In the little that I’ve seen him in — Think Like a Man, Laugh at Your Pain — I’ve liked Kevin Hart. He’s like a shorter, less obnoxious, funnier Chris Tucker. But on Saturday Night Live, he was downright terrible. TERRIBLE. It’s been a bad season (save for Christoph Waltz’s episode), but this episode was bad even by the year’s low standards. I’m not sure what happened: If Kevin Hart was out of is depth, or if SNL simply didn’t know how to write for him. But it all failed. Miserably.
You know how “SNL” will take a premise and beat it to death? Most of like night’s sketches were one joke beat to death. Wouldn’t it be funny if Quvenzhané Wallis was named the next pope? Let’s devote an entire sketch to it, and Wallis will be played by Hart, and all he will do is mug for the camera like Wallis did at the Oscars. Wouldn’t it be funny if Steve Harvey pronounced phobias as Pho-By-Ahs? Let’s do a whole sketch about that. Hey! How about a sketch where a guy appeared on Shark Tank and pitched a lamp wearing sunglasses as a cool invention? Or, wouldn’t it be funny if this other guy obnoxiously went through the alphabet … oh, I don’t even know how to describe this sketch, which gave me a brain hernia:
Basically, two things worked last night: Hart’s monologue — basically a bit from his stand-up act — was OK, at least relative to the rest of the show.
And Seth Meyers was absolutely fantastic on “Weekend Update,” and the “Really?!!!” segment — which made fun of how racist the South is — was hilarous (and maybe a little unfair), despite the fact that Kevin Hart nearly ruined it with his inability to read a goddamn cue card (at the end up “Update,” Meyers looked unusually peeved).
There was also a Walking Dead sketch, and I thought: Perfect! Kevin Hart will play the token black guy. Maybe “SNL” will actually do something topical about how the black guy always gets killed off on the drama. But no: It was a tired, so very tired sketch about the prison gang’s hesitation to kill a black zombie because they didn’t want to be thought of as racist.
There was only one other sketch somewhat worth mentioning: A recurring sketch where two people think they’re getting fired and call out everyone else on their way out. Kevin Hart was barely in it, so you’d think he wouldn’t ruin it, but alas, he couldn’t keep a straight face during a section of the sketch that wasn’t even funny.
Maybe that’s what went wrong with last night’s show: The writers were too afraid to do anything actually funny because they knew that Hart couldn’t keep his sh*t together.
Seriously, y’all: Kevin Hart got outplayed by Justin Bieber’s episode. I couldn’t help but think that Lorne Michaels, after dress rehearsal, must have at least floated the possibility that last night’s show be canceled for awfulness. I would’ve. That was an hour and a half that didn’t deserve to be on cable access.
Let’s hope that Timberlake can redeem the show next week.