Well damn if Justin Timberlake doesn’t put on a show.
Timberlake, who did double duty as host and musical guest on last night’s Saturday Night Live, put on a show that Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop would be jealous of. With amazing timing both comically and musically, Timberlake – formerly of N'Sync, Nipplegate, Britney Spears and Cameron Diaz – returned to the SNL stage, apparently in an effort to burn it down. But the most interesting moment of the night wasn’t due to Timberlake starting a fire, but rather, returning it.
Almost two weeks after Kanye West mentioned in London that while "I got love for Hov . . . I ain’t fucking with" Timberlake’s new single with Jay-Z, "Suit & Tie," Timberlake struck back. Subliminally. Melodically. On national television. His first musical performance of the night was in fact "Suit & Tie" (his second was "Mirrors"), which featured his dynamic backing band, the Tennessee Kids grooving in the pocket, some perfect moves in conjunction with his fellow dancers and Jay-Z ready to join him on stage. Justin, with no acknowledgment before or after, smoothly took his line in the second verse, "And aw, shit so sick, got a hit and picked up a habit," and switched it to "My hit’s so sick, got rappers acting dramatic."
Point: Mr. Timberlake.
Last night was a night of big points for JT. Justin is clearly very comfortable at Saturday Night Live – at least at ease enough to poke Kanye in front of Jay-Z – which, as we’ve seen in his four prior hosting gigs, has resulted in classic sketches like Dick in a Box, Omeletteville, and Single Ladies. And America loves them some JT on SNL. So how could Timberlake out-Timberlake himself this time?
For starters, how about welcoming Justin as the newest member of the Five Timers Club – a tremendous callback to the 1990 sketch that patted then-new Five Timer Tom Hanks on the back. This time, Justin mingled around the all-star fraternity in his special smoking jacket amongst luminaries like Steve Martin, Paul Simon, Chevy Chase, Alec Baldwin, Candace Bergen, and of course Hanks himself, watching current cast members fight each other to the death. Dan Akroyd and Martin Short even made appearances, though as One Timers, both were relegated to food service industry jobs.
Another homerun was "It’s a Date," a seemingly bland dating game show, in the mold of Love Connection, where the bachelorette must blindly pick a beau strictly through a series of questions, never once seeing any of the contestants. Her contestants, revealed to the audience one by one, turn out to be a normal Bobby Moynihan, followed by Timberlake and Andy Samberg as the Dick in the Box dudes, followed by Akroyd and Martin as the Wild and Crazy Guys. The idea was stellar and the writing was terrific, creating a wonderful tie between young and old.
Crowd-pleaser Veganville was the fifth in a decade-long series of Justin doing personalized singing and dancing street advertisements (Omeletteville, Homelessville, Plasticville, Liquorville), which is always a tour-de-force, calling on spot-on parodies of songs. This time, JT-as-tofu covered Rihanna’s "We Found Love" (". . . In A Meatless Place"), Vanilla Ice’s "Ice Ice Baby" ("Brown Rice Baby") and even Trinidad James’ "All Gold Everything," singing the praises of veggies. And as if it wasn’t obvious, Justin still got a chuckle and cheer out of the audience when he turned Baauer’s super-viral "Harlem Shake" into "Vegan Shake."
Other non-Justin highlights from last night included the return of Stefon (Bill Hader) to the Weekend Update desk, where his late night hot spots recommendations were mixed with an outstanding Donald Duck-suffering-from-Vietnam flashbacks impression; Vanessa Bayer and Cecily Strong teaming up once again as ex-porn stars hocking product on a flawed infomercial; and the women of SNL doing a commercial for NuvaBling, the stylish, yet horrifying birth control that can double as jewelry. "Where did you get those earrings? Tiffany’s?" "No, I got them from my vagina!"
Justin Timberlake is amazing and one of a kind, and as if he had to, he proved it again last night. While he may have looked like Emperor Caligula, sung like Elton John, had the comedic stylings of a Maine-by-way-of-Louisiana court officer and danced like a piece of tofu, the reason his episodes work is because he still looks like Justin Timberlake, sings like Justin Timberlake, has comedic chops like Justin Timberlake and dances like Justin Timberlake.
The one thing Justin may not have is that Kanye co-sign, but that’s all right; the Five Timers Club is soundproof. Only thing you can hear in there is applause.
Last Week's Recap: Kevin Hart Plays Quvenzhane Wallis as the New Pope on 'SNL'