clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Saturday Night Live report card: Larry David steals the show with Bernie Sanders

Plus, some love for Super Bowl 50

Last night's episode of Saturday Night Live was one of the season's best despite Larry David warning folks it was just going to be "alright."

David, armed with his signature miserable persona that he made famous through years of Curb Your Enthusiasm, exaggerated the shtick even further. It made for a delightfully refreshing direction for the rest of the SNL cast, who all took on parts of David's persona during various sketches.

The episode also marked the third episode of the season that a presidential candidate made an appearance. After weeks of David making guest appearances during the show's cold open to play Senator Bernie Sanders, the Democratic contender finally showed up beside the comedian in a silly Titanic sketch. Although the sketch wasn't one of the night's best, having Sanders and David stand beside each other and yell about life's harsh realities was certainly one of the highlights.

The guest appearances didn't just stop there, either. Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson joined Michael Che and Colin Jost during Weekend Update to give their take on New York Fashion Week and promote their new film, Zoolander 2. Although their part in the show wasn't as funny as it could have been, it's rare for a midseason episode to be as packed with celebrity appearances as it was last night.

As for the actual sketches, the best of the night played pretty early on. Bern Your Enthusiasm, the inevitable crossover between Sanders' campaign and David's Curb Your Enthusiasm, perfectly captured both the chaos of the current election season and David's utter disgust of most people.

The episode also paid tribute to tonight's Super Bowl with a fantastic sketch that focused on Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

Of course, there were still some lackluster moments, including a pretty disappointing Weekend Update, but for the most part, David's inclusion helped make the episode feel original and fresh once again.

Best Sketch: Bern Your Enthusiasm:
For those like me that miss Curb Your Enthusiasm on a near daily basis, Bern Your Enthusiasm felt like the mini-episode we all deserve.

Having David play an angry Sanders isn't anything new, but having Sanders react negatively to every voter he comes into contact with, calling them disgusting and refusing to help them, was.

Despite David essentially playing himself, there were moments when it felt like the comedian had become Sanders, which just added to the overall hilarity.

Runner Up: Peyton and Cam:
The quasi-musical sketch, which featured a brilliant Taran Killam as Peyton Manning, tore apart the media for its coverage of pre-Super Bowl events, including the difference in how Cam Newton was being portrayed in comparison to Manning.

The sketch includes just the right amount of silliness to work, but adds a few spot on takedowns of the pandemonium surrounding the big game. The highlight of the sketch is still Killam's dopey impersonation of Manning, though.

Best Cameo: Steam Ship

Out of all the sketches for Sanders to show up in, my guess is that no one would have picked this one.

The scenario is a Titanic-like situation wherein David is visibly upset that women and children are allowed to get on the available lifeboats first. Sanders shows up and begins talking about his election platform and why democratic socialism could be a viable option.

Much like Hillary Clinton's time on the show, Sanders used the spot to promote his own platform, but with David's miserable captain standing beside him and harrumphing anything Sanders said, it worked out pretty well for the sketch.

Worst Sketch: Cold Open

I've said this before, but the cold open is the hardest part of the show to nail. It's typically political and typically the longest sketch of the night. It introduces the audience to the kind of episode they're going to see play out over the next hour-and-a-half, and most of the time, it's not overly great.

Last night's episode was a perfect example. There wasn't anything particularly wrong with the cold open, which starred Killam as Ted Cruz, but there wasn't anything spectacular about it, either.

The jokes about the Republican candidate were stale and it felt like the writers used leftover jokes to help fill the space. Better luck next time.

Saturday Night Live returns next week for one of the most anticipated episodes of the season. Melissa McCarthy will return to host the show again for the second time, while Kanye West will take the stage as musical guest.

Saturday Night Live airs on NBC at 11:30 p.m. ET.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon