SNL Recap December 12, 2015: Chris Hemsworth/Chance the Rapper

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SNL: Chance the Rapper, Chris Hemsworth, Bobby Moynihan

This review was originally posted on Starpulse in December 2015.

When Chris Hemsworth first hosted “SNL,” almost every sketch featured the theme “Let’s Ogle Chris Hemsworth’s Body.” Perhaps because of that prurience, the show could not wait even a year to have him back, and his physique is once again a major part of the material. He does not even bother to plug his current movie, except to obliquely reference it in a way that underscores how huge he looks even when having lost weight for a role. Elsewhere, this episode finds plenty of room to address Donald Trump’s call to ban all Muslims, driving the political material to tip-top shape.

Announcement from George W. Bush – Some time last decade, there was a Doonesbury cartoon recounting how terrible the George H.W. Bush presidency seemed at the time, but now, compared to his son, he looked prudent and reasonable. Somehow, everyone in the current Republican field is either ridiculous or feckless enough to grant W. a similarly favorable reevaluation. Will Ferrell is welcomed back with cheers partly because it is one of the best impressions in “SNL” history, but also because the guy he is playing really would be preferable to this notorious lineup. He certainly provides some perspective. As fodder for comedy, the 2016 candidates may be buffoons, but they are also depressing. None of them are so playfully silly that they could conceivably wonder what happened to all the leprechauns. B+

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SNL Recap December 5, 2015: Ryan Gosling/Leon Bridges

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SNL: Leon Bridges, Ryan Gosling, Taran Killam

This review was originally posted on Starpulse in December 2015.

Ryan Gosling is not exactly known for comedy, but lack of an established funny bone has not stopped other folks from becoming iconic “SNL” hosts. Gosling is an affable enough fellow, so it is not surprising that he might want to garner some yuks, but his trademark of soulfully staring off into the distance is not a great fit for a show that usually requires going big. Thus, he appears out of his element throughout this episode, with multiple flubs and bits of cracking up. But that only makes him even more charming. As for the show itself, it is a little more out-there than usual.

A Christmas Message from Donald and Melania Trump – The greetings to America from this bizarrely potential First Couple are a reliable enough recurring cold opening for as long the Donald’s campaign lasts. Taran Killam improves his impression by underplaying, since his the guy he’s playing is already ridiculous enough. But the real star here is Cecily Strong as his wife, whose ditzy rhetorical questions somehow make her sound sensible, at least when sitting next to the guy she’s with. C+

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SNL Recap October 3, 2015: Miley Cyrus

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SNL: Taran Killam, Miley Cyrus (CREDIT: YouTube Screenshot)

This review was originally posted on Starpulse in October 2015.

We are currently living in the Postmodern Miley Cyrus Age. A couple years ago we were in the Modern Era, with the public coming to grips over her burgeoning sexuality and appetite for controversy. Currently, her rebellion is accepted as a given, with her self-awareness tacitly acknowledged by most camps. Her rebellious streak remains, so now she is mostly rebelling against her own sensibilities. In this fashion she hosts the Season 41 premiere of “Saturday Night Live,” her third time. The new year is starting off relatively quietly, at one of its least transitional moments of the past few years. Miley proves to be something of a perfect fit, as her restlessness is the yin to the yang of the show’s peacefulness.

A Message from Donald and Melania Trump – A Donald Trump impression debuting in October 2015 is following in the wake of a whole summer’s worth of Trump-targeting comedy, as well as a generation’s worth of Trump-edy. So it goes without saying that Taran Killam’s impression has a lot to live up to. Unfortunately, in his inaugural appearance, he serves as little more than a mouthpiece for a predictable, though thorough, takedown. The zings about how he tries to pass himself off as loving women, how he is hardly a social Republican, and how his economic plan makes no sense are all there, and you’ve seen them all before if you’ve been paying attention. C

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