Betty White Rocks the House on "Saturday Night Live"
Well, Facebook got its way last night when comedy golden girl Betty White hosted "Saturday Night Live." Y'all probably know the story, how an enthusiastic Betty White fan, armed with Facebook and a dream, created a movement that convinced SNL producer Lorne Michaels to have her host the show.
After Saturday's show, you have to ask yourself: What the heck took them so long? Because even when the material was sub-par, Betty was brilliant.
First, check out her perfectly timed monologue and how fabulous she looks at a youthful 88 1/2 years old. My favorite line was when she poked fun at Facebook: "In my day we had phone book. But we wouldn't waste an afternoon on it."
The bad hosts SNL usually trots out are sorely lacking in comedic timing. Betty White should conduct a master class for all future hosts. Add to that her sweet smile and the devilish twinkle in her eye as she delivers a cutting or raunchy line, and you can't help but be caught up in the magic.
It's as if she's saying, "Yes, I know I look like a sweet, innocent 88 1/2 grandma who you think never cursed, never had sex and never had a cross word to say about anyone. Well, think again."
In three brief sketches, Betty played MacGruber's Nana, embarrassing him mercilessly as he tried to defuse bomb after bomb.
The hilarious NPR sketch where Betty plays Florence Dusty of Dusty's Old Time Bakery was wonderfully risque. She comes on a radio show to talk about her world famous muffin. But it ain't the kind of muffin you eat in a bakery.
The muffin sketch was a hysterical take on the classic Alec Baldwin gag "Schweddy Balls," originated by Ana Gasteyer and Molly Shannon, two of several SNL alumnae who returned to provide solid comedic support. Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, and Rachel Dratch also came along for the ride --and can I just tell you how much I miss seeing Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph on a regular basis?
When Rudolph played Whitney Houston and Poehler, a demure daughter on "The Lawrence Welk Show," just their facial expressions made me laugh. Memo to network television: I want to see Rudolph back on television regularly. And soon. Memo to self: Put Poehler's Parks & Recreation on my watch list this week!
One of my favorite sketches was "The Manuel Ortiz Show," in which Manuel was like a Latin Dr. Phil. The funniest part was how all the guests salsa dance on and off the stage.
As a special treat, here are two NBC web exclusive clips from the SNL's dress rehearsal:
As always with cultural phenomena like this, the blogosphere is abuzz. Misty at Gabby Babble:
I love Betty and couldn't believe she actually agreed to do the show, I totally have more respect for her. Every skit she did had us all laughing my favorite was the NPR skit above, gotta love Betty’s muffin.
And I have to agree with Lavender Ranger at Spanengish Ramblings when it comes to the SNL writers:
I think it was worth the wait! It definitely was great! One reviewer said that the writers didn't know what to do with her but I hate to admit it because it is kinda true. They used her as the 'grandma' like four times (opening sketch, Macgruber's grandma, Macintosh's grandma, and Gingey's grandma) and an old lady twice.
At Crushable, Erin Carlson had to apologize to Betty for doubting her:
I regret saying I could care less about the hype surrounding your SNL hosting gig. Turns out, I DO care. Last night's show breathed life back into SNL, thanks in no small part to your talent, spunk and fearlessness.
Overall, it was a great show. White was one of the best -- if not the best -- hosts of the season, and seeing the returning women of SNL was a reminder of how excellent they are and how good the show can be when the writing and characters are there. You just got the sense that everyone on stage was excited to be there, and ready to put on the best show possible, and it translated into a high-energy, extremely fun evening for the audience at home.
Oh, and even musical guest Jay-Z paid tribute to Betty. As did we all.
Did you see Betty on SNL? What did you think?
Megan Smith is the BlogHer Contributing Editor covering Television/Online Video. Her other blogs are Megan's Minute, quirky commentary around the clock and Meg's Rad Review.