"Saturday Night Live" has been pretty shaky of late, so it was a relief to have a game Justin Bieber treating us to a fair amount of laughs in this week's episode. The guest host had his diehard fans screaming as usual, but he also gave the cynics something to appreciate by letting the "SNL" writers make fun of his "swaggy" image.
Best of the Night
Jason Sudeikis may have enjoyed this one a bit too much. Playing the Biebs' bodyguard, he introduced a pack of "lookalike decoys" that would help divert crazy fans and keep his charge safe. The pop star of course rejected the motley crew of non-doppelgangers. "Some of them are black, they're not fooling anyone," he protested, leading Sudeikis to quip, "Neither are you, homey." The host admirably kept a straight face throughout as the show ruthlessly skewered his dance moves, winking, and the fact that he could be mistaken for Ellen DeGeneres.
The "Saturday Night Live" cold open gave us the CBS sports panel that unfortunately had no idea how to improvise during the Super Bowl blackout. There were some good chuckles from Taran Killam as the on-the-field reporter who finally fled the scene to Kenan Thompson's James Brown pushing "2 Broke Girls" every 30 seconds to fill time. But the sketch got sublime when desperation forced them to start dishing dirt, and Jay Pharoah's Shannon Sharpe finally blurted, "Ray Lewis knows who killed those people...because it was him!"
Vanessa Bayer busted out her "Miley Cyrus Show" and this is probably her best one to date. Her rough, rambling delivery of her vows in her "secret wedding" video and hubby Liam Hemsworth's (Killam) horrified reaction was a highlight. Then the host came on as the head of her fan club, where he gushed that she was so much "better than that douche Bieber," and then managed to squeeze in a confession-apology for his pot-smoking. "Yah, me too!" Miley added with the perfect mock sincerity. Watch the best "Saturday Night Live" clips here at their video site.
Worst of the Night
The Valentine's Day message from the teen heartthrob could have been amusing in its over-the-top cheesiness, but "Saturday Night Live" decided to throw in a weird, gross man-child named Taco and some other off-the-wall jokes that didn't quite fly.
The 50's romance sketch parodied the "Grease" song "Summer Nights," but had an immature Bieber fumbling with car doors and taking his buddies' promise of "sweater puppies" too literally. The girls' gradually increasing disgust at the turn of the song was worth a few chuckles and the host did his best to sell the premise, but it went to more of an uncomfortable place than a funny one.
"Saturday Night Live" didn't knock it out of the park, but this was one of the more upbeat and amusing episodes we've had in awhile. Whether you liked the show or not probably depends on your tolerance for the Biebs and the millionth installment of "The Californians." I confess to being entertained by both. Critics of the young star tend to forget that he's only 18, an age when awkwardness and fake-it-till-you-make-it swag is to be expected. The kid was admirably game for self-parody, and only truly cracked up when a crazed Killam character was yelling in his face--and that actually made that sketch funnier.
The host sang "As Long As You Love Me" in stripped-down acoustic form, and as long as you could get past the little-boy-in-big-boy-rocker garb, it was a quality performance that proves he doesn't need auto-tune to sound good. He followed up with "Nothing Like Us," another heartfelt ballad that his teen fans will totally eat up. Bieber has not had his "Cry Me a River" moment yet, but he'll get there, and I look forward to that breakout hit that launches him into adult music territory.
What did you think, "Saturday Night Live" fans? Are you a Belieber, or did the show fail to amuse you?
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