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Was Jeremy Renner the Worst Two-Time Oscar Nominee to Ever Host "Saturday Night Live"?

By Dustin Rowles | TV | November 18, 2012 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | November 18, 2012 |

Is Jeremy Renner a good actor? He’s been nominated for two Oscars, but think about it: Have we ever seen Jeremy Renner in any mode but squinty and intense? He never has love interests, and he barely ever smiles in his films. He’s never displayed a softer or more comedic side. He does intense like a mother*cker, but last night’s Saturday Night Live really exposed Renner’s limited range. He is terrible comedic actor; he’s too self-aware, too bottled up. In an interview earlier this week, he said he asked Jon Hamm for advice about how to approach the show, and Hamm told him to let it go, jump into the experience, and be as silly as possible, and just don’t think about it.

Renner thought about it. He’s got an outstanding singing voice, but his monologue — where he sang made-up songs inspired by his films — was so weirdly hesitant and bashful. It was somewhat endearing, but also frustrating, and I felt like Lorne Michaels was probably grumbling under his breath, “Dude, stop saying ‘I can’t believe I’m doing this.’” He was like the novelist turning over the first draft of his book to a friend and reminding him, over and over, “It’s just a first draft.” Yeah. We know dude. Let it go.

Unfortunately, because there was copyrighted music used during the monologue — which was the only really interesting part of last night’s episode — it’s not available for embed.

As for the rest of the show: It was one of those half-assed efforts where the cast was clearly trying to work around Renner’s weaknesses as a comedic actor by having him, for instance, play himself on the movie set opposite an annoying extra.

Or, as his character in The Avengers, bailing out of a fight because he quickly runs out of arrows.

In the Digital Short-esque sketch, Jeremy Renner played “Jeremy Renner” in a three-person stand-off, which was funnier in premise than in execution.

“SNL” took up the David Petraeus scandal in two different sketches, and neither or worth embedding because they were horribly unfunny. Likewise, the first sketch after the monologue was the tedious “The Californians” again. Fred Armisen, at least, seemed to recognize that the only reason the sketch was funny the first time was because everyone kept breaking character, so he spent the entire sketch trying to contain his laughter, although I have no idea what was so funny that he couldn’t stop laughing.

At least, Weekend Update was fun, highlighted by a Winners/Losers on the Patraeus scandal and an amusing appearance by the actual Chris Christie, who was a more natural fit to “SNL” than Jeremy Renner was.

Finally, I don’t know if anyone has ever really wanted a brilliant Katt Williams impersonation, but Jay Pharaoh brought one to a Weekend Update segment.

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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.