If last night's episode of Saturday Night Live was Sesame Street, it would have been brought to you by the letter "A," for Austrian host Christoph Waltz. The episode also known as "Things that shouldn't be funny, but are". The self-proclaimed serious actor made light of the fact that he didn't think he'd ever get asked to host because well, he's not funny. But he was. So much so in fact that in the majority of his skits he was the reason the cast regulars couldn't keep a straight face. Unfortunately we weren't always laughing with them. Check out the highs — musical act Alabama Shakes — and lows.
Live from the Carnival Cruise Poop Deck
Nothing says SNL target more than a broken-down cruise ship, so it was fitting that the Carnival Triumph disaster was the premise behind the cold open. Cecily Strong and Jason Sudeikis served as cruise directors trying to comfort passengers with magicians, news from the outside world and a comedian, played by Jay Pharoah. He of course nailed it with his Chris Rock impression and then threw in the word dookie a couple of times for added chuckles.
Are Austrians Funny?
As a European actor who didn't really show up on American radars until he was cast in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, we were hoping Waltz's monologue would have given us more of an insight into him. Instead we got bad Austrian cliches and a song even his fellow countryman, Arnold Schwarzenegger would have been embarassed to sing.
RELATED: Christoph Waltz on 'SNL': Will He Score Hosting Gold?
The Game Show Equivalent of Depression
This skit — in which Waltz played the wannabe serious host of a game show where the only premise was asking contestants "What have you become?" — was depressing. And speaking of sad, so was the host's attempt at dancing. His last name is Waltz for goodness sake. By the end we were asking ourselves, what has become of the last five minutes of our life?
What Does a Retired Pope Do?
When it comes to pre-taped skits, they always have the most potential because they get to film it during normal hours when the comedians are not so bleary-eyed and half asleep. But this commercial about a financial planning company that helps retiring popes with their future had us hoping our future didn't include any more silly skits.
Tippy: The Character We Wanted to Invite to Leave This Episode
Awkward racist dog walker Tippy made us miss long-time favorite Debbie Downer. Sadly this girl was the exact opposite of one of SNL's most beloved characters. Tippy was the annoying chick at the party trying to jump in every conversation in search of the funny. Keep looking.
NEXT: About That Djesus Sketch....
You Thought Django Was Rough? Wait 'Til You See DJesus!
The second pre-taped skit was a trailer for a new faux movie, Djesus Uncrossed. In it Waltz played resurrected Jesus who goes about exacting his revenge on those who wanted to crucify him. It was so violent and reminiscent of Kill Bill that we're pretty sure Tarantino actually directed it. Though Keenan Thompson's Ving Rhames impersonation as Pontius Pilate deserved more airtime.
The Jamarcus Brothers Three
Thompson and Jay Pharoah are guaranteed laughs together. This musical skit teamed the two in what felt like a nod to a certain R-rated Justin Timberlake/Adam Samberg skit where they sang about a d-ck in a box. Waltz later joined as the "white" brother — and if it is true that Austrians aren't funny, someone should tell Thompson because he couldn't stop laughing every time the host deadpanned his lines.
The Alabama Shakes Get Down With "Hold On" and "Always Alright"
This band has exploded on the musical scene so fast that they are still relatively unknown to the masses. And we bet many viewers were as eager as we were to see what the fuss was all about. Thankfully they didn't disappoint with some high-energy performances of the popular "Hang On" and "Always Alright" that featured the eclectic voice of singer Brittany Howard. For many, it was probably the most watchable segment of the night.
Weekend Update: What Have You Become?
Oh Seth Meyers, how we love thee. Normally. But tonight something was off. In a show sometimes short on laughs, this segment is one we can always count on. This time the chuckles were coming from the guests: Senator Marco Rubio and Olya Povlatsky, the Russian girl whose life in her village was so horrible that she actually wished the falling meteor had taken her life. Another example of something that shouldn't be funny, but is.
NEXT: Fred Arminsen. In a Dress...
Regine: Or Fred Armisen in a Dress
If you thought the host and longtime cast member Fred Armisen had chemistry in the commercials leading up to the show, you should have seen them as a couple. In this skit — one of the few where the regulars were actually laughing at one of their own, versus the host — Armisen dressed in full drag to play Waltz's girlfriend. But that's not even the ugly part. The two proceeded to touch each other in an erotic manner that elicited squeals from Armisen. He then proceeded to writhe over the group so much that he flashed the audience multiple times. Thankfully after we were brave enough to peek from behind the hand over our eyes, we realized it was planned. And Armisen was wearing underwear and stockings, covering all of his comical bits.
Fox and Friends, Now With More Ted Nugent
The gang is back to poke some fun at the easy target of the Fox News show. This skit rarely misses — with so much content to go after. While Ted Nugent mocked crazy people, a UK scientist tried to inform the uneducated anchors that horse meat is not actually harmful for you. Leading them to surmise that one should never leave the good ol' USA.
Not-so Secret Admirer
The final skit of the night poked fun again at Waltz's foreign accent, as he played a creepy security guard named Dmitry who makes an extremely awkward Valentine's pass at Strong. Not realizing it was Dmitry as the author of the love letter she reads aloud to her colleagues, she asks the guard to find out who the culprit is. As Waltz questions the office colleagues, they all seem to break character fighting to contain their laughter. Must be a sign we have reached the end of the show.
[Photo Credit: Dana Edelson/NBC]
February 07, 2011 12:46pm EST
When a dramedy gets too sentimental it quickly becomes sappy but with the right balance – and the right actors – it can work well enough to entertain on multiple levels. Alexander Payne’s Sideways is a perfect example of tonal equality; bittersweet in every sense of the word but outright hilarious when the comedy gets going. I thought the best qualities of his direction would carry over into his latest production the recent Sundance entry Cedar Rapids. While his influence as producer is identifiable (particularly in its score) director Miguel Arteta (The Good Girl) made a more conventional film than I expected to see.
Our story begins in Brown Valley Wisconsin where the dignified Tim Lippe (Ed Helms) works lives and loves his former 7th Grade teacher (a dull Sigourney Weaver). When the top dog at the insurance company he works for dies it’s up to him to represent at a do-or-die insurance convention in Cedar Rapids Iowa a bustling metropolis compared to the small town he’s never left. Once there he befriends a pair of agents (Isaiah Whitlock Jr. and John C. Reilly) cavorts with another (Anne Heche) and parties with a local prostitute (Alia Shawkat). When it comes down to business however he learns quickly that the insurance racket isn’t the noble industry he once thought it was.
Though it has some heart the film doesn’t hit the funny bone like its trailer teased. The biggest laughs don’t come organically; instead Reilly’s crass Dean Ziegler (the best part of the movie) spews them from every orifice he exposes. Most of the other jokes are flat including the bulk of Helms’. Lippe’s naivety is all too reminiscent of Andy Bernard his beloved character on The Office and though you’d think that would be a good thing it just feels stale. Heche gives the best performance of all portraying a melancholy working mother who’s both vulnerable and independent but her character doesn’t have much effect on the narrative. The most fun comes via a series of supporting roles and cameo’s from the likes of Thomas Lennon Stephen Root Rob Corddry Kurtwood Smith and Mike O’Malley but none of them have enough screen time to leave a lasting impression.
Lack of humor aside the film suffers most from trying to tackle too many topics at once. Screenwriter Phil Johnston stuffs many themes into the 87-minute feature including the growth of the man-child (an indie cliché at this point) corporate corruption and separation of church and office but no single subject is developed enough to care about. Had the filmmakers stuck to their guns and delivered an all-out comedy be it conventional or quirky Cedar Rapids would be easier to endure.
Val Waxman (Woody Allen) is an award-winning director who has jumped the shark and is now in Canada shooting deodorant commercials for nickels and dimes and well animal pelts. So when his ex-wife Ellie (Téa Leoni) and her new husband slick Hollywood studio exec Hal Yeager (Treat Williams) ask him to helm Galaxy Pictures' next big-budget movie he reluctantly signs the deal. Unfortunately the script for The City That Never Sleeps reminds Val of his own failed relationship with his son and causes him to go psychosomatically blind. Poor Val doesn't want to lose this much-needed gig and allows his agent Al (Mark Rydell) to persuade him to direct the film anyway which means keeping his blindness a secret. To make matters worse the publicity department has given a reporter from Esquire magazine the green light to cover the daily happenings on the set. Needless to say no one can do a better job than Allen of talking and gesticulating to the air walking into large objects and falling off sets.
Nervous and jittery like most of his characters Woody Allen is hilarious as Val and he makes the character's blindness completely believable. Allen's performance is priceless especially in the scenes where he is out with Ellie; he tries his best to have a professional discussion with her but constantly blurts out these Turrets-like comments about their breakup. Téa Leoni (Jurassic Park III) is superb and very natural in the role of Ellie--she has come such a long way since her short-lived 1995 television series The Naked Truth. Treat Williams (Venomous) and George Hamilton (Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles) are perfectly cast as glossy Hollywood tycoons while Mark Rydell (Intersection) personifies perfectly the loyal entertainment agent. Will & Grace's Debra Messing struts her big screen skills with her portrayal of Lori the ditzy aspiring actress and Val's live-in girlfriend but much like sultry Tiffani Thiessen's (The Ladies Man) part her role is rather small.
Allen has written a clever satire of Hollywood films and what goes on behind the scenes. When his character Val loses his vision and exclaims that he will not be able to direct the film his agent Al responds "Have you seen some of the pictures out there?" The rest of the film never lets up down to the film's crowd-pleasing "Hollywood Ending." There are quick-witted jabs at everyone and everything especially West Coast culture. The film even pokes fun at itself sometimes: Messing's character Lori leaves for an extended stay at a fitness spa early on in the film and when she finally returns Ellie comments "I forgot about her." Well so had we all. Allen also drops a lot of little references that will leave you wondering. For example his character mentions that when his first wife left him she changed their son's name. (Wasn't Seamus Allen's real life son with Mia Farrow once called Satchel?) Although there are some preachy moments including a dinner party scene where the characters discuss their favorite Hitchcock film the film is witty and entertaining.