It seemed a little too quiet heading into Seth Rogen's third chance to host Saturday Night Live, but no matter, because Rogen delivered one of the best episodes in recent memory.
For some reason, Seth Rogen was almost an afterthought in the wake of Louis C.K. and Anna Kendrick hosting the last two weeks. But Rogen is a big enough movie star that he shouldn't need help from anyone — PR people, bloggers, or the wider Internet — to host a sketch comedy television show. But, you know, help from your friends never hurts either, especially when your friends are James Franco, Zooey Deschanel and Taylor Swift.
Everyone is making fun of themselves here: Rogen jokes his status as a second-fiddle/pothead, Franco plays off his prodigious creep factor, Zooey comes with her trusty ukelele, and of course Taylor Swift manifests any time a boy shows emotion. (Which isn't necessarily true, because I've been crying in my living room for the last half hour. What gives, girl?) Franco and Rogen are pals, they're both in New York Franco's performing in Of Mice and Men on Broadway, and Franco had that weird maybe-performance-art/Palo-Alto-publicity thing where he maybe-really tried to bang a 17-year-old through Instagram. The unending possibility of jokes! Swift's
boyfriend close friend hostage, singer Ed Sheeran, was this week's musical guest. The only cameo that's not easily explained is Zooey. Not unwelcome! Just unexpected, that's all.
Of course, Franco would pop up again later on, when we finally learned the origin story for one of Hollywood's most annoying people.
Mike O'Brien's monsters sketch was about friendship, loyalty and acceptance. My emotional response was probably a little too strong for a sketch that involved a large green man. Watching this makes everything James Franco has ever done make sense.
Despite what Rogen says in his monologue, weed was only mentioned once last night, in the evening's second-to-last sketch. Not everyone in these parts is a fan of Kyle Mooney's weirdness-for-weirdness'-sake routine (Joe's reaction), but at least he didn't use the same voice this week.
The 12:50 sketch was a delightfully weird, twisted tale of two brothers getting out of the sperm bank business to open a TCBY. But before they can start hawking delicious frozen yogurt, they have to get rid of all this damn sperm. What better way to rid yourself of all that sperm than to hold an all-you-can-carry sale. Aidy Bryant knows a deal when she sees one.
If you have gone to the doctor's office or a gym in the last three weeks, you know CNN has relentlessly and fruitlessly pursued that damn missing plane, offering update after breaking update of nothingness. In reality, the story is grave: more than 200 people died. But this an excellent way to joke about CNN's craven coverage:
It seems like we've all had babies since CNN started looking for the plane. —C.S.
When Seth Meyers left, we didn't know what would happen with Weekend Update's rogues gallery of characters who exclusively worked with him. Bar Mitzvah Boy Jacob's ties to Seth were particularly strong: he knew Seth well enough to come on Weekend Update because his father was Seth's podiatrist. Seth moved on, and I thought one of my favorite recurring bits had moved on too. So I jumped off my couch last night when I saw Vanessa Bayer slide onto the Update set to explain Passover. What made me even happier was the progress Jacob's character made.
After Jacob gave Cecily a free pack of odor-eaters from his "always looking for new clients" dad, Cecily started to try and crack Jacob immediately. Seth could never get through to him, but Cecily maybe holds some advantages Seth didn't. Jacob is just entering puberty, but he's resilient enough to resist Cecily, at first. We don't know much about Jacob besides his unconditional love for his brother, his distaste for his mom's cooking, and his devotion to Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees. We see the Jacob's first real emotions when Cecily brings up the shortstop's forthcoming retirement. But what has me really excited for the future of Jacob is when Cecily makes him blush later on. He's a pre-pubescent boy. He can only handle so much charm. —C.S.
By far, by far, BY FAR the best sketch of the night (and a serious contender for sketch of the season) was the dog food ad, wherein Cecily Strong (and beleaguered husband Seth Rogen) go through an escalating breakdown about the lies being told by big-brand dog food. We'll get to Strong's performance momentarily, but the secret weapon of that scene was pug pup Peanut, whose priceless reaction shots took an already great sketch over the top. I am decidedly not a dog person (nor a cat person), and I've already gone on record at The Wire as being against the practice of giving accolades meant for people to animals. So please trust that when I say that Peanut is a deserving runner-up, I truly mean it. —J.R.
Seriously, that dog food sketch was incredible, and almost all the credit should go to Cecily Strong for going all out in her outsized grief over the lifetime of lies that big dog food has sold her. Honestly, Halle Berry won an Academy Award for lesser work in the field of melodrama. Bonus points to Cecily for the aforementioned Bar Mitzvah Boy sketch, the clear highlight of yet another oddly paced Weekend Update.