As season 37 draws to a close, the haters stick their head out of the sand for their annual "SNL isn't as good as it used to be" rants. That's crazy. While it was a season full of highs and lows, it was still a solid 33 hours of television. We saw the arrival of Kate McKinnon, the firing of Paul Brittain and the retiring of Kristin Wiig.
But if you haven't been keeping up to speed with SNL this year, have I got the ideal Rich Fix for you. I present, curated from the 22 episodes of the 2011-2012 season, my perfect episode of the year. Take a couple of minutes, kick back, and really laugh at the comedy of season 37.
Cold Open: Ghost of Gadhafi
From the Charlie Day episode, a great example of a simple idea that is well executed with great energy. Instead of seeing Armisen constrained by his Obama impression, he lets loose with this silly take on the recently killed Gadhafi.
Monologue: Alec Baldwin
From the season premiere, Baldwin delivers masterfully. He's broken the hosting record previously set by Steve Martin, and Steve Martin shows up demanding a drug test. The two perform what is practically a fully-formed sketch. Seth Rogen shows up to add star power (and not much else). While monologues don't really translate in "best ofs", I've included the video anyway.
Commercial Parody Rerun: Mother's Day Gift
We come out of the monologue with this Amazon commercial for Mothers Day. Yes, it's a one-note joke. Correct, we will not remember 50 Shades of Grey in 2 years. But it was the funniest commercial of the season. It gave the women on the show a chance to be a little raunchy. Even though you just saw it last week, it's worth one more watch.
Lead Off Sketch: Bronx Beat
When alumnus Maya Rudolph hosted, we saw a number of cameos, most importantly Amy Poehler coming back to reprise one of my favorite sketches from their era. The chemistry between the two is fantastic, and then Justin Timberlake's first cameo of the season sends the energy over the moon.
Pre-taped TV Show Parody: Kardashian Divorce Special
While The Real Housewives of Disney got a lot of (deserved) attention, this bit really sticks with me as the best of the season. From the Charlie Day episode, this was a great lampoon of the idiocy that was the Kardashian wedding. Wiig's Chris Jenner really steals the show.
Live Sketch Before the Musical Act: Adam Grossman
Jonah Hill reprised a character that he did the first time he hosted. But here he nails it. Essentially a monologue in character, this is a fine example of great writing matching a great performance by a non-SNL alumni guest host.. "Who does a kid have to give a blow pop to to get a drink around here?"
Musical Act: ???
I'm not going to take a stand on this one. Plug in your favorite musical number of season 37
WEEKEND UPDATE: Drunk Uncle
For Update, I'm skipping Seth's topical jokes and focusing on the commentaries. First up, the 2nd appearance of my new favorite character, Drunk Uncle. Even if he was nothing more than a collection of odd asides ("Ebay of Pigs"!), it will still be a favorite of mine. "Netflix me!"
WEEKEND UPDATE: Really with Seth and Amy
I really wanted to pick the Update Joke Off with Seth, Amy, Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey, but the jokes in that segment just did not match the excitement and fun of that kind of a reunion. Instead, I'm picking the one Really from this season that REALLY worked. Seth and Amy made fun of the male-only senate hearings on birth control. This was a topic that needed a female voice to really lampoon, and Amy brought it yet again.
WEEKEND UPDATE: Stefon Christmas
Yes, picking a Stefon segment couldn't be more cliche, but there's a reason. This character is really, really funny. I liked this appearance, from the Christmas Episode a lot more than the one in the season finale. Merry laughing!
Bein' Quirky with Zooey Deschanel
After the news, it's time to show Abby Elliott some love with Bein' Quirky, from the Zooey Deschanel episode. This is my favorite "a cast member does an impression of the guest host while the guest host does an impression of someone else" format in many years. But it's Taran Killam who steals the show with his high-pitch perfect Michael Cera.
SNL Digital Short: Best Friends
It was hard to pick one digital short to represent the whole season, but this video from the Katy Perry episode was probably the best effort of the year. Smart pacing, fun cameos by Matt Damon and Val Kilmer and a plot line (if you can call it that) that kept evolving. And the song is hard to get out of your head, so be warned before you watch!
Musical Act 2nd Number: Viewer's Choice
Again, I leave the music to other experts.
Last Half Hour: Les Jeunes de Paris
As we pass 12:30am and start heading home, I chose the latest installment of Les Jeunes de Paris, created by and starring Taran Killam. This is a take on the Oscar winning comedy, The Artist. Is this sketch every funny? No. It's a lot of fun and a huge boost of energy. Note: I believe the reason some don't love this sketch is because they saw it on the computer. The life and energy of this sketch is dependent on a big screen television, not a tiny laptop monitor. That said, I'm including a link to nbc.com anyway.
Commercial Parody Rerun: Red Flag
At this point in the show, we usually see a commercial parody that's already premiered on a previous episode. I'm choosing another bit from the season premiere; the commercial for Red Flag perfume really captures how funny Kristin Wiig is, even when she does not have any lines. A simple idea, but the bit stays fresher longer than most other SNL commercials. "Her ex-boyfriend was a club promoter. Red Flag!" Red Flag wasn't repeated much on the actual show, so if you don't remember it, it's worth another look.
2nd To Last Sketch: Obama Cosby
Obama can be funny! Instead of trying to perfect his somewhat lifeless Barack impression, Armisen channels the spirit of Bill Cosby. A great take on The Cosby Show, we get high energy performances from Barack, Michelle Obama, Joe Biden, and even an inspired Hillary Clinton cameo during the "Night and Day" performance. I want to see more of this in season 38. Plug Barack Obama into other classic sitcoms and let the hilarity continue! Hulu note: As Marc Cusa points out, the Hillary portion of the sketch is not included in the embedded video, as it was cut online for music clearance reasons.
12:50am Sketch: One Magical Night
12:50am is one of my favorite time slots of the show. This is where the really weird stuff has a home. For the last sketch of the perfect SNL episode, Katy Perry and Bobby Moynihan meet, fall in love, marry, and lose each other in one conversation. All the while being serenaded by Jason Sudeikis at the piano. Weird, silly, surprising and fun. A great way to end the show.
Goodnights from Home Base: Kristin Wiig's Last Show
Okay, I'm cheating here. When thinking about the perfect credit role "goodnights" segment, I couldn't not choose the Graduation piece that sends off Kristin Wiig. Yes, an atypical ending, but what a way to close out Wiig's time on the show, bring season 37 to a close, and finish the perfect SNL episode.
Doing this Saturday Night Live Season 37 Perfect Episode was the best week of my life. I'd like to thank Lorne, Marci, the writers, this amazing cast, the crew, and everyone who watched. GOODNIGHT!