Saturday Night Live – Matthew McConaughey Review

©2015/Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC
©2015/Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC /

It’s been a wildly inconsistent season for Saturday Night Live, as the show approaches its one-week Thanksgiving break. A borderline horrendous premier with Miley Cyrus at the helm was balanced by strong episodes starring Amy Schumer and Tracy Morgan. Then Donald Trump brought arguably one of the 10 worst SNL episodes of all time. Last Saturday, Matthew McConaughey did his very best to send the show to a break on a high note.

After seeing McConaughey in his first sketch, it’s made perfectly clear how the show benefits from a host who can actually act. He puts his all into every character he plays, and the show is better for it. His monologue was a good change of pace from the usual song-and-dance number. Instead, he simply told the story of how his most famous line “alright, alright, alright” came to be. There wasn’t any forced humor, just an interesting story from one of the most famous men in Hollywood. It was a nice touch.

SNL’s Thanksgiving episode was a little light on actual content about Thanksgiving. The only holiday-related sketch was a pre-recorded segment following the monologue. It was no “Back Home Ballers” from last year’s Cameron Diaz-hosted episode, but it was still a winner, especially since its subject Adelle was in attendance as musical guest. The premise was that most families have wildly opposing views when it comes to current events, and those views often get brought up when the family gets together for Thanksgiving. The only thing we all have in common is that we all go crazy for Adelle. Once arguments are set to break out, the family daughter plays “Hello,” which causes everyone to break into lip sync mode. The sketch’s increasing glam for each character was a nice touch, especially since the setting eventually breaks into full-on music video mode by the end.

The first live sketch of the night was about a blues band in which everyone sings about their increasingly horrible life situations. It is, after all, the blues. The band begins by singing about how they’re family left them, even blindness, until it gets to McConaughey’s character who has sorry excuses for the blues. He sings about how his fantasy football team sucks or that he has to walk around with his bad haircut. It was a decent sketch, but one that was pretty one-note from the beginning.

Speaking of one-note sketches the following sketch was about a company that created a 3D printed man. To reveal the experiment, the company put the 3D printed man on stage next to two actual men to show how similar they were. As one could assume, the similarities were not all that apparent. McConaughey, who played the 3D printed man, started every answer to a question with “Who Me? As for me…” which was always good for a laugh, but the sketch had a fairly obvious premise from the start.

SNL flexed some star power with its Star Wars Screen Tests pre-recorded segment. I assumed this was going to be an excuse to showcase the many impressions the SNL cast can pull off, but it actually turned out to be a cameo-fest. The actual Emma Stone, Michael Buble and Jon Hamm showed up and were sprinkled in with cast impressions of Maggie Smith, Winona Judd, George Lucas and David Beckham.

Following a powerful performance by Adelle, it was time for Weekend Update. They Che/Jost duo are gelling better than ever. Che playing the role as the disgruntled minority, and Jost filling in as the privileged white man is working out well. They’re back and forth about immigration and pointing out how immigrants are always suspicious of new immigrants was a home run. Vanessa Bayer brought a new character to Weekend Update, but one that’s not new to the show. Bayer played a stereotypical child actor in a children’s comedy as the Newscaster of Tomorrow. In other words, she read news stories like a child television character. I don’t know why this character makes me laugh so hard, but I was a big fan of it when the sketch was “Spotlightz Acting Camp for Serious Kids.” It’s just funny observational humor of the sameness of child actors. Kenan Thompsan brought the house down as Big Papi himself David Ortiz. His nonsensical and fictional dominican cuisine had the audience cracking up.

SNL always thrives when it takes advantage of game show formats. They usually get the early sketch slot, but tonight’s game show was toward the end. This week’s show called “Should You Chime In,” hosted by Allen Degeneres, puts middle american shlubs and asks them if they’re equipped to chime in on controversial current events. Allen Degeneres, played by Kenan Thompson, lets the audience know that off the bat that he got the job by accident. The sketch stood as an spot-on social commentary about how the loudest people who comment on politics are completely unqualified to be commenting on such things. Well done, SNL.

Right Side of the Bed returned which is best known for being hosted by the Chisholm couple. Taran Killam once again nails the effeminate husband of the couple and carrying the sketch thanks to his over-the-top energy.

The 10-to-one sketch was a surprisingly well conceptualized situation in which Amtrak held a town meeting for a new upgraded railroad. Everyone in the town seems to be on board with the idea except a wise-cracking town yokel played by McConaughey. His insults that he flings at the board are excellent, calling the board “college,” “Brooks Brothers” and “I know how to read.”

You never really know what kind of SNL you’re going to get until you tune in and see a couple of the sketches. Fortunately, this episode shows promise for the remainder of the year. Now let’s just get more hosts with actual talent like McConaughey and fewer cheap rating grabs like Donald Trump. The comedy institution of SNL deserves better.

Last Night On grade: B+