No one could ever accuse Melissa McCarthy of being too egotistical when it comes to her appearances on "Saturday Night Live." If you've seen the three-time host even once on the show, you've gotten a good idea of what her other appearances are like, as the actress tends to play variations on a few parts: the aggressive "butch" woman; the batty middle-aged housewife; and the borderline mentally disabled weirdo.
She certainly gives it her all with each performance. Last night she took part in an acrobatic battle-on-wires for her monologue, engaged in a slap-fight with Nasim Pedrad, and ate a rack of ribs while wearing a wig of crimped hair. The effort/spirit she puts into her appearances is admirable, but while designed to please her fans, the performances don't offer much else for viewers who aren't partial to her well-established style of humor.
There were moments in last night's episode, though, when McCarthy wasn't playing a larger-than-life fish-out-of-water. The "SNL" writers seemed to declare that they are not huge football fans, based on their two Super Bowl-related sketches. The cold open featured an ersatz halftime show featuring over-the-top Broadway actors in sparkling jerseys not quite getting it ("I hope I score a tackle for my team!" sang one actor.) The episode was bookended with another bizarro-Super Bowl scene, as an under-prepared Kyle Mooney took a video camera out to Times Square to mumble his way through a Super Bowl fan fest.
Also in celebration of the season was a Black History Month video wherein Jay Pharoah, Kenan Thompson and Sasheer Zamata sang a little ditty to a high school class about 28 reasons to hug a black guy, with No. 1 being, "We deserve a chance!" and Nos. 2 through 28 being "slavery." While the principals sang and danced, the white class they were performing to shrank back in their seats, both ashamed and semi-annoyed by this reminder of their white guilt. "Very cool, very sorry and very cool," said Kate McKinnon as the teacher at the end of the song.
Of course, the big news of the episode was Seth Meyers' farewell during "Weekend Update." After over a decade with the show as a performer and writer, it was clear that his absence would be felt. Cecily Strong choked up while bidding adieu to her co-anchor, although she was chided with "You barely know him!" by Bill Hader as Stefon, who stopped by along with Andy Samberg, Fred Armisen and Amy Poehler (Meyers' first guest when he begins hosting "Late Night" later this month) to say goodbye. "You're like the Sting of 'SNL,'" said Hader. "Because it takes you 12 years to finish."
"SNL" returns March 1, post-Olympics, with yet another change: head writer Colin Jost will join Strong at the "Update" desk.