SNL Ranked: Larry David Is Prett-ay, Prett-ay, Prett-ay Good
It’s kind of amazing that Larry David has never hosted SNL, and up until recently he had never really appeared on the show, either (save for a couple of tiny appearances back in the ’80s). David only managed to get one sketch on the show in the year he spent writing for SNL back in 1984–85, but now, after Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm and a couple of cold open cameos as Bernie Sanders, David finally has his chance to host. How did he do? Read on for our ranking of this week’s sketches from best to worst.
Totinos (David, Bayer, Pharoah, Mooney, Bennett, Rudnitsky)
It starts out as a humorous follow-up to last year’s similar Super Bowl snack sketch, with the Hungry Guys’ living room chants constantly interrupting the person who is kind of enough to stand in the kitchen and make food for their loud mouths…But then it gets dark real quick, somehow topping its predecessor.
Bern Your Enthusiasm (David, Ensemble)
Yes, this is exactly what we came here for. A Bernie Sanders / Curb Your Enthusiasm mash-up, which is obvious, sure, but no less wonderful. Sanders as a society-phobic politician who can’t help but convey his discomfort with pretty much everyone and everything? He’s got my vote.
Last Call (David, McKinnon, Thompson)
Oh man, it has been TOO long since we’ve seen Sheila Sovage! Larry David plays her mustachioed, vaguely sleazy object of affection this time around, and this totally wacky sketch makes up for the many, many months it’s been since McKinnon last graced us with Sheila’s weird, slobbery presence. Praise hands emoji.
As with most comedian hosts, SNL lets David do a little bit of stand-up during his monologue, though this feels more casual and less rehearsed than most stand-up monologues. David’s signature shruggy cynical style is just so damn great. I won’t say anything else, just watch and enjoy his brilliance:
FBI Simulator(David, Davidson, Strong, Thompson, Killam, Bryant, Jones, Bayer, Moynihan, Rudnitsky)
This sketch would benefit from fewer asides between Strong and Thompson and more of Larry David’s wacky Kevin Roberts character — a cartoonish late ’80s douche bag guy tossed into a shooting simulation to throw FBI trainees off balance. Really, they should have built an entire sketch around David and his pal, played by Bobby Moynihan, and maybe throw Leslie Jones’ shotgun-toting high-as-f—k lady in for good measure. Okay, and Aidy Bryant’s cat lady. Okay, maybe they should have just put all of these people in a high rise together.
Songwriting Class(Davidson, Bayer, David, Killam, McKinnon, Pharoah)
What a silly thing this is. David plays something close to his Clear History character, which is like the chill inverse of the fictionalized David on Curb. No less socially awkward, of course. David’s older liberal stoner type attends a song class and can’t seem to complete the most basic rhymes, and things just get insanely convoluted from there. Even Davidson can’t keep from cracking up at this silliness.
Weekend Update (Jost, Che, McKinnon, Rudnitsky, Stiller, Wilson)
Another genius character creation from Kate McKinnon: Sturdy Barbie, the only body type not included in Mattel’s new line. She’s got a Philly accent and her feet only fit in Crocs. Jon Rudnitsky makes his Weekend Update debut with some Patrick Swayze hair and some surprisingly solid dance moves (he’s no Channing Tatum) to convince us that he should be cast in the inevitable Dirty Dancing Live. The one-man-dance devolves into a hilariously unexpected pantomime horror show.
And surprise! Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson drop by as their Zoolander characters to talk fashion…except they’d rather talk politics, like the “Iowa Couscous.” Wilson’s O.J. Simpson line is the greatest. It’s so good that it just sold me on Zoolander 2. (JK I got my ticket last week.)
Steam Ship (Thompson, Killam, David, Moynihan, Bayer, Strong, Sanders)
It’s basically Larry David doing a Curb Your Enthusiasm bit on a sinking ship, unable to understand why it has to be women and children first and not, you know, whoever happens to be closest. It’s all just okay and seems a bit pointless until A-HA! Bernie Sanders drops in to spread some wisdom. Still — it’s fine. Just fine.
Peyton & Cam (Killam, Thompson)
I am not going to pretend that I am familiar with these guys, but the sketch still kind of works despite my football cluelessness. Killam’s Peyton Manning and Thompson’s Cam Newton sing their own version of “Ebony and Irony,” and as far as sports sketches go, this one is pretty much okay.
Message From Ted Cruz Cold Open (Killam, McKinnon)
This is a totally accurate, detailed and mostly humorous description of Ted Cruz, as recited by Taran Killam. It’s good that SNL found a political impression he can do well. And he’s right — Cruz does look like a Far Side cartoon from the side. It’s also nice that we didn’t get another debate cold open since those were getting a teensy bit stale.