When Steven Spielberg shows up to direct Laser Cats 7 — starring a stuffed-animal E.T. playing E.A.T. (Extra Awesome Terrestrial) — you know you’re in for a weird, wacky edition of Saturday Night Live. And while host Josh Brolin was more of a fringe player than the star of the show — even his monologue felt like little more than an excuse for Jay Pharoah (yes, he’s still in the cast!) to break out his wicked Will Smith impression — there were nevertheless an above-average number of laughs in the episode. Here are my picks for best and worst sketches:
BEST: Piers Morgan Tonight
An increasingly absurdist indictment of the coverage of the Trayvon Martin case, with a desperate-for-relevance Morgan interviewing everyone from Ice T (complete with Law & Order-esque “dun-dun” sound effect) to ghastly new couple Kanye West and Kim Kardashian (a “zero threat” brought beautifully to life by Nasim Pedrad), to Andy Samberg as…well, let me not ruin the surprise of the last and funniest segment of this sketch. Press play and enjoy!
BEST: America’s Next Top ‘Empire State of Mind’ Parody Artist
Lots of strange, funny stuff wrapped up in this random burrito: Pharoah’s spot-on Jay-Z (“This show is my real baby goyle!”), Brolin’s proud/misguided new uncle (“I was told I was stealing focus”), even some (always welcome) throw-away Ke$ha mockery (“My songs aren’t parodies”). Why isn’t NBC streaming this sketch online?
HONORABLE MENTION: Laser Cats 7
The Close Encounters theme in meows, the Raiders of the Lost Ark face-melt, and Samberg’s character running off with E.A.T. and the cats at the end — “So all the haters know I didn’t go soft,” huffed Spielberg. Gotta love that much gameness and self-deprecation.
WORST: The Californians
Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig almost broke character and busted out laughing. Glad someone found this soap-opera riff on Cali accents and driving directions so funny, but I wished the writers had dug deeper into lifestyle decisions like putting sundried tomatoes in clay bowls.
WORST: Garth and Kat on Weekend Update
I know, I know…plenty of folks get the giggles from their made-up-on-the-spot ditties, but I can’t help feel like this one-note sketch has carried its diminishing returns to the point of comedy bankruptcy.
What did you think of this week’s SNL? How would you rate Brolin as host? Sound off in the comments!