Those of you on the West Coast may have missed it because the dress rehearsal version of the sketch was substituted into the tape-delayed episode, but Chris Rock and new cast member were responsible for one of the worst sketches in SNL history over the weekend.
The sketch, “The Couple,” involved a bickering couple going out for their anniversary dinner, and besides the fact that it was painfully unfunny, there was also the matter of Jones staring at the camera for ten seconds without saying anything, before later completely flubbing her lines.
You can watch the sketch here, but I wouldn’t recommend it (the Hulu/NBC embed I included over the weekend in our write up apparently did not contain the screw ups). The awkward silence happens around the 1:25 mark.
Anyway, two explanations for the sketch have emerged: One, proffered by the AV Club’s Dennis Perkins, was that it was “the most painful episode of stage fright I’ve seen in a decade.” That’s definitely a possibility — Jones is new to the cast, and was originally hired as a writer. The other possibiilty was that there was a cue-card mix-up; it was, after all, a sketch written by writers that Chris Rock himself brought in, according to Splitsider. This is not unheard of — Richard Pryor and Jerry Seinfeld also brought in their own writers, although it is unheard of for a comedian of Chris Rock’s stature to bring in his own writers AND bomb as badly as he did the entire night (save for his monologue, which was decent, at best).
My guess is that it might have been a combination of the two.
Either way, it wasn’t the worst sketch of all time, as some outlets are suggesting. “Patio Party,” from the Zooey Deschanel episode two years ago, still holds that dubious title.