A few quick comments on last Saturday’s “Saturday Night Live”, which was hosted by the inimitable Betty White (thanks to a Facebook campaign) and featuring musical guest Jay-Z.
First of all, you’ve got to give it up for a woman of Betty White’s age (88) to do ANYTHING even remotely resembling hosting a 90 minute show. She appeared in the vast majority of the sketches, and I’ve gotta say that although I only watched the second half of the show, she was quite funny. She did better as the host than guests 1/4 her age (paging Taylor Swift and Ludacris, among others). I’ve complained before about the writing on “SNL”, which has totally become lowest-common-denominator, but I did like the NPR “muffin” sketch as well as the “Scared Straight” sketch with Kenan Thompson. I also (for the first time in God knows how long) REALLY enjoyed “Weekend Update”, which was not only due to Betty’s appearance, but also to the appearances by Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. Betty did stumble over her lines quite a bit (and was obviously reading off of cue cards in some sketches), but she deserves a pass, being an old lady and all.
What this really proves is that “SNL” these days is only as tolerable as the guest host is. I shouldn’t complain too much about the writing quality. Even though the writing will never match the show’s late Seventies heyday, I’ll take Will Forte and Andy Samberg over Adam Sandler and David Spade. However, there’s a spark when the host is someone with actual acting talent and comedic talent (Justin Timberlake, Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin) as opposed to someone who’s obviously just there because they’re a big name…
…which segues right into the show’s musical performer-Jay-Z. Look. I love Jay-Z. However, his performances (which were ostensibly to promote the upcoming Greatest Hits package he has coming in June) were weak. I remember seeing Jigga onstage at the MTV Awards over a decade ago (at the time, I wasn’t as big a fan as I am now) and wondering who in their right mind would pay money to see this guy perform. He had no stage presence. He’s gotten better in the years since…hell, he’s made the only hip-hop “Unplugged” show worth listening to or watching…but last Saturday’s performance was a regression. He had no fire-it was like he took his cool way too seriously and forgot that he was supposed to entertain the audience.
I do wish Universal would hurry up and release Mr. Hudson’s album over here, though. I’m tired of waiting and I’m not going to pay thirty bucks for an import.
Anyhow, you can check out the entire SNL episode on NBC.com. The link below shows you Betty White’s monologue.