‘Saturday Night Live’ has some fun with Burris, BlagojevichContinue reading.
WATCH: Decent Weekend Update debut for Colin Jost on ‘Saturday Night Live’
As various comedic white men assume their new NBC positions in the wake of Jay Leno’s retirement, they have more in common than just a debt to Lorne Michaels. Each also has felt obliged to preface the jokes with a little schmaltz.
Jimmy Fallon did it on “Tonight,” Seth Meyers did it on “Late Night” and on Saturday the new Weekend Update co-anchor held up the fake news for a minute to get personal. Instead of answering the question likely on many minds — who the hell are you? — Jost just spoke of being excited and his dream coming true.
(Who the hell he is: a stand-up comedian, longtime “Saturday Night Live” writer and alleged arm candy of Rashida Jones.)
Jost’s debut followed a new opening sequence on Upadte that seems to be spoofing local news cliches, mainly the fold-arms-and-turn move favored by downmarket broadcast journalists. Once he got going, Jost revealed himself to be a matter-of-fact joke teller, his delivery steadier than Meyers’ singsongy swings in pitch. The thing for him to work on — as it was for co-anchor Cecily Strong when she started — is reacting to the laugh. On Saturday, Jost followed each punch line with a slowly building smile, an off-putting, Vine-ready little sequence.
Jost also bantered with Shaquille O’Neal (Jay Pharaoh) and Charles Barkley (Kenan Thompson) in an Update bit that got glitchy. But the big prize went to Strong, who got to spur on Jebediah Atkins, a rising star in the galaxy of goofball supporting characters. The 19th century critic played by Taran Killam picked apart the Oscar nominees with snark including, ” ‘Dallas Buyers Club’? Sell!”
First-time host Jim Parsons seized the opportunity to stray from his Emmy-winning role on “The Big Bang Theory,” singing a song to that effect in his monologue called “I’m Not That Guy.” There he was joined by cast members portraying other typecast TV icons: Henry Winkler (Killam), Jaleel White (Jay Pharaoh) and the like.
He was a busy host playing roles all over the map, but most of them had a certain fussiness: Peter Pan flustered by crude-talking fairy Tonkerbell (Aidy Bryant), a critical participant in a murder mystery game, a guy trying to keep his dignity in an elevator while toting a bag housing his own soiled underwear.
He was so apt as Johnny Weir on an “Ellen” parody that his willingness to play the sissy skater felt like an act of kindness.
The most effective stretch had him playing an ’80s serial killer with a really stupid M.O.: He’d go on TV dance shows, lurk amid all the flailing limbs and stiffly shop for victims. In greasy wig and big plastic aviators, Parsons extended his nerdiness to its creepy extreme.
Next week: the inevitable hosting of Lena Dunham from “Girls,” another first-timer.