McGraw and musical guests shine on ‘Saturday Night Live’

The election’s over, so now it’s time to say that “Saturday Night Live” passe again. While the show can be astonishingly inconsistent at times, Saturday’s episode featuring country singer Tim McGraw was actually not that bad.
I felt McGraw gave a solid performance. The characters he played didn’t deviate too wildly, but he seemed comfortable on screen. When I saw the TBS logo, I was hoping for a Bill Engvall parody but it didn’t come to pass.
I think my favorite sketches were the “redneck” playing poker with James Bond, the disc jockey peddling shockingly friendly prank calls, and the always fun Kristen Wiig playing a woman who was imagining the commercial for her fake clear retainer product).
Recurring characters kinda sank some sketches including a Thanksgiving sketch with the guy who was the sex offender during Halloween and the Pizzeria Uno guy. They weren’t awful, but I felt they could do better.
The new additions to the cast showed up a little more, including one as Arianna Huffington during Weekend Update.

It was the weird night that featured three singers as guests. McGraw squeezed in a bit of his new country song during his monologue while Ludacris and T-Pain were the alternating musical guests and featured artists.
First, I want T-Pain’s exaggerated puffy top hat featuring a gray and silver take on the Stars and Stripes. It’s like Apollo Creed’s hat in “Rocky IV” but much more stylish.
Second, I know SNL has come into some deserved criticism for its increasingly lily white (and male) cast. Although I have never cast a TV show, how hard it is really to find funny, appealing people of all races and creeds?
I was reminded of this issue because I thought Ludacris and T-Pain delivered excellent performances in the one sketch they took part in. It’s true they were playing themselves against a wannabe Vanilla Ice, but their delivery was handled with a deft touch (they were reading lines, but it seemed natural enough).
That said, I don’t think they should add more black people to the cast just because Barack Obama is going to the White House. They should do it for the same reasons to add anyone to the cast — to be funny (and funny in a sketch) and to make a contribution to the show. I think shaking up the cast to lose some veterans while adding younger comedians from different backgrounds could revitalize the show while retaining a core.
I hope the two young women they recently added will be strong additions. I hope SNL puts another funny black comedian on screen (I do like Keenan Thompson). I also look forward to the day when they add a new Latino cast member and a new Asian cast member. Seriously, I can count the number of Asian SNL cast members on my thumb.
Along those same lines, SNL has generated commentary and criticism because Fred Armisen has been playing Obama. This Washington Post article sums things up. Some critics were outraged and compared it to the frowned-upon act of blackface. I wouldn’t go so far as to require that Obama be played by a black man, but I think it would be nice.
However, the cast of SNL and comedians in general have been adept at playing characters from different walks of life (albeit with varying degrees of success and acceptance). I don’t think the character of “Obama” is any different. Armisen is of a diverse heritage and plays characters of all types. His Obama is palatable if not especially funny, but it might be a struggle to make light of the new president.
If SNL does add new cast members, I hope there is a renewed competition for the Obama job. Just as Phil Hartman and Darrell Hammond put their special takes on Bill Clinton, perhaps a new cast member (or even Armisen) can create a fresh take on our new president.