SNL Ranked: Adam Driver Should Do This Comedy Thing More Often
Adam Driver is kind of a big deal right now, in case you didn’t know. As the new baddie in the Star Wars universe, Driver went from indie favorite to blockbuster star almost overnight, which is a relief because I’ve been on his bandwagon for the last few years and it’s been a little lonely over here. Driver made his SNL debut this weekend in the first episode of 2016, delivering a consistently wonderful episode that tackles everything from cat videos to Kylo Ren and…porn doctors. Read on for our ranking of this week’s SNL sketches from best to worst.
Fred Armisen Remembers David Bowie (Armisen)
As soon as Fred Armisen took the stage, I knew this was about David Bowie. Armisen introduces a clip of Bowie’s classic, haunting performance of “The Man Who Sold the World” with Klaus Nomi and Joey Arias. Unfortunately, NBC didn’t air the entire performance, but it’s still the best moment of the night.
And now onto the rest of this week’s sketches, ranked:
Undercover Boss: Starkiller Base (Driver, Killam, Moynihan, Jones)
Kylo Ren goes undercover on Starkiller Base as a radar tech named “Matt” to see what everyone really thinks of him and what it’s like to work for the First Order. It’s as funny as you expect, and although it goes on a tiny bit too long, I could watch Leslie Jones and Adam Driver acting together all day.
Porn Doctor (Driver, Bennett, Bryant)
I am overjoyed that they revived this wonderful, weird, funny little concept. Bryant plays a precocious kid who interrupts corny porn sets, this time barging on her doctor (Driver), giving it to a football player (Bennett). 50 CCs of boner, stat! Driver’s bad porn line delivery is intensely hilarious. Also, Adam Driver makes dumb double entendres seem kind of…hot? Sorry. I’ll go now.
America’s Funniest Cats (Driver, Strong, McKinnon, Thompson)
Driver’s game show host name is Finn Ray-nal Beads and that has to be a riff on Finn and Rey, right? Anyway, you give me Adam Driver narrating funny cat videos in a cutesy voice and I’m sold, even without actual jokes. But there are jokes, with Strong and McKinnon appearing as two cat video experts whose French sense of humor is a little too intellectual for us low-brow Americans. Give them their own talk show.
Golden Globes (Driver, Bayer, Mooney, McKinnon, Schreiber)
What happens to the kids whose parents win awards and give them the classic “go to bed” shoutout on live TV? Mooney and McKinnon are wonderful as two precocious siblings whose parents win a Golden Globe and have a totally wasted night out while the kids tuck themselves in for a sleepless night of worrying. It’s both wacky and kind of…sweet? And that cameo!
Awareness Seminar (Driver, Strong, Bayer, Rudnitsky, Davidson, Pharoah, Moynihan)
This is totally shades of Stefon, with absurd nicknames for elaborate pranks like “social puppeteering” and “Honey I Shrunk the Kidsing.” It’s also a great, silly spin on the concept of authority figures’ cautionary tales having the opposite of the intended effect on kids.
Monologue (Driver, Killam, Jones, Moynihan)
Aww, Adam Driver is so charmingly humble and self-deprecating, and he leans into his whole awkward vibe in a way that makes it super appealing. Obviously we get a whole Star Wars-themed intro with the fanboys among the cast eagerly asking him questions about the franchise. Bobby Moynihan in a Kylo Ren costume WITH PERFECT HELMET HAIR is incredible:
Aladdin (Driver, Strong, Jones, Bennett)
Wow. Cecily Strong sounds almost exactly like Jasmine in this cartoonish sketch that has the princess dodging all kinds of flying objects on her magic carpet ride with Driver’s totally dorky and oblivious Aladdin. It just escalates in goofiness from Jasmine wetting herself to Bennett and Jones’ airforce base odd couple to the Aladdin and Jasmine Barbie dolls — which…what?!
Weekend Update (Che, Jost, Davidson
Che’s argument about diversity at the Oscars is a little broad (yes, people have seen Brooklyn and Room), but the Academy could fix its diversity problem by allowing younger people into its voting body and — yes — including more widely seen, popular films, not just because they’re popular, but because some of them are actually awards-worthy. Cough, Creed, cough.
Resident youngster Pete Davidson drops by to talk about gun control (shoutout to Texas! Sigh) and although his monologue is packed with humor, it’s rooted in some very basic common sense. Listen up, youngsters.
Yay! Vanessa Bayer’s tween actress Laura Parsons is back, which makes the prolonged absence of Riblet a little easier to cope with. Laura brings her Nickelodeon melodramatic flair to reporting on everything from Bill Cosby to El Chapo, noting that cocaine is a “powder that makes your brain feel AMAZING!” She’s not wrong. Bayer’s showtune-esque line delivery is perfection.
NFL Playoff (Driver, Bennett, Davidson, Strong, Moynihan, Rudnitsky, Thompson)
Oh god, when this sketch began I thought this week’s game was somehow running additional overtime and interrupting SNL after we’d already been delayed for an hour. Whew. Driver and Bennett make for perfect NFL commentators in a sketch built around a gross body gag. The commentary saves it from its own repetition, as does a well-timed reaction from Thompson:
Republican Debate Cold Open (Mooney, Strong, McKinnon, Hammond, Killam, Moynihan, Pharoah, Davidson, Bennett, Thompson)
Did SNL learn their lesson so quickly with Taran Killam’s mediocre Donald Trump? If so, good move getting Darrell Hammond to take care of it and putting Killam on Ted Cruz duty, which is better suited to his talents. That said, it’s your typical GOP cold open and — aside from Bennett and Pharoah — it’s fine. Maybe these aren’t that funny because the punchlines aren’t far off from what these dummies say in public most of the time.