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Expectations were high on Saturday night as Justin Timberlake made his long-awaited return to the stage to be the host and musical guest of Saturday Night Live. Timberlake hosted a star-studded episode that delivered laughs and rating highs.
The night opened with a sketch mocking Hugo Chavez’s funeral. Timberlake impressed the audience with a rare appearance in the opening sketch with his parody of Sir Elton John. Complete with a turquoise bedazzled suit and matching sunglasses, Timberlake belted out a version of John’s ‘Candle in the Wind.’ The new version of the song was dedicated to Chavez’s life and included a number of bizarre, and oddly enough, true facts about the former Venezuelan president.
Timberlake’s monologue set the tone for the episode with his acceptance into the exclusive “five-timer’s club.” After being greeted at the door by Paul Simon, Timberlake, equipped with a Kristen Wigg inspired drink, was welcomed by big names such as Steve Martin, Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase, Martin Short, Tom Hanks, Alec Baldwin, and Candice Bergen. Although Timberlake’s presence was slightly overshadowed by some of the famous guests, the monologue still fulfilled expectations. A pipe-smoking Steve Martin revealed his suspicions about Timberlake’s talents, and mocked him about not being able to play the banjo. Also, cast member wrestling was revealed as a favorite pastime for members of the the “five-timer’s club,” as the members watched Bobby Moynihan and Taran Killam fight it out.
Fueled by the power of celebrity, the show continued with an appearance by Andy Samberg and Timberlake’s crowd favorite “D*ck in a Box” duo. Bill Hader served as the host for the “It’s A Date” game show where the “D*ck in a Box” guys went head to head with Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd’s “Wild and Crazy Guys” characters. Bobby Moynihan played an average architect who could not compete with the bachelorette’s (Vanessa Bayer) taste for the other crude and vulgar contestants.
Timberlake served up some more nostalgia by appearing as singing and dancing tofu that encouraged people to “bring it on down to Veganville.” Timberlake’s character competed against a man working for Sausage Depot and broke out vegan inspired parodies to hits such as ‘Ice Ice Baby,’ ‘We Found Love,’ and ‘Dancing With Myself.’ The sketch broke into the ‘Harlem Shake’ in the end when everyone joined Timberlake to celebrate Veganville.
For his first musical performance of the night, JT introduced himself as the musical guest and broke into his song ‘Suit & Tie.’ A crooning Timberlake delivered a performance that was fun and filled with his new soulful style. Jay-Z even made a cameo and joined Timberlake on stage to perform his part of the song.
Seth Myers joined the show for his customary “Weekend Update.” The sketch only included one guest, Bill Hader’s Stefon character. It has been a while since Stefon has appeared on the show, and he attributed his absence to his new job writing for Smash. As usual, Hader struggled to muffle his laughter as he told the audience about some unique New York clubs and even did an impressive imitation of Donald Duck having a Vietnam nightmare.
“The Tales of Sober Caligula” was the first sketch that misfired in the show. It was nice to see the whole cast onstage together, but the sketch never really took off. We all know Timberlake has talent, but this sketch left us wishing they would have stuck to one of his old characters instead of branching out.
This brought the show to the “Maine Justice” sketch, another reoccurring Timberlake skit. The basic plot of the sketch involved a courtroom in Maine filled with confused, southern-style characters who collide with Andy Samberg’s character. Compared to other “Maine Justice’ sketches, this one fizzled and Samberg’s cameo failed in comparison to his earlier appearance.
Timberlake’s second musical performance was introduced by the Three Amigos. This time, Timberlake got back into his groove by busting out his new single from 20/20, ‘Mirrors.’ There was no doubting Timberlake’s musical talent and his performance stayed in line with his return to the music scene and soulful style.
The final sketch of the night was another reoccurring sketch, “Moet and Chandon.” Vanessa Bayer and Cecily Strong appeared as two former porn stars who were selling a new bubbly beverage. The sketch was full of mispronounced words and dumb-blonde moments. Timberlake joined the sketch as a dimwitted actor who called the drink “Monica and Chandler Champagne.”
Overall, the show relied heavily on throwbacks to past characters and sketches. Although we know Timberlake has the ability to play new and entertaining characters, the few original sketches were disappointing. Ultimately, it didn’t really matter. We are fine with celebrating the past and Timberlake has definitely earned his spot as an elite member of the Saturday Night Live institution. The show was upbeat, enjoyable, and definitely one of the season’s best.
What did you think of Justin’s performance as host and musical guest? Did he exceed your expectations or fall flat? Comment below!