CREDIT: Kailey Fellows/NBC

This review was originally posted on News Cult in November 2017.

Love It

Ad Council Awards – Anybody can be offensive, but it takes talent to be truly creative with your offensiveness. At first, Larry David’s legendary adman seems like just your run-of-the-mill “things were different back then!” dude with his deployment of “No way. That’s gay” as his version of “Just say no.” But then he flips the script with his take on the disabled and also pulls a most disturbing rabbit out of his hat of tricks when dramatizing alcohol-fueled bad decisions.Tres magnfique.

Beers – Kyle and Beck are profoundly astute when they ramp up the surrealism in their takedowns of ’80s/’90s sitcoms. I worry, though, that they might hit diminishing returns at some point, but that concern may be absolutely unnecessary, as Larry David adds a very different supporting voice than Andrew Garfield, Chris Pratt, and Ryan Gosling. Plus, the dog licking ice cream and dinosaur on the White House lawn interstitials make it clear that this material is endless. But then the coup de grâce of that stabbing – hoo boy, let’s not sleep on these talents.

Heidi Gardner has her first big breakthrough as Angel, Every Boxer’s Girlfriend From Every Boxing Movie Ever. This at first seems like it is going to be a classic case of an Update guest ignoring her prompt, but then she ingeniously incorporates the news into the typical cinematic pugilist framework (“Snoopy, you’re 60 years old!”)…Maybe you need to be a frequenter of New York’s LGBTQ scene (or at least watch RuPaul’s Drag Race) to understand Larry David’s New Wife, but I firmly believe that Cecily Strong’s nonsense-spouting 18-or-55-year-old socialite (?) has wormed her way into all our hearts.

Keep It

Larry David’s Monologue – I always appreciate it when a host just comes out and delivers stand-up comedy, especially when they’ve got the goods. Larry David certainly has the goods. This is not his most uproarious material. In fact, instead, it may be his edgiest. He often skirts around the edges of good and bad taste, and I’m sure for some focusing on Harvey Weinstein’s Jewishness crossed that line. But I think it is on brand just enough to make a point.

The Paul Manafort cold open is yet another fairly straightforward rundown of the latest shenanigans in the Trump administration, but I appreciate that this time it tells a bit of a story…I enjoy that Larry David’s Bernie Sanders shows up in The Price is Right Celebrity Edition; it’s a clever utilization of his stinginess, but for the most part, this is a sweaty impression showcase without enough room to breathe…Sarah Huckabee Sanders gets to be Demi Lovato instead of focusing on her White House Press Conference, and it is mostly disposable, until the fantasy starts bleeding into the real world and things get weird…The Baby Step deserves to be remembered most for asking Kenan Thompson how many seasons he needs to be on the show before he no longer has to wear a diaper…Michael and Colin just come out and say what they’re thinking: the former explains he is allowed to say a joke because he’s … racist, and the latter makes a key presidential analogy…The accidental criminal confessions from Eric and Donald Trump, Jr. are pretty much a public service…Leslie Jones is joined by some freshly minted World Series winners because whatever, but it is kind of worth it to hear her describe George Springer as a “goofy mattress salesman”…Fresh Takes leaves me hungry for more sketches detailing the Lincoln High School ecosystem.

Leave It
Avoidance of any disasters keeps the Leave It category empty this week.

Larry David
Rule of thumb: once you get Larry David to start cracking up in the middle of a sketch, you’ve got a winner. Also, it’s a good idea to have him throw furniture. More Larry David breaking chairs, please. But the thing about him breaking (his composure) is that it does not come across as unprofessional. For a guy noted for his complaining, he really commits to all his roles, no matter how ridiculous. When he completely loses it, I don’t think it’s because he doesn’t want to keep a straight face. It’s because the material is that good.

Miley Cyrus
On a scale of kookiness, Miley has left her twerking and Dead Petz phases behind, and she doesn’t even mention them. You’d think she’s just been a normal country-influenced pop star all along! Anyway, she really shows off her pipes on “Bad Mood,” but both that number and “I Would Die for You” are a little lacking in personality for such a goofball.

I’ll be back next week to let you know what I’m loving, keeping, and leaving from host Tiffany Haddish and musical guest Taylor Swift!

Letter Grades:
Paul Manafort – B
Larry David’s Monologue – B
The Price is Right Celebrity Edition – B-
White House Press Conference – C+
Ad Council Awards – B+
The Baby Step – C+
Miley Cyrus performs “Bad Mood” – B

Weekend Update
The Jokes – B
Eric and Donald Trump, Jr. – B
Angel, Every Boxer’s Girlfriend From Every Boxing Movie Ever – B+
Leslie Jones – B-

Fresh Takes – B
New Wife – B+
Miley Cyrus performs “I Would Die for You” – B-
Beers (BEST OF THE NIGHT) – A