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Larry David (and Bernie Sanders) Deliver a Fantastic, Crowd-Pleasing 'SNL'

By Dustin Rowles | Saturday Night Live | February 7, 2016 |

By Dustin Rowles | Saturday Night Live | February 7, 2016 |

Message from Ted Cruz Cold Open — Taran Killam took the opportunity in the Cold Open to mainstream the message the Internet, esp. Gawker Media, has been spreading for weeks: That Ted Cruz is a terrible asshole with a lousy personality, and the fact that he won Iowa says more about Iowa Republicans (no offense) than it does Ted Cruz. (Score: 7/10)

Larry David Monologue — David’s monologue is vintage Larry David, a stand-up routine that is funny because he’s being honest about what a cantankerous prick he is. Also, I love that Larry David gets to host SNL in spite of having nothing to plug, but for no other reason than that he does a great Bernie Sanders impression (or Bernie Sanders does a great Larry David impression). (Score: 7.5/10)

FBI Simulator — A training exercise — and an obnoxious Larry David character — puts an agent’s ability to distinguish between a threat and a harmless civilian to the test. An OK sketch that belongs more in the back half of the show than as the first sketch of the night, but they needed something short to lead into … (Score: 5/10)

Bern Your Enthusiasm — … this sketch really did feel like a perfect mini-Curb Your Enthusiasm episode with Bernie Sanders, and the Iowa results gave him the perfect punchline. (Score: 9/10)

Steam Ship — An opportunity for Larry David to apply his sense of humor to the “women and children first” maxim of sinking ships with a nice segue for Bernie Sanders to talk about the one percent. As political cameos go, this one was very well done. (Score: 7/10)

Totinos — I am biased, and I’m not going to ruin the punchline, but this was actually my favorite sketch of the night. It was the sort of sketch that felt like they’d written themselves into a corner only to end on the perfect musical cue. (Score: 9.5/10)

Weekend Update — In spite of Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson’s fairly lame Zoolander segment, this “Weekend Update” was arguably the best of the season. Che and Jost played off of each other perfectly; they made great comedy hay out of Ben Carson’s failed introduction during the GOP debate, and Jon Rudnitsky did something with the Dirty Dancing live rumors that was absolutely genius. I’m not much of a fan of Rudnitsky, but this was incredible. (Score: 10/10)

If you only have time for Rudnitsky, do yourself a favor and watch this.

Songwriting Class — The back half wasn’t as strong as pre-“Update,” but there were so many good sketches early, there was only time for three post-“Update.” This one you can skip. (Score: 4/10)

Peyton & Cam — As a Peyton fan, I appreciate that the sketch managed to mock the public’s racist perceptions of Cam Newton celebrations without involving Manning. In the “Ebony and Ivory” number, Peyton simply comes off as a harmlessly lame white guy, and that’s about right. Also, if he wins tonight, you know they’re going to ask him back to host. (Score: 6/10)

Last Call with Larry David — Is there any juice left in this recurring sketch? Yeah, a little. (Score: 6/10)

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.