‘Saturday Night Live’ Review: “Christoph Waltz”
Carnival Cruise Triumph
Jason Sudeikis and Cecily Strong are cruise directors on the nightmare ship, trying to keep spirits high even though everything smells like crap. Jay Pharaoh is ship comedian Reggie Davis, who kicks things off with a Chris Rock impression before cracking because there’s “dookies on the walls.” The best gag hits when the cruise directors get a hold of a newspaper to read some of the headlines the cruise guests have missed — someone shouts “There is no God,” followed by Sudeikis reading that the pope is resigning. Hader shows up as a magician/hypnotist guy and the sketch almost loses steam (har har), but then the directors come back to announce which areas of the ship have become toilets and an animal man (Bobby Moynihan) shows up with his monkey… but no. Someone ate the monkey so he just has a monkey skeleton. And Fred Armisen does the best worst Michael Jackson impression ever. Hilarious opener and a good omen for this week.
Christop Waltz practically skips out onto the stage with tons of energy, and when he says he’s delighted to be there, I believe it. He’s the first German-speaking host in the history of the show, but wants to clarify that while Germans have no sense of humor, Austrians totally do. Waltz parades out some of the characters the writers and cast pitched, including the amazing Casual Hitler. But Waltz decides to sing a song instead, like most of the hosts do, and he’s joined by the whole cast — even Taran Killam’s Casual Hitler. It’s a cute and thankfully short opener after two weeks of pop star hosts (Justin Bieber, Adam Levine), who seemed to have endless monologues. Is ‘SNL’ out of its slump? Let’s find out!
What Have YOU Become?
Here’s a game show in which Christoph Waltz is the smarmy host, and contestants Kenan Thompson , Bill Hader, and Aidy Bryant all have to answer the very serious question, “What have you become?” Thompson has the high score on Space Invaders and is a self-employed entrepreneur, Hader has seen and paid for parking at 100 Katy Perry concerts, and Bryant has a 17 year old daughter and is bad at knitting — Bryant almost wins until she admits her daughter is a pain in the ass. Waltz brings out each of the contestants’ oldest living relatives to ask them what they’ve become, too. (Sadly, I can tell you that Hader is telling the truth — Katy Perry’s cat is named Kitty Purry.)
Waltz is fantastic at delivering the dramatic “What have you become” and even better when he breaks down and recalls his own life failures while bursting into a delightful dance. What would have been a so-so sketch is kept alive by Waltz’s great line delivery and the cast’s overall energy.
A pre-recorded commercial bit about what to do after you’re done being a pope — look, it’s hilarious to watch popes do anything that isn’t pope-ly. Carrying groceries, looking at bills, playing the guitar, et al. Waltz does a great pope impression, with an eerily stilted cadence and perfectly hunched posture. He could probably actually be a pope.
Nasim Pedrad is Tippy, a character who seems like someone Kristen Wiig might play — she’s awkward and interrupts the stories people tell to ask questions or try to guess where the story is going. The joke is in the weird stuff she asks, like, “What, like a butt plug or something?” It’s like most of Pedrad’s characters with her dorkiness and kind of nerdy, flat voice, and overall social ineptitude. The sketch gets a bit redundant pretty quickly.
I would watch the hell out of this movie. Please tell Quentin Tarantino to stop whatever it is that he’s doing or not doing and make this damn movie. Waltz is Jesus — or, Djesus — and he’s risen from the dead with a cross on his back, a samurai sword, and revenge in his heart. Taran Killam gets to do his awesome Brad Pitt impression, collecting apostles to slay Romans, ‘Basterds’-style. Things get even better when Djesus picks up a couple of guns and shoots Jay Pharaoh’s Samuel L. Jackson.
The Jamarcus Brothers
Kenan Thompson and Jay Pharaoh are the Jamarcus brothers, two smooth-talking R&B singers who make the perfect sex music, but then their dorky, white virgin brother Englebert (Waltz) shows up to add horribly uninformed lyrics like, “I’m going to listen in your butt.” Waltz’s additions are so hilarious that even Thompson starts to crack when he shouts “Heck yes!” after every line Thompson sings. Waltz is doing great so far — he’s game for everything and his energy hasn’t waned in the slightest.
Senator Marco Rubio (Killam) comes by to explain that awkward water-drinking from his senate rebuttal speech — mostly that he ate a ton of salty food, the lights were too bright, and his suit was very thick. Rubio attempts to recreate his speech, but finds his mouth getting more and more dry, and when Seth offers him some water he still awkwardly reaches around trying to find it without breaking eye contact with the camera.
Next up is Kate McKinnon as a woman who was near where the meteor crash occurred in Russia. Her stories are wacky and McKinnon really nails the accent, but she blew my mind when she started rambling about a dream house and said, “Bear with me” before clarifying that no, she’d have an actual bear with her.
Finally, Stephen A. Smith (Pharaoh) comes on to talk about the NBA, but just goes on and on about how friendly he is with all of the players. A lot of what we’re seeing tonight isn’t insanely funny, but it definitely feels like a good, classic episode of ‘SNL.’ It’s a comforting reminder that this show hasn’t lost its shine, which is exactly what we needed after the abysmal previous two episodes.
Regine is back! Fred Armisen brings a little ‘Portlandia’ flavor to ‘SNL’ with his female character — this time Regine is Christoph Waltz’s girlfriend, who is meeting all of his friends. She’s snobby and horrible, but I love her signature joke: whenever you touch her in the right places (cup her belly, put your finger in her ear canal), she makes this gloriously exaggerated O-face and contorts her body into explicit positions. Everyone in this sketch is on the verge of losing it, especially Hader and Bryant, but as soon as Regine starts talking about chicken wings all bets are off. Even Armisen can hardly speak. I know some people dislike when the cast members crack, but I think it’s great on occasion because it lets us know they’re having a great time, and it really is infectious.
Fox and Friends
Vanessa Bayer, Taran Killam, and Bobby Moynihan are the hosts of Fox and Friends, the tone deaf and idiotic political commentators of the Fox News show. Hader plays Ted Nugent, interviewed about his attendance at the State of the Union address. Everyone knows that the best part of these sketches is the corrections crawl at the end (and Moynihan’s amazingly silly lines), so enjoy these screen caps:
Cecily Strong is a court reporter whose secret admirer is a creepy Christoph Waltz, who leaves vaguely threatening letters. His letters are so nutty, with lines like “You are perfect, I am your mother ha ha ha no.” Of course his intentions are innocent, but his english is just horrible. The final sketch is typically the risky one, and as such, they’re usually my favorites because the writers get really wacky and weird. And Waltz is so perfect! Even when you can tell he’s reading the prompter, it doesn’t matter because the guy can actually act and he’s exciting to watch.