In yesterday’s SNL appetizer post I surmised that last night’s show had a 50% chance of being funny. However, immediately after making this less than bold proclamation I realized that I should have at least given the odds at 51%, and more accurately probably around 75%. With SNL returning after a week off, having proven they perform best with a little rest, and under the capable reigns of Jon Hamm, the odds were certainly in their favor.
And had I thought it through yesterday and gone with the 75% estimation I would have been right, as about 3/4 of the show was (surprisingly or unsurprisingly, I’ll let you decide) solid. From the moment Hamm stepped out onto the stage for his monologue you knew you were in good hands (sorta like the way I feel during the opening credits of any Quentin Tarantino movie). Obviously the easy thing to do here would be to compare Hamm’s hosting performance to that of his Mad Men co-star, Ms. January Jones. Of course, that’s entirely unfair, because Jones was clearly over-matched and out of her element, and Hamm has already demonstrated his hosting prowess. There’s really no reason to compare a Picasso to a Bazooka Joe comic. We already know which is going to come out on top (well, I guess in that scenario it depends on the criterion, if we’re talking about which is the superior work of art or which serves as a better gum wrapper. But I digress). However, we’ll indulge that comparison briefly, because, like Jones’, Hamm’s monologue employed some Mad Men parody, and to far better results than the “Mad Mennies” bit in Jones’ monologue. As Hamm’s big break has been his role as the mysterious, stoic Don Draper, he showed some clips from his earlier “roles,” but in each of these Hamm maintains the personality of the debonair Draper. The first clip, a Saved by the Bell parody titled “Late for Class,” was the best (if only for the spot-on opening credits. Oh, the early 90s!), but the second, Hamm on QVC giving Kristen Wiig the same tough love treatment that Don gives Betty Draper, and the last, Hamm as Draper doing Def Comedy Jam, were nearly as good. By the time Hamm said “stick around, we’ll be right back,” he didn’t need to. We were sold.
Read on: A funny and incisive cold opening?! Pork and Champagne?! Serigo?! Plus: the bottom 25th percentile.