For the first time since 1998 (remember when he was still that fresh-faced, breakout star of Swingers and The Lost Word: Jurassic Park?), Vince Vaughn returned this week to host Saturday Night Live. That’s a lifetime between hosting gigs, and it struck me as curious that he’d gone so long between trips to Studio 8H.
Alas, unlike what we saw from Melissa McCarthy last week, a strong monologue ultimately didn’t translate into a laugh-laden show. Because after a strong, confident start, Vaughn lost the plot (was it the cue cards?) in a big, big way. Choosing only two “worst” skits was a very challenging task, but let’s start with the upside, shall we?
BEST: Opening Monologue
A few moments in, I cringed that Vaughn’s seemingly spontaneous foray into the audience seemed certain to be a Psycho-remake sized mistake. But midway into his first interview with a random audience member, Vaughn started winning me over. “I’m just gonna put it out there, I like your face,” he mused to one woman, before adding, “if I look out in the audience, and you are daydreaming…you’re gonna put this tall drink of water into a tailspin.” He then confiscated a cell phone from a very nervous guy (“Have you been drinking?”) before ejecting a seemingly innocent, white-bearded older gent (“there’s a darkness inside that man, there’s a scary energy…guys, we’re not about that tonight!”) altogether. Vaughn’s clearly non-scripted pep talk was an amusing, promising — and yet ultimately fleeting — start.
BEST: Gun Control Cold Open
The oh-so-timely and on-target cold open on the gun control debate mercilessly mocked both parties, and harkened back to SNL‘s glory days of highly astute — and often hilarious — political commentary. Jay Pharoah’s Barack Obama opened with an update on the progress of a bi-partisan agreement: “They’ve agreed to think about talking about gun control. Amazing!” Then as Senators Joe Manchin and Patrick Toomey, Jason Sudeikis and Bill Hader brilliantly deadpanned their way through a slew of memorable — and painfully relevant — lines (“Is this bill what we wanted? No. Is it what the NRA wanted? No. But does it at least help in some small way? No.”) that deliciously skewered the sad state of D.C. politics.
HONOROABLE MENTION: The History of Punk
Top-notch production, Fred Armisen as a Johnny Rotten-type rocker who loves
Margaret Thatcher (“You’re a very special lady”) and a special appearance by Sex
Pistols’ guitarist Steve Jones highlighted this unexpected almost-gem chronicling
the history of “Ian Rubbish And The Bizarros.”
WORST: North Side Junior High School Prom Sketch
Painfully obvious cue card reading (at least occasionally attempt to avert your eyes back to the on-stage action, Vince!), flubbed lines, pointless dialogue and some random man-on-man dancing were the ‘highlights’ of this incredibly painful attempt to mine comedy gold from those embarrassing school-dance days.
WORST: Last Call at Donnelly’s Pub
Confusing, disturbing, if not downright baffling from start to finish, this epic disaster featured so many eek-worthy visuals — I’m still trying to forget Vaughn french-kissing Kate McKinnon’s poor little nose, yikes! — that I went to the happy place half way through. This McKinnon line pretty much sums it up: “I fear if we attempted intercourse, it would be like trying to get a ripe banana into a rusty key hole.” Say what?
What did you think of this week’s SNL? Did Vaughn delight (or disappoint) as this week’s host? What did you think were the best and worst sketches? Sound off in the comments!