It is a treat to see a SNL monologue delivered as a monologue. Reigning stand-up performer Louis C.K. did not call upon various cast members to rescue him partway through with a musical number or faux audience questions. But with all due props to C.K., it was not perfect. Some of his set-ups were ineffectually plain. Immature set-ups for a "white noise machine" and "chicken-or-the-egg" jokes ripped holes in his performance. But C.K.'s barbed and warm meditations on religion, privilege, and fatherhood are as thoughtful and sharp as ever.
C.K.'s acting is strong on "Louie" (much improved from HBO's "Lucky Louie"), but as he foregrounded in his monologue, he is not one for voices or impressions. So there were no silly characters or outlandish costumes as C.K. was trotted out for a variety of straight-man roles. His delivery is wonderful, of course. In the three best sketches of the night--"Black Jeopardy," "Doctor Appointment" and "Office Boss"--he expertly highlighted and boosted great writing or hilarious set-ups.
Some bits and bobs to note throughout the night: "Office Boss" is one of the best recurring gags of the moment; Beck Bennett's physicality as a baby CEO deserves a baby acting award. Though the pay-off was intentionally minimal, I hope to see Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant revive their 1970s style cop show, "Dyke & Fats."
The cold open's look at Obama's new social media manager was almost there as a criticism of the growing BuzzFeedification of political courtship. And Kyle Mooney produced his best one-off feature yet--an ad for a metal-music-obsessed kid running for class president in 90s suburbia. Mooney's ability to be both oblivious and dry in his delivery is astoundingly amusing.
Watch these and more below.