March 8, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Review: “Saturday Night Live” with Chris Hemsworth


It was an odd SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE all around tonight, starting with the fact that host Chris Hemworth was there to plug The Avengers:  The Age of Ultron, which won’t even open for 2 more months.  Hemsworth isn’t exactly known as a comic stylist, so although he had a few enjoyably goofy moments, the show mostly didn’t ask too much of him.

The episode was immediately marked as oddball when the cold open turned out to be one of the funnier segments of the night, mostly due to Kate McKinnon’s rendition of Hillary Clinton, whose attempts to paint herself as just another amiable grandma kept being yanked aside by her unstoppable ambition.  If all goes as expected in the real-life 2016 presidential race, we’ll be seeing a lot of McKinnon’s Hillary over the next 2 seasons, and it looks to be in good form, a bit more demonic than Amy Poehler’s version 8 years ago, with a particularly dead-on read of the probable candidate’s forced just-folks laugh.

Also unexpected:  Weekend Update finally clicked!  Colin Jost’s weakness as an Update host is, you know, actually telling Update jokes, but tonight’s installment had him interacting with both Leslie Jones (doing her force-of-nature desk piece, this one supposedly about dating in NY, but ending up as her admission that white girls in that city scare her into becoming a Valley Girl) and Michael Che, and they brought him to life, especially when he had to navigate a botched cue card read about the size of an average penis.  A quadruple-joke attack on Republican Ben Carson’s thoughts on homosexuality was even better, and both Jones and Cecily Strong (doing her Girl You Wished You Hadn’t Started Talking To At A Party) supplied A-level material.

The rest of the show was considerably less exhilarating.  SNL showed its lack of confidence in Hemsworth immediately by bringing in his real-life brothers as support for an extremely short monologue, and then giving the bulk of the airtime to Kenan Thompson as the Hemsworths’ supposed little-known adopted brother.  Other sketches were basically keyed to how good-looking Hemsworth is (a parody American Express ad where he voiceovers about the fact that he spent days in Hollywood before he was cast as Thor, a Disney Channel sitcom piece where the class and teacher couldn’t stop raving about how much more impressive a specimen he was than his identical twin brother played by Taran Killam), or that he’s dull and white (as the new office manager cast member on Empire).  It didn’t help that he had a hard time keeping his native Australian accent down, including in the obligatory Avengers sketch where his Thor suddenly seemed to come from Asgard by way of Down Under.  That sketch was also notable in a negative way for Killam and Kyle Mooney barely even trying to suggest Robert Downey Jr and Mark Ruffalo in playing Tony Stark and Bruce Banner.

Hemsworth admirably kept it together in the night’s sketch that most seemed to have been put together by a group of stoned writers very late at night, a sort of Star Trek parody where the joke was that the captain was played by a live, actual chicken.  Hemsworth, as the ship’s first officer (and the captain’s lover) had to deal with the fact that the chicken was even worse with cue cards than he was and kept looking in the wrong direction, and he never broke character.  (The same writers seemed to have come up with a later sketch where the single gag was that soap opera director Thompson had once worked on The Jeffersons, so he directed McKinnon and Thompson to do their dialogue with the exaggerated double-takes of a 1970s multi-camera sitcom.)  Hemsworth was also fun in the return of the 12:55AM porn stars sketch with Strong and Vanessa Bayer, this time selling Dolce & Gabbana (or as it was variously called, Dolgy & Gababa, and Douche & Go Bye-Bye).  This featured the memorable malaprop (for Arrivederci) of “I reamed a donkey.”  Hemsworth also appeared as the star’s rapping brother in The Iggy Azalea Show, with McKinnon as Azalea and Sasheer Zamata as Azealia Banks, which at least allowed him to use his real accent.

Apart from the American Express and Empire parodies, the pre-tape squad contributed a strange reality show jam that was part Real World, part Big Brother and part American Idol, about roommates who squabbled (and then did straight to camera interviews) about nonsensical details of living together before being voted out of the apartment.  It never came together, a description that also applied to most of the night’s show in general.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."