Last week we hypothesized that the Halloween episode of SNL hosted by Jon Hamm would either be the best of the season or the laziest. Hamm, making his third hosting appearance, has already proven to be a go-to, top-notch host, one that brings out the best in the cast and crew. But, on the other hand, what often happens when the show is blessed with a skilled host is that they relax, relying too much on the host’s charm and natural comedic talents (see: Galifiankis, Zach). However, what we were treated to this week was something in between, and something, in hindsight, typical of a third hosting go ’round. During a debut performance the material can often be safe, figuring out if the host has what it takes, a bit of a feeling out process. If that host succeeds, then when he or she comes back for a second stint the crew is energized, knowing that they have someone who will deliver. You could see that confidence, motivation and excitement in Hamm’s second hosting job last winter. But when a host comes back for the three-peat, the crew is now so comfortable and at ease that they’re willing to taking more chances, throwing more caution to the wind. So what you receive is not mainstream yuks and recurring sketches, or weary, unmotivated punchlines and recurring sketches, but a sense of adventure laced with apathy for the viewer. This is what happens when you have a host who no longer needs to prove himself, who has tenure, which is why so many of Alec Baldwin’s shows are peppered with offbeat sketches, some that delight (like last season’s bizarre “Timecrowave“) and some that crash and burn (like “Arizona Evenings” from the same episode). Judging from this past weekend’s show, it seems that Hamm is now in that class.
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