This past Saturday, Justin Timberlake hosted SNL (which I’m sure you all watched, since I told you to) and it was the best episode of the season. Love him or really love him, you have to admit that Justin is one of the best entertainers of our time.
The episode was full of surprise cameos from old SNL cast members. So many appearances, old jokes, and new funny moments were smashed into an hour and a half, so I’m here to break it all down for you.
Here’s how it went down:
Of course, you knew SNL was going to touch on Hugo Chavez’s death at some point during the show. They got it out of the way early, by having Justin portray Elton John singing a special version of Candle in the Wind. Justin’s British accent left something to be desired, but I’ll never complain about hearing an Elton melody. As they say, the jokes really wrote themselves for this one: Chavez actually said all of the crazy things Justin sang about, like claiming that capitalism killed a civilization living on Mars.
As a five-time host, JT joined the exclusive Five-Timers Club, a select group of performers who have hosted the show five times… or 10 times… or in Alec Baldwin’s case, 16 times.
Before the show, Steve Martin posted a picture on Twitter of some of the huge guest stars, some of whom are a part of the Five-Timers Club. Look at this lovely group! Isn’t it sad to think that John Belushi could’ve been in this snapshot? So sad. Anyway, I digress.
Justin made his way into the Five-Timers Club, where he met with the following members:
- Paul Simon, who has only hosted three times, but has been the musical guest a whopping eight times, and was the host and musical guest once.
- Steve Martin (who, at age 67 , just became a first-time dad. what?!) who has hosted the show fifteen times, and contrary to popular belief, was never actually a cast member on the show.
- Alec Baldwin, who holds the title for the most hosting appearances at 16.
- Chevy Chase, who was an original cast member, and has hosted eight times.
- Tom Hanks, who has hosted eight times.
- Dan Aykroyd, who is another original cast member, and has hosted once.
- Martin Short was on the show for one season, and has hosted three times.
- During the monologue, the 5-timers club was full of men (probably because SNL was an old boys’ club for a long time) until Candice Bergen came out. Bergen has hosted five times, although her last hosting gig happened in 1990.
- Although they weren’t present, five-timers Drew Barrymore and John Goodman were also referenced. Barrymore has hosted six times, and was the youngest person to ever host the show, at age seven in 1982. SEVEN years old! What were you doing at age seven? Certainly not hosting SNL. Goodman has hosted 12 times, but has appeared on the show 21 times. Most of those extra appearances were in the late 90s, when he played the recurring role of Linda Tripp during the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal.
And now, on to the sketches. SNL pulled out all the stops for this episode – they played it safe by resorting to well-known and loved sketches, and opted to mostly feature the strongest, most popular cast members in addition the the guest stars. Sorry, Taran Killam and Jay Pharoah – you need to move aside for former cast member Andy Samberg, who even stole someone’s role as the straight man in one sketch (was that really necessary, Lorne?). Jay Pharoah didn’t seem to mind his lack of screen-time though, because after the show, he tweeted, “Met HOV life made!!!” so I don’t feel too bad for him. I imagine him following Jay-Z around saying, “hey Jay-Z! wanna see my impression of you?”
The first sketch was a dating game show, featuring Bill Hader as the quintessential I’m-too-good-for-this host, Vanessa Bayer as a lady looking for a good time – and maybe love, and Bobby Moynihan as a normal guy hoping to score a date. And then of course, Timberlake and Samberg returned as the Dick-in-a-Box guys, who serenaded Bayer with hilarious tunes about what they’d do to her if she picked them. The last bachelor was another duo – Martin and Aykroyd returning as the dirty Festrunk brothers, a sketch they made famous almost 40 years ago. I loved this sketch because it bridged a generational gap, and it juxtaposed something that was popular in the 70s with something popular now, which was a really interesting comparison. Personally, I thought both pairs were hilarious and it’s fun to see how SNL celebrates its heritage. Maybe they celebrate it a little too much, but I’m an SNL junkie, so I don’t mind. Fun fact: Steve Martin appeared on an episode of The Dating Game as a college student in the 60s, about 15 years before JT was even born.
Next, Justin brought back the restaurant mascot routine, where he dressed up as a piece of tofu who used his catchy jingles to steal business from Bobby Moynihan’s butcher shop. The only disappointing part of this sketch was that Kristen Wiig didn’t make a cameo.
Next up was a hilarious commercial for the fake birth control method NuvaBling. Unfortunately, real birth control commercials are so cheesey and terrible that it’s presumably not much of a challenge for SNL to parody them. It’s not the funniest birth control spoof SNL has done, though. That honor goes to this parody of Seasonale from the mid-2000s:
Then, JT hit the stage for his first performance of the night, singing the first single off his new album, Suit & Tie. Obviously Jay-Z made the one millionth cameo of the night, because, if Tom Hanks and Steve Martin can show up, what excuse does Jay-Z have for not making a surprise appearance?
Next up was Weekend Update. There were some funny jokes blah blah blah STEFON RETURNED! YES! Stefon is probably the funniest recurring character on SNL right now. He’s a creation of performer Bill Hader and writer John Mulaney. If you’re wondering why Hader breaks character every time he plays Stefon, it’s because Mulaney often changes the lines on the cue cards right before the sketch airs, so when Hader’s performing, he’s reading some of the lines for the first time. Watch him explain the genesis of Stefon to David Letterman:
In my opinion, the best part of this sketch is Hader’s impersonation of Donald Duck having a Vietnam nightmare – a premise that makes zero sense but ends up being so perfectly hilarious:
The next couple of sketches dragged on a little bit: JT played Caligula attempting to eschew his typical drunken orgies for sober game nights, and a sketch called “Maine Justice” which seemed like an unnecessary iteration of Christ Kattan’s much funnier “Cajun Lawyer” sketch from 15 years ago:
Next up, the Three Amigos introduced JT’s second and final musical performance: my favorite – and everyone’s favorite – new song, Mirrors. JT’s voice didn’t sound the greatest, but I enjoy this song so much I didn’t even care. My only concern with this song is, I don’t understand the meaning of the lyric “with your hand in my hand, and a pocket full of soap.” Is that an inside joke with Jessica Biel, or is this some love-related idiom I don’t understand?
After his performance, there was a trailer for a rom-com about a woman who was afraid to tell her love interest she had a penis. Not the best use of the hilarious Nasim Pedrad, but if this was the worst sketch of the night, that means the show was pretty dang good, overall.
The last sketch of the night was the funniest, in my opinion. Vanessa Bayer and Cecily Strong played former porn stars peddling quasi-luxury champagne:
And with that, Justin’s fifth show came to an end. Come back soon, JT! But in the meantime, get excited for the April 6 show hosted by this funny lady: