It’s rare that a musician gets the honor of being both host and musical guest on Saturday Night Live, but chart-topping singer Bruno Mars tried his best, and he certainly did more than shake a stick at seasoned musician/host, and frequent Lonely Island collaborator, Justin Timberlake.
In last weekend’s episode, Mars showed that he can do more than just sing some catchy tunes as he has some stellar impressions up his sleeve, and made a great debut on the late night sketch series. Check out our recap of the best, worst and weirdest sketches from the show.
Town Hall Debate – It was no surprise that the cold opening for this week’s episode took aim at the Town Hall Presidential Debate featuring some very heated exchanges between Governor Romney (Jason Sudeikis) and President Obama (Jay Pharoah). The faux Romney and Obama exchanged some high school style insults for solid laughs and fresh cast member Aidy Bryant played moderator Candy Crowley (she also got her first “Live from New York” moment) to spice things up a bit too. But the real gem came from Tom Hanks (who also showed up in a different version of the Amusement Park sketch) appearing as one of the undecided voters with another terrible question.
Pandora Internet Radio Headquarters – Sadly, this is a sketch you won’t be able to see online without doing some digging on Google (due to music rights), but this fictionalization of an office crisis at Pandora Internet radio headquarters was great. There’s a power failure and Bruno Mars (as an employee) is forced to recreate hit songs from Green Day (with a killer Billie Joe Armstrong impersonation), Katy Perry, Aerosmith, Justin Bieber, Michael Jackson and Louis Armstrong.
Weekend Update: Stefon - If there’s a Stefon segment with Bill Hader on Weekend Update, it’s pretty much a guarantee that it will be featured in “The Best” column. Since the writers change the cue cards between dress rehearsal and the live show, you can always count on Hader to break character and crack-up in the middle of his lines. This was no exception, and it actually might have been the hardest he’s ever laughed as Stefon.
Haters - The talk show format is a popular sketch choice on SNL, but as many times as it succeeds (Coffee Talk, Bronx Beat, Church Chat, etc.) it can fall flat on its face, hard. Such was the case with The Haters. It was disappointing that Bruno Mars’ first character appearance had to be in drag in this terrible sketch because it was a waste of time and talent.
Sad Mouse – Though this one gets “The Weird” spot this week, it was also one of the best sketches of the night. In fact, this was essentially an SNL Digital Short that wouldn’t be out of place at a legitimate film festival. It’s hilarious to think of all the people who didn’t know they were blowing off Bruno Mars in Times Square when all he wanted was them to wave back at him in a patriotic mouse costume.
Bruno Mars – He might not be quite as funny as Justin Timberlake (yet) but singer Bruno Mars made for one hell of a host – one that should be welcomed back with open arms. He had no problem making a fool of himself on live TV, and wasn’t awkward like some musicians are when they take on a sketch or two. It’s a shame Andy Samberg has left the show, because a Lonely Island song with Mars belting out a smooth chorus would have been great (the musical monologue above will have to suffice). But still, Mars showed some great potential as a comedian, and there might even be a chance this could lead to more acting roles in the future.
Bruno Mars - You know what? No cast member really had a big night with multiple sketches (though Taran Killam’s recurring Brad Pitt commercials nearly made “The Best” list), and the frequent appearance of Mars as host made him the best player of the night. From the Pandora sketch (which you must seek out) to Sad Mouse, he just exceeded any and all expectations as host, and I look forward to him returning sometime down the road, even if it’s just in a guest spot every now and then.
The Final Word
Bringing in a musician to host Saturday Night Live along with their music duties is always risky, and doesn’t always work (Katy Perry couldn’t pull it off despite her natural charisma and comedic sensibilities). Thankfully, Bruno Mars made for a solid show, and the Presidential Election is for ripe material to riff on in the cold open and Weekend Update. It’ll be interesting to see if they can keep this momentum going after the election.
Louis C.K. will serve as host on November 3rd with Fun. as the musical guest.
Saturday Night Live airs live on Saturday nights at 11:30pm on NBC.