SNL Review: Bill Hader Hosts and Impresses Best Sketches

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Saturday Night Live” knows people will be or are drinking on St. Patrick’s Day, whether they watch the episode or not. But for those people who choose to do their St. Patrick’s Day drinking while watching NBC’s seminal sketch comedy show, it’s arguable that this episode of “SNL” is the sketch comedy equivalent of that same amount of binge drinking — nd this is coming from someone who was stone cold sober watching this episode. Bill Hader, callbacks and longtime jokes, some insane accents, Arcade Fire, and an upsetting amount of crap at the end of the night? That’s definitely some binge drinking holiday in a nutshell.

Monologue-wise, Bill Hader did something more “SNL” hosts should do: He explained how things work around here. Specifically, he explained how he only learned how things worked around here after he finally left, after eight seasons and 210 episodes with this cast. Whether it be project promotion, celebrity pop-ins, or even the length of monologues, Bill Hader explained it all. (Call him, Nickelodeon.) However, “SNL” might not want that monologue thing—that it can be as short as you want it to be—to get out. Otherwise there might be a decrease in musical monologues!

Hader hosting means it’s time to hit some pretty expected beats. “The Californians” is one of those things, and honestly, the most impressive part of the sketch is the quick change he does on the stage at the end of his monologue to cue it up. As for the sketch itself, “The Californians” has always been a “you either love it or you hate it” sketch. Speaking as someone who lives in California, I can honestly say I’ve found myself experiencing some pretty similar “Californians”-esque situations; though we don’t tend to look into a mirror after said moments. This particular Californians bit isn’t its best, but it is good for the moments memorializing Rosa (Vanessa Bayer, a week after she made a surprise appearance on the show) and Pete Davidson’s turn as Rosa’s long lost son from Encino… who has absolutely no accent and has never heard anyone in California talk the way they do. In fact, with that, this particular Californians sketch would make a pretty damn good send-off for the sketch.

But then again, this is “SNL,” so see you again sketch, the next time Bill Hader (or Kristen Wiig) hosts the show.

Plus, you can’t have Bill Hader on “SNL” without impressions, so there’s no surprise we get one of those pre-taped screen test sketches (in this case, for the “Jurassic Park” 25th anniversary). It’s even less of a surprise that he busts out the Alan Alda (and the Al Pacino) for this bit. It is pretty surprising “SNL” hadn’t already done one of these for “Jurassic Park,” though.

There are also of course the little impressions that are just a reason to joke about how things have changed in the past 20-plus years, whether it’s Kate McKinnon’s “I’m just kidding. I’m ‘90s Ellen.” or Kenan Thompson’s “Man, 1992. It is good to be O.J. right now.” Then there are impressions like Leslie Jones’ Whoopi Goldberg — who at least has remembered to go eyebrow-less — and Luke Null’s Eddie Vedder — who actually made not being on the episode at all a better option.

There’s also — again, unsurprising — the return of Stefon, who has a newfound obsession with spotting Roman J. Israel, Esq. And who can blame him? Not only does Stefon provide confirmation that he and Seth Meyers are still going strong, he allows for a brief John Mulaney cameo (as his lawyer). By the way: The way the crowd reacts, you’d think Mulaney had ever actually been a part of the cast, wouldn’t you?

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