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‘Saturday Night Live’ Review/Recap: James Franco & Nicki Minaj

Devika Syal ‘18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Seth Rogen and James Franco on Saturday Night Live. Photo Credit: Dana Edelson/NBC.
Seth Rogen and James Franco on Saturday Night Live. Photo Credit: Dana Edelson/NBC.

Saturday Night Live should be extremely proud of this week’s episode featuring host James Franco and musical guest Nicki Minaj. A very rare occurrence so far this season, Saturday’s episode featured a series of sketches and prerecorded segments that were extremely on point. Not  one sketch either wasn’t funny or didn’t make a very good point about something. While it is strongly encouraged that everyone should take the time to watch this week’s episode, here is a breakdown explaining why.

Cold Open: The cold open featured Kenan Thompson impersonating Al Sharpton as he talked about the very serious issue of the recent cases involving the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York. Done very tastefully, the humor in the sketch was in the impersonation, while Thompson’s words brought attention to the two cases and the injustice going on in the country. The Garner case was brought up later in the Weekend Update, when co-anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che straight up had a discussion about the issue and everything that was wrong with it. Saturday Night Live often makes a joke of current events, however it was nice to see the show turn serious for a moment and bring up the events to the audience.

Monologue: Franco’s monologue was very brief and very him. Joined by his best friend and partner in almost every filmmaking experience, Seth Rogen, the two of them made up some story about how their personal information had been leaked. Rogen then listed the personal photos of the two of them that had been leaked, showing the two men in outrageous positions and activities. The best part about it was the realization that in order for those photos to exist, Rogen and Franco actually posed for them.

James Franco and cast on Saturday Night Live. Photo Credit: Dana Edelson/NBC.
James Franco and cast on Saturday Night Live. Photo Credit: Dana Edelson/NBC.

Peter Pan: Obviously inspired by NBC’s recent live broadcast of Peter Pan, this sketch featured a cast performance with a twist. For one, Aidy Bryant played Tinkerbell’s half sister, who was definitely more blunt and odd. Cecily Strong portrayed Peter, whose only lines were a reference to how the character is always played by a female. While probably the least funny sketch of the episode, it was still pretty entertaining and had a lot of great one-liners on Bryant’s part.

Star Wars Trailer: One of the best, the mock trailer of the new Star Wars film showed the beloved characters of Leia, Han Solo, and Luke as senior citizens. The best parts of the sketch were Leia (played by Bobby Moynihan, making it 10x better) trying to figure out R2D2 as if he were a basic electronic, and Han Solo being a terrible driver–in space.

Jingle Ballers: After years, fans rejoiced as Taran Killam brought back his spot on Eminem impression in the spoof of a made-up MTV Christmas show called Jingle Ballers, flaunting a star-studded cast. Members of the cast impersonated Rihanna, Justin Bieber, and Kanye West, while Nicki Minaj joined as an impressive Beyonce, to create a mock nativity scene. Of course, Jay Pharoah’s West was born as the baby Yeezus. The best sketch of the night, not only was it hilarious and accurate, but it was a little twisted as well. The only complaint is that Sasheer Zamata’s Rihanna impression wasn’t good. Come to think of it, none of her impersonations are very good, and when she’s in other sketches it seems like she’s playing herself. Hopefully she will continue to grow while she’s on the show. Regardless, her performance did not take away from the sketch.

Grow A Guy: Mike O’Brien, a former cast member, returned to star in this short film about a man who uses a kit to grow a man or a “Grow A Guy” (Franco) to be his new friend. Basically a baby in a man’s body, Franco spent the sketch learning how to high five, open a can, and tweet. Basic necessary human skills. In the end, it turns out everyone of O’Brien’s friends is a “Grow A Guy” and they self-destruct. Teem ing with pop culture references, this sketch was funny because it was oddly relatable.

Magic Troll: Just watch this sketch. There is no way to describe this sketch in a certain number of words because it is something so funny that it deserves the experience. The sketch also marks Kyle Mooney’s proper entrance into the Saturday Night Live cast as it was his first time passionately kissing another man on camera. Congratulations, Kyle!

Vanessa Bayer, Seth Rogen, James Franco and Cecily Strong on Saturday Night Live. Photo Credit: Dana Edelson/NBC.
Vanessa Bayer, Seth Rogen, James Franco and Cecily Strong on Saturday Night Live. Photo Credit: Dana Edelson/NBC.

Weekend Update: The Weekend Update is back, baby! Jost and Che’s jokes were great and they had two great guests: the secondhand news correspondent, Nicki Minaj as Kim Kardashian explaining her nude photos in the “proper context,” and relationship expert Leslie Jones. She had a great little monologue that included the great line, “Have you ever been called a bitch by Harriet Tubman?” addressed towards Jost after talking about a weird experience on drugs. If every Weekend Update can be up to this standard, the segment can go back to being the best part of each episode.

Kid Mayor: James Franco yelling at the camera for four minutes as a mayoral candidate trying to one up a child who won the mayoral race. It was so ridiculous, but watching Franco finally break character and laugh was infectious.

Porn Stars: A fan favorite, this recurring sketch features Cecily Strong and Vanessa Bayer as ex-porn stars trying to sell high end products that they can’t even pronounce. Usually, the host plays a shady male porn star who helps them. This sketch has always been consistently good and once again didn’t disappoint.

This week’s episode was so great that it deserves a watch, because the funniness of the jokes, one-liners, and acting cannot adequately be summed up in words. The episode would have made a good Christmas episode because of how good it was, but hopefully the show can live up to this week in the next few weeks and make a consistent show.

Overall Episode Grade: A+

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