Saturday Night Live was back live this week with Australian acting sensation Chris Hemsworth, best known for his appearances as Thor in the Marvel movies. Hemsworth shined on stage in his hosting debut, bringing some enthusiasm to his performance, even though the show was more of a string of ups and downs than anything else. There were a lot of fun skits from tonight, and a lot of moments that fell flat, but at least Hemsworth was gold, and I was happy to see both Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong get top billing on the night. They are two of the strongest performers on the cast, and have been underutilized this season to a certain extent, especially Strong.
The episode started out with a special message from Hillary Clinton, played by Kate McKinnon. It was a fun nod to her recent e-mail controversy, and it had some nice moments, even if it didn’t totally win me over. McKinnon’s Hillary really didn’t have the same charisma as Amy Poehler’s did, but I really can’t blame Kate too much for that. She’s really the only blonde on the cast capable of pulling off a resemblance to Hillary, and considering former Secretary of State Clinton’s high political profile, it was a pretty obvious decision to try out McKinnon in the role. I did like Kate’s ability to play up the power-hungry satire of Clinton, which did come off pretty funny, but other than that, I thought it was just an average start to the show. Chris Hemsworth came out for his monologue, and did a pretty good job winning over the crowd. It was kind of funny when he brought out his brothers to share the moment with him, which ended up including their adopted brother, played by Kenan Thompson; that bit ended up working really well and drove the monologue from there on. Hemsworth introduced himself as a fun guy who is willing to play off his hunk status for a few laughs, which was obvious in the pre-taped American Express commercial that lead the show after the monologue. It wasn’t all that funny, but it set the tone for what Hemsworth was going to be like on SNL, and in time he did blend in fantastically with the cast.
My favorite skit of the night was definitely the ‘Chicken Captain’ sketch, it was just so perfect. Every once in a while, the writers come up with some really out there material that just works so well because of its oddness, and this happened to be one of those shining moments. The premise was that a space ship crew (seemingly another nod to Star Trek) had a difficult relationship with its non-human captain, who was later revealed to be a chicken (and was actually played by what appeared to be a really well trained chicken). It was great watching Cecily Strong and Chris Hemsworth interacting with the chicken; it just brought the absurdity to life seeing how into the plot those two were. Even at the end when the chicken sacrificed its life in what seemed like a microwave, the actors still killed it discussing how they were going to enjoy eating her since she was “such a bitch.” Everything about the sketch was epic, the plot was hilariously bad, and the chicken interaction was priceless. It was truly next level stuff from the writers, and I really have to applaud them for the premise, it’s one of my favorites in 2015 so far!
After a solid, eclectic performance from the Zac Brown Band, Weekend Update returned with a really funny set. Yes, you heard me right, Weekend Update was really good for the first time in a few weeks, and that was kind of exciting. Jost and Che had some really good banter, something I’ve criticized them for lacking, especially when Che gave Jost one of his less favorable jokes to tell when Jost complained that he gets the less funny jokes. Another great moment for both of them was when they traded barbs about Ben Carson. It was one of those quintessential moments when the actors just pile on insults towards a news subject, it doesn’t happen too often, but when it does its always comic gold. Update even had some great guests this week, with Leslie Jones coming on and talking about the difference between living in New York and Los Angeles. Of all the members of the cast they’ve used as Weekend Update guests, Jones has by far the best chemistry with Colin Jost, so seeing the two of them perform together is actually quite fun and lively compared to his usual drole delivery. Likewise, Michael Che also got a visit from one of his favorite guests, ‘The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started A Conversation With At A Party,’ played by Cecily Strong. Che and Strong always play off each other great in this skit; probably even better than she did with Seth Meyers, and I thought their pairing was pretty fantastic. Overall, Update brought the right jokes and the right guest-host pairings and totally rocked their set this week. Now, if only SNL can make the right writing decisions every week for Update, maybe they could gain some momentum going into next season (my fingers are crossed)!
So, Saturday Night Live was a roller coaster this week, a lot of highs, some lows, but overall it was a fun show. I thought Chris Hemsworth did great as host, he was able to get into the sketches with all of the cast, and was able to laugh at himself a little, with skits like The American Express commercial, and the Thor newscast. It was great to see Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong front and center on and off throughout the night as well, they’re two of the funniest women in the cast, and they deserve to be leading the show because they’re just that talented. They both shined throughout the night in basically everything they were in, and that’s sort of the takeaway message from the episode, in my opinion. No date was announced for the next new episode of SNL, so I guess we’ll just have to wait a few weeks for another show, but until then I think I can keep myself occupied by watching clips of Hemsworth speaking lovingly to a chicken.