Saturday Night Live Review: Larry David


When Larry David comes out of his hole, or New York apartment or wherever he resides when he’s avoiding showbusiness, it’s for something meaningful. He came back for a dual-episode cameo as Bernie Sanders. It was so successful that Lorne Michaels convinced him to come back to host an entire SNL episode. He’s not promoting anything. He’s just there to make the show better. The best part about his hosting job: he actually succeeded. This was easily the best episode of Saturday Night Live this season.

It had all kinds of highlights. The actual Bernie Sanders stopped by to play a Larry David doppelganger for a change. The cast of Zoolander showed up for an unusually strong Weekend Update. It sounds like a neighborhood described the Seffon, but it’s not. It was just a great episode of SNL.

A Ted Cruz cold open started things off with a misstep. It’s not funny to have an impersonation of Ted Cruz describe how and why he’s unappealing to the American public. There has to be some substance. Larry David quickly got things back on track with his trademark common sense-driven observational comedy. It was like watching new episodes of Curb. He did some standup that would fit well into a long lost Larry David stand-up routine about being jewish with an eating disorder.

The first live sketch of the night set a tone for what kind of night it was going to be on SNL. Kenan Thompson played a police officer in training in a simulation to help him decide what kind of human beings to shoot, and which ones to spare. The simulation’s robots started out as cut-and-dry innocent people and clear criminals until the orange-suited Kevin Roberts popped up. He was played by Larry David sporting blonde tips and a goatee, and yell-asking if “a bitch can get a donut.” It was an extremely zany premise and perfectly executed for laughter.

Then came the sketch that everyone will be talking about on Monday: a pitch perfect recreation of Curb Your Enthusiasm, but with Larry playing as Bernie Sanders in what was called Bern Your Enthusiasm. It had perfect impressions of the regular cast members. Susie and Jeff were played by Cecily Strong and Bobby Moynihan. Even Taran nailed a Funkhouser impression. The spoof played out perfectly like an episode of Curb, but with the twist of Larry (Bernie) being on the campaign trail. Be sure to check out the sketch. It might be this election year’s version of Tina Fey as Sarah Palin.

Bern Your Enthusiasm was followed up with a Titanic sketch in which David played a crew member who questioned the ages of the children and the sex of the women taking up the space on the life boat. Like the sketches before it, the sketch was loaded with Curb-style humor. It was starting to overstay its welcome until the actual Bernie Sanders crashed the party. The two standing next to each other was perfect to see.

Vanessa Bayer reprised her Totino’s Pizza Roll fake commercial about “feeding her hungry guys.” It didn’t have the same punch as last year’s version, but the X-Files twist at the end was perfect.

Weekend Update crushed it tonight. From strong social commentary about Black History Month to an excellent new character plugging for a spot among the lineup of new Barbies named Sturdy Barb. John Rudinsky had his first big spotlight since becoming a featured cast member at the beginning of the season. He used the entire Weekend Update set to audition for the rumored live production of Footloose. Then Zoolander and Hansel (the actual ones) came out to judge the presidential nominees on their fashion sense. They really haven’t missed a step in the space between Zoolander 1 and 2. It was hard to choose a joke of the Update, I’d have to choose: “Hellmann’s is making a vegan version of mayonnaise. They’re thinking of calling it ‘Colin.’” It was made even better by Colin’s quip saying, “Hey, it’s his month.”

The only subpar sketch of the night was next about a songwriting workshop. Larry’s character couldn’t get a grasp on simple rhyming techniques, but the other members of the class loved what he was going for. It was unique, but not the funniest.

Kenan and Taran played Cam Newton and Peyton Manning in a song called “Ebony and Ivory” to illustrate the racial double standards in media coverage and public perception. Well done to the writers of that segment. Cam exclaiming that he does yogurt commercials and Peyton hangs out with the very creepy Papa John was pitch perfect.

Larry David should be an annual SNL occurrence whether he’s promoting something or not, just like Alec Baldwin or how John Goodman used to be. He’s what the show has been missing in both his character acting, and in the writing room. It showed how much the world of comedy needs him.

Last Night On Grade: A-