March 11, 2012


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Written by: Mitch Salem
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The atmosphere on this week’s SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE was far more relaxed now that last week’s Lindsay Lohan Extravaganza Express has left town.  That didn’t make it a great episode–SNL is lucky to manage 1 or 2 of those in a season–but it had its share of laughs.

Jonah Hill was a good choice for the post-Lohan edition, an assured host with strong comic timing.  (Unlike Lohan, he was given lead roles in sketches throughout the show.)  To his credit, he never overtly plugged his 21 Jump Street opening next week, even though that’s certainly the reason he was there.  By sheer will, he pulled about every laugh available out of the sketch about a 6-year old who talked like a Borscht Belt comic, and he was also sharp in a Planet of the Apes bit about a talking ape who wouldn’t shut up.  On the other hand, he wasn’t immune to reading his sketches with his eyes glued to the cue cards, and he had a bad habit of cracking himself up, breaking so badly in the J Pop America Fun Time Now piece that he was practically incomprehensible.
Breaking seemed to be going around this week:  no less than Kristen Wiig, the consummate professional, almost lost it while playing Paula Deen on Update.  And of course Bill Hader wasn’t able to keep it together as Stefon (he never is), but you really couldn’t blame him:  this week he had to describe a club “opened at gunpoint in a Lady Foot Locker,” and an Irish pub that features Heprechauns, which of course are Leprechauns with Hep C.  
If Stefon was the running character it was good to see again, J Pop has already run its course, ready for a long break, at the very least.  This week’s political sketch was about Rush Limbaugh and not the Republican primary candidates, which was a relief.   Pretaped pieces were a mixed bag:  the opening monologue piece about Hill being insufferable since his Moneyball nomination was fun, but the SNL Digital Short with Hill being hit by tennis balls in the other balls over and over and over again was interminable.
The episode had a bent for the oddly conceptual:  Andy Samberg playing Sarah Palin as a deliberately bad Tina Fey impression, an extremely long sketch in which Liza Minnelli Tries To Turn Off A Lamp (Wiig wasn’t at her best as Liza, who sounded a lot more like Wiig’s dingbat theatre star on the show’s Password parody than the real thing), which for all the world seemed like a 12:55PM sketch that had gotten lost at 12:35, and then the actual 12:55PM sketch, which started as an anniversary joke and turned into a Coolio singalong. In all, an unmemorable but decent enough week.
The show is off until April 7, when it returns with Sofia Vergara as host.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."