SNL: S36E22... HOST: JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE... DATE: MAY 21, 2011

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or...

They’re Bringing Justin Back... Yeah...

Them Other Host Don’t Know How To Act

 

It’s kind of hard to believe that this is only Justin Timberlake’s fourth visit and that he’s not already in the Five-Timers Club because it sort of feel like he’s in the race with Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin for the ultimate X-Timers battle. Part of this probably has to do with the fact that I know of his continually growing relationship with the show, kind of like how I also thought The Rock was already in the club for his last visit.

The other part of it could be the fact that the two also starred in the movie Southland Tales together which is the movie I watched and reviewed once a week as part of another project. I’m guessing the two long-term challenges are starting to blend together a bit, which is pretty cool because the many synchronist connections between the two tasks are entirely unintentional. In fact, I let the internet pick the movie Southland Tales to be the featured film for my very first Wicker Breaker challenge. I had no idea that most of the cast would be made up of alumni Not Ready For Prime Time Players.

Though I remember totally living the fact that the movie I was tied to for fifty-two weeks was filling with some of my favorite cast members of my favorite sketch comedy show, it wasn’t until I got to the ‘80s episodes, when the featured players from the film started to debut on the show, that I was stricken by an “Oh yeah,” moment. It was then that I also realized how many of the non-SNL starred roles were filled by regular hosts of the show like The Rock and Justin Timberlake.

This is why I get more excited when anyone from Southland Tales drops by to host the show. Being that I haven’t seen much from this season and the fact that my pre-viewing legwork was enough to provide evidence that I’ve never seen this episode, I’m excited to hit play and share my real-time viewing experience. With that, here we go.

Per usual, I appreciated the opening sketch being based on more of a news story, that actually takes place as a scene and not just a politician addressing the nation as a talking head. Then again, when I looked this guy up to see what the sketch was talking about, I notice another example of an ongoing trend whenever I research who the people who actually get imprisoned are. As usual, these people seem to end up in jail for unrelated crimes the second they decide to go against the system.

Yes, it’s easy to get hung up on the fact that this guy was charged for sexual assault, but it seems weird to me how these charges dropped the minute the guy started to push for more fair policies while working for the IMF. Keep in mind this is based on my previewing legwork where I read a wiki page and not from an expert on the case. I just find the timing to be strange especially since this is far from the first time I’ve noticed this type of coincidence.

The opening sketch didn’t even really reference any of the details that I just share. It was more playing off how shocking it was for Kenan Thompson and Jay Pharoah to have any knowledge of what’s going on with world finance considering they were just a couple of black thugs. This is a brand of self-deprecating racial content where I’m no longer sure where I stand. Being that I didn’t laugh once, maybe it’s a sign that it’s bad, even if there were no evil whities involved.

Justin Timberlake’s song about the fact that he wasn’t going to sing during tonight’s episode since this was the first visit where he wasn’t also the musical guest was brilliant in concept and pretty fun in the way that they pulled it off. If I did have an issue, it would be that the song was too good and not silly, or catchy enough to become a comedic earworm like some of his SNL hits with Andy Samberg.

As I’ve said in the past, not only does mascot-based humor almost always crack me up, but I also love when the musical guest gets involved with a sketch. That said, I was over the moon when Lady Gaga dressed as a bottle of wine to sing and dance with Justin Timberlake who was dressed as a forty of Mickey’s Malt Liquor, which was also my favorite malt liquor in my youth. I also always love the series of sketches that followed where Bill Hader continues to play the grumpy old reporter from the real-life news viral hit, more because I like the idea of this internet sensation living on over find any installment to be all that hilarious. Actually, this installment turned out to be the best from the series so far.

Three’s Company was one of my favorite shows as a kid because it reached syndication at just the right time that it was always one of my go-to shows whenever cartoon time was done. I lived during the days when you only got a couple hours of cartoon time before and after school, with not even a VCR for any form of on-demand viewing. Because of this, I loved the Three’s Company parody that was this week’s SNL Digital Short, even if it was a bit too sexual for what I usually like when it comes to comedy. At the same time, the swinger vibe played a big part of the original show, I just wished the song focused even more on the Three’s Company.

Lady Gaga is a performer who I became a fan of when I turned to pop music to take a break from the music that I actually love after the sounds that used to comfort me became nothing but depressing. I do roll my eyes sometimes when she tries to explain her creative inspirations, but at the same time I get it since I cringe at my own efforts to explain what I’m really attempting to express through my “art.” Hit or miss, I appreciate her willingness to experiment, which might be why I was more drawn to her than other pop stars who I got into at the time but now can’t remember who they are. I liked The Edge Of Glory performance, but I didn’t think much of Judas.

I also didn’t think much of the news, for the same reason I explain with each recent viewing. I was actually kind of surprised by how weak this week’s Weekend Update actually was considering the segment is typically pretty strong during the last episode of the season. Like with mascot humor, I usually love game show sketches, because when I wasn’t watching cartoons, or shows like Three’s Company, reruns of game shows from the ‘70s was my jam when I’d get home from school and watch TV. Though this What’s That Name? game show wasn’t ‘70s based I still really got a kick out of the game show motif, especially since this was another case where Lady Gaga got involved.

I was so happy to see the Merryville Love Tunnel Ride sketch that followed because it was driving me nuts when Jim Carrey was part of the sketch’s series debut because I could have sworn that I’d seen the sketch before but not with Jim in the roll. Though this installment is still not the one I was thinking about, I feel more sane knowing that they weren’t host specific when returning to the reoccurring segment.

Speaking of game show sketch, and reoccurring characters, I’ve still yet to more than just sort of enjoy the repetitive Secret Word sketch starring Kristen Wiig. I think I’m just still hung up on the fact that the could have/should have made it a parody of a real game show because they have several to choose from that would produce the same effect only better because it would be based in reality.

Born This Way was the best performance of the night from Lady Gaga, which was great because I’ve never really liked The Barry Gibb Talk Show series other than the first night that it was on even though I do get the appeal. Thankfully, tonight was another night where I was happy to see Justin Timberlake take to the stage to say his goodnights because it meant that I got through another solid show and not just because I was pleased for the show to be over. I also loved the Gaga performance because like with her first visit as the musical guest, there were parts of this performance, mainly after she magically became pregnant where I almost laughed harder than I did during any sketch of the night.

I wouldn’t say that this was the best season closer, but it definitely was a solid episode filled with laughs. I’m feeling a little burnt out due to a technical issue that made yesterday run long, so I’m going to shift gears and start to wrap this one up by digging deeper into the details of each sketch to share what got me chuckling, as I give you...

The Wicker Breakdown:

  1. This week's show started with a sketch called Strauss-Kahn's Cell that took place in Rikers Island where Taran Killam as Dominique Strauss-Kahn was admitting into jail following his arrest for sexual assault charges that came right after he started to go against the powers that be at the International Monetary Fund. As soon as he entered the cell, he was then accosted by inmates, Kenan Thompson, and Jay Pharoah, who just wanted to discuss the world economy. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York...”  

  2. Justin Timberlake then officially opened the show with a monolog about his past performance as host and how he wanted to try something new. This led our host into a song where he sang about the fact that he wouldn’t be singing on tonight’s episode.

  3. We then went to the streets for a sketch called Liquorville which continued Justin Timberlake’s mascot-themed series of sketches. This time, Justin played a Mickey’s looking beer bottle character to team up with tonight’s musical guest, Lady Gaga to have a dance off with Kristen Wiig as a Tea Bag to promotes Liquorville over Wiig’s tea shop.

  4. WXPD News brought back Bill Hader as the grumpy old reporter who seems completely over his reporting job during his live remote at a high school following a carbon monoxide scare.

  5. We then got another SNL Digital Short that was a bit of a parody of Three’s Company featuring Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg as their Dick In A Box characters as two Jacks from the show who attempt to engage in a three-way with Lady Gaga as Chrissy. Actually, this was a music video for a song about having a three-way called The Golden Rule which was also about how this was the only time that it was okay to be naked in the same room with another dude. The Three’s Company aspect was just a quick reference in passing.

  6. Lady Gaga then took to the stage to perform the songs The Edge Of Glory and Judas back to back.

  7. Once again, Seth Meyers gave us the news. This week, Seth Meyers played a game of Really?!? over Arnold Schwarzenegger’s revelation that he’d been sleeping with his maid for fourteen years. Andy Samberg returned for another round of Get In The Cage, where he, as Nicolas Cage interviewed the real Bradley Cooper over his involvement in The Hangover II. Stefon also stopped by to join Seth in saying goodbye for the summer. (Clip 2) (Clip 3) (Clip 4)

  8. What's That Name? returned for a celebrity version of this game show sketch where contestants just have to guess the names of people who they should no very well. In the sketch, both Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga played themselves. Where Justin played up an asshole-ish attitude, unable to name the many women he slept with or ex-members of his band, Gaga was charming and instantly knew any person who they threw her way, even just fans from the audience.

  9. Merryville Love Tunnel Ride returned for another installment of this sketch were animatronic characters in a Tunnel Of Love-type ride, attempt to attack the trapped riders when the attraction had to be shut down mid-ride to make repairs.

  10. Secret Word was another sketch to return for another installment. This is the game show sketch that super repetitive with Kristen Wiig and Justin Timberlake playing two old-timey actors who are so full of themselves and out of it that neither can figure out how to play this straightforward Password-style game.

  11. Lady Gaga then returned to the stage to perform Born This Way.

  12. The Barry Gibb Talk Show was Justin Timberlake-specific sketch to return along with Jimmy Fallon who portrayed Barry Gibb so that he and Justin as Robin Gibb could host another installment of their talk show.

  13. Finally, Justin Timberlake closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.

As I said up above, tonight wasn’t the best season finale I’ve ever seen but thanks to sketches like these that contained my three favorite moments, it was still a very entertaining viewing experience. First, I loved the Liquorville because I thought the mascot-based humor was super fun, I loved that Justin played a forty of Mickey’s, and the fact that Lady Gaga was involved. Next, I really liked the What's That Name game show parody because I like game show sketches and again, I thought it was really fun the way that Lady Gaga was involved. Finally, I was a fan of this week’s SNL Digital Short: The Golden Rule, mainly because I really liked the extremely brief Three’s Company reference.

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Matt Bunker

I started out with a goal of becoming a paid screenwriter. I had no interest in any other aspect of filmmaking. I received and scholarship to The Vancouver Film School's Writing for Film and Television program where I graduated in 2005. I fell in love with being on set during my first non-school produced short, . I loved being around all the creative people, seeing people having fun while working. The whole liking your job was a new world to me, so I decided to give it a shot. I volunteered for any project I could, doing what ever was needed. The set was my Film School this time. While working as a PA on a feature I was informed that the DP wanted the three tallest PAs to help out in the grip and electric department. That is when I found the department that felt like the best fit for me while I continued to write.