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A Great Underappreciated Actor Got a Well-Deserved Stint as Host of 'SNL' This Week

By Dustin Rowles | Saturday Night Live | February 1, 2015 |

By Dustin Rowles | Saturday Night Live | February 1, 2015 |

Cold Open — I can see that things have not improved much since the Blake Shelton episode, as Jay Pharoah, Kenan Thompson, and Taran Killam attemp to talk about football with some relevancy, though the sketch ends up coming off like something you’d see in one of those pregame segments starring Rob Riggle. If you want to see how a Richard Sherman and Marshawn Lynch sketch should go, watch Key and Peele. (Score: 5/10)

Monologue — Though J,K. Simmons was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in Whiplash, it wasn’t a widely seen movie. That said, I don’t know if this sketch is funnier for those who are familiar with the character, or those who get to experience him for the first time in this context. Either way, it’s a killer sketch right up until Fred Armisen shows up, because JESUS CHRIST, go away, Armisen. You’re not on the show anymore. Nobody really liked you that much when you were on the show. That said, it’s still one of the best cold opens of the year, and no matter what happens in the rest of the show, asking J.K. Simmons to host was worth it for this alone. (Score: 9/10)

Super Bowl Totino’s Pack — Hey! What do women do while their husbands are watching the Super Bowl in between making pizza bites for the men? Here’s an activity pack fit for a toddler. Or a wife. Same thing, right? Nice sketch, but NICER HAIR, J.K. (Score: 7/10)

Ms. Trash USA — “To bad, you’re trash!” This sketch makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, and yet it kind of works, for reasons that completely elude me. I mean, it’s not a great sketch, but it’s better than anything in the Blake Shelton ep, if only because it allows us to hear Simmons deliver more insults. (Score: 6/10)

Cinema Classics — An alternative ending to Casa Blanca in which Ilsa has no reluctance to get on the plane whatsoever because staying would mean the concentration camp, and she’s like, “Shut up, Richard. I gotta get on this fucking plane. Those Nazis are bad motherfuckers.” McKinnon kills it. (Score: 6/10)

Teacher Snow Day — A pre-taped rap about what teachers do while the kids are at home during snow days goes from decent to downright amazing the second that J.K. Simmons shows up with no pants and starts talking about pussy. The sketch gets a 6. A Vine of J.K. Simmons would get a 9. That said, I don’t understand the show’s sudden obsession with pre-taped rap segments. (Average Score: 7/10)

Weekend Update — Actually, not a bad “Weekend Update” this week. There was nothing that will stick with you beyond the hour, but several of the jokes landed, and Colin delivered the hell out of the cat joke. (Score: 6/10)

One Dimensional Female Character — Not nearly as good as the first time this character came around, and it’s far more nonsensical in this context, but still does the trick. (Score: 5/10)

Jebediah Atkinson — After they wore this recurring character out earlier this season, it’s actually nice to see him back after some time awat. Here, he covers the Grammys, which means insults in song, and some very dated but still very funny insults. (Score: 6/10)

Pushie, the Microsoft Assistant — Terrible, terrible, awful no good sketch. Just the worst. What the hell? Why would you do this to me, SNL? (Score: 1/10)

The Jay Z Story — The definitive Jay Z biopic starring Mike O’Brien as Jay Z! With a cameo from JASON SUDEIKIS as Kanye (I don’t think we’ve seen Sudeikis since he left the show) and J.K. Simmons as Nas. Uh, I dunno. The whole joke is that lame white guys are playing rappers. It was okay? (Score: 5/10) On second thought, it wasn’t really that good. It was all concept, no execution. (Score: 3/10)

Career Day — J.K. Simmons plays a character who shows up to a Career Day at school to talk about his profession: Eating food sloppily for wealthy Japanese businessmen. It’s, uh, definitely a 10-1 sketch.