Saturday Night Live‘s 40th season got off to a hot start in its first two weeks, but the writing started to seem a little strained during Bill Hader‘s big return as host. (Also: no acting cameo from musical guest Hozier.) But even the dull nights have great moments, and we’ve got the three best here for you.
This season is now three-for-three on perfect digital shorts. The Group-Hopper could’ve gone south if it was just a parody of the almost-month-old The Maze Runner, but instead it’s a trailer for the hottest new young-adult dystopian franchise from “the director of Maze Runner, the producer of Divergent, and a casual fan of The Giver.” Oh, and the source material? “A Y-A novel written entirely in the comments section of a Hunger Games trailer.”
If a send-up of cinema’s biggest non-superhero trend isn’t enough, you’ve got Bill Hader as a warpainted knockoff of the Hunger Games‘ Effie Trinket … with a pair of giant horns. Fortunately for the kiddies, it’s all rated G, “for asexual kissing.”
“Hollywood Game Night”
Friends don’t let friends end their weekends without pointing them to an unexpected SNL guest spot from Kristen Wiig. While Wiig popped up a few times throughout the night — beginning in Hader’s so-so monologue — this was her shiny moment. Wiig was Kathie Lee Gifford, right next to her Skeleton Twins costar Bill Hader, doing a grumbly Al Pacino. Then you had, in order of awesomeness: Taran Killam as Christoph Waltz, Jay Pharoah as Morgan Freeman, Cecily Strong as Sofia Vergara, Kate McKinnon as Jane Lynch, and Beck Bennett as Nick Offerman. It might be SNL‘s millionth skit about dimwitted celebrities failing at a gameshow, but a gigantic impression-fest always has its merits.
One word: Stefon. Michael Che and Colin Jost have been on a roll in their first few episodes manning Update, but Stefon always has been and always will be a show-stealer. Hader retired his Wiki-verified character in May 2013, during his final episode as a cast member, and brought him back in February 2014 to bid Seth Meyers good luck on Late Night. This is our first glimpse of Stefon since then, and he’s doing great. Bonus points for Hader’s inability to keep a straight face while mentioning actor Dan Cortese.