Let’s give Justin Timberlake a high five for his latest “Saturday Night Live” hosting gig.
For his fifth time hosting, Timberlake brought in big-name cameos and brought back several beloved characters from the past (and the way, way past).
The evening started with a 1-2-3 punch of great sketches, but unfortunately wasn’t able to sustain that high level until the end. Still, JT showed exactly why he deserved to become a member of the exclusive Five-Timers Club — the guy just has it. He’s got a special blend of charisma, charm, silliness, and showmanship.
JT’s monologue turned into a bit with the rest of the Five-Timers Club, first seen when Tom Hanks joined that group in 1990. There, he’s greeted by a shrunken Paul Simon with guitar in hand and hammy Steve Martin joking, “I always thought if an *NSYNC member made the Five-Timers Club, it would be Joey Fatone.” Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres were served by bartender Dan Aykroyd and waiter Martin Short, who’ve both have not yet earned membership into the club. Later, Timberlake also meets Chevy Chase — “Oh my god, I just realized I’m standing next to the Three Amigos,” he exclaimed. But the cameos didn’t stop there: Alec Baldwin, Hanks, and Candice Bergen, all wearing navy robes with a “5” crest, also stopped by to congratulate the newest club member.
We’re already looking forward to Timberlake’s No. 6.
Here’s what we thought of the rest of the night’s sketches …
BEST: “It’s a Date”
Vanessa Bayer’s bachelors were: No. 1, Bobby Moynihan. No. 2, woohoo! The guys from “D–k in a Box” (yep, Andy Samberg is back). And No. 3 — time for jaws to drop — it’s the “Wild and Crazy Guys,” the classic characters played by Martin and Aykroyd! They end up having a sing-off for the lady’s affections, with the “Box” guys crooning lines like, “Ladies can’t get pregnant in the summertime. … Science.” Amazing stuff, and so great to see the return of both sets of “SNL” faves.
Timberlake reprised his street vendor character from “Homelessville” and “Liquorville.” Seeing JT dressed up in a ridiculous costume and singing silly lyrics will never, ever get old. And at the end, when he does a vegan version of “The Harlem Shake,” it was just the icing on top of the (vegan) cake.
SECOND RUNNER-UP: “Nuva Bling”
In the only bit that didn’t feature Timberlake, the female members of “SNL” got to shine in a parody of the Nuva Ring. But why use a regular contraceptive, when you can insert a diamond-encrusted one into your body? And they can even come with charms! (Shudder.) Watch the skit here.
BEST CHARACTER RETURN: Stefon on “Weekend Update”
That Stefon beat out the return of the “D–k in a Box” guys and the “Wild and Crazy” guys and the Three Amigos was all due to Bill Hader’s incredible delivery. He just killed it. Our top three favorites moments:
1. “This job writing for ‘Smash’ is killing me.”
2. His impersonation of Donald Duck having a Vietnam war nightmare.
3. “If you’re looking to get hurt and go completely insane, I have just the place for you. New York’s hottest club is Selfie [pause to take self-portrait] … based on the novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire.” And Hader cracking himself up after delivering the line.
WORST: “The Tales of Sober Caligula”
So. Painful. Timberlake was the formerly orgy-loving Roman emperor who shocked his sex-loving followers by going straight. The writing was flat, Timberlake and the cast seemed mortified to even be there. We know the writers probably wanted to give the host some new material, but this dreck? Watch the skit here, and let us know if you agree.
SECOND WORST: “She’s Got a D–k”
Total dud, which is surprising because “SNL” has done a pretty good job with their pre-taped segments this season, like this episode’s “Nuva Bling.” But this one was totally flat and didn’t do anything with the single (not that funny) joke in it.
WORST SKETCH RETURN: “Maine Justice”
When we first saw this sketch about a transplanted New Orleans court in December (with host Jamie Foxx), it was so bizarre, it was enjoyable. But we thought it was a one-time deal, and we really wish it had stayed that way.
BEST SKETCH RETURN: “Moet & Chandon”
On the other hand, we were pleasantly surprised to see this sketch, also from Foxx’s episode, return. Bayer and Cecily Strong are just so good at playing the ditzy porn stars shilling Moet & Chandon champagne, perfect for celebrating your “avernersary” or when you graduate “magna cum loudly.” And it was priceless when Timberlake, as Ricky V.I.Penis showed up to also promote the “Monica and Chandler” drink. Watch it here.
HONORABLE MENTION: Jay-Z in “Suit & Tie”
JT got a very nice assist during his “Suit and Tie” performance from Jay-Z. When’s he hosting, by the way?
And did JT hit back at Kanye West, who recently dissed “Suit & Tie,” with these lyrics, “My hits so sick / Got rappers acting dramatic”?