Saturday Night Live, Season 40, Episode 11, “Kevin Hart/Sia”
January 17, 2015, 11:30 p.m. (EST), NBC
This week’s episode was the 1st show of the new year. And like any job you come back to after the holidays, you might not be at your A game. This was on display with Kevin Hart as the host. This season, we’ve seen two kinds of episodes. We see ones where all the sketches revolve around the host or ones where the host temporarily becomes a part of the ensemble and allows for the rest of the cast to shine. This was most definitely the former and not the latter. After a pretty good sketch involving the ghost of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. helping Pete Davidson out with his MLK assignment and how “the mountain” seems to be receding (with some nice commentary on Selma getting the shaft from the Academy), we had Hart do some of his stand-up as his opening monologue. Now, in the case of Chris Rock or Louis C.K., this was a treat despite having to self-censor since those two are stand-up pros. But with Kevin Hart, it didn’t feel like any self-censoring was needed, since his material is pretty safe and generic. After that, the rest of the night was hit and miss when it came to the sketches which were all built around him. For me, there were only three exceptional ones. The first being the filmed Brooklyn sketch that showed that even the street level criminals of Brooklyn are starting to get assimilated into the hipster culture of that section of New York City. The second was the medieval musical sketch of Kevin trying to get the king and the lords and ladies that were under siege from a dragon out the door as they kept breaking into songs. While I like musicals and don’t mind people breaking into song, I do agree with the “Now is not the time” sentiment that people who can’t get into musicals have. And then finally the dressing room sketch of Kevin playing himself meeting his “son” as a result of a one night stand. And that scene was fantastic for the pitch perfect imitation of Hart that Jay Pharoah did. I’ve said before that I wish that Jay Pharoah and Kevin Hart would switch careers. Well, this sketch proved it because I think Jay does a better Kevin than Kevin. And even though Leslie Jones seems to have been banished to the final half hour, she clinched that sketch by commenting that this father/son reunion was sweet, but kinda annoying.
As for the rest of the night, the “Why’d You Post That” was OK. Even though there was a prop malfunction with the display, Kevin rolled with it and actually made it work (which should be a skill that all SNL hosts should have) as well as bring a demented side to the host. Kate McKinnon brought out her Justin Bieber impression again with the Calvin Klein ads. Hart wasn’t the best at doing James Brown, but the rest of the sketch with the uncooperative band worked. Weekend Update managed to take a weed joke and turn it into a dark Bill Cosby dig. Sia was fine, although having seen the two blonde girls in the leotards, it’s as ridiculous as when Jim and Kate made fun of it back in October. As for the mime during the 2nd song, a slowed down version of “Chandelier”, here’s what I tweeted. “Today on Mime Time, interpreting “Chandelier” *does act, chandelier falls on him* The End. (With the hastags #SNL and #Animaniacs) And thanks to the last sketch, I now know that gummi candies aren’t kosher.
So all in all, the episode was OK, but nothing really remarkable. What say you?
This was the most laugh free episode of the season yet for me. This isn’t so much on Kevin Hart, who is a consummate professional as a host and fully commits to whatever he is given, but on the writers, who never really came up with much of a premise this week. Every sketch felt like the laziest version of itself, from the “fart noise” talk show sketch to that Dr. King opener, which could have been a lot sharper, but took the easiest jokes at every turn instead. I enjoyed the James Brown sketch, because Hart was giving it his all, and everyone around him seemed to be enjoying the joke well enough. Mostly, though, this was an interminable episode for me. I barely chuckled throughout, and often actively couldn’t wait for a sketch to be over so we could get on to the next thing. Do you think the writers were just rusty on this one, did they decide to go with a “January dumping ground strategy” for some of their weaker sketches, or was everyone just out to lunch this week?
Luke: I’d say that it was them rusty after the three week Christmas break as well as them getting ready for the big 40th anniversary special in February. I don’t know what they have planned for it, but I imagine that’s taking up a lot of time on top of the normally hectic schedule the series has. Next week we have Blake Shelton as both host and musical guest. With the exception of his wife Miranda Lambert, I’m not a country guy, so I’ve never heard his music before and have nothing to base any expectations on his comedic chops.