Last night, Bruno Mars joined the ranks of Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, and Britney Spears as the latest pop star to serve as both host and musical guest on NBC's Saturday Night Live. In case you hadn't heard, the dude can sing, and I mean really sing. SNL clearly had Mars play to his strengths, asking him to perform a musical number for his opening monologue and do vocalist impersonations (his Michael Jackson was dead on) in another sketch.
As for the highly anticipated town hall debate parody, I was shocked by the absence of any joke pertaining to Mitt Romney's now infamous “binders full of women” remark. That was easily the funniest thing a politician has said since G.W. Bush left office, but SNL didn't even touch it. The only reference to the iconic phrase was a single line during a fake commercial at the end of the show. I half-expected an entire sketch based off of the concept of binders full of women, but we got nothing. The rest of the parody was well crafted, and I especially liked the way they handled both candidates' rambling and unsatisfying answers to the assault weapons question. I was also glad that they called out Obama for his totally patronizing “you're doing great,” comment to one of the questioners from the audience. I'm sorry, but she was not doing great, Mr. President.
Bruno Mars wasn't involved at all in the debate sketch, and played mostly secondary roles when he wasn't singing. However, he was prominently featured in one of the strangest sketches I've ever seen on Saturday Night Live. Titled “Sad Mouse,” this very much not live sketch took the form of a short indie film and borrowed the offbeat feel of FX's Louie. Mars plays a depressed man in a patriotic mouse costume trying in vain to get people to wave at him in Times Square. What?! This existential sketch wasn't particularly funny, but it was highly watchable for the sheer absurdity factor.
The best sketch of the night was a fake commercial parodying Brad Pitt's nonsensical endorsement of Chanel no. 5. The original ad is such pure ridiculousness, even by perfume commercial standards, that the first part of the parody was literally just a direct quote. Taran Killam's impersonation of Pitt was excellent, and the sketch blossomed into a series of ads throughout the show. My favorite installment was Pitt hocking Taco Bell's Doritos Locos Taco, which he favorably compared to “pouring a bunch of loose meat and cheese into a bag of Doritos.”
Weekend update was awesome, as usual, and featured fan favorite Bill Hader as Stefon. Hader completely broke character, laughing uncontrollably after delivering a confusing punch line, “Sydney Applebaum.” My research indicates that this is a reference to Woody Allen's film Love and Death, but I have no idea why it was so funny to Hader at the time. An actor breaking is one of the rare treats of live TV, and tonight Hader broke hard. Even Seth Meyers couldn't hold it together as Stefon went on to describe his typical Halloween.
Overall it was a solid episode, but the lack of actual live sketches was palpable. Mars was more than adequate as an actor, which made it even stranger that SNL resorted to so many pre-recorded shorts. Though I thought passing on “binders full of women” was a mistake, they certainly did justice to the equally lampoonable Chanel ads.