If you had told me a week ago that not only was Charles Barkley hosting Saturday Night Live (Huh? He must have a new EA Sports videogame commercial to promote!), but that he would deliver far-and-away the best episode of the season, I would have told you to STOP PLAYING SILLY MAKE BELIEVE. But it is true! This week’s SNL was so good. Even the opening sketch and the monologue were funny, and the opening sketch and monologue haven’t been funny all year!
It didn’t have anything to do with Barkley’s performance, of course. The man bulldozed his way through the episode like a borderline-illiterate Shrek with no affect. And yet, it had everything to do with him. Because Charles Barkley is just another word for “nothing left to lose.” And since the audience has no real expectations from Charles Barkley as a performer, it allowed the rest of the cast to carry the show. Not in the way they had to carry it with January Jones, where everyone struggled to drag her (beautiful) dead weight to the finish line. They carried it in the way that a group of professional comedians who are having fun doing their jobs carry something: on their shoulders! Like champions! And it’s not as if a bulldozing borderline-illiterate Shrek with no affect and nothing left to lose isn’t funny in his own way.
By now, the Reel Quotes sketch is already a classic. “I see two people, you and Rebecca.” Classic! There has been some criticism of this sketch on-line, but a) if it ain’t broke, don’t stop doing funny variations on it, and b) burn the past. But seriously, you can already see this sketch placed dutifully in its proper place in some future TV Land hover-montage of outdated but still funny moments. 2040 takes a look back at the way we used to be.
And this week’s MacGruber arc was maybe the best MacGruber arc ever? And now I think the MacGruber movie is going to be as good as everyone has been saying it is going to be? As long as the movie is about MacGruber being a huge racist.
Admittedly, the Digital Short with Alicia Keys did not quite manage the heights of the Digital Short with Rihanna, but it is still really good, duh, and those guys always manage to slip in a really funny surprise curveball. Those guys! It’s weird that no one likes the Lonely Island guys or ever talks about how funny they are.
Even the scared straight sketch was just killing it. Killing it!
But I mean, those are all just highlights. I didn’t even mention Weekend Update’s timely and incredible American Treasure jokes or always excellent James Carville impersonation. I genuinely recommend watching the full episode if you have the time. Taken as a whole, it is a reminder of why we still watch/talk about/love this show still. 2010.
Charles Barkley, you guys! Who knew?
UPDATE: Europe! Canada! Try this! http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/