The difference between a good and great Saturday Night Live host really has nothing to do with the talent of said host—acting novice Bruno Mars was way better on SNL than capital-A Actors Jeremy Renner and Daniel Craig. It's all about how comfortable the host is on that stage—and Justin Timberlake kicked the kickball right out of the kickball field last night as host and musical guest in an episode chockfull of all-star SNL alums, Elton John impressions, the Three Amigos, Stefon, and a whole lot of funny singing.
Oh sure, this season has been filled with stinkers (Renner, Craig, Justin Bieber, Adam Levine, Jennifer Lawrence, Christina Applegate), so the bar might be slightly lower than...usual? Ever? But we laughed out loud several times last night, we enjoyed the returning sketches, and Stefon did a Daffy Duck/Vietnam flashback impression. We should all feel okay deeming this the best SNL episode of the year, despite the fanfare of guest stars and reliance on old bits. Anyway, we'll take "Maine Justice" and "Dick In A Box Guys" over "The Californians" any day.
Really, there was only one out-and-out stinker: the fake movie trailer for "She's Got A Dick," which was devoid of laughs (actually, Fred Armisen as Eugene Levy was a funny sight gag). The "Caligula" sketch also went nowhere, but it wasn't atrocious (unlike the fake movie one, which really was horrible).
But the highlights were plentiful this week, best of all the return of Stefon (first appearance since the Bruno Mars episode) who killed it in one of his best Weekend Update bits ever (which is saying something). Timberlake was excellent in the cold open as Elton John singing a tribute to Hugo Chavez, as one half of the "Dick in a Box" brothers for the dating show (also featuring the surprise return of the Festrunk brothers), and as the singing Vegan guy.
We had reprises of the two of the best (if not the best) new sketches of the season, the cajun-flavored "Maine Justice" and highly bizarre "Swarovski Diamonds" (both from the underrated Jamie Foxx episode), and we had Tom Hanks, Steve Martin, Dan Akroyd, Alec Baldwin and more during "The Five Timers Club" monologue bit. Click through for all those sketches, plus "NuvaBling" and musical performances from Timberlake.