‘Saturday Night Live’ finished it’s 38th season with Ben Affleck joining the ‘5 Timers’ club and Kanye West returning as musical guest. SNL has had better season finales, (remember Jimmy Fallon‘s?), and I wish they had given the departing cast members more time to say goodbye, or at least given them a better sendoff. There was some decent sketches here and there, but let’s hope that with so many big changes that they show will be headed into a new, and hopefully funnier, direction.
The Cold Open had Kenan Thompson as Al Sharpton, trying his best to understand the IRS Scandal. Sharpton is a ridiculous enough person on his own I could believe that he had all of his bills sent to Sylvia‘s resturant in Harlem, NY. This would be the last time we saw Thompson for the night, so I guess it’s cool that they let him open the show.
Affleck’s monologue wasn’t anything special. Expecting a number of big stars to show up to congratulate him on his fifth time hosting the show, he only gets Bobby Moynihan in a tight ‘5’ shirt. Then he gets into his Oscar speech where he of course thanked his wife and then…she shows up! Jennifer Garner was on hand to remind people that she exists and that they’re married and really, who cares? I was surprised during awards season to realize that people do give a crap about them as a couple. Affleck did this same bit years ago the first time he hosted in 2000 when then girlfriend Gwyneth Paltrow showed. So Ben is a guy who is defined more by who he dates and is engaged and married to, more than his accomplishments. Congrats.
“New Xanax” was the only pre-recorded sketch of the night. A commercial for a drug specifically for gay Summer weddings. The name of the pill is funny enough, but the anxiety it’s supposed to cure is, too. Afraid of not knowing Beyonce‘s latest choreography, or giving a gift that wasn’t sent from France? Pop a new Xanax forget that you don’t own an iron or gave Cheez-Its as favors at your basic wedding.
“Hermes” saw the return of the former pornstars who are just trying to get us to appreciate the finer things line life. This time it was Hermes handbags, though they kept pronouncing it like “hermans.” Ben was completely unnecessary here, but they had to work him in somehow and his use of the word “taint” wasn’t as funny as I’m sure the writers thought it should have been. Cecily Strong and Vanessa Bayer are always great, and this is one of the few sketches introduced this season that I don’t mind if they keep doing, just don’t overdo it.
The darling Bill Hader is leaving, so of course we had to say goodbye to Stefon. Before that though, Amy Poehler showed up for a quick version of “Really!?! with Seth & Amy” and she stuck around for the rest of the news. Then Stefon appeared to talk about the usual but felt that over the years Seth had never taken him seriously so he left to get married to Anderson Cooper in a very weird parody of ‘The Graduate.’
All of the odd people and things Stefon has mentioned over the years, like little people traffic cones, were in attendance, but it wasn’t Andy Coop who he wanted to be with, it was Seth! They embraced at the end with a number of WU’s characters behind them in celebration. I think it was a fitting goodbye for a character I’m sure will turn up again when Seth Meyers leaves at the end of the year.
“Top Of The Pops” gave Jason Sudeikis, Fred Armisen and Hader a chance to play themselves off. If this was the way they wanted to go out, then cool, but it wasn’t what I imagined for them, even if they were joined by the likes of Sonic Youth‘s Kim Gordon and Armisen’s BFF Carrie Brownstein. The thing is, Kristen Wiig got such a big sendoff, I mean she danced with Mick Jagger, so I expected more. As good as that was, I always felt a little weird about it because Jason was supposed to be leaving last season, and didn’t of course, but it seemed like the focus was all on her. With this again he was overshadowed by Armisen, and earlier Hader got his big goodbye. Does no one there like him or something?
So let’s get into Ye’s new stuff. His first performance was of “Black Skinhead,” and the general consensus was Kanye, what is this? Look, it’s not a bad song but it’s one that I’m going to have to listen to the studio version to appreciate. The barking dog visuals seemed familiar, and the “NOT FOR SALE” sign at the end felt contradictory to his whole personal situation.
His second, and better, performance was of “New Slave.” West has been promoting the song by projecting his image onto buildings and continued the theme here. This is a damn good song with a message that I’m sure went over a lot of people’s heads.
I feel like Kanye gets too caught up in himself sometimes, but damn if he doesn’t know how to deliver good material. He didn’t have to be in any sketches, I think he’s still salty with the crew there, but he ended up stealing the show anyways.