Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary (dot com!) defines cornucopia as a “curved goat’s horn overflowing with fruit and ears of grain that is used as a decorative motif emblematic of abundance.” Also a symbol of Autumn, it’s the perfect representation of last night’s very successful Mid-October Saturday Night Live.
Put host Christina Applegate in that goat’s horn alongside the electro-pop musical guest Passion Pit, plus Olympic gold-medal sprinter Usain Bolt, Apple Maps, Baba Ganoush, Homer’s Odyssey and Shania Twain’s “That Don’t Impress Me Much,” and what do you get? A real-life “This Is SportsCenter” commercial.
In her very funny monologue – Applegate’s return to hosting SNL after a 19-year hiatus – she mentioned in song that this was her favorite time of year, for there are no holidays. No one is celebrating anything; it’s “almost not-quite Halloween!” And out of the cornucopia came her backup singers, the Fruppets – the autumnal alternative to the Muppets – featuring Kirby the Toad, Fuzzy the Badger, and Gronzo, a sick-looking rat-thing. And instead of the Muppets’ Swedish Chef, Mid-October brought Dane Cook, played by Jason Sudekis, who put on a clinic on how to channel the comedian.
Applegate also played the host of Tech Talk, a show whose conceit was to allow reviewers from leading magazines and websites to harp on the iPhone 5 and its “plethora of glitches and design flaws.” Bill Hader complained about Google Maps having gone missing. Kenan Thompson, looking like the former New York Times film critic Elvis Mitchell, took the iPhone 5 to task over it being “too light and thin,” and wished he could give whoever built this a piece of his mind. In a brilliant bit, the SNL writers gave Thompson’s character that chance, with the actual builders of the iPhones: three Chinese workers. All their complaints end once Mr. Chow, played by Fred Armisen, and Nasim Pedrad began to speak. Pedrad stated, “I guess we don’t need maps, cause we sleep where we work.” Armisen had the line of the night, when he was offered the opportunity to complain about American products: “Hmmm, what does America make? Does diabetes count?”
But it was the small touches in the SNL bouquet that made this episode really pop. Usain Bolt made his second cameo of the night – in the first, he played himself, arriving on stage at the Vice Presidential debate to set the record straight: he won the Olympic gold medal, not Paul Ryan – in The Californians, the consistently funny soap opera-meets-Google Maps piece. In a tag at the end of the sketch, Bolt hilariously donned a blond wig, and put-on accent, as a long-lost member of this sun-dried West Coast bunch.
On Weekend Update, Pedrad stopped by as a perfect Arianna Huffington, touching on Vice President Biden (“Only a woman would call someone their friend and then bitch about them for the next 90 minutes.”) and referring to Seth Meyers as her Baba Ganoush and Potato Pancake. And amidst Update’s most-successful string of topical jokes this season, Thompson as French Def Jam comedian Jean K. Jean came through to bring the house down in his broken English. “Brothers be eating gruyere!” Thompson, whose laugh-out-loud moments are year-round, unsurprisingly made Meyers crack up at the desk.
And Sudekis starred in a sketch straight out of Homer’s Odyssey, where Odysseus tries in vain to sail past the isle and resist the sultry sounds of the Sirens, led by Applegate. This time though, the Sirens’ sweet songs were written by the 1927 Yankees of the Lilith Fair: Lisa Loeb, Paula Cole and Shania Twain. The sketch struck just the right tone, as Sudekis and his boat struck land.
Together, Christina Applegate and her collection of various fruit and ears of grain made for a wonderful October Saturday Night.
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