SNL Digest: Taylor Swift's Slick Skills, Setting Bars

SNL Digest is back, because there's a lot of buzz about last night's Taylor Swift episode being really, really good, all over the internet! But is it substantiated? Was Kanye there? Did she come out about dating Taylor Lautner? Questions!

First off, let's talk rules. From a commenter, on our last SNL Digest:

Standardized Responses for SNL Threads.
1. SNL is still on?
2. I might have to watch this SNL sometime.
3. SNL hasn't been funny since _____ (insert name) was president.
4. The Tina Fey era was the (Choose one:) Best/ Worst.
5. (Canadians/Brits/Aussies:) You Americans can't say Fuck on the telly?
6. (Me, other Oldes:) Jane Curtin/ Dan Aykroyd - now there was a Weekend Update.
7. And I remember when Charles Rocket said Fuck. I got on my Commodore computer and typed a letter about it.

Don't be that guy. Onward:

Taylor Swift's opening monologue: self-depreciating about writing superficial songs ("songs about douchebags who cheat on me, LA LA LA LA LA"), talking shit on Joe Jonas, Kanye West, and more or less totally came out publicly about dating Twilight star Taylor Lautner, and inspiring an audience singalong. She was crazy-charismatic and pulled it off with a fair amount of flair. This was, for what it's worth, how every one of them should be done.

The cold open was a take on Fox News, with Greta Van Susteren, Shep Smith—played by Bill Hader, somewhat homoerotically—Karl Rove, Joe Trippi, etc, but it was mostly a play on the personalities that weren't anything special (besides Hader's Shep Smith). Jason Sudekis tried to do Glenn Beck, but to properly make fun of Glenn Beck via Sketch Comedy, you're going to have to get racier than this:

Weaksauce. But back to Taylor:

She also did plenty of riffs on how young she is, including this perfectly timed short commercial with her wearing headgear braces, which is the kind of visual indignation most SNL potential diva guest hosts won't run with:

One of her three big celebrity impersonations, Kate Gosselin was a little stilted, even with the "Kate Gosselin, emphatically talking" running joke, but was, for the most part, funny. As is watching Keenan Thompson dressed up as Whoopi Goldberg, which is absurd visual humor, and yeah, an easy sight gag, but one with a decent payoff. Any sketch that involves a panel of people often runs too long, though, and this one was no exception. The last minute drags on a little.

There was a bizarre, boring sketch involving BBQ and Swine Flu jokes that's not really worth watching. The night's big viral moment's going to go to the Digital Short, which is a play on Twilight, with Frankensteins. Especially priceless was the dead-eyed look Bill Hader plays the Robert Pattenson-character (Frankenstein) with, and the flaky melodrama of Kristen Stewart that Taylor Swift kinda nailed.

As she did with her Shakira impersonation, which isn't on Hulu. Fast-forward to 1:25, you'll get the gist. It was an otherwise patently dumb sketch about a movie involving bunnies, with a soundtrack.

Except this skit, which involved lots of screaming, about two officers teaching juvie inmates lessons via dated pop culture references. Six minutes, for this? Someone in the writers' room is letting their assistant do more than carry the coffee. Come on:

Less screaming! Kenan, the crazy-eyes are funny, but every time SNL puts on a screechy sketch, most people walk away. You don't need to violate our hearing capabilities to do big humor. What happened to shock value? The key to this episode was playing The Taylor Swift Angle at every possible moment-who she is, what she is, why she's different-which is why it was kinda surprising to see Kanye West not cameo on a skit with her. Then again, they nailed it with this, which is how some hyperactive post-college roommates kind of actually talk. I know these girls, you know?

Terrifying, funny, nuanced. Weekend Update was fairly boring other than a drop-in from Amy Poehler on Goldman Sachs getting Swine Flu vaccines from the CDC. Two minutes and sixteen seconds of complete Goldman Sachs raging. Just long enough, just enough indignation, and completely to the point:

The only other skit worth mentioning was the Entertainment Tonight spoof. Celebrity news broadcast journalists really are this insane.

Big complaint: Andy Samberg was incredibly underused this week—why?—but other than that, not bad at all! If the show used all their guest hosts like this, if they were all as good, we'd watch more. The writing still desperately needs work, and Saturday Night Life needs to forget being more family friendly. So far, Jenny Slate saying "fuck" is still as edgy as this season's been, and this is a show with a legacy most of us would rather not see be any more sullied.

Either way, suck it, Joe Jonas. Taylor Swift did a better job than anyone in recent memory, and definitely, this season; SNL, learn quickly, your performer-host double-threats like Swift (and Justin Timberlake) seem to be natural fits lately. And they have catchy songs, too! Take it out, Taylor Swift.

What'd we think?