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God Bless Betty White

By Dustin Rowles | TV | May 9, 2010 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | May 9, 2010 |

Dads got double-socked by Mother’s Day this year: You have to stay up for a Betty White-hosted “SNL,” but when your child(ren) wake up at 6 a.m., you have to let the wife sleep in, too. I daresay it was worth it, though. “SNL” did what “SNL” does best with Betty White — take one joke and beat it silly — but the foul-mouthed old lady joke had plenty of staying power last night thanks to America’s 88-year-old National Treasure.

The Lawrence Welk cold open was decent, highlighted by the heartfelt ovation for Betty White and, later, Amy Poehler. The monologue — about Facebook — was amusing, too. “Yes, we had poking, but it wasn’t something you did on a computer. It was something you did on a hayride.”

The highlight of the night, really, was the return of Ana Gastayer and Molly Shannon’s NPR radio show, “The Delicious Dish,” where Betty White showed them her muffin. I never thought you could beat Alec Baldwin’s Schweaty Balls, but hearing about Betty White’s muffin squirting in Molly Shannon’s mouth may have been the funniest moment of the night and the season.

Lorne Michaels decided to bring back a lot of the former cast members last night — Tina Fey, Rachel Dratch, Poehler, Shannon, Gastayer, and Maya Rudolph — ostensibly because no one thought Betty White could carry the entire show alone. But hell if that woman wasn’t in every sketch, as well three MacGruber shorts and a pretty great Digital Short (which isn’t online as of this writing) that took the foul-mouthed old lady bit to the death metal extreme: “Happy Mother’s Day, Mother Fuckers!” Bonus points, too, for the surprisingly nice and earnest rendition of “Thank You for Being a Friend,” which can still produce a lump in your throat.

For nostalgia’s sake, the highlight of the night was probably the “Really?!” news segment with three current and former “SNL” anchors: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Seth Meyers. It’s funny how “SNL” “hasn’t been funny in years” for the last two decades but “SNL” alums are almost always huge hits because they remind us of when the show used to be funny, even if we didn’t think the show was funny then, either.

All in all, a pretty outstanding show, with plenty of highs and per “SNL” custom, plenty of lows, but with Betty White on stage even the lows were mostly amusing. And I bet last night’s show was the highest rated in years.

There’s lots of extras over on Hulu, including a Betty White dress rehearsal skit and a few online exclusives like a Debbie Downer skit that didn’t make the show (Dratch can never catch a break), so check those out. And if you’re just waking up (and especially if you’re a mother) and you haven’t seen the episode entire yet, tell your husband to take a hike while you watch last night’s episode in bed.

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.

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