November 22, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Review: “Saturday Night Live” with Matthew McConaughey


Matthew McConaughey, one of the rare SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE hosts with nothing to promote, stood out even more in an installment that featured prominent plugs for musical guest Adele and the new Star Wars movie.  Although McConaughey is a Serious Oscar-Winning Actor these days, he’s done plenty of comedy throughout his career, and he was a smooth host who gave his all even when the material didn’t warrant his effort.

McConaughey proved how far star quality can go with his monologue, which was exactly that:  no songs, no “audience questions,” not even any one-liners, just McConaughey turning his charm on full-throttle to deliver a lengthy anecdote about the birth of his trademark “Alright alright alright” line in his film debut Dazed and Confused.  It didn’t offer much of a punch-line, but it felt relaxed and–unusual for an SNL monologue–tailored to his skills.

The pre-taped Adele tribute that followed was shameless but also one of the night’s funniest bits, as a family on the verge of one disastrous Thanksgiving dinner fight or another (Syrian refugees and transgender were among the landmine topics) found perfect unity whenever Adele’s “Hello” song was played, and the sketch gradually transformed into the family performing a full-on spoof of her music video.

The Star Wars plug worked well too.  The Force Awakens is in the enviable position of being such an event that appearances by director JJ Abrams and stars Daisy Ridley and John Boyega in the pre-tape felt like a gift rather than an imposition, and the format was one that’s worked well for SNL:  “screen tests”  that mixed the real stars with impersonations like Cecily Strong as Sofia Vergara and Kate McKinnon (hilarious) as Maggie Smith, as well as ringers that included Emma Stone, Michael Buble and Jon Hamm.  In NBC’s desire to have SNL sketches go viral, this and the Adele piece should be all over the internet by Sunday morning.

McConaughey was also effective in a bit where he played a blues singer who’d never really had anything bad happen to him, and he shook all the laughs out of a “3D Bio-Print” routine where he was the very obvious synthetic human being offered up as a perfect match for the real thing.  He even committed fully as a stoned celebrity chef to a return of the “Right Side of the Bed” morning talk show sketch where Taran Killam’s lust for his wife and co-host Strong was somewhat suspect.  The host couldn’t do much, though, with an endless “Should You Chime In On This?” game show bit that repeated its single joke (people insist on giving their opinions on issues they know nothing about) until it was more annoying than funny, or with the 12:55AM sketch, where he played an irate speaker at a city council meeting protesting an upcoming Amtrak project for no good reason.

The cold open, bewilderingly, gave us a return of the Fox & Friends parody without that skit’s best part, the list of retractions and corrections that are supposed to roll up the screen at the end.  Weekend Update, on the other hand, was one of the loosest and most relaxed renditions that franchise has had in a while, showcasing the increased chemistry between Colin Jost and Michael Che.  One of the desk pieces was an original and not a franchise returnee:  Vanessa Bayer as an eager young prospective anchorwoman who talked about news stories she didn’t understand at all (roughly the same joke as in Should You Chime In On This?, but funnier), and since Kenan Thompson as “Big Papi” David Ortiz hadn’t appeared in a year, his return felt fairly new, especially with commercial endorsements that included Ships (“Like planes, but worse”), Iguananox gyms, and “Smidgeon of Pigeon.”

In all, not a bad way for the show to lead into the Thanksgiving holiday.  SNL takes next week off, returning December 5 with host Ryan Gosling and musical guest Leon Bridges.






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."