'SNL' Adds a New Verse to 'Accidental Racist' With Vince Vaughn Hosting

'Anchorman' actor returns to the show after fifteen years

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Vince Vaughn is a throwback to that long-ago, forgotten time known as the late-1990s. He’s from an era before irony. His words don’t punch as much as they swing dance. If he winks his eye, it’s because he’s laughing with you, not because there’s really something beneath his eyelid.

Some might refer to Vaughn as a treasure, for his unforgettable roles in comedies like Swingers, Old School, Wedding Crashers, and Anchorman. That said, others would be forgiven if they equated "treasure" with "relic." If hosting Saturday Night Live is the measure of one’s popularity and bankability, it’s certainly telling that Vince Vaughn hasn’t hosted the late night sketch show in fifteen years.

So how would the 43-year-old Vaughn take to SNL this weekend, with musical guest Miguel?? Could an AOL subscriber adapt to a Gmail world? How far could Vince Vaughn go in a 2013 Range Rover on 1998 gas prices? The answer to all those: Very well yes far!

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Vaughn’s SNL monologue was one of absolute perfection. (And to one-up last-week’s stellar effort by Melissa McCarthy is a huge achievement, for sure.) In an effort to engage the audience, Vaughn headed into the first few rows of stage seating to solicit promises of focus and enthusiasm. Whoever’s idea it was to let Vaughn be himself – or at least the slick, confident, captivating wordsmith version he’s made so famous – deserves a raise, and possibly a producer’s credit on a Vince Vaughn variety TV show, because this was tremendous. Vaughn’s partially-scripted, partially improv back-and-forth with actual audience members was refreshing and dynamic and hilarious, and saved the episode after a laugh-free cold open.

Stormy Skies, the Weather Channel’s first soap opera, was a chance not only to show off Vaughn in a group setting, but also for the writers to flex with an extremely heady idea. Vaughn and Cecily Strong played cheating spouses, whose delivery was straight out of the Weather Channel guidebook: direct to the camera, with short, upbeat references to what was going on in each other’s "neck of the woods."

"Short Term Memory Loss Theater" was another excellent premise, with really funny execution, led by Bill Hader, Aidy Bryant, Fred Armisen, Jay Pharoah, and of course Vaughn. The characters’ commitment and confusion was a delight to watch, over and over. Interestingly enough, Hader, the one person who actually did know his lines (within the parameters of the sketch), couldn’t hold in his laughter in real life as Armisen play-fumbled his cues.

One sketch not to be overlooked was the genius portrayal by Bill Hader as Al Pacino as Ted Kaczynski . . .  as well as Al Pacino as Amanda Knox, Al Pacino as each of the Menendez Brothers, Pacino as the Italian Ferry Captain, and even Pacino as Michael Jackson’s doctor Conrad Murray, in "The Al Pacino Accused Murderer Biopic Series."

During Weekend Update, Seth Meyers brought out the latest musical duo to dominate the headlines, actor/sometimes rapper LL Cool J and country singer Brad Paisley (Kenan Thompson and Jason Sudeikis). It should be noted that this guest appearance was based on the real-life song the two released earlier in the week, called "Accidental Racist," in which they attempted to move forward with racial relations by using lines such as, "RIP Robert E. Lee, but I've gotta thank Abraham Lincoln for freeing me," and "If you don’t judge my du-rag, I won’t judge your red flag." Again, those lines were not part of an original SNL sketch. So how could Kenan and Jason top something that was already so ridiculous? By adding another verse, of course.

Vaughn was hilarious in sketches about NBC dealing with John Tesh’s brother Dave (the less-than-competent, yet very confident, singing half of their doomed musical duo, played by Tim Robinson); Northside Junior High Prom, where Vaughn played a rich man who lives up on the hill, who donated a ton of money to make the prom exceptional, only as a ruse to solicit dances from unsure eighth grade boys; and perhaps most side-splittingly, as the last man standing as a bar made its last call. Vaughn, teamed with Kate McKinnon, played desperate to a tee, using sports metaphors in the least tactful ways, and getting pet names one hundred percent wrong, ultimately each ending up sharing one sweater and making out with one’s nose and the other’s chin.

Last night’s Saturday Night Live was the perfect stage for Vince Vaughn, and from his real repartee with the audience to the playfulness he exhibited with the cast members, he showed off his natural talents wonderfully. After fifteen years of irony-based, darker comedy, it’s an absolute pleasure and an honor to watch Vince Vaughn – an absolute treasure – entertain on the screen in 2013 . . . the TV screen, that is; miss me with the big screen.

Last Week's Recap: Melissa McCarthy Hobbles in Heels and Peter Dinklage Joins Drunk Uncle on 'SNL'

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