"Bill Hader/Hozier" - SNL Review

Saturday Night Live
“Bill Hader/Hozier”
Season 40, Episode 3

Chad White, Rating: Aw yeah man!

Wow. Just wow. Begin to question SNL and they fight right back. Bill Hader returned to the stage with a great force of talent, writing and genuine funniness. With so many Pete Davidson appearances and recurring characters, the show stays in safe territory but proves why it still works.

Cold Open: A cold open that is funny in concept and execution? What’s going on SNL? But seriously, Bobby Moynihan as Kim Jong Un trying to prove himself is everything I want it to be. Un has been missing for weeks at this point so why not take a shot at the tiny man. Moynihan is the star here given that the other male cast members on stage are barley given names. He is ailing and short which makes for great TV but I can’t help but wonder how it looked on stage. The audience must’ve seen the male soldiers standing on blocks of some sort. But I’m getting away from the funny. Oh and hey look, Pete Davidson was in this!

Monologue: First and foremost, Bill Hader is one of the few hosts to go on that stage and just own it. It helps that he was a big part of the show for years. He stands wide legged and comfortable as he looks out into the audience. Now SNL has been known for its musical monologues. I can’t remember the last actual one (Chris Pratt didn’t really count) but this is the first one where the singer couldn’t sing. And then Kristen Wiig made an appearance. Then there was terrible singing.

Herb Welch: This is how you start off an episode of SNL. Recurring characters may be few and far between this season because a lot of the cast hasn’t had a chance to establish themselves. Hader’s return marks the resurgence of Herb Welch in our lives. And…what’s that I see? PETE DAVIDSON?! Is that his first sketch? I think so. He wasn’t given much here but I couldn’t tell he was reading cue cards so that’s a plus. Also, see if you can catch the Colbie Smulders joke against Taran Killam. It took me a while to catch that one. Hey so Herb’s return was predictable and funny. He died in the end only to return (again) as a surprise attack.

The Group Hopper: HOLY SHIT PETE DAVIDSON STARRED IN HIS OWN SKETCH. By now, you’ve probably seen this video online. It’s a rip on all of the young adult book- to-movie adaptations like Maze Runner, The Hunger Games,  Divergent and the rest I could care less about. It’s a big production with a setting to match. Hader plays an Effie Trinket (Hunger Games) archetype that is delightfully absurd. The story is that Davidson is a guy who is able to change groups at will even though others are put into groups. A lot is going on and it gets muddled towards the end but it’s just so good.

Hollywood Game Night: Kate McKinnon headlines a spoof of the NBC game show. Her Jane Lynch is good enough to where I would swear from 20 ft. away that that was actually her. And she reminds us that she’s America’s #2 lesbian. Taran Killam as Christoph Waltz, Jay Pharaoh as Morgan Freeman, Cecily Strong as Sofia Vegara, Beck Bennett as Nick Offerman, Bill Hader as Al Pacino, and Kristin Wiig as Kathy Lee Gifford. Nothing much goes on here. Jokes are funny and impressions are hit or miss but I liked this one. Seeing Taran as Waltz made the audience exclaim with laughter. It wasn’t that it was super funny; it was the idea that that’s what Waltz looks like and how he acts. And it was funny.

Help Fund: Bill Hader takes over as the host of a commercial about feeding African families. Here, we finally get to see what they have to say about being filmed. Kenan Thompson and Jay Pharaoh make their first appearances tonight in this sketch. It’s here that I realized how underutilized many cast members can be throughout an entire episode. Kenan took over the last two episodes but he takes a back seat in this one. The same can be said about Aidy Bryant. Anyway, all of the black cast members interject as the African people about the price of donations ($0.39). And Leslie Jones is there too. It’s a matter of time until she’s added as a featured player. Both the audience and I love her.

Jan Hooks Tribute: There was another tribute tonight. This time, it went to Jan Hooks who passed away this past Thursday. She was sent off with a wonderful yet somber musical number from a past appearance. The video also stars the late great Phil Hartman.

Weekend Update: Colin and Michael have yet to find their groove but it’s really coming along. Yes Colin looks like he’s trying a bit too hard and Michael reads like a robot but tonight, they were still very funny. I don’t know if it was the news stories themselves or if Lorne sat the writers down and said “be funny dang it!” but everything was great. Jokes were punchier with more being thrown at Ebola and Kim Jong Un. And, what’s that? PETE DAVIDSON AGAIN?? We are just so lucky tonight. This time, the young cast member tries to relate to rappers. It wasn’t as funny as the last story but it was good. Just now as I type this, I realize that they’re doing to Davidson’s stories what they did to Brooks Wheelan’s stories last year. Hopefully, this time ends on a better note. Oh, and of course Stefon came back. How did I know? For one, the audience shrieked when they saw him moments before the camera did. It’s also so amazing to see a seasoned performer like Hader break. I assume the writers did the thing that Seth Meyers did when he adds an extra line or two to Hader’s cue card in order to try and get him to laugh. And it worked swimmingly.

Tony the War Puppet: It’s great to have returning characters to rely on when you know they’ll get a laugh. Hader’s Tony puppet is still funny but there’s not much to say. Bobby Moynihan is here and so is Vanessa Bayer. Moynihan’s puppet is unfinished he “left the hair at home. I swear.”

Inside Socal: Good Neighbor is still what I look forward to every week. They have been solid for a long time now and it seems as though the rest of the show is joining them. We get to see a show made by some high schoolers aspiring to be some sort of video journalist. This is apparently the second time Inside Socal has appeared but I don't remember the first one. Kyle Mooney and Beck Bennett perfectly encapsulate California teens with their slang, wardrobe and personification. Jimmie Christmas….MORE PETE DAVIDSON. The ending was weird though. The set is revealed to be Bobby Moynihan’s (dressed as an old man).

Cat in the Hat: When I saw Pete Davidson in this sketch, I knew what was going on. Hader was the one that vouched for Davidson to be on SNL. It’s only fitting that they be featured together. Although they didn’t have much interaction, everything was fine. This Cat in the Hat sketch was weird enough to pass for the show. What happens if the Cat actually knows the kids’ mom? What if they had a relationship? That history is explored. The kids are pretty oblivious. And Taran Killam’s Thing Two (now known as Johnathing) is married to the mom.