Saturday Night Live review – Jimmy Fallon's monologue misses mark

Elise Czajkowski

Jimmy Fallon made his name on Saturday Night Live in the early 2000s, and for years was one of the show’s most reliably great hosts. He can dance, he can sing, he can do impressions – what a catch! Unfortunately, it’s his skill in these areas that apparently makes him unwilling to do what SNL are hosts are actually meant to do – tell jokes in sketches.

In this vein, Fallon’s “monologue” on Saturday night was neither a speech nor a single-person activity. Instead, he used this valuable television real estate – more valuable than ever, with the show now airing live across the country – to do an elaborate dance number through the halls of SNL to the David Bowie song Let’s Dance.

It would have been a perfectly acceptable opening on Fallon’s game- and music-heavy Tonight Show (and was nearly identical to his buddy Justin Timberlake’s Oscars opening), but it had no place in the SNL monologue spot that originated with George Carlin’s stand-up.

It was against this inauspicious background, however, that the show set up the strongest sketch of the night, wherein Fallon’s Doug attempted to win back Cecily Strong through song – the Savage Garden 90s hit Truly, Madly, Deeply, to be specific. What initially seemed a blandly and unnecessarily musical sketch finished with two strong, timely punchlines that made the whole bit worth it – both too good to spoil in this review.

Other sketches worth checking out include:

  • A “Time Travel Edition” of Celebrity Family Feud, which pitted 1977 celebrities against current celebrities. The impressions were pretty good – Strong was having a ball as Liza Minnelli, while Kate McKinnon’s Kristen Stewart was filled with empathy and affection for the recent SNL host – and Kenan Thompson once again elevated an otherwise mediocre sketch. The trick of the sketch was Fallon playing both 1977 and present-day John Travolta, an unnecessarily complex bit of staging seemingly designed to make him giggle his way through the sketch.
  • Melissa McCarthy made a mostly unmemorable return as Sean Spicer, this time as an Easter bunny addressing the latest Spicer controversy. The show has been smart not to return to this well too often, but this sketch didn’t ever feel totally necessary. Hopefully they’ll find something more do with this character before McCarthy hosts in May.
  • The return of the great Rachel Dratch to join Fallon in another Boston Teens sketch, though now they are the parents of another, slightly smarter Boston teen. The whole thing didn’t quite hang together, but those of us whose SNL nostalgia harkens back to the early 2000s appreciate the revival.
  • The last sketch, a pre-tape that hit the perfect 10-to-1 balance of funny and stupid. Fallon and Mikey Day played actors meant to be playing basketball in the background of a movie, and the sketch quickly devolved into quiet slapstick.
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