Last night, Justin Timberlake joined the ranks of repeat offenders Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin, John Goodman, Drew Barrymore, and Candice Bergen, not necessarily entering the pantheon as a comedy genius per se — though he is a terrific sketch comic. (The guy can’t play banjo, notes Steve Martin, working his underminer persona in a dreadful, “SNL”-vet-laden opening monologue that indoctrinates JT into the inner circle, and includes appearances by all “Three Amigos,” plus Chevy Chase, Paul Simon, Tom Hanks, Baldwin, Bergen, and “SNL” writer and “Seven Minutes in Heaven’s” Mike O’Brien.)
So what is it about Timberlake that makes us want him to come back to the Studio 8H every chance he gets? Andy Samberg helped him tap into it, for sure, creating sketches for him as his wingman, allowing him to showcase a charming, suave, cool, self-mocking douche — which he does exceedingly well. Samberg turns up here for two sketches — but, missed opportunity alert: There is no new digital short. (Don’t tell me Patricia Clarkson and Susan Sarandon weren’t around!)
Admittedly, things got off to a wobbly start — perhaps the internet pressure really did weigh on “SNL” (JT seems impervious to it, even as he jokingly referred to it). So enamored was the show of the mere idea of Justin, as they trumpeted the arrival of the new old reliable host by celebrating him with a veritable parade, that they forgot to be funny in the cold open and the monologue. But by the third sketch, they found their rhythm, more or less. Here are the five best things to watch from last night:
1. “It’s a Date”: Vanessa Bayer is looking for love on this “Dating Game”-esque game show. Two of the three prospects are duos — some young and old wild and crazy guys. That is one skanky, chest-hairy orgy.
2. “NuvaBling”: The product in this commercial takes Vajazzling to a whole new level. Yes, deeper.
3. Justin Timberlake and special guest Jay-Z “Suit and Tie”: Not a sketch, just pure gleeful entertainment. Yeah,you saw it at the Grammys, in black and white, no less. And you’ll probably be seeing it a lot in the coming months. For now, though, it’s still infectious fun.
4. “Caligula”: Justin plays the hedonist on the wagon, much to the dismay and boredom of his orgy-mates. But one partygoer knows just how to lure him back to the fold.
5. “Romantic Comedy”: “The Crying Game” recast as a boilerplate rom-com. Shouldn’t be funny, but Justin and Nasim Pedrad sell it.