As one of the longest-running programs on television, Saturday Night Live has had its ups and downs. As history has taught us, SNL shines brightest as they enter a new decade. Murphy starred in the early 80s, Farley began in 1990, and Ferrell stole the show in '00.
In the 13th episode of their 36th season, hosted by Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), they have at last delivered some legitimately funny skits. Awkwardly shy Eisenberg fit perfectly into his comedic roles and was often accompanied by the musical guest, Nicki Minaj. SNL is most famous for its political satire, and while they are masters of their game, sometimes a full escape from the real world is craved. Give us some pointless slapstick. It's the skits like "Samurai Chef" and "Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood" that made them long lasting. Thankfully, they seem to have remembered this at the beginning of 2011.
The introduction of the SNL Digital Short revolutionized the program. Andy Samberg and the Lonely Island comedy crew contributed yet another Short to the skit line up. "The Creep" featured the Islanders teaching a dance dressed as a horrifying Rick Moranis/Patrick Batemen trio. Having John Waters introduce the video is creepy in itself. Another way-too-catchy Short that will flood college bars, thanks to Minaj's contributions (she's pretty). The creep dance may not have taught this viewer anything new, but he's no longer ashamed.
What's better than some good ole fashioned racial humor? Probably nothing. A flashback to the 1970s blacksploitation horror films, they give a glimpse at the "Bride of Blackenstein." Eisenberg may have been born to play the part of Igor. It's a no-holds-barred piece of offensive art that may or may not have had Questlove tweeting up some outrage.
The Baeble favorite of the entire episode was the newest, "Herb Welch." Bill Hader plays a senile, veteran news reporter, the new "Harry Carey" with some added racial humor. It's difficult to hold yourself together when the cast themselves are near tears.
SNL did include its typical satirical sketches of current events. Andy Samberg mocked the "music" network for their recent controversy over the new series Skins. England made teen sex cool, now America is trying to commercialize it.
In addition to her sketch contributions, Nicki Minaj performed "Right Through Me" and "Moment 4 Life" as the musical guest. Once the outrageous outfits and wigs are ignored, a pretty good performance can be enjoyed.
Let's hope they keep it up next week, with the return of SNL vet Dana Carvey and the somehow still truckin' Linkin Park, who last played the stage in 2007 (w/ host Molly Shannon), and appear to be no steps closer to the edge.