SNL Recap: “Black Annie” Looks Better than Cameron Diaz’s New Movie

Last week, I accused the SNL writers of suffering from lack of follow-through, and this week they seemed to listen because most sketches had beginnings, middles, and ends. Maybe it was the influence of the wildly funny host Cameron Diaz, who seems to fit in with the cast as well as her ex Justin Timberlake.

Even the cold open was funny, as a take on Schoolhouse Rock! and immigration reform (although it apparently got a lot wrong about the actual politics).

As for Cameron Diaz’s monologue, nothing took place as substantial as having a cameo from Jennifer Lawrence. Diaz took questions from audience, like “Was it fun making ‘The Other Woman’?” (Probably more fun than the sorry bastards that had to watch it.)

As a pseudo sequel to 2013’s “(Do it On My) Twin Bed,” this year the SNL females presented “Backhome Baller” which celebrated the joys of coming home for the holidays and having your parents wait on you. The skit was clever, but not as exciting as last year’s showcase for the SNL ladies.

The “Black Annie” sketch made me wish that Leslie Jones actually was starring in this movie adaptation. She offered a street-wise take on Annie Warbucks, with Jay Pharoah offering a spot-on impression of Jamie Foxx.

The “Nest-Spresso” short was reminiscent of the comedy done on “Portlandia,” only not as clever. Instead of “Put a Bird on It,” it could have been called, “Put a Bird In It,” as the sketch revolved around an espresso-like machine that incubates eggs and turns them into chicks.

Kenan Thompson has been in a lot of sketches this season, and in each one, he seems to get all the laughs, as he did in the “High School Theater Show” parody of a bad high school play.

“Weekend Update” was interesting because it continues to seem like two dueling comedic banjos strumming against one another. On one side, there’s Colin Jost, with his deadpan stare and delivery. On the other side, Michael Che, who infuses a bit of his “Daily Show” snark into reporting. This week had its highs (Kate McKinnon’s Angela Merkel) and lows (a “Rizzoli & Isles” joke bookended with a “Your Mama” joke), and ultimately, it seems like this section of the show is a work in progress.

The “Man Baby” sketch is one of the few recurring characters on the show, and this appeared to be the first time we saw Beck Bennett’s man with the body of a baby outside of the office. But despite Bennett’s dead-on interpretation of an infant, Cameron Diaz is the one who stole the show in this skit. How’s she never breaks character is beyond me.

As mentioned before, this has been Kenan’s season (maybe because it will be his last), and “Dr. Dave and Buggles” worked because of the animals and the ridiculousness of Kenan’s character having to do another 9 episodes of a show with the monkey that tore his ding-a-ling off.

Kyle Mooney is attempting to fill the void left behind by Andy Samberg, but I’m just not sure it’s quite the same. “The Fight” seemed like something from MTV’s cutting-room floor, with its narration of a high school student attempting to battle his arch-nemesis played by Beck Bennett.

Vanessa Bayer gets a lot of attention for her Miley Cyrus impersonation, but her “Poetry Class” teacher is one of my favorite characters, if only for her nonsensical exclamations before she starts another sentence. Watch for Pete Davidson in this skit, whose reaction shots are just about as funny as Bayer.

The final skit of the night, “Night Murmurs,” followed a hotline of women who would do stuff for you if you would in turn help settle their bets, kill Grandmas, and take “packages.” Kate McKinnon steals this skit from the equally game Diaz and Cecily Strong.

What did you think of this past week’s episode? Will you miss Kenan Thompson at the end of the season?

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