“Saturday Night Live” fans, you’ve now sat through the most polarizing host of the season. For some, Justin Bieber could have came out, taken a nap, and still would have been praised for giving the best show every by the same diehard fans that waited out in a blizzard to see him.
The good news with Bieber is that for at least some of the taped sketches that he was in, there was some pretty good writing. Not only that, but there were moments when his comic timing was pretty good. Unfortunately, we think that the teen idol got off his game for a few minutes after a little incident during the bodyguard sketch where he almost dropped an offensive synonym for “mentally-challenged,” but then caught himself at the last second. Our solution to Bieber here is simple: don’t use the word in your everyday life. You won’t be so tempted then to say it on live TV.
Overall, this was a show that was definitely hit-or-miss to put it kindly, and we sit here still wondering whether or not the show took enough risks with a singer that definitely had a back catalog worth making fun of … especially since the guy really tries so hard at times to be cool.
The One Black Guy from Every Commercial – This may be Kenan Thompson’s best character in ages. He was so energetic, and it didn’t just feel like Kenan in a funny wig or wearing a Baltimore Ravens jersey. In a “Weekend Update” that seriously could have used Stefon telling us about Valentine’s Day, it was still a pretty nice touch.
The Moroccans of Mulholland Drive – Anytime “SNL” makes fun of Bravo, we’re game to talk about it. This featured a combination of all sorts of reality series, and it was cyclical in that it both started and ended in Lisa Vanderpump. (Since we’re talking about Bravo, can Taran Killam spoof Andy Cohen again?)
Miley Cyrus Show – This was a nice update that featured Vanessa Bayer’s Miley sporting a brand-new hairdo, and it was mostly memorable for Bieber giving an apology for recent weed photos while playing another character.
Bieber’s Valentine’s Day message – It was rare to see two later sketches that worked, but this random monologue from Bieber following the Miley show was great because it helped to poke fun at his trying-too-hard-to-play-it-up-for-the-ladies persona a little bit. Plus, it had Bobby Moynihan playing a creepy guy named “Taco.” It was one of his better risks of the night.
What didn’t work
In most of the sketches that were live, Bieber struggled mightily with the delivery, and it felt obvious that he was a non-comedian in a room full of pros. The bodyguard sketch Justin came across as actually annoyed in addition to playing annoyed on the show. Meanwhile, putting another edition of “The Californians” so early in this broadcast was to be frank a terrible move. Why waste your big-name host on a sketch that has been so overdone?
Perhaps the biggest problem with the show overall, though, was just what didn’t happen at all: despite promising that nothing was off limits, Bieber stayed largely within his comfort zone and save for his one weed line, did not really take any risks that could change his persona. This was what made Justin Timberlake special as a host, but we do still want to say that it’s pretty admirable for anyone to take on the hosting and performing duties on one show. So much of our time as critics is spent giving an opinion, but we do need to at least recognize the work that everyone puts in to these shows every week just to have them criticized.
Ultimately, though, this gig may have been better for Bieber in a few years when he had even more acting experience under his belt.
Overall, what did you think about this week’s “Saturday Night Live,” and about Bieber’s performance as host? Be sure to share some of your thoughts below, and you can check out some other highlights from “SNL” this season by visiting the story over here.