Hosted by Jason Sudeikis (who joined the cast of SNL in 2005 after spending several years in the writers’ room, and who also played Floyd on the first season of 30 Rock), the original lineup boasted appearances by Andy Samberg and Fred Armisen, though in the end, neither of them were able to do so, for reasons unknown. But everything was still kosher thanks to those who did perform, including SNL writers Bryan Tucker (Chappelle’s Show), 25-year-old Harvard success story (it’s about time!) Colin Jost, and former staff writer Leo Allen (one half of the comedy duo Slovin & Allen). Several video clips were shown, most notably an hilarious commercial parody starring Kristen Wiig and a digital short starring Armisen and Samberg, directed by the latter’s Lonely Island cohort/SNL writer Akiva Schaffer, who was also in the audience at Comix but dipped out halfway through the show.
Although at least one unfortunate heckler made it known that she had only come to see unlikely dreamboat du jour Andy Samberg–whose rise to fame began two years ago with a video about cupcakes and was sustained by a video about his junk–his failure to show up was well-compensated with a special guest set by Janeane Garofalo. As always, her best material was political, and though she generally laid-off the Democratic candidates, she was more than happy to riff on their Republicans counterparts, making light of the fact that three of them “actually believe the jury’s still out on evolution.” Which is funny–and at the same time not so funny–’cause it’s true.
But the real highlight of the evening?
Headliner Darrell Hammond, who announced right off the bat that he was jacked up on Vicodin, although it was unclear whether or not he was kidding, and his behavior throughout the rest of his set made it no clearer. After commenting that he’d just come from Penn Station (“For those of you from out of town, that’s the place that inspired all of Stephen King’s novels”), the 13-year veteran of SNL went on to perform virtually every impression for which he is most famous: Donald Trump, Tony Soprano, Bill Clinton, Sean Connery, Dr. Phil and a dead-on George W. Bush. (Though, for the record, Sudeikis plays the president in current SNL sketches. Or at least he did, when there were current sketches.)
Hammond’s musings on the Clintons–particularly his point that if Hilary wins the election, Bill’s job will literally be to socialize with and entertain the first ladies of other nations (“Hey there Mrs. Putin, this here is the Lincoln Bedroom. And this is the Lincoln bed”)–were a hit, as were his observations about President Bush (“He starts out with the intention of making a point, and then mid-sentence, he decides he simply doesn’t feel like it: ‘The American people are tirelessly [pause]… They’re tireless’“).
If you don’t consider the cancellation of the Golden Globes to be any great casualty, then you may think that because there is new programming on TV this week, the strike doesn’t impact you. But the networks are down to the sitcom reserve supply, and when the scripts run out several weeks down the line, there’s going to be no new content on prime-time television until the strike is resolved (unless you count “Celebrity Apprentice,” which I refuse to do). And while the networks are making a ton of money off the exploitation of their writers and the strike itself, the people who really make the magic happen are starving to death. Fine, that last part may not be true, but it totally might be if this doesn’t end soon.
So here’s my plea: Stop watching episodes of 30 Rock online, grow a beard, join the picketers, or do whatever else you can to help ensure that the networks start feeling the pain of this strike the way the writers are. If not for them, do it for me– because with the exception of booze, television is the closest thing I have to a boyfriend.