Recurring Saturday Night Live characters and sketches introduced 2011–2012
J-Pop America Fun Time Now
Michigan State University students Jonathan Cavanaugh "san" (Taran Killam) and Rebecca Stern-Markowitz "san" (Vanessa Bayer) present a campus TV show based on their obsession with, and profound misunderstanding of, Japanese pop culture. Their Japanese studies professor and reluctant faculty advisor (Jason Sudeikis) is less than enthusiastic about the show, pointing out that the hosts are not speaking actual Japanese and are the worst students in his class. Unfortunately, he has no choice because he has to be present in order for the show to happen. When accused of racism, Jonathan points out his Japanese girlfriend (Fred Armisen, who is part Japanese).
We're obviously making fun of a certain kind of person that loves that culture so much and is sort of ignorant about it. That's why we have [Jason Sudeikis] there to put us in our places a bit. It's certainly not meant to be racist. I hope the majority of people don't think of it that way.
Reception to the sketch has been mixed, with several reviewers growing weary by its fourth appearance. Ryan McGee of HitFix said: "I used to love this sketch, but at this point, I would rather see a digital short involving Jason Sudeikis' horrified professor after a taping of this show. I think they've milked this as far as it can go." The Huffington Post's Mike Ryan felt similarly, writing, "We got the joke a long time ago. Most recurring sketches try to develop personalities for its characters. Unfortunately, when the gist of the joke is, 'These two are doing something offensive and they don't realize it,' it's hard to give them meaningful personalities." However, Vulture's Joe Reid said, "In classic SNL fashion, it's the one-joke premise stretched out over countless repetitions, but I am so fond of Taran Killam and Vanessa Bayer, I could watch them bounce around to that theme song all day." Hillary Busis wrote for Entertainment Weekly that "It’s been long enough since the sketch last appeared for Bayer’s anime eyes, Killam’s wig, and the pair’s cultural insensitivity...to be amusing again."
|37||October 15, 2011||Anna Faris||Faris appears as an anime fanatic.|
|37||December 10, 2011||Katy Perry||Perry appears as a Hello Kitty fanatic.|
|37||March 10, 2012||Jonah Hill||Hill appears as a samurai sword collector.|
|38||December 8, 2012||Jamie Foxx||Foxx appears as a gi salesman.|
Lord Cecil Wyndemere (Paul Brittain) is a 47-year-old man dressed like an 18th-century fop, who prances around and desires "sweets". He is loved by his girlfriend's father (Jason Sudeikis) and hated by others, such as his girlfriend's brother Steven (Andy Samberg).
Following the January 31, 2012 announcement that Brittain was departing the show immediately, several sources expressed disappointment that there would be no further appearances by Lord Wyndemere, whom Entertainment Weekly called "wonderfully weird."
|37||October 15, 2011||Anna Faris|||
|37||January 7, 2012||Charles Barkley|||
Getting Freaky with Cee-Lo Green!
|37||November 5, 2011||Charlie Day|||
|37||February 4, 2012||Channing Tatum|||
We're Going to Make Technology Hump
Andy Samberg and a female co-host host a television show devoted to acting out pornographic vignettes using various technological devices as the characters (e.g., an iPad as a wealthy hotel guest who recognizes his chambermaid, a video game controller, as a downtown callgirl).
Both the first and second appearances of the sketch were well received. Calling it "so-stupid-its-funny", Katla McGlynn of The Huffington Post wrote: "The funny part is the dialogue, which is so soap opera-y and over the top that it sounds hilarious coming from an iPad or a curling iron in a tiny yet dramatic bedroom set. Not to mention the notion that this could actually be a show, or that it would be hosted by friendly, upbeat young people and not some creepy techno-file." On the sketch's return, Sarah Devlin of Mediaite noted that "the production values were much higher this time around! I thought perhaps the joke would have worn thin, but then I laughed my head off...They've still got it!" Wired's Angela Watercutter wrote, "'Technology Hump' shouldn’t be funny. It's only mildly amusing when kids make G.I. Joe and Barbie play doctor, so having a beeper and a Nintendo Entertainment System gun engage in a beach rendezvous should be just plain weird. But when it incorporates the age-old trick of making a digital numeric screen spell out "80085" it's just too hard not to laugh."
|37||November 12, 2011||Emma Stone|||
|37||February 11, 2012||Zooey Deschanel|||
Drunk Uncle (Bobby Moynihan) appears on Weekend Update to deliver a rambling monologue deriding the culture of the day, in particular young people, food, and technology. In each sketch, he complains about people not dressing up for a particular event. Each sketch also features Drunk Uncle singing one or more poorly-rendered songs, rambling on about things he's not (similar to the Chris Farley character Bennett Brauer), Seth Meyers insisting he's too drunk, and Drunk Uncle making one or more politically incorrect statements toward minorities or immigrants. Drunk Uncle is a stereotypical middle-aged blue-collar American (an exterminator by trade) who is married (to a wife whose name changes each sketch) and has six kids and several nieces and nephews.
The Huffington Post wrote in November 2012 that "Moynihan provides the perfect vessel for the spirit of avuncular alcoholism...He covers every aspect of your typical drunk uncle, including 'back in my day' folksy-isms, a luddite cynicism of all modern technology and quaint anti-immigration rants, all of which inevitably give way to mournful laments on his own failures in life."
Moynihan told Newsday that Drunk Uncle "is probably the funnest [of his characters] to do right now, by far, just because the process of writing it is the funnest part in the world." Moynihan co-writes the Drunk Uncle appearances with Colin Jost.
|37||December 3, 2011||Steve Buscemi|||
|37||January 7, 2012||Charles Barkley|||
|37||April 7, 2012||Sofia Vergara|||
|38||September 20, 2012||None (Weekend Update Thursday)|||
|38||November 10, 2012||Anne Hathaway|||
|38||April 7, 2013||Melissa McCarthy||Special appearance by Peter Dinklage as Drunk Uncle's brother-in-law, "Peter Drunklage."|
|38||May 18, 2013||Ben Affleck||Appears with other characters in the background of Stefon sketch.|
|39||September 28, 2013||Tina Fey||Aaron Paul appeared in cameo as "Meth Nephew".|
|39||December 14, 2013||John Goodman||Goodman appears as "Drunker Uncle".|
|39||May 10, 2014||Charlize Theron|
|40||October 25, 2014||Jim Carrey|
|41||November 7, 2015||Donald Trump|
|42||May 20, 2017||Dwayne Johnson|
Bobby Moynihan plays a dowdy, weird, obnoxious woman who's surprisingly successful at seducing celebrities. Moynihan has said Janet is one of his favorite characters.
|37||February 4, 2012||Channing Tatum||Janet picks up Tom Brady (Tatum) at a bar, on the night before the Super Bowl.|
|38||January 26, 2013||Adam Levine||Janet brings Levine (as himself) back to her apartment after a concert.|
A Janet Peckinpah sketch was scheduled to air on May 3, 2014; the sketch was cut from the episode before airing, but was released online. The sketch featured Janet bringing host Andrew Garfield back to her apartment after the premiere of The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Bein' Quirky with Zooey Deschanel
Abby Elliott portrays Zooey Deschanel hosting a talk show from her kitchen. Her sidekick is Michael Cera, played by Taran Killam. The theme of the talk show is to interview "quirky girls", a trait which Deschanel herself is stated, within the sketches, to exemplify. Zooey and her guests have pointed to Mayim Bialik and Björk as exceptionally quirky girls that they look up to as role models.
|37||February 11, 2012||Zooey Deschanel||Deschanel appears as Mary-Kate Olsen. Kristen Wiig appears as Björk.|
|37||April 7, 2012||Sofia Vergara||Vergara appears as Fran Drescher.|
How's He Doing?
Kenan Thompson leads a panel discussion of African-Americans reviewing Barack Obama's performance as President of the United States. The other panelists are Ebony writer Ronny Williams (Jay Pharoah) and a third panelist played by the host. They conclude with "What Would it Take?", in which the panelists assess what it would take for President Obama to lose their support.
|37||February 19, 2012||Maya Rudolph||Rudolph appears as Althea Davis and they cover issues regarding the president's unfulfilled promises since his election.|
|39||November 2, 2013||Kerry Washington||Washington appears as Alice Roger Smith. The panel discusses topics like the NSA wire-tapping scandal and the troublesome start for Obamacare.|
|40||November 1, 2014||Chris Rock||Chris Rock and the cast discuss once again President Obama.|
Richard (Taran Killam) and The Buffalo (Bobby Moynihan) host a 5:00 morning zoo radio show in Shakopee, Minnesota. Vanessa Bayer appears as the station's serious news reporter, "Karen" whom the hosts call "MC Jigglebutt" and attempt to get her to rap the news, much to her chagrin.
|37||March 4, 2012||Lindsay Lohan||Lohan appears as "Illiterate Lisa."|
|38||January 19, 2013||Jennifer Lawrence||Lawrence appears as intern "Miss Busty Rhymes" (who can't make a rhyme to save her life).|
A soap opera parody featuring Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig and others as wealthy blondes with Valley Girl accents (Valleyspeak) exaggerated almost to the point of incoherence. Each "episode" opens with the Soapnet logo with Bill Hader's voice-over announcement: "Next on The Californians." The title sequence shows the pouring of a glass of white wine and some beach front property, with an acoustic guitar lick and chords that imitate America's "Ventura Highway" on the soundtrack.
Armisen's character, Stuart, owns the house in which the action occurs. His wife Karina (Wiig) is unfaithful (she is said to have died in a car crash when Wiig left the show). Hader plays Devon, a romantic rival of and antagonist to Stuart; a recurring line is Stuart's "Devon? What are you doing here?" Every installment includes three scenes, generally involving unexpected guests such as a doctor, a private detective, a runaway, or a lost family member. Stuart will invite them to sit down on the furniture, which he describes precisely (e.g. "Mexican country-style chairs," "burlap and cane daybed" or "neutral-toned fruit-wood chairs"). After a shocking revelation typical to soap operas, such as an unexpected pregnancy, the camera zooms in on each character, who displays open-mouthed astonishment. (Vanessa Bayer appears as a Latina maid, Rosa, the only brunette character.) Each scene ends with all of the characters in the room crowded around a single mirror and gazing at their own reflections.
Throughout the melodramatic plot developments, much of the dialogue consists of descriptions of highway routes taken from place to place, with freeways referred to with the definite article, as in "the 10", a usage characteristic of Southern California English. The characters are often seen with white wine or hors d'oeuvres such as nachos and avocado.
Armisen writes the "Californians" sketches with James Anderson, and says they originated from casual conversations between Armisen, Hader and castmate Kenan Thompson. "Just for no reason, we would talk about how we were just in L.A. and what roads we were on, and we'd be talking about directions, and, 'Well, yeah, you go on Vermont and you make a left,'" Armisen said. Anderson added the soap opera element. Armisen claims to make a significant effort to ensure the navigation they describe is accurate, relying on both his memory and Google Maps; in response to an error pointed out by The Huffington Post, he said, "The fact that you called me out on the Umami Burger...I was really hoping that it wouldn't happen, but I was happy that it happened!"
In 2012, LA Weekly reported that a Stanford University research project on Californian accents "suggests that 'The Californians' might be on to something." The story quoted a Stanford grad student describing something called the "California vowel shift": "If you try to think about what you think a surfer or a skater or a valley girl talks like, and do it, you can feel your mouth feels different. And I think that has to do a lot with the way that the vowels are shifting." At a SXSW Q&A panel, Armisen said that to do the "Californians" accent, "you have to pronounce every single consonant and vowel."
|37||April 14, 2012||Josh Brolin||Brolin plays Greg, Stuart's doctor, who announces that Stuart has cancer.|
|37||May 19, 2012||Mick Jagger||Jagger plays Timothy, Stuart's long-lost father. Steve Martin cameos as a man suffering from amnesia.|
|38||October 13, 2012||Christina Applegate||Applegate plays Brie, Stuart's new fiancee, who has a shopping addiction. Cameo appearance by Usain Bolt.|
|38||November 17, 2012||Jeremy Renner||Renner plays Craig, Stuart's lawyer.|
|38||February 9, 2013||Justin Bieber||Cecily Strong appears as Gia, Stuart's date, who turns out to be Devon's wife. Bieber plays a runaway teen.|
|38||May 11, 2013||Kristen Wiig||Estranged wife Karina (Wiig) shows up disguised as gardener Brad, makes out with Devon, then reveals she is still alive. She offers everyone agave margaritas. Maya Rudolph appears in a cameo to reveal that Stuart has a second family in Marina Del Rey.|
|40||February 15, 2015||Anniversary special||Estranged wife Karina (Wiig) discover that she is seven months pregnant, only to discover that Craig the pool boy (Bradley Cooper) is the father. At the same time the family is worried about their Aunt Lana after she disappears in a hot air balloon, when their cousin Allison (Taylor Swift) shows up to tell them that she landed a part in a film. It is discovered that Allison sabotaged the balloon trip, only to discover that Aunt Lana (Betty White) is alive and well — and that she had an affair with Craig the pool boy, which ends in a kissing scene. The sketch features Laraine Newman as Karina's mother (Sherry the Valley Girl), Kerry Washington as the doctor, and Kenan Thompson. The sketch was mashed up with David Spade reprising his role from the "Total Bastard Airlines" sketch, with Cecily Strong taking the role of Helen Hunt.|
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