now he’s almost her age. It just gets real weird, real fast. That’s OK. It could be worse. Ask Phil Hartman. (R.I.P.)