Saturday Night Live S39E12 Recap: Jonah Hill and Bastille

Whether you'd like to admit it or not, Saturday Night Live has been on one hell of a hot streak so far this season. Not that every episode has spectacular, or even every sketch in a given episode for that matter. We've shown how that's impossible on a show with that many writers putting on a live, ever-changing show every week. But so far, not a single show could be considered an outright disaster, and that's most certainly a rarity. The only episode I've really disliked is the Lady Gaga one, and even Miley Cyrus and even Drake last week was pretty good despite a lot stacked against him.

All that to say, if three musicians can put on watchable show on a season that's skewed above-average for SNL, then surely a three-time veteran like Jonah Hill, who actually has a character on the show and comedic talents that have translated into two Oscar nominations, can put on a great show too.

That's exactly what Hill ended up doing on Saturday night, giving up an hour and a half of sketches where maybe only one could be considered as a shoe-in for the top ten at the end of the season, but really nothing that could be described as bad. And really, nothing less should have been expected of the actor.

The show was surprisingly devoid of any political sketch too. I don't know if that added to the general good feeling I had for it or not, but maybe it was refreshing for an episode of SNL to be all about poop and straight figure skater jokes. The latter of which made for a pretty strong cold open, which featured a bevy of SNL's performers trying to ice skate to the commentary of Scott Hamilton (Taran Killam) and Tara Lipinski (Cecily Strong). Even though it tied into the controversies in Russia for the upcoming Olympics, I don't think it had much of a point to make other than having Beck Bennett trying to get an upskirt short of Kate McKinnon, who probably didn't have to act very hard here.
Sketch Grade: B

The monologue continued the trend of having Jonah Hill act like a bigshot. And truth be told, after accumulating two Oscar noms for mostly comedic roles, he sort of deserves to act that way, even if it's sarcastically. The angle they took this time was to disparage his The Wolf Of Wall Street co-star and fellow Oscar nominee Leonardo DiCaprio, trying to say that he was what made Wolf so great. Of course he was cut short by the actual Leo appearing on stage to talk him down and do the King of the World thing from Titanic. But despite Leo's appearance, my favorite part of the monologue was that Taran Killam got to bust out his increasingly ridiculous Brad Pitt impression. The idea of Pitt just being in the SNL audience makes me smile.
Sketch Grade: B+

After the monologue, we saw the expected return of Hill's one SNL character, Adam Grossman, the six-year-old who goes to Benihana and makes a bunch of hacky Jewish comedian jokes, only this time he was with his stepmom Debbie. This was no worse or better than the last few times they've done it, and that's fine, because it's always been decent and good for a few one liners.
Sketch Grade: B-

That one sketch that will likely make my top then at the end of the season was "The Hit", which featured Kenan, Taran and Jay Pharaoh sitting in a car waiting to perform a hit on a rival gang, only to be mesmerized by the snow, singing Carol King songs. Pharaoh is the most resistant, but ends up being compelled to pet a white bunny, only to get shot when he gets out of the car. It's the most subtle that the show got on this night, and it worked out near-perfectly.
Sketch Grade: A

Couples Quiz gave us the aforementioned poop jokes, but they mostly worked for me. Under the guise of a game show, host Kenan Thompson (it's still weird to me that this wasn't Bill Hader) tried to reveal who clogged the toilet prior to the show. It was most definitely Jonah, who as it turned out, went on top of the clog. They even came up with a decent reason as to why this would be a big deal, saying that they were in a historical building and repairs are a big deal. Poop jokes can most definitely be funny, and this is one of those cases.
Sketch Grade: B

Last week, I was pretty hard on a rather stale Weekend Update, but they most definitely turned the heat up on what's actually Seth Meyers' second-to-last turn in the anchor's chair. Maybe it was the lack of any political sketches the rest of the night, maybe it was more that there wasn't much to make fun of politically this week, but update was just a laugh fest for 10 minutes. Funny thing is that there wasn't really a home run guest either. Sure, Kate McKinnon's Russian lady (whose town name translates to "The Desolation of Smaug") character is always good, but the other guest, Kenan's police officer who arrested Bieber, actually ended up with the lion's share of great lines.
Sketch Grade: A-

These last few weeks, SNL has had a pretty good streak of sketches that are reminiscent of something you might have seen on the show maybe in the 90s, something more reliant on physical comedy and a silly gag. I would say a fake horse headbutting and kicking Cecily and Hill in the face for five minutes definitely counts as that. The sketch was maybe just okay, but I think amped by the fact that it was short and sweet, and that you could totally see someone's arm behind the fake horse head.
Sketch Grade: B-

I wasn't feeling the "Her" parody "Me" at first, although I appreciated the gags about what's surely one of 2013's best movies. What really got me to love it was the fact that Michael Cera, Hill's buddy from the early days of his career, was the one who ended up being the surrogate for the OS. And if you don't think that Michael Cera in a fake mustache giving Jonah Hill a lapdance is funny, then you're not human.
Sketch Grade: B+

The dinner sketch fulfilled the show's weekly requirement of having Beck Bennett don a suit as someone's boss. This time, Jonah was at his house for dinner and upset at all the stupid things he was saying, not realizing that they could all hear him screaming at himself in the bathroom. This was the SNL-iest sketch of the night, maybe even a little more than the ranch sketch. And there really is something funny about Jonah Hill yelling at himself off-screen, although I'd like to think that this one could have gone a little further with the joke.
Sketch Grade: B

As far as the Beck Bennett/Kyle Mooney digital bits go, I thought "Inside SoCal" would be the weakest, but it got pretty good when they started talking about Jonah's relationship with his father. I kind of wish they exploited that more as I wasn't feeling all the "dude" jokes.
Sketch Grade: C+

If you read my reviews regularly, then you might know that I'm not the biggest fan of the ex-pornstar bits. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the thought of any sexual acts involving Cecily Strong and Vanessa Bayer, but other than a couple of offhand remarks after said sexual acts, these tend to fall generally flat for me. I thought that it was growing on me the last time they did it, and I appreciated the idea of Jonah playing a porn director called "Martin Porn-sese" and "lamborgina" jokes, but otherwise, I feel like this was a step down from the last time they did it.
Sketch Grade: C

While the show continued the recent trend of the last half-hour being weaker than the rest of the show, which is something that's still hard to get used to, it was almost mostly consistent and funny, with not one outright stinker and a couple of sketches that could turn out to be classics. You don't get to host SNL three times without knowing what you're doing, and Jonah Hill definitely knows what he's doing. His third turn on SNL gets 8.5 clogged toilets out of 10.

Notes & Quotes:

  • Interesting to note that Leonardo DiCaprio has never hosted SNL. I don't know if that's surprising, he doesn't strike me as the sketch comedy type, but you would think he would have done it around his Titanic time at least before that string of Oscar nominations and crazy performances.
  • Another big star that's never hosted SNL: Brad Pitt. But an easy way to remedy that would be to just have Taran Killam host the show as Brad Pitt. It's seriously my favorite SNL impression at the moment.
  • I don't know why, but Cecily and Seth were really hung up on the joke about a Scottish fish drunkenly saying "You don't know me".
  • Next week, Melissa McCarthy jokes about her weight for the third time with Imagine Dragons (also, Seth Meyers' last show... so Stefon appearance please?)>
  • Line of the Night:


      "J.J. Abrams announced this week that the script for the next Star Wars movie was finished, so that's probably what your adult son was yelling about from the basement."

    • "I was like, hey, you know what's eating Gilbert Grape? This dude!"
    • "What's your turtle's name?" "Shell Silverstein. If you're six that joke is hilarious."
    • "Have you ladies laid your eyes on the film Frozen? Because it's based on Debbie's demeanor."
    • "Inappropriate is listening to NPR on the way over. Now my nightmares will take place in Syria and star Terry Grossman."
    • "Okay, I did this once at a party." "Clog a toilet?"
    • Arresting Bieber was: "Like being barked at by a puppy who smells like Smirnoff Ice."
    • "He's what you get if Ed Hardy released a line of people."
    • "Officials are also stressing that the way they found out the student was starring in adult films is not important."
    • "They tried to make me go to rehab and I said 'Is it warm?'"
    • "So in your face dog lawyer, looks like I'm the one who got away!"
    • "What are those things you press with your feet?" "Testicles."
    • "One time I thought I banged Seal Team 6, but it was just sixteen seals."
    • "I thought I was in the movie Alien, but it was just a big penis in my stomach."