‘SNL’ Loses Its Political Punch

How bad have things suddently got on “Saturday Night Live”?

Well, give them a time of plentiful political mishaps and an endless primary season to mock, they’ll just mess it up.

On Saturday, that meant an entirely unfunny bit on the Rush Limbaugh sponsors that were sticking with them (including one with Butt Crack in the name – a surefire sidesplitter, they thought).

Worse, it meant the return of Sarah Palin to respond to the film that was just premiering on HBO, “Game Change.” Instead of Tina Fey, though (whose impersonation figured in the film as well), it was Andy Samberg in wig, red suit and glasses, doing a broad “Fargo” accent and messing up her catchphrases, saying “I Gotcha” instead of “You betcha.” That was part of the bit, of course, that Samberg was doing a lousy fill-in for Fey who supposedly got sick and couldn’t appear at the last minute (though she probably was never going to be part of it at all).

“I got this,” Samberg kept assuring Seth Meyers and just got worse. And despite the meta concept – they knew it was lousy – didn’t keep it from still being lousy.

And how lousy was the rest of the show. Oscar nominee Jonah Hill was glued to the cuecards but that didn’t prevent him from breaking character and giggling more than once. Having Tom Hanks pop up in the monologue only made you wish he’d stick around instead of the returning host.

Hill did so many sketches with Kristen Wiig, you almost wondered whether it was part of his agreement. And the sketches were even more thin than the political pieces. In one Wiig as Liza Minnelli tried to turn off some lamps. In another Hill is a husband who serenades his wife with Coolio. No punchline, they just make a big production of it.

Despite Samberg’s Palin, the Weekend Update was the only lively part of the inert episode. Along these lines the Shins were OK but not exactly mindblowing.

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