SNL Power Rankings: The Not Ready For Primetime Players Take A Backseat To Jim Carrey

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And there you were, thinking that we forgot about this feature! After 2010 closed out in fairly hectic fashion –I proposed to my girlfriend and got stranded as part of the Great Blizzard, among other things — I made sure to clear my entire Sunday to watch and tabulate the results of the last three episodes of SNL: the Paul Rudd/Paul McCartney episode (Dec. 11), the Jeff Bridges/Eminem/Lil Wayne episode (Dec. 18) and, of course, this weekend’s highly rated episode hosted by Jim Carrey with musical guest the Black Keys. Abbreviated reviews for December’s missing episodes will be going up shortly are up (see above), but let’s kick 2011 off, timely style, and start talking about how awesome Jim Carrey is, was, and will always be.

It’s fair to say that, after dominating the comedy landscape for much of the nineties, Jim Carrey’s career took a depressing left-hand turn into Snoozeville for the better part of the Aughts. Yes, we dimly recall chuckling during Bruce Almighty ($484 million worldwide gross) and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was, without a doubt, one of the decade’s most resonant films. Outside of those, though, Carrey’s luster suffered as he chose to probe the dark side of his persona in weird and terrible films like The Number 23 and The Majestic when he wasn’t vacationing in the Uncanny Valley (2009′s A Christmas Carol).

However, the second that Jim Carrey stepped on stage in the show’s Black Swan sketch (which had a good deal of Vera de Milo flavor in it, wouldn’t you say?), the world was reminded of Carrey’s brilliance as a sketch performer. Carrey’s star quality helped propel the show to creative heights (“Can We Stay With You?”, his killer and totally out of nowhere Alan Thicke impresh!) and huge ratings (the biggest since last May’s Betty White episode). But, rather than discussing the star or the musical guest, now is the time of the week in which we break down how the cast performed this week with our SNL Power Rankings.


SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE POWER RANKINGS: 1/8/11 (Host: Jim Carrey; Musical Guests: Black Keys)

1. Kristen Wiig (32 points): When you have a host that’s as dynamic and talented as Jim Carrey, it’s not really necessary that any of the Not Ready For Primetime Players dominate in the way that they have to when weaker hosts show up at Studio 8H. That is certainly true of Wiig’s work this week, which wasn’t very flashy, but was always solid. She *almost* lost it during the above sketch, “A Taste Of New York,” which would’ve made for an even more memorable night.

2. Bobby Moynihan (25 points): During his three year stint on SNL, Moynihan has had some difficulty establishing himself as a lead character in sketches (cue the “Bring back Mark Payne!” refrain). However, he has settled into a nice Weekend Update groove with his work as secondhand news reporter Anthony Crespino (2nd appearance this year) and, of course, Snooki.

3. Andy Samberg (23 points): It’s always a bummer when The Lonely Island doesn’t contribute an SNL Digital Short and, much like the other performers, Samberg didn’t have a “bring the house down” moment. That said, he did score some silly points with his work as Cameron the Blackbird, the lone survivor of the Great Arkansas Bird Plague of 2011.

4. (tie) Jason Sudeikis, Taran Killam (22 points): ‘Twas a workmanlike ep for the show’s all-purpose white guys. Both did their best work in the “Worst Of Soul Train” sketch which, sadly, the scrooges over at NBC decided not to clear for online use. Boooooo!

6. Bill Hader (21 points): Hader has been en fuego for the last few weeks, so it didn’t bother us much that he ceded the spotlight to the other cast members this week. Howevs, his work in the Black Swan sketch as Thomas, “the world’s only straight French choreographer,” was choice.

7. Kenan Thompson (20 points): The horny old coot Grady Wilson has had many fine moments over the years but, much like many of Kristen Wiig’s core cast of characters, this one is starting to feel a bit stale.

8. Fred Armisen (19 points): As far as bizarre and off key impressions go, Armisen’s work as Mayor Michael Bloomberg has only been surpassed by Taran Killam’s total misread of Brad Pitt’s mannerisms. Still, as Armisen is wont to do, he saved his evening with his work as the drummer in Taste of New York (which was no Bjelland Brothers, but then again, what is?).

9. Vanessa Bayer (17 points): Not much was asked of Bayer this week, but she’s still undeniably at the head of this year’s crop of SNL rookies.

10. Nasim Pedrad (16 points): Pedrad looked both graceful and super gorgeous as Nina in the “Black Swan” sketch, but all of the comedic heavy lifting in that sketch was left to Carrey, Hader and Killam. She seems full of potential, but until Kristin Wiig steps aside, she doesn’t seem like she’s got much of a chance to really break through.

11. Paul Brittain (10 points): Save for Sex Ed Vincent, he’s been stuck with supporting roles for much of the season. This week was no exception.

12 (tie). Abby Elliott, Jay Pharoah (5 points): I have already written off Abby Elliott, so the less said about her, the better. As for Pharoah, at this point in the season, he seems to be headed down the same path that Jerry Minor and Finesse Mitchell walked before him.

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE POWER RANKINGS: SEASON 36 TOTALS
1. Bill Hader (352 points; Last Week: #1)
2. Kristin Wiig (331 points; Last Week: #2)
3. Fred Armisen (308 points; Last Week: #3)
4. Andy Samberg (296 points; Last Week: #4)
5. Jason Sudeikis (269 points; Last Week: #6)
6. Kenan Thompson (249 points; Last Week: #5)
7. Bobby Moynihan (221 points; Last Week: #7)
8. Nasim Pedrad (190 points; Last Week: #8)
9. Vanessa Bayer (178 points; Last Week: #9)
10. ⇑ Taran Killam (155 points; Last Week: #11)
11. ⇓ Abby Elliott (141 points; Last Week: #10)
12. Paul Brittain (136 points; Last Week: #11)
13. Jay Pharoah (103 points; Last Week: #13)

Reference Materials:
Need a refresher on the Scoring System?
Here’s this week’s sketch-by-sketch breakdown:

Also, did you know that we’re showing classic episodes of SNL every night on VH1? It’s true!