Obviously, the moment that most people will be talking about from tonight’s “Saturday Night Live” was a tiny cameo at the start of the show that was unexpected. But, what we really think that this episode with Edward Norton did a great job with is just being funny. There weren’t a ton of sketches that are going to get a ton of coverage in the press, but even some of the ordinary sketches with no real “twist” to them were funny. It was all around just a great hour and a half of laughs anchored by a great host.
We were pretty worried about Norton going into this, given that many of his movies are overly serious and we have never really gotten the impression from him that he has much of a sense of humor, but he was fully committed to these sketches, and he brought along with him some different voices and also something that is often overlooked: A great bouncing board for the other actors to not have to worry about carrying the scene in fear that he would mess up.
Edward Norton monologue – Wasn’t this a little bit random? It was pretty funny, though, to see Edward really try to prove that he was worthy of being on this show. A great cameo from Alec Baldwin helped things, but the appearance from Miley Cyrus to randomly plug her tour was somewhat annoying. Miley was good on her episode … but not here.
Autumn’s Eve – A very funny, very disturbing commercial that basically revolved around putting something in your lady-parts that gave them an autumn smell. We really don’t want to go too specific here, but it was funny and the women on the show seemed to be perfectly in on the joke.
Safety lesson – This was the fourth sketch of the night, and by this point we were actually thinking that Norton was really holding his own. He was the straight man in this sketch about silly, stupid children who were desperate to try and figure out that strangers in vans were good people because they had candy.
Steve Harvey – This may be one of the best skits that Kenan Thompson has ever done. We’ve been a harsh critic of him over the years, but it really felt like he was bringing it more than ever in this very wacky sketch where Norton tried to get him to guess Halloween costumes that he brought out. Kenan’s impression isn’t really that good, but his delivery was fantastic.
Wes Anderson movie – We have no idea who thought of this, but there were great impressions and also a perfect send-up of the sort of Halloween movie Wes Anderson would make. Every little bit of this hit for what has to be considered one of the best sketches that we’ve seen all season long. Plus, a nice little cameo from Alec as the narrator.
12 Days Not a Slave – A very fun and inventive sketch that made use of Miley in a brief role, and also Jay Pharoah taking the lead as a newly-freed slave thinking that the world is ready to fully accept him now that it has been nearly two weeks since the Emancipation Proclamation. It wasn’t a perfect sketch, but we loved the idea behind it, Pharoah’s performance, and just its overall vibe.
Halloween Candy – What a great little way to end the episode from a comedy standpoint. Norton was not just funny in this, but random. After seeing him close the show on his own, we immediately want him to host again.
Government Shutdown opening – We understand why “SNL” likes to go political straight out the gate, since it is a subject that appeals to a vast majority of viewers, and they’ve had some great ones over the years. At least this one was not really biased to either the Democrats or Republicans. It was unfortunately just “okay” rather than really funny. The best part was Kate McKinnon’s conviction to the role, and the joke about Encarta was pretty brilliant.
Counting – This was a sketch about a guy who “counted things” that almost felt straight out of “Ray Donovan.” The twist was that he really wasn’t that good at counting at all. This was a ton of hype for ultimately very little payoff in the end.
“Weekend Update” – It’s not often that we have it here, but this was the most disappointing “Weekend Update” of the season. The jokes were only mildly funny, Cecily Strong’s delivery was off, and we also didn’t particularly love Anthony Crispino this time. Plus, what gives with only getting one guest at the desk?
Sex sketch – This was mostly just awkward, since listening to virgins talking about sex was just … weird. There were a couple of funny lines and Edward was great, but that was really about it.
Maybe it was our low expectations that made this episode above average, but it was very, very funny throughout. While there was no iconic moment, we’re glad to see an episode that could have been a flop turn out to be one that should preserve well, since most of its best moments were performance-based and not all about pop culture. Well done. Grade: B+.
What was your overall take on Norton’s performance, and of this “SNL” episode as a whole? Share below! Meanwhile, click here to see some other highlights from this season.