That foul-mouthed little squirt from Superbad, a.k.a. Jonah Hill, hosted SNL for the third time last night with musical guest Bastille! It’s been an exciting month for Hill; the 30-year-old actor, who got his start starring in raucous comedies like Knocked Up and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, just picked up his second Oscar nomination for his role in Martin Scorsese’s totally lewd but totally engrossing film, The Wolf of Wall Street. (Hill was previously nominated in 2011 for his work in Moneyball opposite Brad Pitt.)
After his first nomination, Hill had a rather unflattering interview with Rolling Stone where he bragged about his successful transition from “comedic actor” to “serious actor,” causing some to question whether his increased industry cachet had gone to his head. In the wake of Oscar nom number two, I wondered: would Hill now see hosting SNL as “beneath” him — as just another stop on his Oscar campaign press tour? Or would he still be down to mix it up with the show’s talented but currently Oscar nomination–less cast?
Good news: Hill was able to set aside his ego for the evening and put on a great show. From his refreshingly self-aware opening monologue that poked fun at his newfound “big shot” status (complete with cameo by dreamboat and all-around beautiful man Leonardo DiCaprio), all the way to the hilarious final sketch, Hill clearly had a lot of fun — and the good feelings were infectious. Sure, not every joke landed, and Hill occasionally relied too heavily on the cue cards, but particularly impressive work from cast members Kenan Thompson, Cecily Strong, and Kate McKinnon cemented this episode as one of the strongest of the season so far. Add to that two star-making performances by British indie-pop rockers Bastille, and you had quite a night!
Now the United States is a little late to the Bastille party (the band is already huge in their native United Kingdom), but if last night is any indication, they’re going to be propelled into stateside superstardom at any moment now. The band’s first performance was a lively rendition of their breakthrough U.S. hit, “Pompeii.” Lead singer Daniel Smith sounded absolutely fantastic as he jumped up and down along with the song’s bouncy chorus. The band brought things down a bit for their second performance of the evening: a soaring, string-laden ballad called, “Oblivion.” Vocally, Smith sounded a little strained at times, but the song showcased a very different, very intriguing side of the group. I expect to see Bastille making many more U.S. television appearances in the coming months.
Check out my rundown of last night’s Must Watch and Must Miss sketches below!
The energy between Seth Meyers and Strong is so much better than last week – it’s sad to think that this is Meyers’ second-to-last appearance! (Meyers is leaving after next week’s show to host Late Night on NBC; he will be replaced by head writer Colin Jost.) But even with the much-improved vibe between the co-hosts, the guests still steal this sketch: specifically, the police officer who recently arrested Justin Bieber, played by Thompson. Thompson likens Biebs resisting arrest to “being barked at by a puppy who smelled like Smirnoff Ice.” Classic.
Hill really shines in this sketch as an insecure employee visiting his boss’s house for dinner. He’s so desperate to make a good impression, even the tiniest faux pas (he mistakes a Waldorf salad for a Cobb salad, for example) sends him to the bathroom just off the dining room where he loudly berates himself — unaware that the entire dinner party can hear every word. “YOU’RE BLOWING IT! COBB SALAD?? IT’S A FRICKEN WALDORF, YOU IDIOT!!” With each return trip from the bathroom, Hill appears more and more undone, eventually borrowing his boss’s wife’s makeup in an attempt to cover his red face…only he just ends up looking like Endora from Bewitched.
Strong and Vanessa Bayer kill it as two dimwitted ex-porn stars filming a commercial for Lamborghini (though they pronounce it, “Lambertini”). Their accidental car-related sexual innuendos are hysterical (“Available in manual or autoerotic”), but it’s when the girls break into a series of embarrassing “One time, at band camp…”-like confessions in the middle of filming that things really get going: “One time, I thought I banged Seal Team Six, but it was actually sixteen seals! I was like, thanks America! Arf, arf!” Hill makes an amusing cameo near the end as adult film director Martin Porn-Cese.
The only real misstep of the episode is this peculiar sketch where two ranch hands (Strong and Hill) try to convince a visiting middle school student that their horse is nice, even though it keeps hurting them (kicking, biting, etc.). I just don’t think the bizarre premise and the Mister Ed-inspired violence are that amusing. At the end, the horse brands the letters, “FU,” into Strong’s cheek. That’s not funny, that’s terrifying! (The sketch was SO weird, NBC didn’t even post the video to their website! But I have it on my DVR, so I promise I didn’t dream it.)
That’s all for this week! Tune in next Saturday for host Melissa McCarthy and musical guest Imagine Dragons. McCarthy, the undisputed new queen of physical comedy, is bound to take more than a few memorable spills — you won’t want to miss it!