Sometimes Saturday Night Live is really, really good. It's been a weird episode tonight, with a lot of things going awry--it's one of the episodes that really benefits from being live. In a skit with Horatio Sanz as Billy Joel driving erratically, garbage cans, dogs, and debris were being thrown at the car. A mailbox was tossed onto the hood and it got stuck there, blocking the five actors in the car from view. Sanz leaned out of the window and tossed it aside, revealing a few of the actors smiling despite themselves. During Weekend Update a heckler started yelling at Jimmy Fallon--Jimmy deflected him, but he looked cranky for the rest of Update. They tried to introduce a new character for Rachel Dretch that is supposed to always bring conversations down with depressing facts. She flubbed one of her lines--mentioning the recent North Korea train explosion and saying the North Korean is "sensitive" instead of "secretive." Jimmy Fallon is sitting next to her and Sanz is across from her, and they both start giggling. After every depressing fact the camera does a close up on Dretch--on the next close up she broke and laughed out loud, setting off the rest of the actors at the table--Amy Poehler and host Lindsay Lohan. They did their best, but for the rest of the skit they kept laughing. Amy Poehler eventually just put her head down and wouldn't look at the camera. A giggle here and there is normal, but none of them could keep it together during this skit--they were just laughing openly throughout.
Amy Poehler has showed up a lot in this episode, which is nice to see. I always liked her in the Upright Citizens Brigade and Wet Hot American Summer, but she seems to only play supporting roles on SNL. She had a skit playing a young girl having a sleepover towards the end, which she always plays well. When the doorbell rings signalling her guest's arrival, she runs around her step-dad's couch for a good thirty seconds just yelling his name. Sanz played her step-dad Rick, in an unusually subdued performance. He usually hams it up, but he kept the spotlight on Amy in this skit, and I think it was the strongest I saw all night. Sanz only started to laugh once.
SNL has been particularly good the last two years, and I think Tina Fey is one of the funniest and smartest comedy writers I've seen in a long, long time. I hope MEAN GIRLS does well for her. Lohan was good in this episode too, and it was the first time I'd seen her in anything.
I'll get off my comedy-nerd box now. Go watch SNL and stop saying it's not funny anymore. This is easily one of the best casts and writing teams the show has ever had, and easily THE best where my own sensibilities are concerned. It would be nice if Will Forte had more to do, however.