April 12, 2014

THE SKED Review: “Saturday Night Live” with Seth Rogen


It seemed that with experienced SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE host Seth Rogen returning to the show for his third visit tonight, SNL had a fair chance of continuing its mini-streak of worthwhile episodes after the Louis C.K. and Anna Kendrick outings, but no such luck.  Although the night didn’t live up to Rogen’s monologue promise of 10 sketches about weed (out of 50 pitched to him), the highs to be found were more in the subject matter than the execution.  The fault wasn’t with Rogen, who gave his all to every character he played, but as usual with the material.

The dire indications were there from the monologue, which was little more than an excuse for cameos by James Franco, Zoey Deschanel and Taylor Swift (the latter’s appearance was puzzling until one remembered that musical guest Ed Sheeran is a duet partner of hers).  It was followed by one of the show’s new favorite franchises, where Nasim Pedrad plays the high school student who enthusiastically comes to exactly the opposite conclusion from the one the class guest is trying to teach, in this case, cop Rogen’s message that crack is bad.  This sketch was clever the first time, but as is so often the case with SNL, each successive iteration is just the same format with a modified keyword.  A piece with Rogen as a husband forced to do everything for wife Aidy Bryant because both of her arms were broken was uninspired slapstick, featuring Rogen smearing lipstick and steak across her face and culminating in a fart joke when Bryant told him (of the steak) to “cut it.”  The only fun to be had was watching Rogen and Bryant just barely keep themselves from giggling after the fart gag.

Rogen was in the background for one of the brighter sketches, where what seemed at first to be a routine fake commercial for dog food that didn’t falsely promise chicken in its ingredients turned into a showcase for Cecily Strong to have an out-and-out freakout over the horror of the offending name brand dog food she and husband Rogen used to feed their (extremely well-trained) pet.  Unfortunately, when Strong and Rogen were teamed again later in the show, it was for one of the more pointless bits, where Strong as Rogen’s white trash sister insisted on revealing at his engagement party all the details about his (perhaps) one homosexual experience–a decent premise that had no punchline at all.  The 12:55PM sketch, about a longtime sperm bank run by Rogen and Kenan Thompson that was liquidating its inventory before switching over to a TCBY never seemed to maximize the icky-funny possibilities of the idea, but also wasn’t loose enough to make much of its more random jokes (the firm was called Herman and Sons because Rogen was named Herman and Thompson was named Sons).

A pair of sketches tried to pick up on recent news, to weak results.  The mild cold open had Taran Killam and Beck Bennett as Paul Ryan and Jeb Bush trying like hell to pitch Republicanism to a Coachella crowd by soft-pedaling their actual politics, and a deadly skit in the show’s second half attempted to do something with the revelation that Al Sharpton had once been an undercover operative for the feds, but it died a slow death.  Weekend Update featured Thompson as David Ortiz, defending himself against the controversy over his taking a White House selfie using the Samsung phone he promotes for pay, and was mainly an excuse for Thompson to say the names of many Dominican foods in a funny accent.  Although we’ve seen Vanessa Bayer’s Jacob the Bar-Mitzvah Boy many times before, this week’s version did have the novelty of “him” interacting with Cecily Strong instead of Seth Meyers, and got some mileage out of that, especially with Strong provoked Jacob to quickly wiped-away tears about Derek Jeter’s final season.

The week’s pre-tapes were a mixed bag.  There was a nicely done piece about longtime monster friends (who turned out to be played under the make-up by James Franco and Mike O’Brien) considering surgery to look human, and an inventive spin on CNN’s neverending coverage of the hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, with the network providing the same perpetual yet unresolved treatment to pregnancy tests.  On the other hand, one would truly have to be high to get much from a Kyle Mooney 420 sketch, the joke of which seemed to be that his character didn’t actually smoke.

SNL takes off the next 2 weeks before returning on May 3 with host Andrew Garfield (whose The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will, not coincidentally, have opened the day before) and musical guest Coldplay.

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."