"Saturday Night Live" and host Joseph Gordon-Levitt decided to play it a little safe this week following last week's critically acclaimed (except here) performance of Seth MacFarlane in the season-opener and Thursday's spot-on and hilarious - for Republicans and Democrats alike - "Weekend Update" political report.
Gordon-Levitt stars with/as Bruce Willis in the upcoming sci-fi thriller "Looper," which is set in 2072 but opens Friday. He came out with a nice jab: "I play a young version of Bruce Willis, so I guess I'm playing Ashton Kutcher." It was followed by Gordon-Levitt and cast members Bobby Moynihan, Jay Pharoah and Taran Killam all engaging in a PG-13 rated male striptease audition for "Magic Mike 2".
But it was Pharoah who threw viewers for a loop with two spectacular sports-related parodies that stole the show.
Not only does Pharoah nail President Obama these days, he also crushed Michael Strahan on the show's "Live with Kelly and Michael" cold opening (above). "We look like the post for "Blindside," he remarked to Kelly Ripa/Nasim Pedrad. "I just want to put her between my teeth and carry her home." Strahan, who in the real world played his entire NFL career as a defensive end with the Giants and terrorized Tom Brady in Super Bowl XLII, was amazed at his dumb luck at landing such a cushy gig: "I can't believe I got smashed in the head every day for 15 years while this was a job." Adding, "We're getting paid, too!?!"
Strahan must have enjoyed it, as he re-tweeted this post:
Pharoah delivered ESPN's analyst Stephen A. Smith's screeching take on Tim Tebow's presence with the Jets. "Tim Tebow's throwing arm is proof there is no God," Smith said. He offered Mark Sanchez's and Darrelle Revis' opinion on Tebow. "Darrelle Revis knows it's blasphemous when Tim Tebow goes near a football field. They should print up a phony football schedule and put it in his Bible so come game day, he isn't even in the same city as the New York Jets."
Can we get an "Amen" from Rex Ryan on that one? Check it out here:
Stephen A. laughed along with the rest of us:
Before anyone even asks, I had no problem with Jay Pharoah's impersonation of me on SNL. I think he's hysterical. All love!!!— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) September 23, 2012
The show slapped "undecided" voters in a brilliant taped commercial spoof and took a stab at the GOP with "g.o.b." tampons, but the best political material of the week was seen on Thursday night and during this week's Seth Meyers' "Weekend Update" report. Ann Romney (newcomer Kate McKinnon could pass for the long-lost Romney daughter) became a target, as well, and delivered her best "Beyoncé" imitation while ripping her husband's critics.
Meyers asked President Obama: "What are you doing?" while breaking down the issues with both candidates:
Gordon-Levitt was the son of the "most interesting man in the world" in a pair of very funny "Tres Eqius" beer commercials. "When he tips, he puts a negative amount and says it's 'cash back.'" Dad (Jason Sudeikis) eventually shows up and kicks him out of the house. The versatile Gordon-Levitt showed his acting skill sets as an unsuccessful hypnotist being mocked by his "victim" in a skit that bared more skin than the opening striptease act, as a rapper wearing a White Sox hat and jersey in "The Finer Things" and as teen-age girl trying to impress a nervous date with the help of her singing parents. But none of those sketches were laugh-out-loud funny.
The show, as it often does, lacked staying power past "Weekend Update" and dragged on a bit. In comparison, last week's episode with MacFarlane was stronger from start to finish.
As an aside, the brash and engaging Vanessa Bayer is developing into the heiress-apparent to Kristen Wiig.
Gordon-Levitt also hosted SNL in 2009. He began acting at the age of four and later spent six seasons on NBC's “3rd Rock From the Sun,” before re-making a name for himself in “(500) Days of Summer,” "50/50," “Inception” and “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Folk band Mumford & Sons was the musical guest. The band also appeared as "Hey, Dude" - a Beatles tribute band in a male-bonding sketch. (Dating myself here, but I remember watching live when
James Taylor Paul Simon and George Harrison played the SNL stage together (Taylor made his first appearance earlier that year), so I can't say I was too impressed.) The Queen's personal favorite 00-spy James Bond, also known these days as Daniel Craig, will host in two weeks with Muse as the musical guest.
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