John Goodman / Ja Rule
November 3, 2001

[OPENING] America Strikes Back
With: Darrell Hammond, Chris Kattan, Seth Meyers, Ana Gasteyer, Maya Rudolph, Dean Edwards, Jeff Richards.
Pretty good way to open the show. Hammond's John Ashcroft wasn't too bad, still needs some work, but the material was good, so that more than made up for it. I would have preferred a more rousing cold opening, but that's nit-picking. Hammond pretty accurately portrayed what Ashcroft's been saying for the past month. The return of Ana Gasteyer's impression of Helen Thomas was quite funny too. I'm already getting the impression that Dean Edwards is one of those guys who seems to have no voice of his own, kinda like Dana Carvey and Darrell Hammond, who rarely ever used their normal voices in any sketches. Seth Meyers' Brian Williams impression was pretty good, does Williams really mug that much though? Kattan was okay, but he really adding nothing to this sketch. But it was a nice change of pace from the traditional address to the nation sketches we've been getting all of last season and so far all of this season.
Grade: B+

[MONOLOGUE] John Goodman
With: John Goodman, Chris Kattan.
Let me say that I've found most of John Goodman's last few monologues to be pretty bad, infact the last good one he did was from 95-96 in my opinion. And this has got to be the worse one yet. I probably spent more time reaching for the aspirin bottle than I did laughing. Was anyone disturbed by Goodman's voice, (remembering how Farley sounded when he hosted 2 months before he died) John sounded bad and wasn't looking too good either, hopefully hes just temporarily sick. Once again, Kattan really added nothing to this, seems like they're using Kattan as much as possible knowing hes leaving after this season. Not terribly funny, not terribly awful, but I couldn't they have thought up something better than this?
Grade: C-

[COMMERCIAL] Herbal Essence For Men
With: Will Ferrell, Ana Gasteyer, Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch, Jeff Richards, Dean Edwards, Horatio Sanz.
Pretty decent commercial parody of these ridiculous Herbal Essence commercials we've been abused with over the past few years, though I think they could have done better with it. I don't really think the idea of mocking how unflattering male orgasms isn't really the best way to parody these commercials. It was a pretty dumb concept, only saved by the odd reactions from the cast. Sadly, this was probably Will's biggest part in this entire show. He was quite good here, he had this look on his face the whole time as if aliens were popping out of his chest. Jeff Richards and Horatio Sanz reactions were quite funny too.
Grade: C+

[SKETCH] Hudson Valley Community Circuit
With: Dan Aykroyd, Horatio Sanz, Will Ferrell, Ana Gasteyer, Rachel Dratch, Dean Edwards, Jimmy Fallon, Darrell Hammond.
Not too bad, basically a funny idea for a few minutes, but not enough to carry throughout an entire sketch. The cast playing characters whose names are the punchline kinda wares thin after awhile. It was good to see Aykroyd back on the show again though. No real huge laughs, but still amusing at times. Horatio and Darrell were especially good in this sketch, Horatio is always good when he's set up and receives the joke, and all he has to do is react to the laughter. His reactions are just as hilarious as his obnoxious behavior in other sketches, for instance, his reaction to Dratch's insult in the Weakest Link sketch. The ending with the letter was quite funny though.
Grade: C+

[COMMERCIAL] Wilfred Brimley for Liberty Medical
With: John Goodman.
I enjoyed this for the most part, good job by Goodman, and this was a pretty funny way of mocking the real commercials Wilfred Brimley's (better known as the Quaker Oats guy) been doing for the past few years. Went alittle longer than it needed too, but it was still quite good and damn funny. The food boner, whip cream can, and oatmeal jokes were funny too. This was probably John's best performance of the entire night. Great writing here and equally good performance by Goodman.
Grade: B+
Funny lines: I'm gonna go get off my horse by getting onto a smaller horse, then onto a large dog, until I'm near enough to the ground to role off." -- John Goodman as Wilfred Brimley

[SKETCH] Lady with no Gaydar
With: Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer, John Goodman, Seth Meyers, Tracy Morgan, Chris Kattan, Jimmy Fallon, Will Ferrell.
Not too bad, seemed alittle weak in certain spots, but overall it was pretty good. It was a one joke sketch that didn't outlive its usefulness as much as these things usually do. And I appreciated that they got some extras who could actually sing and move relatively well to the music. Had this gone on and on, like many one-joke SNL sketches do, I might not have enjoyed it as much though. Everyone was funny and did their best as playing typical gay characters. And with just a single line, Will Ferrell is able to make me laugh. For a one-joke sketch, it worked for me because it wasn't overly long and it was played so over-the-top that there was more to laugh at than just the one-note premise.
Grade: B+

[COMMERCIAL] Pregnancy Test
With: Seth Meyers, Amy Poehler.
Very smart, well acted and well written direct commercial parody of these pregnancy test ads. Great how they depicted exactly what goes on in these situations, which the real ads never seem to show at all. All the awkward dialogue and moments were great and Seth and Amy were able to pull it off perfectly. Like the part towards the end when Seth went for his jacket and Amy thought he was leaning in for a kiss. Small touches like that go a long way.
Grade: B+
Funny lines: "I think I'm more nervous than Karen." "Kelly." -- Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler .. "Do you go to Michigan State? "No. My boyfriend does." -- Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler

[SKETCH] Dan Rather: Anthrax Update
With: Darrell Hammond.
This was without a doubt the funniest sketch of the night, probably one of Hammond's best moments on the show in quite awhile. Darrell really impressed the hell out of me with his dead-on Dan Rather impression. I didn't really notice this last season, but Rather seems to be one of his most accurate impressions ever. It sounded just like him, and the material was superb. This was a great example of how sketches can be long without tapering off or repeating themselves so much they lose all humor. Very clever idea to combine Rather's election weirdness, which they parodied about a year ago, with the anthrax reporting. All those strange Carl and Mable zingers and the bit about his displeasure of Katie Couric not having anthrax were quite funny too. Great sketch.
Grade: A+
Funny lines: "At the moment, Jennifer Aniston's new hairdo has more unauthorized guests than a Mexican Motel 6." -- Darrell Hammond as Dan Rather .. "We believe Rooney may have drank stagnant water from an air conditioner, believing it to be Scotch." -- Darrell Hammond as Dan Rather

[WEEKEND UPDATE] with Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey
With: Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, Seth Meyers, Dan Aykroyd, John Goodman.
So far this season, Weekend Update has been particularly good and has been the most solid part of the show, but some of the jokes fell flat tonight. Although there were still some good ones in the bunch, particularly the ones about Michael Jackson, John Travolta, and Jesse Jackson, and Tina's first joke was good too. Seth Meyers' bit about trashing the Yankees was a nice addition, and he made some valid and funny points and observations and it was nice to finally see him play a prominent part in something after doing practically nothing the first 3 episodes. The Blues Brothers part at the end pretty much fell flat. The whole thing left me wondering "why?" Seeing them these days is almost embarrassing to watch. I think it's about time to retire them. Goodman's singing made me ill, his voice was raspy all night, I hope hes okay. Although, I will say Dan is still good in this role and this was probably his best performance out of the 3 sketches he appeared in tonight, but as far as I'm concerned the only Blues Brothers were Aykroyd and Belushi. Although this WU wasn't really as bad as I made it out to be, I still think it could have been alittle better, it wasn't awful or anything, it just didn't seem as sharp and funny as usual.
Grade: B-

[SKETCH] HBO: America Undercover
With: Chris Kattan, Amy Poehler, John Goodman, Dean Edwards.
Damn, this would have been a perfect opportunity for Amy Poehler to bring her UCB character "Drunk Lady" to SNL. Oh well, the character she played in this sketch did have afew similarities to Drunk Lady. Amy is always great when she plays over-the-top characters, and this was no exception. I normally am pretty hard on Chris Kattan, but I thought he was pretty good during this sketch. As long as he stays away from recurring characters he can be really funny, so far this season hes been quite good, almost makes me sad hes leaving after this season. Although, I could've lived without nearly seeing his balls though, but the expression on Dean's face afterwards was quite funny. One thing though, this seemed much more like an episode of COPS than America Undercover, but that's just a trivial complaint. Kattan's toe-thumb and "experiment" were pretty funny visual gags too. I liked most of this sketch, and I found alot of it funny for it's extreme absurdity.
Grade: B+
Funny lines: "Static electricity is as real as toothpaste. You oughta learn about both." -- John Goodman

[SKETCH] Bad Conceptual Theater
With: Dan Aykroyd, John Goodman, Amy Poehler, Chris Kattan, Seth Meyers, Jeff Richards, Maya Rudolph.
Although it was nice to see Dan bring back one of his old sketches, this fell flat for the most part. What this sketch needed was a good re-write by one of the writers from the 70s, wheres Zweibel, Schiller, and O'Donoghue when you need them. Although the cast did the best they could with the material, alot of this didn't really click, they were trying to go for a throw back to the 70s, but it seemed to fail in some spots. Too bad this was Jeff Richards only live part in the show tonight. Oh well, maybe it will get him a part in a Cuckoo's Nest sequel. I'm kidding of course. Though this did have some good moments and they succeeded in getting the point across. The primitive, monkey-like, dialogue and behavior was funny too.
Grade: C

[SKETCH] Sleuth Detectives
With: Seth Meyers, John Goodman, Amy Poehler, Horatio Sanz.
Pretty funny and well written sketch, which was strangely saved for the last sketch of the night. Sure, it was silly, but I still laughed. Clever idea too, brings me back to my youth and those Encyclopedia Brown books. I definitely can see this became a recurring bit for afew times, which wouldn't be too bad, since these characters seem more flexible and could be used in many different settings and situations. It's good to see Seth getting some airtime this week, as, until tonight, he was the only featured player we haven't really been exposed to, so far hes really impressed me, he seems like he has alot of potential and has good delivery and timing. I'm glad Amy was able to display her amazing versatility on SNL tonight too. She played everything in this show from a young kid to a college student to a mother to a white trash lady, and nailed them all perfectly. This also would have been another good chance for her to insert another one of her UCB characters into a sketch, although I'm not sure if this particular character would fit this sketch or not, but she had this funny character she used to do during UCB's first season as a hyperactive girl scout who was addicted to sugar and became best friends with the uni-bomber, as strange as that may sound. Her character in this sketch slightly reminded me of that character sans the slurred voice caused by wearing headgear. Amy and Seth were both great tonight, they seem to work quite well together, although I'm still waiting to see Amy do something with Horatio, Tina or Rachel since they've all performed numerous times before at the UCB theater. The audience didn't seem too into this, but they seemed dead during alot of stuff tonight, kinda like they did the last live show as well. Good sketch, the material was solid and and well written, good way to end the show.
Grade: B+

This show was actually pretty damn good. One thing I like about when Goodman hosts is that they dispense with their usual recurring skits routine. They just treat Goodman almost like another cast member, and they usually produce more original sketches as a result, although it would have been nice if they did a Bill Brasky sketch. This was a pretty solid show overall. Although Goodman for the most part didn't add much to the actually show, he did quite well and it was nice seeing Aykroyd again. I was alittle disappointed at how little Will Ferrell appeared in the show, but at least the newer players got a chance to shine tonight, as they will probably take over once the key players who've been around for afew years leave. Good show. Looks like next weeks host will be Gwyneth Paltrow, who hosted the show afew years ago, I might be in the minority when I say I wasn't the biggest fan of that particular episode, but it did have it's moments. Too bad they couldn't get the other star of Shallow Hal instead, Jack Black. I'm sure he'd do pretty good on SNL, as he has experience doing sketch comedy from the season he spent on Mr Show. Oh well, maybe another time.

Episode Review written by Emmanual Goldstein

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