This past Thursday, my DVR and I felt mighty lonely without our favorite show Parks & Recreation, which was benched until January. But that emptiness was filled last night when the former Saturday Night Live star returned to her old workplace to host the premiere of the 36th season.
Before Poehler took the stage, we got a cold open featuring Kristen Wiig as tea party member Christine O’Donnell, who’s been on everyone lips thanks to proclamations of witchcraft and a thing against monkeys:
After a few throwaway jokes in her monologue (i.e. Joe Jonas and Taylor Lautner), Poehler gave us a star-studded dream sequence, similar to, but not as shockingly hilarious as Jimmy Fallon's opening Emmy routine. Former cast members Fallon, Fey, Rachel Dratch and honorary cast member Justin Timberlake showed up for the fun, which depicted Poehler's nightmare before hosting the show. With so many famous faces to look at, it didn't matter that the gags weren't all that sharp.
The first sketch of the night was fan favorite Bronx Beat with Poehler and another guest alum, Maya Rudolph (!). The mouthy pair chatted with local good girl Maureen, played by the night’s musical guest Katy Perry, who popped up—quite literally—in a revealing Elmo shirt, a nod to her recent Sesame Street drama. (“Double D? More like 3D!” Poheler quipped.) I could watch Poehler and Rudolph banter all day, so keeping Perry’s lines to a minimum was probably a wise choice.
There were a few faux-mercials throughout the night, and while the hair restoration ad had me shielding my eyes, the commercial for the Ground Zero mosque hosting gay marriages (which turned out to be an ad put out by the RNC) was a wonderfully novel take on all the hoopla, and gave Poehler an opportunity to cop her best Ellen DeGeneres look.
With Poehler a host, it was only natural for a Weekend Update reunion with Seth Meyers, and thanks to a news item about Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the two launched into a “Really!?! with Seth and Amy.” I never was a huge fan of this bit, so I was glad to see the focus shifted to new cast member Jay Pharaoh, who performed a dead-on Will Smith impersonation.
But the bigger news (that we already knew) was a guest appearance by New York governor David Paterson, who has become the butt of many a joke on SNL's stage. The Gov came armed with his own jokes, took a few jabs at his disability (if you cant beat 'em; join 'em) and one directed squarely at SNL: “There are a lot of characters, it’s funny for 10 minutes, and then you just want it to be over.”
The few shorter sketches were fairly ho-hum, like a Justin Timberlake-Andy Samberg bit that seemed like an attempt to get extra mileage out of the pop star. But I did love Abby Elliott’s version of Laura Linney in the Showtime spoof and the musical ode to the unfortunately titled “Boogerman,” performed by Perry with a nanosecond-long guest spot by Peter Sarsgaard.
Speaking of Perry, after a slightly rough rendition of “California Girls,” which seemed somewhat lost on an iconic New York show, the singer was in better shape for “Teenage Dream” (though it was hard to pay attention with her wearing a toddler-sized plaid skirt).
As the episode drew to an end, it finished with two solid sketches: one, a trailer for an The Expendables sequel, dubbed The Even More Expendables, starring Steven Seagal (Bill Hader), Brigitte Nielsen (Samberg), Eugene Levy (Fred Armisen) and best of all, Tracy Chapman (Kenan Thompson), singing “Fast Car.”
The other was a bit that featured Poehler joined by a gaggle of ladies who lunch—and wear tiny hats.
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Everything from the premise to Hader’s pink-suited waiter was over-the-top, but it was the kind of madness that someone as skilled as Poehler could turn into big laughs. And for that, I tipped my own tiny hat to Poehler, for giving me faith in a new season of SNL and something to tide me over until January.
What did you guys think of the episode? Anyone else sad we didn’t get a Will Arnett guest spot?