October 11, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Review: “Saturday Night Live” with Amy Schumer


The breakout comedy star of 2015 is also an award-winning sketch comic and writer, so SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE could hardly do better than to have Amy Schumer as host for the 2d episode of the season.  For the most part, the show seemed to step up its game–even Weekend Update showed signs of a pulse!–but as is always the case with SNL, the results were up and down.

The night got off to a gimme start with the return of the Fox & Friends franchise, which after some banter about Planned Parenthood and the current Republican turmoil regarding the choice for a new Speaker of the House (Pete Davidson was effectively scattered as Jason Chaffetz, although in this franchise Bobby Moynihan’s reliable study in cluelessness can’t be touched), the sketch got to its comic meat with its list of “corrections,” which this time included such delights as “‘Pac-Man Fever’ did not kill 400,000 children in the 80s” and “The Black Market is not where African-Americans buy their produce.”

One of the pleasures of having a real-life comic as host is that there’s no need for a stilted (all too often musical) monologue, and Schumer tossed off a few expert minutes that managed to combine Bradley Cooper, the Kardashians, and the awkwardness of bathing an 18-month old’s private parts.

A welcome development in the writing this week was that you often couldn’t tell where a sketch was going from its first few minutes.  (There was also, after the cold open, an unusual absence of franchise sketches.)  Schumer teamed with her Trainwreck co-star Vanessa Bayer for a silly but funny airplane bit that started with the two singing a welcome to passengers to the tune of a Spice Girls song, and ended up with each of them being sucked out of the airplane (but miraculously rescued).  Later, what looked like a simple parody of a 1980s “hot teacher” porn movie got progressively weirder when Aidy Bryant’s bystander student somehow believed that she was attending a real school, and so did her mother (Bayer).  The 12:55AM sketch was a baby shower that went haywire when Schumer, as an uninvited guest brought as a plus one by Strong, accused everyone present of having stolen Strong’s purse and tore the place apart.

Schumer worked well even in the more obvious sketches, as an actress who insisted on ad-libbing while playing Mary Todd Lincoln in a reenactment of the events at Ford’s Theater, and a City Council sketch where she played a grade school girl requesting the right to take her gun to school and an end to gay marriage.

The pre-taped sketches were 50/50 this week.  A fake commercial for guns was a very elaborate set-up to a diffuse comic point (apparently it’s not a good idea for absolutely everyone to be armed at all times), but another faux-commercial for a selfie stick that’s hands-free because it’s planted in the butt was inventively done.

Update switched around its format a bit and allowed Colin Jost and Michael Che to have some byplay with an extended gun control riff (it was a big night for gun jokes), which gave them a chance to develop some rhythm together and built nieely.  On the other hand, both desk pieces were painful, with Jay Pharoah’s new character of a supposed SNL researcher who said “goddame” a few dozen times to explain why he hadn’t taken his show-financed trip to Italy, and Kate McKinnon’s passive-aggressive neighbor who left nasty notes for her fellow apartment house residents.  (McKinnon’s bit might have worked if it had been half as long, but Pharoah’s was a lost cause.)

In all, not quite an inspired night but a fun one, if you didn’t think too hard about how Schumer’s presence made the smarter, more perceptive and generally higher quality of the sketches on her own show even more glaring.  Next week will be something different:  the return of Tracy Morgan to the show in his first post-Emmys appearance, as much an event in SNL history as a comic one.  Demi Lovato will be the musical guest.


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."