Ken Tucker
February 07, 2010 AT 12:52 PM EST

The good comedy came from unexpected little spots in this week’s Saturday Night Live. Tucked into the end of “Weekend Update” was Bill Hader powering through an Eliot Spitzer reading crass Valentine’s Day cards; the same segment included Kenan Thompson as the French comedian Jean K. Jean (“They told me to escargot away!” “Most definite-oui!”).

In the middle of an otherwise-drab View parody, Nasim Pedrad delivered a fine Barbara Walters, complete with a gratuitous Baba name-drop of Deepak Chopra.

Will Forte excelled as a decadent Roman emperor being fed grapes by Kutcher’s blond-bangs slave boy. Using a voice borrowed from Truman Capote, Forte single-handedly saved a trite sketch that depended on us finding the use of the phrase “horse penis” hilarious.

I didn’t think I was going to laugh at SNL‘s umpteenth game-show parody, but “What Is Burn Notice?,” with host Jason Sudeikis begging contestants to tell him “something — anything — about Burn Notice,” was really funny: a cheerfully gratuitous swipe at a show I actually enjoy.

After Andy Samberg bombed with a new character, Liam The Teenager Who Just Woke Up, I was happy to see him light up the screen as Rahm Emanual delivering a blistering, profane attack on recalcitrant Democrats and Sarah Palin.

Very little of the good stuff, I’m afraid, emanated from birthday-boy host Ashton Kutcher. Kutcher did a lurching Mel Gibson impersonation and didn’t even seem to be trying as Billy Bush. And how dully ironic it was that Kutcher began the night saying that, in honor of his 32nd birthday as of midnight last night, he was going to be more mature… and then presided over sophomoric moments such as the “Cialis For Threesomes” commercial, and a sketch with Kutcher as a pool boy who slept with a 110-year-old woman for her inheritance money, but instead ended up only with “stage-five chlamydia.”

Musical guest Them Crooked Vultures? Loved their furious blare; two performances that made me want to see them live.

And Vulture Dave Grohl took part in a riotous final sketch, as part of a wedding-party band consisting of middle-aged guys who tore up the joint by playing throwback-hardcore tunes and overturning tables.

All in all, uneven with moments of high pleasure. It was odd that, hosting for the fourth time, Kutcher couldn’t bring more to this party, but, hey, happy birthday anyway, Ashton.

Agree? Disagree?

Follow @kentucker

You May Like