'SNL' Back from Break: Less Politics, More Comedy

After three weeks off, NBC’s Saturday Night Live returned with frequent guest host Christopher Walken at the helm. (“This is my 100th time hosting,” he said in his monologue, exaggerating a little more than slightly. “My centennial.”) It wasn’t as politically charged as recent SNL efforts – but overall, it was a lot funnier.

The opening skit featured Darrell Hammond as Bill Clinton and Amy Poehler as Hillary, discussing and defending their recent tax-return disclosures.  Poehler’s faux Hillary said that, because the nation now knew that she and her husband had amassed more than $100 million since leaving office, mostly from his speaking fees, she was announcing her withdrawal from the presidential race.

“Psych!” she added with a defiant smile. “That’s never gonna happen… I am not jumping out of this until after the inauguration!”

Other than that, the only political salvo in the entire show, despite weeks of real-life events including Barack Obama’s already iconic Philadelphia speech about race, was “Weekend Update” co-anchor Seth Meyer’s joke about Hillary Clinton’s comparison of herself to Rocky Balboa. Rocky, Meyers pointed out, was the beloved cinematic character who wouldn’t quit, but who was soundly beaten by a black man.

Meyers’ best joke, however, was a laugh-out-loud tossaway about popular dog names: “The most popular is Max,” Meyers reported, adding, “while the least popular is Osama bin Sniffin’.”

Walken, one of the all-time funniest SNL guest hosts, was fun to watch throughout. Best bit? By far, the Walken family reunion, which allowed just about the entire company to hit the stage, and hit Walken with his or her own Walken vocal impersonation. It may have been the best example of comedy character-impression overload since the green room full of Jerry Lewis impersonators on BuffaloBill.

And the SNL skit, unlike most SNL skits, even had an ending. When one of Walken’s relatives tried to steer everyone towards the family-reunion open bar, Christopher counseled moderation, and asked, “Are you driving?”

“No,” came the gleeful reply. “I’m Walken!”