Saturday Night Live: Bill Hader & Arcade Fire March 17, 2018
The cold open
Alex Moffatt returned as CNN's Anderson Cooper and first interviewed Kate McKinnon's weasely Jeff Sessions about the sudden firing of FBI former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, which was somewhat amusing. In a cameo, John Goodman played recently ousted Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, as a not-so-quietly enraged guy, bewildered by his former boss. Host Bill Hader showed up early to reprise his turn as short-term White House spokesman, Anthony Scaramucci, which is an amazing thing to behold. His buddy and colleague Fred Armisen also returned to SNL, as Fire and Fury author Michael Wolff, to indifferently rumour-monger and, all told, this was an energetic and entertaining open.
John Goodman returns as Rex Tillerson: "It's just crazy how one day you're the CEO of Exxon, a 50 billion dollar company, and the next day, you get fired by a man who used to sell steaks in the mail." #SNL pic.twitter.com/8YG2KeplOI— Saturday Night Live - SNL (@nbcsnl) March 18, 2018
The monologue / The Californians
Bill Hader did a goofy monologue feigning ignorance about a variety of SNL conventions, which, interestingly, led right into a Californians sketch. We actually saw Hader, aided by almost half-a-dozen crew members, get into costume before our eyes, which was cool. The silly sketch itself was fuelled more by nostalgia than anything else, with Armisen reprising the vapid lead, Stuart, and Vanessa Bayer, who played a perpetually alarmed maid, appearing via a framed photograph. It was cute and fun and ridiculous like a Californians sketch is supposed to be.
Kiss Me I'm Irish
After pissing off Ireland with a demeaning Irish airline sketch earlier this season, the show doubled down by suggesting the country has normalized incest. Aidy Bryant played an Irish-American studying in Ireland who ends up on a TV dating show and is horrified when her competitors, Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong, both turn out to be cousins with the guy they're playing for, as portrayed with gleeful smarm by Hader. Funny, yes, but expect some blowback for this one.
An over-the-top idea led to a couple of laugh tremors and one Hader break earthquake. Strong played a young woman meeting with friends in an apartment, and she brings along her husband, an ancient, scooter-assisted senior named Horace, played by Hader. Strong was already struggling not to laugh when the main premise of the sketch emerged, where she had to stimulate a cold kind of child-creating sex, matter-of-factly mounting Hader, whose sex drive meds have just kicked in, as her horrified friends politely suggested that this is not cool. Hader and Strong broke so hard, the sketch almost collapsed but they pulled it together to bring a funny idea home.
Jurassic Park screen tests
For the 25th anniversary of the theatrical release of Jurassic Park, SNL presented some early '90s screen tests, which was a good excuse to run a slew of quick celebrity impressions.
A tradition on the show by now, this one may have a set a record for sheer quantity, as several cast members appeared to each impersonate the likes of Hugh Grant, Alan Alda, Ellen Degeneres, Wesley Snipes, Roseanne, Adam Sandler, Whoopi Goldberg, Peewee Herman, Drew Barrymore, Joey Lawrence, Gwen Stefani, Sinbad, Al Pacino, Lisa Kudrow, Jaleel White, Eddie Vedder, Jodie Foster, O.J. Simpson and Clint Eastwood. This was funny, well-written, and satisfying.
Well, it's difficult to recall a more hate-inducing musical performance on SNL in recent times, as Arcade Fire began trending on Twitter during the show, with most users blasting them for their music, their epilepsy-insensitive strobe lights, ripping off other artists, and for coming across less like a band and more like a sketch. Not totally sure if this is simply residual scorn for their much-maligned Everything Now promotional campaign, because these performances themselves didn't seem particularly objectionable. For "Creature Comfort," the band were all dressed in gold lamé suits, like Bono's '90s character, Macphisto, and seemed to be really givin' er, with Win and Regine climbing atop monitors to rise above their cohorts. One Twitter user was adamant that the song was clearly inspired by Siouxie & the Banshee's "Kiss Them for Me," and they may have a point.
The #ArcadeFire song "Creature Comfort" utilizes melody/harmony which is a blatant rip-off of Siouxie & the Banshees' (@SiouxsieHQ) 1991 hit song "Kiss Them For Me." Listen carefully. It's very easy to hear. Shame shame. https://t.co/SluWnBTQcd #SNL— Jeff (@illyahkuryahkin) March 18, 2018
An unusual technical glitch found the band's second performance, "Put Your Money on Me," airing mid-stream; viewers around the world went from commercial to Butler's face, halfway through a verse, with no band intro from Hader. SNL remedied the issue in the morning (for Americans) via a tweet to a YouTube link of the whole performance.
Hey apologies we made a mistake - it's St. Patrick's Day and someone in the control room was drunk. Here's the full version of the Arcade Fire song: https://t.co/1KirHzUm8O— Saturday Night Live - SNL (@nbcsnl) March 18, 2018
As for the performance itself, again, it seemed fine and infectious enough for a brooding pop song by the earnest band that included Everything Now slot machines as stage props. Sure, it was all a little overwrought, but not as insufferable as most of Twitter would have one believe.
Michael Che and Colin Jost manned a wild and successful Weekend Update where every desk correspondent was a winner. In terms of news, the pair got in some solid jokes about the rash of White House firings, Stormy Daniels taking on the president, and the Russia probe. Jost may well have had the joke of the night, comparing mass media's teasing headlines with a high school girlfriend giving him blue balls.
Kate McKinnon appeared for a brilliantly spot-on turn as Education Secretary Betsy Devos, highlighting her sputtering lack of depth and penchant for misspeaking.
Pete Davidson delved into his own dark mental health issues, addressing NBA star Kevin Love's recent article about having a panic attack during a basketball game, and making it seem hilariously minor compared to his own struggles.
And finally, Hader reprised Stefon, barely able to make it through the surprise prose on his cue cards, left by comedian/writer John Mulaney, who made an unprecedented on-screen cameo to let Stefon know he shouldn't use the term "midgets." It was breathtakingly funny.
This strange one was set at a flaky mediation retreat where Heidi Gardner and Alex Moffatt play a couple who, much to the chagrin of Kyle Mooney's retreat employee, wish to hike up to Sacred Rock. Hader plays his eccentric, Doc Brown-like coworker, who experienced something odd up on the Rock, which is described as a very invasive extra terrestrial encounter. Again, a bizarre one but Mooney and Hader made it work with their performances.
CBC News Hour
For a CBC news story, Hader played a fictional entertainment producer named Thomas Logan, who is brought down for being a sexual predator. The joke here is on Canada, which is portrayed as this stilted, overly polite nation, that would persecute a man in the name of #metoo whose infractions seem rather slight at best. Hader, Strong and Gardner each copped the American version of a stiff Canadian accent, and even Arcade Fire appeared to say "sorry" like a bunch of Northern hayseeds. Stereotypical but also very funny.
Undercover Office Potty
Good lord, this remote was amazing. Beck Bennett plays an office drone who is struggling to get his work done on time when he's hit by stomach cramps. Soon enough, he's swayed by a voiceover that convinces him it's totally reasonable to take shits in specially designed lamps and over-sized staplers and tape dispensers and just leave them on his desk. The reactions exhibited by Mooney, Chris Redd and Hader are priceless, and Bennett plays the dummy perfectly. Totally gross and incredibly funny.