Last night Daniel Craig took time out from his post on Her Majesty’s Secret Service to fire off some jokes (instead of bullets) on Saturday Night Live.
All in all, Craig did his best to bring the funny (it still feels strange to see him smile, sometimes). Thankfully, James Bond wasn’t left completely behind in one of the episode’s best sketches; highlighted below are the funniest skits of the night, and some of the other finer points from Craig’s first hosting gig on SNL.
Bond Girls – We’ve seen this kind of sketch before, mostly when there’s big anniversary celebrations of classic films. There have been lost Star Wars auditions and much more in this fashion, and the 50th Anniversary of James Bond was the perfect opportunity for the SNL cast to showcase their best impressions. Kate McKinnon really made this sketch something special with her stellar impersonations of both Jodie Foster and Ellen DeGeneres, and Vanessa Bayer made for one hell of a Diane Keaton.
Weekend Update – As usual, Seth Meyers’ topical and biting commentary on the week’s headlines had some of the biggest and best laughs. Well, it wasn’t all topical as Meyers and Kate McKinnon (more on her stellar turn on the show below) were late to address the much-buzzed-about news story concerning Cecilia Giménez and her special restoration of a fresco of Jesus.
In addition, much like the news networks – and shows like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report – Meyers ripped into President Barack Obama for his performance at the Presidential Debate earlier in the week. And piling onto the rest of the jokes that hit the Internet mere minutes after Governor Mitt Romney’s mention of PBS and Big Bird, the big yellow Muppet showed up for some family friendly humor (bird puns ahoy!), which is always charming and a bit weird on a risque late night comedy series.
Mars Mission – Frankly, I’m surprised that this wasn’t the 10-to-1 sketch of the night (named because of its appearance at 10 minutes until the conclusion of the show at 1am). The time slot is usually resigned for some sort of strange and bizarre sketch, but this time the slot went to an old, faux, Undecided Voters TV spot. As for the Mars mission sketch: not even an adorable cat named Fuzz Aldrin or the reliable Bobby Moynihan could save this messy bit.
Loving Couple – This sketch wasn’t terrible, but it seemed like the laughs came from just how strange it was to see a bespectacled James Bond necking with a very masculine woman in the form of Fred Armisen in drag. The sketch was at its best when Armisen seemed to lose his composure a bit, something that caught Bill Hader off guard for a moment. Otherwise, I’d be fine with never seeing Daniel Craig contort his face so grotesquely when having his butt squeezed.
Daniel Craig – Clearly anxious to step out of his usual dramatic and serious roles, Craig clearly had a lot of fun on SNL. However, the result was a prime example of how hard it is for an actor with that type of filmography to jump into comedy without a frame of reference for just how goofy and funny he can be. Right off the bat, his turn in the Construction Workers sketch was so over-the-top and uncharacteristic of what we’ve come to expect from the British actor that it was almost awkward to see him make with the funny. Luckily some other sketches let us get used to Craig’s comedic chops.
Kate McKinnon – Wow. After joining the series in the middle of the last season, McKinnon has really come into her own, and she owned this episode. From her fantastic turns in the aforementioned Bond Girls piece and Weekend Update segment, McKinnon was a chameleon showing up in bit parts throughout the show. It’s still a little early, but I could see McKinnon being an invaluable cross between Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph.
The Final Word
Daniel Craig was brave to stroll into Studio 8H for his first straight-up comedic turn in front of an audience, but an hour and a half of sketch comedy might not be his strong suit. If anything, the big takeaway from this episode is that it might still be awhile before Craig takes on a big screen comedic role and perhaps that’s for the best. Craig wasn’t terrible, but sometimes seeing a dramatic actor who barely cracks a smile on the big screen bringing laughs on TV doesn’t work out quite as well we might have hoped.
Christina Applegate will host on October 13th with musical guest Passion Pit.
Bruno Mars will serve as host and musical guest on October 20th.
Saturday Night Live airs live on Saturday nights at 11:30pm on NBC.