SNL: Channing Tatum / Bon Iver

Tonight, Saturday Night Live invited superstar Channing Tatum to perform. You may remember him from such films as Unstoppable…wait no, that was Chris Pine. Ah, he was the Green Lantern…shit, that was Ryan Reynolds. Captain America? Chris Evans. The dude from Avatar? Sam Worthington.

Okay, well, I think maybe the reason I do not know more about this “Channing Tatum” is that he would rather be known as a stripper. Indeed, apparently the news and videos of his stripping have been recently publicized. Sure, for a female, a past as an exotic dancer would be a career-ender, or at the very least, the woman would be compared to a prostitute. But for Tatum, it is merely an anecdote that the bumbling SNL writers use to add crotch gyration in as many sketches as possible. And it is a good thing that Channing has dance moves to fall back on because his acting is definitely no better than the average stripper’s.

Okay, let’s get down to some specifics.

The political cold-open for this episode was the future moon-base of Newt Gingrich. Everything fell flat except Kristin Wiig as Newt’s 3rd wife. Poor Kristin, it must be hard holding this show on your shoulders.

The first episode set the tone for much of the show. Kind of creative, but done just poorly enough for the jokes to fail and the audience to fill studio 8H with awkward silence.

The best of the night?

The commercial for Go Tech-Flex with Thumb Pulse (or something) was pretty ridiculous — an exercise machine that is all wires and sensors. Again, the interactions between Wiig and Tatum are awkward ans perfectly timed. When Wiig says the sensors let her know if she is “getting over-breathed or too heartbeaty” I laughed out loud for the first time all episode.

Another great bit was when Lana Del Rey (again played with spot on accuracey by Wiig) revisited the show. After Lana Del Rey was slammed by the media for her performance on SNL a few weeks ago, she decided to come to Weekend Update to respond. It was very well played.

In the middle? Everything else.

The “Secret Word” is usually a solid sketch, but was hampered by the ineffective use of toilet humor…secret words like “probe” and “weiner.” No, SNL, you are better than that.

Cee Lo Green gettin’ freaky. Kenan Thompson sadly always plays the same character with the same voice whether it is Al Roker, Colin Powell or Flava Flav. The only good part is when Cee Lo says he has traversed the world searching for his neck. Oh Cee Lo, you are gross.

To sum it up, this show was stupid. It included lazy sexual references in the “Tom Brady,” “Secret Word” and “Cee Lo” sketches. Whenever there was a free moment, the writers added stripper dancing — not just in the “Clown Room” stripper sketch, either — to at least four other sketches…five if you count the monologue. It catered to the same American base demographic that allowed Channing Tatum to become a celebrity in the first place.

The baseness of the host is why the pairing of Bon Iver as the musical guest seemed so strange. True, this band has gained fame over the past year. No more is Bon Iver just for emo-hipsters to listen to while curled in the fetal position smoking cloves. The songs, “Holocene” and “Beth/Rest,” were solid, if not a little slow and low key for the venue. Remember, Bon Iver, it is almost 1pm and the sketches suck…try not to play songs that will put me right to sleep. If you like Bon Iver, you will like these songs. If you have never heard of Bon Iver, then these are two pretty good songs that represent the sound of the band well.

On a related, but slightly tangential topic, I really want to send a tersely worded letter to the people who choose the musical guest each week. I am sure that the host gets some say in who will perform (for example…Katy Perry hosts and her touring companion Robyn just happens to get the music slot) but not always (Steve Fores with Rage against the Machine?). I am no Hollywood insider, but I feel like the “musical director” or “talent producer” is the person who should be fired.

Until next week.

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