Saturday, January 23, 2016

SNL 41.10 Review - Adam Driver, Chris Stapleton

Original Airdate - 1/16/16

Star Wars is now the highest grossing movie of all time.  It only makes sense that Saturday Night Live tries to cash in on some of that success.  They picked the perfect cast member to host their show too.  Adam Driver has been an actor known well by some and not at all by others.  Some recognized him as the boyfriend from Girls, others recognized him from minor roles in an array of random films.  I always thought of him as the weird sound effects singer from the Coens' Inside Llewyn Davis (starring fellow Star Wars actor Oscar Isaac ... he would be a great one to host too!).  Then Star Wars came out, and he is instantly recognizable by everyone.  However, one thing that you notice very quickly in this episode is that Adam Driver is really funny and, despite being known now as the epitome of evil, he is built for sketch comedy.

Cold Opening

This had to be the worst Cold Opening of the season.  Yes, there was a Republican Presidential Debate this week, and yes, SNL loves to comment on the political scene as they are very good at it.  However, the last episode before Christmas started off with a Republican Presidential Debate sketch, and this felt more like a re-run of that sketch than something fresh.  It did nothing new with the material.  They even brought back announcer Darrell Hammond to be the Donald, but even he seemed bored with it.  You can't start two shows in a row with the same sketch.  That's a rule.


Quickly, the stale Cold Opening was forgotten as the Monologue started.  From the moment he stepped on stage, it was obvious that Adam Driver belongs there.  He commanded the room in a way few hosts know how.  He made light of his military past and thwarted off Star Wars fanboys asking him to reveal secrets.  It was a pretty standard bit, but it showed enough to realize this would be a strong episode.

Weekend Update

Pete Davidson is a strange guy.  I love it when they let him go to the Update desk and rant about something on his mind.  He keeps his material much fresher than Leslie Jones does.  We also learn some things about him every time.  He definitely enjoys making light of his own situations for the sake of comedy.  This week, the topic was gun control and the potential of letting guns into mental institutions.  Pete got pretty personal about his experiences with this, but what could have been awkward remained light enough to still get some good laughs.  Next to the Update desk came Vanessa Bayer's kid reporter, which is awkwardly adorable every time.  As far as the material from Jost and Che, it was strong as usual with the exception of one part.  Naturally, Michael Che had to comment on the lack of diversity in this year's Oscar nominations.  His comments went away from racial and instead talked about how no one ever sees the movies nominated for Oscars.  As an Oscar fan, I thought this was stupid especially this year.  First off, blockbuster films that everyone sees are usually not that high of quality.  Second, if they are, they get nominated, especially this year.  Star Wars got 5 nominations, and Mad Max: Fury Road got 10 nominations including Best Picture!  How much more do you want?  Not to mention, films like The Revenant become cultural phenomenons because of the attention they get from awards shows.  Some years, this is a relevant joke to make.  This just isn't one of those years.  Okay, I'm done.

Best Sketch

Following this episode, there were two sketches everyone as talking about.  I myself didn't see them as groundbreaking in any way, but they were culturally relevant and put SNL in a public eye like few sketches have in recent memory.  Because of that, they were the best sketches of the night.  First, you have the inevitable Star Wars sketch.  If you have the star of the biggest box office film of all time, why not use him?  The way they used him was quite clever too as he became the Undercover Boss on StarKiller Base.  The premise was better than the actual sketch, but it was still pretty funny.  Another good thing about this sketch is it was the only Star Wars sketch they did.  It can be easy to overdo something like that until it isn't funny anymore, but luckily they realized Adam Driver's ability to do pretty much anything and stayed away from Star Wars the rest of the night.  The second sketch that got attention was Aladdin's magic carpet ride that didn't go quite as planned.  First, for everyone who hadn't seen Inside Llewyn Davis, there was general shock that Adam Driver could sing.  Then they begin to realize that the skies aren't as clear and pure as they wished they were.  Cecily Strong pulls off a pretty convincing Jasmine too.

Worst Sketch

This sketch angered me so much.  It started out as something that looked like it was going to be really funny.  Adam Driver was hosting a show about funny cats where he narrated what the cats were doing.  It was ridiculous, silly, and hilarious coming from such a big guy with a deep voice.  This was all this sketch needed to be.  Instead, the cast ruined it.  Kate and Cecily came out as his French counterparts and gave their French commentary on the same clips.  Something that started out as being a lot of fun slowed to a stop once they started talking.  It was dull and boring.

Dark Horse Sketch

These two clips were my favorite parts of the episode.  First, you have a sketch that had to be written by Kyle Mooney.  He has such a strange brand of comedy.  A husband/wife team win a Golden Globe and tell their kids in the acceptance speech to go to bed.  We then see the kids listen and go to bed while the parents party all night.  It is so bizarre, but so funny at the same time.  The surprise cameo at the end just adds to the whole sketch too.  The second clip is a special appearance by SNL alum Fred Armisen.  Fred comes back quite often, but this time it was to pay tribute to the late great David Bowie.  It was a very well done and touching moment.

This was one of my favorite episodes of the season.  It was a fairly consistent episode throughout (except the Cold Opening) as it showed off the many sides of a new star not many people know much about.  Adam Driver was everything a host should, and he better be asked back often.  If they keep asking Chris Hemsworth back, Adam Driver has to be on the short list too.


View the full episode here:

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