Wednesday, December 23, 2015

SNL 41.7 Review - Ryan Gosling, Leon Bridges

Original Airdate - 12/5/15

To start the Holiday push at Saturday Night Live, they decided to give a hosting opportunity to an actor known as one of the best actors working today.  It was his first time hosting because he is not necessarily known for comedy, but he can be funny when he needs to be.  The major takeaway from this episode is Ryan Gosling also is good at recognizing when something is funny, as he broke character to laugh in almost every sketch he was in.

Cold Opening

Donald Trump has become a walking punchline.  It almost isn't funny at times to do a lot of Donald Trump jokes since it is getting to a point where you don't have to distort the truth anymore to satirize him.  This sketch was fine, but ultimately forgettable.  Their Trump sketches are so much funnier when he has other politicians to make fun of in the process.


A little known fact about Ryan Gosling is that he is Canadian.  Well, that is no longer a little known fact thanks to this monologue.  Mike Myers emerges as a fellow Canadian to make light of their heritage in glorious song.  It was pretty silly, which they were willing to claim during the song, saying it was obviously a song about Canada written by Americans.  This seemed to be the one time during the episode that Gosling was able to hold it together.

Weekend Update

One of the benefits of switching up the Weekend Update anchors last season was freeing up Cecily Strong to go back to doing her characters, which is really what she does best.  She was perfectly serviceable as an anchor, but she is much more valuable to the show overall when she isn't tied to that desk.  This week gave another example of what she is capable of.  Some of her characters I don't really care for, but this one seemed to be interesting.  It seems to be a running trend to find ways to make Colin uncomfortable, and this one definitely does that.  Next, we have the first appearance this season of Anthony Crispino, the second hand news correspondent.  This character is funny, but they always take it too far.  However, instead of taking it too far this time, Ryan Gosling appeared as the third hand news correspondent who gets his news from Anthony.  He gets the mannerisms down perfectly and makes this bit truly complete.

Best Sketch

I know the actors do everything they can to not break character during a sketch, but I love it when they do.  It tells us that the material is so funny, the actors can't even keep a straight face.  Rarely has this happened recently, but Ryan Gosling proved to be quite the giggler throughout the episode which helped others lose their cool also.  This one was the worst because it was the funniest.  There were three people abducted by aliens.  Two of them seemed to have a very stereotypical alien encounter, but one very much did not.  As Kate McKinnon describes her experiences, you start to see Gosling hide his laugh, which leads to every other actor on stage be forced to do the same thing.  It made for a truly hilarious sketch.

Worst Sketch

Most of the sketches were funny in the episode.  Picking a worst sketch is more about picking the one that seemed to just be less funny than the others (which means Ryan Gosling laughed the least in it).  This sketch about a trip back to the Hollywood star's Canadian hometown was just a little too weird to truly be funny.  He is being interviewed in a local bar in his hometown when his childhood friend comes up and tries to embarrass him.  It's slightly awkward and definitely was an attempt to show a new side to the Hollywood hunk.  These sketches usually serve their purpose, but often don't have as many laughs as others.

Dark Horse Sketch

I am going to highlight two sketches here.  The first is a traditional, late in the show sketch of Santa and his naughty elves that want to be punished.  It's goofy and wrong in many ways, but still really funny.  The second sketch was one that was played early on in the show, but it perfectly defines what a Dark Horse Sketch is.  When a couple hear that Santa is to make an appearance at the Christmas party they are attending, they lose it with excitement.  The awkward, strange, disturbing actions that follow are absolutely ridiculous and hilarious.  It is as dark that SNL comedy can get.

Watching this episode, I realized something.  The current Saturday Night Live cast is too professional.  They are so good at what they do, it can sometimes come across as mechanical.  This is what makes Weekend Update the best part of the show right now.  Colin and Michael are not afraid to laugh at the jokes because they aren't actors.  There isn't a Jimmy Fallon or Will Ferrell or Horatio Sanz or Bill Hader that lets the audience know when they think something is funny.  Nobody cracks.  However, if you look back through the years some of the all-time best SNL sketches are when people can't keep a straight face (cowbell sketch, Debbie Downer, Stefon, etc.).  This either means the show isn't as funny as it used to be, or the actors are just better at keeping their cool.  However, breaking character is something that makes the show great.  It reminds you that the show is live and anything can happen.  I didn't fully realize this connection until this episode when Ryan Gosling cracked in almost every sketch.  At times, it may have been a little much, but for the most part, everything is funnier when the actors can't help but laugh.  You could almost tell that they knew he was having a rough time so they tried to rub it in a little more.  We need more goof balls on SNL, like Will Ferrell, that are so good at making people laugh that those on stage can't even help it.  Either that, or we need someone who isn't afraid to let everyone know when they find something funny, like Jimmy Fallon.  This might truly be what is holding back the current group of "Not Ready For Primetime Players" from being immortalized with the legends of the show's past.  At least for one night, they had someone that provided the laughter on stage, and it made the episode amazing.


View the full episode here:

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