Justin Timberlake Brings Suit, Tie, And Comic Chops Back to SNL
Has the Saturday Night Live stage ever been more crowded than it was at the close of this weekend's episode? Jay-Z, Paul Simon, Steve Martin, Tom Hanks, Martin Short, Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, Alec Baldwin, Candice Bergen, and Andy Samberg were among the non-cast members squeezed onto the set for the collegial close, not to mention an unnamed tuba player.
That may provide the biggest testament to Justin Timberlake's star power and comedy chops: that he was able to preside over the most star-studded and cameo-crammed episode of SNL ever and not be overshadowed. But then, he had to learn how to stand out as the brightest star among luminaries back when he was sharing a stage with Fatone, right?
Just in case the other Justin who recently hosted should get any uppity airs, Timberlake's monologue turned into a lengthy sketch establishing him as the newest member of the exclusive "Five Timers Club," earning a smoking jacket and lounge privileges reserved for hosts who've gotten multiple callbacks. Among the things we immediately noticed during the skit: It's been too long since we've seen Candice Bergen. We still get slightly nervous every time Chevy Chase appears on TV. And Justin Timberlake is three feet taller than Paul Simon.
Finding all these guests something to do during the rest of the show sometimes led to some belabored nostalgia. An "It's a Date" (aka "The Dating Game") sketch not only allowed Timberlake and Samberg to reunite as the quiet-storm lotharios of "[You-Know-What] in a Box," but Aykroyd and Martin reteaming as the "wild and crazy guys" of the late '70s. The "Box" dudes continue to be amusing smoothies. If only whoever wrote their material also came up with a new line or two for the Czech-immigrant Festrunk brothers, who deserved better, after all these decades, than to merely compliment Vanessa Bayer's "large American breasts."
One familiar trope that was not repeated, sadly, was Timberlake as Robin Gibb, for perhaps obvious reasons. But we did get another expert bit of pop mimmicry as JT opened the show with an epic impression of Elton John, doing a severely personalized version of "Candle in the Wind" in honor of the late Hugo Chavez. "It seems to me that you lived your life like a candle in the wind/If a candle in the wind pulled out two pistols at a press conference," Elton/Justin riffed, going into stream-of-consciousness lyrics reviving every wacky thing Chavez ever did or said, including something about capitalism killing Mars that Timberlake felt compelled to assure us was not made up. (Clips of this show highlight are unfortunately not available, probably due to "Candle" rights complications.)