When we heard that Eli Manning was going to be hosting “Saturday Night Live” with Rihanna as a musical guest, we admit that we kept our expectations a little bit low. Athletes don’t always have the best track record of doing well on this show — just look at Charles Barkley earlier this year for evidence.
However, the New York Giants quarterback was surprisingly affable and quick-on-his-feet for the gig — at least at first. The sketches for the first 45 minutes or so were incredibly hilarious, though the show quickly started to fall downhill fast after that.
What worked – Eli’s opening monologue was funny in a silly way, as he served as an unofficial tour guide to those unaware of what to do in New York City with some spare time on their hands. (Most of his suggestions were terrible.) From there, we transferred to what may be the best overall sketch of the night — a silly look at the EA Sports motion-capture technology. Eli couldn’t figure out what to do, so he mimicked everyone from Tim Tebow to teammate Victor Cruz before ultimately deciding that his touchdown celebration in the game would be him eating a sandwich off of the floor.
While Eli made some solid appearances in some other sketches (see the bizarre court scene or the recurring Herb Welsh sketch that gets lets funny every time), his other major highlight in the show came during his “Little Brothers” charity initiative that was really just disguised as a way for him to enact revenge on brother Peyton for getting picked on over the years.
In drifting away from Eli (which is something that the show itself did on many occasions), the only real highlight was seeing the “50 Shades of Grey” Amazon commercial that suggested just how some women have reacted to the novel. In addition, both Martin Scorsese and Sacha Baron Cohen make cameos in the Weekend Update — and while this was funny, we do wish that the usually-solid Seth Meyers had a bit more energy.
What didn’t – The opening Fox & Friends skit set a pretty poor tone for the night, and while the show recovered from it, there were still plenty of other problems. The “What Is This?” and the “Chelsea Lately” spoofs late in the show had no real bit to them at all, and the only real benefit at all with seeing Eli Manning in drag was simply that. (Performance-wise, it was also obvious that he was reading from the teleprompter most of the time, as well.)
Our other major problem? That there was no “Shy Ronnie” short featuring Rihanna. After two of them in a row, we were expecting a third! Instead, there was no short at all, and Rihanna stuck to the actual sketches. While it seems in a way unfair to criticize “SNL” for not bringing something to the table when they never promised to do so, it was the most disappointing omission of the entire show.
Despite Manning doing an solid job in most of the sketches, there was still a feeling throughout most of this episode that this show could have been so much better. A few of the sketches (the “Lately” and Fox News spoofs) were just uninspired, and the lack of a Peyton cameo (along with the no Digital Short) are a not-so-subtle reminder in our head of what could have been.
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