This past Saturday marked Justin Timberlake’s fifth stint as host and musical guest for Saturday Night Live, an unsurprising fact given the anticipation surrounding the episode, which was not only the clear best of the current season but also the highest-rated SNL in 14 months. Here’s the highlight reel.
The Kanye Diss
What’s maybe more impressive than the ratings is that Timberlake managed to slyly squeeze a rebuttal to Kanye West’s “Suit & Tie” diss into his performance of the song, changing the lyric “aww, s*** so sick, got a hit and picked up a habit” to “my hit’s so sick, got rappers acting dramatic.” All this plus a Jay-Z assist, and it wasn’t even the high point of the episode. JT would go on to perform second 20/20 Experience single “Mirrors,” but again, it wasn’t even the show’s highlight.
Elton John Mourns Hugo Chavez
The show started out strong. Timberlake reprised his Elton John impersonation in the cold open, singing a personalized version of “Candle in the Wind” at the funeral of recently passed Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez — a rendition that was mostly notable for its serving to remind us that Chavez once put a red beret on a parrot. (Good luck finding video of this sketch, though. NBC doesn’t typically share the SNL cold opens online.)
The Five-Timers Club
The opening monologue addressed the high expectations for Timberlake’s return, playing on the idea of him joining a literal Five-Timers Club. The bit took the pressure off Timberlake by throwing a bunch of SNL alums into the mix. The skit fell a little flat, but it was still nice to see classics like Steve Martin, Dan Akroyd, Martin Short, Candice Bergen and, oddly enough, Paul Simon mingle with Timberlake. It’s especially satisfying to see Martin be a jerk to everyone, Akroyd in particular.
It’s a D*** in a Box!
It’s always a bonus to see Andy Samberg, especially when he joins Timberlake as the “D*** in a Box” guys. This was the first time the bit had been done live (instead of in digital short form), and it was great — great enough to save a dating-game sketch that was made almost unwatchable by Akroyd and Martin, who, in just a few minutes as the Festrunk Brothers (i.e., Two Wild & Crazy Guys), were able to completely kill what were once classic SNL characters.
JT in Jorts… Need We Say More?
Perhaps the best moment of the night, aside from the consistently on-point Stefon during Weekend Update, was the closing skit. In it, Vanessa Bayer and Cecily Strong returned as the Saboski porn stars, this time filming a potential advertisement for Moet & Chandon Champagne in an effort to maybe score some free drink. Timberlake is mostly a sight gag in jorts, but the skit served as a high note in what was already the strongest episode of the season.
- Shane Barnes, Radio.com