September 27, 2012

THE SKED REVIEW: SNL Weekend Update Thursday


When football teams have a late game on Sunday and then have to play in the next Thursday night game, they sometimes blame a loss on the short week and limited practice.  Lorne Michaels and the SNL writing staff may want to rehearse those kinds of excuses after an underwhelming Thursday installment of the election season Weekend Update special.  Especially since unlike last week, there wasn’t even a mothership SNL coming up this weekend to distract them.

The show started with a very, very long 5 minutes devoted to an Obama rally (Jay Pharoah, again nailing the role) where the point was that the economy is still bad.  No really, it is.  Cast member after cast member rose to tell their sad stories, the only stand-out being Kate McKinnon, bug-eyed with fury that she sells apples–not Apple technology, apples.

Update proper followed, with some NFL replacement ref gags followed by the first of 3 desk pieces:  Fred Armisen as Iranian President Ahmadinejad, and as his translator, Nasim Pedrad.  Armisen was nicely clueless as Pedrad explained to Seth Meyers what a lunatic her boss was, but the mix of obvious (he’s an anti-Semite!) and Austin Powers jokes didn’t take any chances.  It was better, though, than Kenan Thompson as Cornel West, an obscure target for primetime satire in the first place, and not elevated by the running gag of “West” quoting song lyrics.  Last up was new cast member Cecily Strong, doing another of those sketches that feels like it might have part of a pre-SNL stand-up act, this time as a “girl you wish you hadn’t started talking to at a party.”  It was a sharply detailed, well-observed piece of character work (the best was when she started strewing the contents of her purse in search of a URL Seth really had to have), although it didn’t particularly go anywhere.

The show wound up with a full-fledged NFL replacement ref sketch that was obvious but fun (the refs, working in a hospital, declared a patient dead while he was talking to them), and worth doing tonight while it’s still topical (the next SNL airs on October 6).  With 30 Rock premiering next Thursday and the Vice-Presidential Debate the Thursday after that, from here on, fans will have to be satisfied with their regular Saturday fixes of SNL news humor, and that may be best for everyone.

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."