Steve Buscemi is very aware that he’s typecast in weirdo roles, but luckily in recent years he’s been able to transition into an offbeat leading man. In the interest of helping others, he dedicated his entire “Saturday Night Live” monologue Dec. 3 to answering questions from other character actors, like Andy Samberg‘s “Take care of her, bro” bro and Jay Pharaoh‘s sassy legal thriller judge. Well, he didn’t so much answer them as allow them to ask him things.
Either way, the “SNL” writers also embraced his strange vibe, and wrote the respected actor into many a weirdo role in the episode.
Guess what we learned? It worked — you don’t mess with a good thing. That said, not everything can be great. Here’s what we thought of the show:
The Miley Cyrus Show: It’s been a while since we’ve seen this recurring skit (with good reason, since Miley’s been missing from the headlines for most of the year), and it turns out that absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder. And so does a surprise appearance by Maya Rudolph. Vanessa Bayer was back to skewer the singer for commenting on being an “effing stoner” at her 19th birthday party, and brought on Jeff, the guy she met at Burning Man (a.k.a. Buscemi), as her guest. Papa Cyrus knew his baby was experimenting with drugs, and asked Whitney Houston (Rudolph) to help turn Cyrus off of the bad stuff. It was wonderful.
Cold Open: It’s the first time we’ve seen Fred Armisen‘s Barack Obama all season, and it seems the writers saved their good material for the occasion. Obama’s speech likened Congress to the Hotel California (you can check in, but you can never leave!), before listing people who are more influential than the president. They include Oprah, the NFL, Mark Zuckerberg, Pixar, Tyler Perry, Verizon customer service. Hey, at least he outranks Pippa Middleton and the Kia gerbils.
Digital Short: Samberg channeled Batman, who kept interrupting Buscemi’s Commissioner Gordon in very personal situations. Trust us, it was pretty funny.
Coach Burt: Embracing that weirdo role, this skit was a pretty funny take on the tragic Penn State molestation scandal, with Buscemi as a kids’ sports coach who people can’t believe isn’t a pedophile.
No more or less funny or usual, “Update” was its reliable self this week. Keenan Thompson’s Herman Cain stopped by for one last amusing skewering.
Musical guest The Black Keys
How can you go wrong with jangly, guitar-heavy, good ol’ fashioned rock and roll? The answer: You can’t. The Black Keys were great, not fancy, not mind-blowing, just good musicians doing their thing.
Sex Ed Vincent: The long-awaited second appearance of Paul Brittain’s “Sex” Ed Vincent was ultra-strange, so it was pretty natural they’d wait until someone like Buscemi was the guest host. This skit was reliably weird, in a good way.
Ornaments: Buscemi sure is a good sport, especially when explaining the stories behind Christmas ornaments in the bizarrely hilarious last skit of the night.
Surprise Lady: Honestly, you could probably watch any other appearance of Kristen Wiig’s over-excited, terrible-at-keeping-secrets Sue and it would’ve been exactly the same as this one. That’s the problem with keeping it as a recurring sketch — nothing new is added each time.
What did you think of this week’s “SNL”?