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J.K. Simmons took a little time away from the Oscar campaign trail to host this weekend’s Saturday Night Live. The Whiplash star got to portray rapper Nas, channel his inner Humphrey Bogart and even took a few potshots (rim shots?) at his critically acclaimed drama. But how did the entire episode fare? Drumroll, please.
The cold open showed Richard Sherman (Jay Pharoah) and Marshawn Lynch (Kenan Thompson) taking NYC mayor Bill de Blazio to task for bungling the blizzard prep. Sherman also referred to DeflateGate as “Ball-gazi.”
In his monologue, Simmons was joined onstage by the castmembers, who tried to no avail to impress him with their drumming prowess. Simmons mocked Pete Davidson‘s hair before admitting, “I think all hair is ridiculous.” Then, Fred Armisen made a cameo behind the drum kit.
A rather odd sketch, particularly so early in the episode, involved ladies strutting their stuff to be chosen as Miss Trash 2015. “She’s the woman who fired shots outside Joe Biden‘s house last week,” was the description of one contestant.
A strong sketch saw Simmons and Kate McKinnon recreating the ending of Casablanca, as Ilsa realized it wouldn’t be so bad to leave Rick behind and hop on that plane. “I’ll wave at you through one of the little windows — it’ll be our thing,” she said.
Weekend Update featured the return of Jebidiah Atkinson, the old-timey critic who slammed the Grammy noms, and the one-dimensional female character from a male-driven comedy, who planned to wear a pink football jersey and no pants in front of her stainless steel fridge. We also learned about P.J. Morton, “the first black member of Maroon 5.”
Another episode highlight was writer Mike O’Brien‘s take on the life of Jay-Z, including a hilarious stint as Kanye West by Jason Sudeikis. “This is insane — I can’t believe I’m great at rap,” O’Brien exclaimed. And a “murder Pushie” sketch also had its moments.
All in all, the Miss Trash bit and a fake commercial featuring activity sets for women were perhaps misfires, but otherwise, Simmons (and his many, many wigs) proved to be a game and very talented host. We also wouldn’t complain if Sudeikis’ Kanye become a recurring character.
Three best sketches of the night
1. Jay-Z biopic
2. Casablanca ending
3. Simmons’ monologue
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