The big news that all the kids will be buzzing about is that rumored reboot of The Office that some people apparently really want and tonights host Steve Carell says wouldnt work anyway, for some reasons having to do with todays climate. In his opening monologue, Carell got the old unexpected questions from the audience treatment, as former The Office-mates Ellie Kemper, Ed Helms, and Jenna Fischer all stood up to urge their former TV boss to sign on so they can get paid, already. (Kenan wants it, too, responding to Carell asking if hes Kenan or a fake audience member by telling Carell, If I was acting, you would know.) That was pretty much the only laugh in the bit, as Carell played straight man to the same-y jokes about how hes being a dick (Fischers words), and how his actual wife and kids dont really need him around as much as he thinks. He did tease the audience by inviting his Office pals up on stage to guarantee . . . that it would be a great show. (It wasnt.)
The other joke hammered all week has been how Steve Carell is a big drama guy now, something the show didnt so much refute as remind viewers of how funny Steve Carell would have been if he were given any decent sketches to act in. Woof, this was a congested wheeze of an episode, packed with sketch after sketch of unimaginative premises, indifferently executed. And that goes for Carell, too, frankly, who seemed listless and uncommitted most of the time. A couple of musical sketches offered him the chance to really belt out some silly material with the confident abandon hes justifiably renowned for, but, in each, he matched the dullness of the writing in performance. In his third time hosting, Carell and SNL both seemed to be just running out the clock in what was the most deeply disappointing episode of a very uneven season so far.
Steve Carell Answers Whether Hell Reboot The Office On SNL
Saturday Night LiveSeason 44Saturday Night LiveSeason 44"Steve Carell/ Ella Mai"C-Saturday Night LiveSeason 44"Steve Carell/ Ella Mai"C-C-"Steve Carell/ Ella Mai"Episode 6
After last weeks news-grabbing, feel-good official apology for a nothing joke (to a newly elected congressman with some seriously questionable views himself), its like SNL decided to play defense this week. Or maybe play dead, hoping for the national, not-at-all-manufactured outrage cycle to die down through the upcoming off week. Che and Jost sped past some fairly innocuous political material (Ches references to the brazen spree of criminal Republican voter suppression tactics aside) in favor of some lame Amazaon jokes. Jost mocking New Yorkers complaints about the new Queens Amazon HQ for bringing 25,000 jobs takes the laziest laugh line from what is a complicated issue, something SNL has long been prone to, but that Jost and Che have occasionally risen above. This, coupled with the other big Amazon piece tonight (see below) smacks of the sort of corporate coziness that just makes SNL look bad, especially with the big news story of Amazons move taking place in the shows backyard, and the attendant controversies.
Video: Disney – SNL
Tossing to the big post-election satirical landscape, SNL scanned the trees and brought back—Bigfoot porn. The fact that newly elected Republican Congressman Denver Riggleman apparently is way into Bigfoot-themed erotica has predictably dominated media coverage of his campaign. And, sure, thats some funny stuff right there. But hes also been allegedly associated with some avowed white supremacists, which is both less funny and more relevant, satirically speaking. So trotting out Mikey Day to portray Riggleman nearly talking himself off to his own Sasquatch porn with some relatively graphic supposed excerpts and even more disturbing grunting noises is picking the lowest-hanging fruit of a satirical target and heavy-breathing on it. Again, if SNL is going to choose to do politics, then its going to be judged (by me, at least) on the choices it makes in how to approach the jokes. There are a myriad premises to be plucked from the recent midterm elections. That this was the best they got this week is embarrassing.
SNL: Steve Carells Jeff Bezos Trolls Trump
Kenan came on again as overbearing and hyperbolic NBA dad LaVar Ball, which is always pleasantly silly. Here, Kenans Ball maintained his self-promoting, reality-averse egomania, even as he slipped in the fact that Lakers star LeBron James supposedly has a restraining order against him (They have brunch, always a respectable 500 feet away from each other), and bragging about his younger sons dad-financed Latvian b-ball careers. (They feast on the briniest cabbage this side of Bucharest!) I love Kenan, and this is the sort of thing hes wonderful at.
Video: Steve Carell Returns to SNL Monologue – SNL
On a night like tonight, its a matter of picking out kernels (or cornels) of ideas or performances than whole decent sketches, of which none were in evidence. In what was a mostly disastrous ten-to-one (but one) sketch, astronauts having space Thanksgiving with their alien hosts ate screaming purple corn (or kern) on the cob. Complete with dropped props, a failed chroma key effect, Pete Davidsons sped-up corn screams, flubbed lines, and either unwritten or abandoned ending, the debacle played like something infamously intransigent SNL legend Michael ODonoghue might have written during his ill-fated 1981 head writing stint under Lorne Michaels replacement producer Dick Ebersol, when the show was alternately a vehicle for the notoriously uncompromising Mr. Mikes bizarro visions or his legitimate attempt to turn the floundering post-Lorne enterprise into a Viking death ship.
Tune in Saturday (11:30/10:30c, NBC) to find out if our confidence was justified. And, till then, hit the comments with the skits that you think we’ll be seeing.
There was a similarly dark, throwback vibe to the space station sketch, too, with Carells mission commander attempting to tell stilted astronaut jokes and fun facts to Skyped-in school kids, only for a malfunction to flood the camera feed with dead, frozen monkeys, a cat with its face sucked inside out, and, finally, Kate McKinnons very deceased cosmonaut floating rigidly outside the ISS bubble window. It didnt all work—again, Carell never seemed filly into his third hosting gig. But there was some real effort in the physical acting of the bit—apart from the dead McKinnon, Carell, Leslie Jones, and Mikey Day did some fine fake floating, and SNL has room for some darkness in it. After we hear about the unfortunate fate of the poor station kitty, theres a moment where the beast floats into view with its back to us before it—very slowly—rotates to show just what the vacuum of space can do to a cat-face. That, plus some rictus-frozen, space-suited monkey puppets felt energizingly transgressive, in a way that SNL could stand to risk more often.
The Beauty School Drop Out parody musical number had a scrap of a funny idea in that Carells apparently heavenly, permed guardian angel is actually teenager Aidy Bryants dad, interrupting her 1950s sleepover to croon to her high school dropout friend. The concept that Carells dad has been touring the country for six weeks with a carful of sexy backup singer-dancers busting into teenage girls bedrooms has a nice, loony energy to it, and Aidys horrified reactions are good. (God, what a small man you are.) Throughout the episode, there was a refreshing attempt at doing some self-contained, conceptual sketches, but this one just didnt ever lift off.
The Thanksgiving song sketch should have worked better. It, too, took an odd little idea—dinner guests Carell and Cecily Strong maintain theres a famous Thanksgiving rock song which they proceed to sing in all its specifically inappropriate, boner-shrinking glory—that has the potential to soar along with the musical conceit. But then it, too, just didnt, as Carells seeming diffidence sapped the momentum. Its not a total loss—the turn that no one actually knows Strongs character goes from Carells conviction that she was some sort of spirit to the revelation that shes stolen everyones car keys and stabbed Beck Bennetts host is more ambitiously weird than expected. But this one should have been a show-stopper, with everyone eventually remembering the songs lyrics about a pair of lovers, a shy penis, and a cameo-ing squirrel and joining in the song, so its just-okay aftertaste is a bummer.
Chris Redd and Pete Davidsons pro-Ruth Bader Ginsburg rap is the sort of thing they (especially Redd) have done better before, with the paean to the ailing but hopefully indestructible Supreme Court justice never expanding appreciably past its premise. It gave Kate McKinnon a chance to wheel out her RBG for some of her signature gyrating as the one lady holding the whole damn thing together, but its unlikely to garner another musical SNL Emmy for Redd and company.
The RV sketch, in which Heidi Gardners wife unsuccessfully hides how miserable she is since husband Carell cashed out to make her live out his cross-country camper fantasy worked to the extent that it did because Gardner, once more, showed what a fine actress she is on SNL. The sketch had slack pacing, no ending, another blah turn by Carell as the clueless husband, and a very nervous-looking great dane. But it also had Gardners peerless squeaking, eyes-averted denial to power it, with her secretly stewing wife not complaining about having to ride in the back (the dog gets carsick), sleep sitting up at the campers cramped table, and being in charge of emptying the vehicles septic tank before she finally explodes.
By dint of it being the first sketch after the monologue, Im disinclined to cut the clueless dad sketch much slack. Of all its worst instincts, Saturday Night Lives need to over-explain a premise is more damaging than musical monologues, game- and talk show sketches, and recurring characters combined. Here, dad Carells 5 a.m. announcement that hes taking his four kids to Disney World sees his progeny immediately asking Oh my god, does he not know?, Oh no, is our dad dumb?, and How can we know all this and our dad has no idea? to let us know that Carells dad character is dumb and doesnt know stuff. (Namely that their mom/his wife is sleeping with his boss, has left and moved to Arizona, and two of the kids arent his.) Carell, coming out for his first character work of the night, tentatively sets up the sketch-deadening explanatory lines, which leave viewers asking exactly how slow SNL thinks we are.
We got another Ingraham Angle cold open tonight, with Kate McKinnon mugging it up as Fox News smirking white supremacist and, as she translates from Telemundos nickname for her, La madre del diablo, Laura Ingraham. McKinnons impression is more about pitch-perfect sneering contempt than vocal verisimilitude, but its still a decent vehicle to mock Ingrahams ongoing campaign against facts, actual reporting, and anything darker than eggshell. Still, this showed the writing already letting the air out of the Alec Baldwin-replacing opening bit, as Ingrahams breathless report on nonexistent Democratic voter fraud made eye-rolling jabs at Tyler Perry and Eddie Murphy showing up as Madea and the entire Klump family, respectively, to vote multiple times. The joke about Ingraham still scrambling for advertisers willing to sponsor someone who mocked school shooting survivors and, well, lots of other stuff is the sharpest weapon SNL wielded here, with Ingraham happily shilling for the likes of a bejeweled catheter (Ouch.), teeny, tiny turkeys (because youve alienated your entire family in time for Thanksgiving), and Volkswagen (You know why.) Cecily Strong made a welcome reappearance as Fox News legal shouter Jeanine Pirro. (I hate them Laura! Who? Sorry, thats my vocal warmup.) And Alex Moffat continued the shows questionable choice to portray Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg as being somewhere on the autism spectrum as the whole joke, although him finally blurting, When I do bad things, I get money at least addressed the most(?) recent Facebook disinformation scandal obliquely. It wasnt outstanding, but if it keeps Baldwins dull and obvious Trump offscreen for another week, Ill allow it.
Carells biggest showcase was in the filmed Amazon piece, where his bald-capped Jeff Bezos smugly outlined all the ways the online behemoths new ventures are in no way intended to merely troll Donald Trump. You know, even with drones topped with bad wigs (instead of shaving their heads like a real man would), new headquarters in Trumps home town and Washington-area residence (and Florida resort vicinity), and the Bezos-owned Washington Post featuring stories like Immigration Lawyers Suing for Apprentice tapes of Trump using the N-Word. Carell digs in to the part more than anywhere else on the episode, serenely jabbing at Trump being approximately 100 times less wealthy than he is, or how Trumps book is so heavy to ship because it has four Chapter 11s. (As the commercial chirpily concludes, This has been a sick burn by Jeff Bezos.) Fair enough stuff. But, as with Josts Update material, theres a simplistic sameness to the joke here as—while Carells Bezos glides over the fact that his new HQs are pleasing everyone except for the people who live there, and the people who live in all the places we didnt choose—the pandering Trump-burning here ignores the parallel dynamic of two rich assholes screwing with peoples lives for petty reasons. If people are going to clap at the idea of Bezos using the Post to attack Trump, it undermines the Posts actual journalism as just the grimy sniping of one said asshole at another. The crowd erupted in groans at the joke that Amazons Arlington National Cemetery-adjacent HQ will allow the company to pay tribute to the nations war dead even when its raining, but, well, Trump made such jokes fair game recently. Its just that satire works better (or at all) if it isnt deliberately or through laziness ignoring the whole picture.
I am hip to the musics of todayElla Mai has a pretty vibrato and some serviceable slow jams. Plus, she got to use the stage fog left over from Carells sleepover sketch for her second number.
Most/Least Valuable (Not Ready For Prime Time) PlayerSeemingly not content to continue keeping Ego Nwodim on the bench, the episode actually reduced her in size, as she was one of the students in the ISS sketch, asking her question from a tiny box in the corner of the screen.
After the space corn fiasco (which, for or because of its faults, should have been the last sketch), the GP Yass commercial that actually ended the show fizzled out badly. The joke that you can set your default GPS voice to drag entertainer sort-of enchants car passengers Steve Carell and Heidi Gardner, who express enjoyment of the sassy directions and traffic warnings with a square deadpan that aims for . . . something? Honestly, it feels like a cut-for-time piece that was only plugged in because the actual ten-to-one sketch crapped out so badly. Directionless is as good a place to get off of this review as any.
Steve Carell Got a Mini-THE OFFICE Reunion on SNL
Stray observationsIn addition to being Mrs. Steve Carell/monologue prop (along with their kids), Nancy Carell (née Walls) was a cast member on SNL from 1995-1996. (Something her husband was not.) Kind of strange the show wouldnt make mention/comedic use of that.You cant dismiss that idea simply because it isnt true and sounds insane.Gardners dog-hating mom, feigning love for the huge new pet crowding her out of the RV: Did you know that a dog can punch you?Che, suspiciously eyeing the picture of a handful of smiling black men standing with Trump as he announces some suspiciously not-racist-seeming prison reform legislation, states that, whenever he sees such a gathering, he thinks, Oh lord, how much they sell us for?Were off next week, gang. See you back on December 1 for host Claire Foy, with musical guest and copy editors nightmare Anderson .Paak. Advertisement
Steve Carell is hosting Saturday Night Live this week, putting the focus back on his incredible catalogue of work.
Carell is an icon of modern comedy, with many roles that helped define this era of entertainment. He has done it all, from stage-acting to the screen, from skits to sitcoms, and of course, from blockbuster comedies to tear-jerking dramas.
Carell has also hosted Saturday Night Live three times before. The first was in 2005, at the same time that The Office was first airing. Since then he returned in 2008 and 2013, and now at last he will do so again.