That’s the way you do it, that’s the way you
debate host Saturday Night Live! Despite the fact that we didn’t see a reprisal of last year’s best SNL sketch, “Pageant Talk,” Zach Galifianakis proved himself worthy of an express lane pass to the Five Timers Club with his hosting work over the weekend. His opening monologue — only part of which NBC has made available online — was pitch perfect, and he was able to confidently and charismatically play the lead in a number of awesomely bizarre sketches (including “Noodles,”which was so blue that NBC has thus far refused to put it online). Much like Jim Carrey, Zach is one of those crazy talented performers that could be an SNL cast member if he wanted to, but we’ll be content if he instead settles on coming back to host once a year (a la Jon Hamm).
Way more divisive, however, were the opinions on Dr. Luke’s newest protégé, Jessie J. The fact that she’s got a big voice and killer stems is undeniable, but her performance (at least to me!) came across like Natasha Bedingfield on a fistful of bennies. However, based on a quick search of Vevo, her music is apparently quite popular with the kids these days (26 million views for “Price Tag” alone). Would anyone care to explain exactly what her deal is?
But now, without any further ado, here are this week’s patented SNL Power Rankings!
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE POWER RANKINGS: 3/12/11 (Host: Zach Galifianakis; Musical Guest: Jessie J)
1. Kristen Wiig (43 points) Don’t look now, Bill Hader, but Kristen Wiig is chasing you down in this season’s race to be the Most Valuable SNL cast member! Wiig was a solid, if not spectacular, presence on this weekend’s show. Her highlight was undoubtedly her exasperated take on beleaguered Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark director Julie Taymor during “Weekend Update” (“Do spiders flyyyy?”), but she also botched her Canadian accent during the “Celebrity Scoop” sketch somethin’ fierce. Oh well, at least there was no Gilly!
2. Bill Hader (39 points): Whereas Hader’s “Duh! Winning!” sketch last week felt like it dragged on forEVER, his Charlie Sheen impresh this weekend hit just the right notes in just the right amount of time. And bonus points for historical accuracy; The pyramids really WERE built by the Wayans Brothers!
3. Kenan Thompson (34 points): “Beeeeeef JELLY!”
4. Nasim Pedrad (32 points): Over the course of this season, Pedrad has repeatedly demonstrated that she’s got what it takes to be a mainstay of SNL for as many seasons as she likes. She can play the “straight man” (as interviewer Tracy Wolfson during the cold open), she can imitate celebs (her Sharon Osbourne was more than adequate), and she’s able to infuse otherwise forgettable parts with attitude and swagger (her work as a cheesed off mom in the “Corn Syrup Producers of America” commercial turned a mediocre sketch into something memorable).
5. Bobby Moynihan (29 points): Quite a solid week for Moynihan. It doesn’t seem as if he’s ever going to blossom into a lead performer (ie, someone who can carry a sketch all by his/her lonesome), but he’s doing quite well for himself as a second banana. (PS, bring back Mark Payne!)
6. Andy Samberg (25 points): Let’s hear it for Liam, the Teenager Who Just Woke Up, the best new Weekend Update character since Stefon. Yes, it was an incredibly lowbrow and silly character, but it reminded me of how much Samberg can be like Sandler when he hits his groove. Oh yeah, his Dick Vitale was pretty amazing, too.
7. Jason Sudeikis (23 points): A middle-of-the-road episode in the midst of a middle-of-the-road season from my boy Sudeiks. White Bernie Mac had so much potential!
8. Abby Elliott (22 points): Just when you thought her Khloe Kardashian was the worst celebrity impression on SNL came Elliott’s toothless take on Leah Remini. The comedic weight of this sketch rested on Abby’s shoulders, yet time and time again, she was never quite able to break the crowd up with her punchlines. She also biffed a line during that sketch, too.
9. Fred Armisen (20 points): I wonder if Lorne is secretly upset with how good Portlandia turned out to be? Ever since that show’s debut, Fred has seen less and less screen time. Then again, Lorne is an E.P. on that show, so he’s no doubt profiting from the exercise, so that theory doesn’t actually hold water. Bottom line? We want more Armisen!
10. Vanessa Bayer (18 points): This! Forever! (Courtesy of City Sleep)
11. Paul Brittain (6 points): More Goran “Funky Boy” Bogdan, please! As a rookie, Brittain hasn’t had much chance to contribute this season, but when he does, things generally go real well. I’d be shocked if he weren’t back for a second tour of duty next fall.
12 (tie). Taran Killam, Jay Pharoah (5 points): Aside from brief cameos in the “Kings of Catchphrase Comedy” sketch, both of these gents were blanked this week.
Bonus Footage! This didn’t air live, but here’s some backstage NBC video of Zach getting his Mr. T mohawk during a commercial break.
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE POWER RANKINGS: SEASON 36 TOTALS
1. Bill Hader (539 points; Last Week: #1)
2. Kristin Wiig (526 points; Last Week: #2)
3. Fred Armisen (442 points; Last Week: #3)
4. Andy Samberg (420 points; Last Week: #4)
5. Kenan Thompson (395 points; Last Week: #5)
6. Jason Sudeikis (380 points; Last Week: #6)
7. Bobby Moynihan (334 points; Last Week: #7)
8. Nasim Pedrad (327 points; Last Week: #8)
9. ⇑ Vanessa Bayer (267 points; Last Week: #10)
10. ⇓ Taran Killam (264 points; Last Week: #9)
11. Abby Elliott (255 points; Last Week: #11)
12. Paul Brittain (194 points; Last Week: #12)
13. Jay Pharoah (160 points; Last Week: #13)
Need a refresher on the Scoring System?
Also, did you know that we’re showing classic episodes of SNL every night on VH1? It’s true!