Saturday Night Live: Miley Cyrus, Amy Schumer, and Tracy Morgan

A little behind, but never too late to dish out the best and the worst in the new season of SNL.

The benefit of this new season is the fact that there haven’t been any major cast change-ups: last season was basically the trial run for 99.9% of the cast in its new combination. We only added one new featured player (Jon Rudnitsky) who’s integrating farely well for a totally brand new member.

Now let’s go through best, worst, and honorable mentions of the latest

Miley Cyrus

For me, this was a pretty strong opening episode for the season. Miley’s hot right now, and it’s perfect we got a host / musical act combo. We had a number of really fun sketches that played into exactly who Miley is – a young, twerking millenial.

Best Sketch – 50’s Dance

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The premise is quite simple: we have a Grease-esque parody where we roll through different 50’s Americana high school couple stereotypes. Miley’s character breaks the mold with a modern twist, twerking and being highly sexualized, more than preppy athlete Jon Rudnitsky expected. This was pretty well paced with a poppy punch-line.

Honorable Mentions

Hillary’s cameo should’ve been expected given its the beginning of election season. Having Hillary as the bartender / object of Kate McKinnon’s hallucination was perfect. Hillary also played it pretty damn well, landing the poignant ironic lines well.

The Millenials was also a fairly succesful sketch for me. It’s a pretty damn good commentary on the young millennial attitude in the workplace. Now, I know I fall into the millennial category myself, but there’s a definite new attitude in the millennials coming-of-age now, in this era of self-promotion, self-starting, and soul-searching dream-chasing.

Worst Sketch – Miley Wedding Tape

I’ve grown to enjoy Kyle Mooney’s stranger brand of humor, but this just didn’t quite seem to hit. It was just ironic objection that escalated nonsensically. The situation was only a little funny but there was very little motivation. Didn’t quite land with me.

Amy Schumer

This episode wasn’t as strong for me, which was disappointing. There were funny characters throughout but perhaps the scenarios didn’t all quite gel together. This is pretty surprising since all Amy does is sketches – maybe something about the live format made it different?

Best Sketch – Porn Teacher

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I think what draws me to this is there’s a very clear premise and punchline: You think you’re watching a school porn, and it keeps getting interrupted by an innocent bystander student who believes she’s really at school. I think having Aidy Bryant’s toned down foil to the totally ridiculous character Amy played really works here, and the comedy is incredibly simple. The escalation of the sketch also makes the most sense of anything else in the night – you keep thinking they’ll resume the porn, but Aidy Bryant finds wilder excuses to come back. Simpler is better, and I think a lot of the sketches in this episode have more complexity and components than necessary.

Honorable Mention

The Guns PSA is pretty on point, and was probably great for Amy Schumer to be part of as well especially after this summer and the shooting at a Trainwreck showing. It’s smart, to the point, and a pretty great commentary.

Also good is the Hands-Free Selfie Stick – again, the situation is bizarre but the premise is simple: how do you one-up the selfie stick till it’s finally ridiculous to everyone? Amy Schumer playing more of a straight role here is also really effective.

Worst Sketch – Baby Shower

The obnoxious drunk is definitely in the wheelhouse of Amy Schumer, but the application here didin’t land as well for me. The set up was fun for an uninvited friend who’s just a drinking buddy is attending a baby shower, but I wish it went a different direction than freaking out over a purse. There’s so much more I know Amy Schumer could’ve been capable of in that set-up that would’ve felt more driven and motivated than her rallying to the cause of finding her friend’s purse. Cecily Strong played the freaked out friend well, but again – it didn’t feel like it was placed right, or properly motivated. Yeah, I’d be worried if I lost my purse too but that’s when I’m drinking or in somewhere unfamiliar. There’s no way you would freak out THAT HARD at your friend’s baby shower over not finding your purse right away. Amy Schumer’s line about not caring what she says or what the others think of her because they’ll never cross paths again is a great middle point to the scene, but it could’ve led up to that moment in so many different ways. Clearly that character is nowhere near the baby milestone in life – I wish they opened the damn present, or played another party game. Great idea, not great execution.

Tracy Morgan

Tracy definitely made a pretty triumphant return to SNL. It was a very relieving episode, and full of heart. It was hard to not like what Tracy had to offer.

Best Sketch – Family Feud

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This is by far the single best application of Family Feud the show has done. It’s so simple, and I can’t believe they never tried this before. What if there was a REAL LIFE family feud competing on Family Feud? They really milked the premise well – that Tracy Morgan left his family for a younger white woman and her family – and every answer from his family was so raw and cutting and humorous. What a great staging ground to confront your father on being crappy to you. The twists and turns were also pretty great here as well, starting with Michael Che succumbing to accepting the new family because he’d rather be happy, and Tracy Morgan actually sweeping the category in favor of his new family. Well done, writers. Well done.

Honorable Mentions

Standoff was a perfect twist on a classic premise: two guys start hyping each other up for a fight, but one is way more literal about “wanting to dance.” The cutaways to Tracy Morgan’s meek feet in ballet slippers were well timed, and all his lines about his desire for dance were so punchy. He wants to partake in the majesty of rhythm. Even better? That for all this love of dancing, he’s actually ill-experienced: he forces Taran Killam into leading him because he doesn’t know how. This sketch is both endearing and smart. A real fun way to turn around a very common scene.

I’m also gonna give mad props to the Democratic Debate Cold Open – Larry David was on point as Bernie, and they just played it so well with the other characters basically being nobodies in this race.

Worst Sketch – Yo Where Jackie Chan At

It’s usually a lot more fun to see a montage of celebrity impressions, but this felt so ill-motivated that it just didn’t land. Sure, I’d like to know where Jackie Chan’s been at but this was just totally random.

SNL is off for Halloween, so till next time!

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