SNL Review November 4, 2017: Larry David/Miley Cyrus

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CREDIT: Kailey Fellows/NBC

My letter grades for each sketch and segment is below. My in-depth review is on NewsCult:

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-


SNL Recap February 6, 2016: Larry David/The 1975

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SNL: Larry David, The 1975, Kate McKinnon

This review was originally posted on Starpulse in February 2016.

If you want to enjoy life, it is best to keep complaining to a minimum. But if you want to put on a good comedy show, you’re going to want to have some complaints. That is why Larry David is an ideal “SNL” host, even though he is the type of guy who hates hosting anything. That tension of constantly being bothered by the things that he is best at is the stuff that dreams, and memorable television, are made of. The fact that he also looks and sounds exactly like one of the major presidential candidates is just a bonus.

A Message from Ted Cruz – The show kicks off with “SNL” showing perhaps its strongest bite yet in this election cycle, with Taran Killam pulling no punches in his portrayal of Ted Cruz as the most odious human being ever. While this is admirably fearless, it is not the freshest angle. It kind of writes itself, honestly, what with his daughter refusing to hug him and tricking voters into believing that an opponent has dropped out of the race. Framing the greatest challenge of his campaign as overcoming the handicap of “Being Ted Cruz” is a neat enough trick, making for a cold opening that is more clever than surprising. B-


SNL November 7, 2015 Recap: Donald Trump/Sia

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SNL: Sia, Kate McKinnon (CREDIT: YouTube Screenshot)

It is hard to recommend this episode. Some of it was well-written, but Trump’s presence soured just about everything.

This review was originally posted on Starpulse in November 2015.

Donald Trump might be a bigot, or he might just be shamelessly aping the rhetoric of bigots to win over their support. Which is worse? Either way, one would assume he is a terrible fit to host a comedy show that many believe has the responsibility of holding the powerful accountable. Thus, the petitions to reverse the Trump booking or calls to disrupt the episode have made for one of the most controversial episodes in decades before it has even aired. In a way, Trump’s appearance actually turning out to be a funny episode would be troublesome, because of the fear that it could legitimize a rather objectionable person. Politics (or cynically misshapen facsimile of politics) aside, Trump is also a terrible actor. That issue can be overcome with strong writing, which this episode features plenty of, but it is hard to fully embrace it when Trump’s mere presence is so hard to digest.

Democratic Candidates Forum – The latest not-really-a-debate in the 2016 election cycle is used as fodder for a not-really-a-fully-formed-sketch. While it lacks in the inspired premise department, it does allow Kate McKinnon and Larry David plenty of room to mess around with their already beloved Hillary and Bernie impressions. They both find new notes in their expected beats. This is not an all-time high, but there is plenty left worth exploring in these roles. Structurally, good on this sketch for keeping up with the gag of uncomfortable close-ups of black people. B


SNL October 17, 2015 Recap: Tracy Morgan/Demi Lovato

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SNL: Demi Lovato, Tracy Morgan, Kenan Thompson (CREDIT: YouTube Screenshot)

This review was originally posted on Starpulse in October 2015.

A little over a year after emerging from a terrible car accident that nearly killed him, Tracy Morgan called up his “co-Obi-Wan Kenobi” Lorne Michaels (whom he loves like his daddy) to let him know that he wanted to come home as soon as he got on his feet. There was legitimate concern that he would have trouble making it through the grind of the whole 90 minutes, or if he could even walk on his own. He acknowledges in his monologue that his mental capacity may not be at 100%, but the truth is, it never has been. This is perhaps the biggest and most successful comeback story in “SNL” history, as the returns of Tracy’s most beloved characters, the show really hitting its stride with its election cycle material, and gratifying trips into the bizarre make for the best episode of the season thus far.

Democratic Presidential Debate – Seven years ago, an emergent political figure bore a striking resemblance to an “SNL” cast member. Tina Fey was no longer on the show, but it still felt inevitable that she would play Sarah Palin. This cycle’s doppelganger did not promise quite the same certainty, as Bernie Sanders’ “SNL” alum twin has a much more contentious history with the show. But sometimes, you just gotta focus on the comedy, with Larry David’s excellent cameo as the Vermont senator perhaps unwittingly committing him to at least a year’s worth of guest appearances. The shoe certainly fits, as Bernie’s propensity to spout percentages and esoteric facts sounds a lot like dialogue from “Seinfeld” or “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Elsewhere, Kate McKinnon continues her superstar turn as Hillary, with her debate version relating to millenials with accuracy but also insanity. And those other guys are a mix of barely present, just happy to be there, and (Alec Baldwin-portrayed) delusional. A-