I don't think anyone really had super high expectations going into last night's SNL, as host Ryan Phillippe isn't exactly renowned for his comedy skills. And while the show was indeed pretty slow overall, there were a few highlights:

Phillippe is one of those hosts who clearly comes in with good intentions but doesn't take well to the sketch format for whatever reason, and it was pretty obvious as the show went on that the writers were having trouble writing around him; the show relied on repeat commercials and pulling out the most popular characters of the past year in an attempt to try to get the crowd (and home audience) excited, to no avail. It started with Phillippe's monologue, which featured every popular character from the last few years of SNL and still didn't go anywhere:
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After that, things didn't get much better. It was the kind of show seemingly designed for people playing SNL Complaint Bingo at home: overuse of Kristen Wiig, running skits into the ground, molestation jokes, skits going on too long, etc. Bill Hader's James Carville impression is always great, though:
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However, the funniest, and most interesting parts of the show were the performances by musical guest Ke$ha. In her first performance, she took her party-girl anthem "TiK ToK" to outer space, stopping at one moment to deliver the funniest line of the night: "Did anyone ever stop to think, maybe WE are the aliens?!?"
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Her second performance was just as wacky, filled with day-glo costumes (which Gawker.tv's Matt Cherette points out were ripped off from Sia, though my 90s kid mind went right to Busta Rhymes):
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Though my instant reaction to both performances was "Whoa, Budget Gaga," I think it's interesting to consider what it must be like to be a pop star in a Lady Gaga world (and it should be noted, also, that Gaga herself is not above blatant rip offs, nor is she above using extraordinary costumes to distract from not-so-extraordinary songs). It was fascinating in that she appeared to be incredibly nervous while singing these uber-cocky lyrics; it was almost as if you could see a disconnect between the actual person and the record company construct. Unlike Gaga, who rarely (if ever) breaks character, there seemed to be a real split between Ke$ha and Kesha, and I almost felt bad for her as the night went on, as the audience didn't seem to warm up to her, leaving her in silence as she asked them questions or tried to impress them by showing her American flag coat. If nothing else, Ke$ha provided two of the only really memorable parts of the show. (NBC seems to be aware of this, promoting Ke$ha's performances in the #1 slot under "featured content" on the SNL homepage).

The only other skit that's really worth posting, in fact, is this spoof of the recent Insane Clown Posse "Miracles" video, which really doesn't need to be spoofed, as it's funny enough already. Here's the original:




And here's the SNL spoof:
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The strangest part of the evening, to me, anyway, was the fact that Phillippe was there to promote MacGruber, a film he made with both SNL writers and cast members, and yet none of these people stopped to say, "You know what? This dude isn't really host material. Maybe we should get someone else," (like, say, Maya Rudolph, who also happens to be in MacGruber). It's totally understandable that SNL would want to promote a spin-off film by bringing in a big Hollywood star, but when it results in such a dud of an episode, it's not exactly reassuring to an audience who hasn't yet decided if a MacGruber film, starring Ryan Phillippe, is really worth the price of admission. Promoting a comedy with an overall lack of comedy seems to be a peculiar strategy, no?

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Ultimately, it was a pretty forgettable show. Let's hope that's not the case next week: Gabby Sidibe is hosting.