Spring Training began this week, which means Major League Baseball’s regular season is right around the corner. And while football, basketball, and hockey can get us through the cold months, nothing compares to America’s Pastime. Each baseball game is theater at its best, with the hope of greatness hung on each and every pitch. We watch for the drama and unpredictability. We suffer the losses. We celebrate the wins. But the fact is, not all wins are alike. There is another level.
Saturday Night Live is like a weekly baseball game. Okay, it’s late at night, and yes, there’s a time limit, and obviously there’s no competition, unless you count Standards and Practices, but like baseball, every once in a blue moon, SNL can reach perfection. And last night’s episode, with host Christoph Waltz (and musical guest Alabama Shakes) was the equivalent of baseball immortality.
While each episode is of course a team effort, from the costume designers and set decorators to the directors and players, the major credit for this tremendous feat goes to the writers, who figuratively sent each of the twenty-seven hitters back to the dugout in order. Rarely does a single episode incorporate such success from beginning to end.
The movie trailer for Djesus Uncrossed was stunning, in the best way possible. This upcoming blockbuster is “the ultimate revenge fantasy” – a spot-on send-up of Quentin Tarantino’s films, where Jesus (Waltz) rises from the dead, cuts down armies of Romans with swords and Uzis and leaves behind equal amounts hilarious blood and hilarious one-liners. Every last line in this gory sketch was written with impeccable sophistication.
Waltz, unknown to so many outside of his roles in Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained, played his parts exceptionally last night, straight and within the confines of each character, especially during the Papal Securities commercial. The writers brilliantly took the big news of the week – the Pope’s unexpected retirement – and went left with it, answering the question of how His Holiness would live on a fixed income. Waltz’ frail Pope carrying and dropping groceries was absolute excellence.
Weekend Update, which has been inconsistent this season, very successfully cruised through its middle inning last night, with snaps on last week’s notorious Carnival cruise, the Russian meteorite, and Mohawk Guy’s attendance at the State of the Union, not to mention side-splitting guest appearances at the Update desk by Stephen A. Smith (Jay Pharoah), a Russian woman (Kate McKinnon), and a phenomenal Marco Rubio (Taran Killam).
The writers nailed the corners on all of their original live sketches too: the ten-to-one sketch was a who-dun-it, based around a love letter gone wrong. Co-starring Bill Hader, Jason Sudeikis, Vanessa Bayer, and Keenan Thompson as suspects, Waltz was both the security guard and ultimate sad-sack culprit in love with a very confused Cecily Strong. In another one, the concept carried the players as Fred Armisen played Regine, Waltz’s brash, rowdy, and extremely unattractive lady-friend. It was awfully tough for anyone to keep a straight face (but ultimately very amusing) as Regine climbed on top of every person and propped her legs very wide open. And in another sketch, Waltz joined Keenan Thompson and Jay Pharoah as the three JaMarcus Brothers – Barry White-ish, multi-racial singer kin – in an infomercial for their new project, Now Is The Time for a Tickle Fight, He He.
Perhaps most amazing, though, was the attention to detail the writers used throughout the night, from the titles of the JaMarcus Brothers’ songs (“Let’s Take a Shower, I’ll Go First and Then You Can Go”) to the Fox & Friends corrections, like “Meteors are not coming to take your guns” and “Zero Dark Thirty is not a diet soda.”
In an era where it’s so easy to rely on gimmicks and old stand-bys (YOLO sketches = PED’s), kudos to the writers, James Anderson, Alex Baze, Neil Casey, Jim Downey, Steve Higgins, Colin Jost, Zach Kanin, Chris Kelly, Joe Kelly, Erik Kenward, Rob Klein, Seth Meyers, John Mulaney, Mike O’Brien, Josh Patten, Paula Pell, Marika Sawyer, Sarah Schneider, Pete Schultz, John Solomon, Kent Sublette, Bryan Tucker and Lorne Michaels, who all pitched in on an extraordinary and beautiful win for the team.
Last Week’s Recap: Justin Bieber Addresses Pot Use and Spoofs ‘Grease