After serving up three consecutive hosts (Adam Levine, Justin Bieber and Christoph Waltz) not exactly known for their comedic skills, Saturday Night Live went with a more conventional pick this week in Kevin Hart. But would the diminutive funnyman pull NBC’s veteran sketch comedy show out of its recent slump?
In two words: Not really.
Alas, while Hart brought unbridled energy to roles as varied as a news anchor, a model for a T-shirt ad and a man who’s deathly afraid of horses — and while a number of the show’s setups were more creative than usual — the lackluster writing and execution meant laughs were simply too few and far between. Case in point: There was a brilliant concept in Hart’s adorable Quvenzhané Wallis being named as the successor to Pope Benedict XVI, but the writers focused too much on CNN host Wolf Blitzer’s reactions and not enough on Little Q delivering zingers like “Who the man? I’m the man!” in Latin. With a little more work, the intermittently amusing gag could’ve been pumped up to an SNL classic.
Anyhow, with those gripes out in the open, here are my picks for the week’s best and worst sketches:
BEST: Dove Chocolate Ad Voiceover
Vanessa Bayer’s calm and collected white lady faced off against Hart’s noisy, occasionally maniacal black man while reading identical copy for those “little chocolate nugget things.” (“They’re called bites, Dante,” sighed Fred Armisen as one of the execs judging the voiceover-off.) I’m still not sure why this setup made me so giddy, but is there anyone who didn’t crack up at Hart’s “I’d bring the whole goddamn bag!”?
BEST: The Walking Dead
Hart portrayed a guy transforming into a zombie and blaming the show’s core charaters for snubbing him out of racism. Sketch MVP goes to Nasim Pedrad as 12-year-old Carl, who talked about feeling “emotionally fine” after killing, but Hart’s “Thriller” dance made him a close runner-up.
WORST: 360 News
Hart’s newsman sported a neck brace during a show with the intro voiceover “Eight cameras, one newsman, 80 stories, one sentence each.” The could’ve added “zero laughs” to the tagline and let everyone go to bed 10 minutes early, no?
WORST: Steve Harvey Show
Kenan Thompson’s biggest innovation as the daytime talk host seemed to be pronouncing the word “phobia” as “pho-BY-ah.” And Hart’s role as a dude with an overarching fear of equines was so bafflingly random that I wondered if it was built around the show needing to justify having a gigantic stuffed horse in its storage closet.
What did you think of this week’s SNL? How would you rate Hart as host? What did you think were the best and worst sketches? Sound off in the comments!