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Old 11/09/2009, 3:29 AM
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Default Review the S35 SNL Cast

This happens every year here, and I'd like to keep that tradition goin', so without further ado...

Fred Armisen
I like Fred. He seems like a naturally funny guy and he's obviously very comfortable in front of the camera (i.e. doesn't botch lines, can keep character, etc.) His strengths in particular are going in drag (the I Am Your Mother sketch from last year was one only he could pull off) and on occasion making otherwise awful sketches watchable and almost funny. His Obama, unfortunately, is pretty bad, I have to say, but I can live with it.
grading: A-

Will Forte
Haven't seen enough of Will to give a full analysis, but apparently this guy is really funny. I dunno, he's a bit too wacky for my tastes. Most of his stuff is hit-and-miss for me, but he's definitely hitting the right notes when it comes to acting. Just needs to work on drawing the line between sheer absurdity and sheer stupidity. On a side note, he's one of the best in the cast at playing straight-men.
grading: B

Bill Hader
Bill is awesome. 'Nuff said. It goes without saying that he pulls off creepy characters unbelievably well and he definitely exudes confidence without seeming too cocky. I always know if he's in a sketch, I'll probably enjoy it, regardless of what it is, which is a sign for either his talent or my infatuation. Most likely both. I'd like to see him step down from playing just creeps to maybe branching out, but it's not like that's preventing me from enjoying him any less.
grading: A

Seth Meyers
Solid Weekend Update host. Haven't seen him in action at all in any sketches, so can't speak for his talent, but for WU, he works. Not much to say.
grading: N/A (I'd say a B+ though)

Andy Samberg
Andy's weird for me. He's not a standout technically or delivery-wise, but there's something about the guy's persona that just gets me cracking up more than I should. That being said, there are better castmembers right now, but I still think he's consistently pretty funny and isn't nearly as bad as some people are making him out to be. We need to see Nicolas Cage or Mark Wahlberg back sometime. Those were good impressions.
grading: B+

Jason Sudeikis
Straightforward, consistent, and capable utility player. Specialties include playing Kristen's husband in commercials (glasses optional) and gameshow hosts. Just kidding. I like him, though. Like Seth, there's not a lot to really get me sold on either loving him or despising him.
grading: B

Kenan Thompson
Like Andy, only not as likeable or talented. Come to think of it, there hasn't been a single time he's really made me laugh this season, other than his bit part in the SYTYCD parody, What Up With That? and Maya Angelou. I don't even really see his Charles Barkley as being especially good. Overall, he's the weakest member in the cast, but even he has his moments.
grading: C+

Kristen Wiig
The polarizer of SNL fans nationwide. Love her, hate her, can't deny she has talent. The problem seems to lie with the writers, who feel a burning need to shove Gilly and Trina sketches down our throats every damn chance they get. Where's the subtlety? I want to see Kristen Wiig as Kristen Wiig, not as some obnoxious poor man's Mo Collins playing spastics in the lead off sketch every week. Kristen, I like you a lot, but if you want to keep your fans, you might want to start writing your own sketches.
grading: B+

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Abby Elliott
Is she Chris' daughter? More importantly, who's Chris? Abby's a cutie, though, and she seems funny enough, so I like her. She doesn't feel like she's really come into her own, though, so I'll refrain from full judgment until the end of this season.
grading: B+ for now

Bobby Moynihan
Is that how you spell it?....He seems fine, though. A bit too loud for me, but he's a solid utility player and overall he has standout technicality so that makes up for it. Not my favorite, really falls into the middle, almost near the bottom.
grading: B- for now

Nasim Pedrad
So far, so good. I like Nasim, although she seems a bit like Bobby in her brasher moments, but hey, that's her style, isn't it? Shows promise.
grading: B for now

Jenny Slate
What a shame. Barely used even now, Jenny has fallen to the back of the SNL cast burner. Seriously, Lorne, are you going to hold a grudge against her forever because of one honest mistake she made in her first sketch, or are you going to start turning your act around for the sake of the show's future? C'mon. I know Jenny can be funny once she's given the chance.
grading: N/A

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Old 11/09/2009, 6:32 PM
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acting and making people laugh is really tough, so i have a certain admiration for anyone who attempts it, although you might not think so when you see some of these grades

will forte
in my completely unrespectable opinion, there's only one awesome castmember on snl, who rises far above all the other castmembers and makes the show worth watching. and that's will forte. i can't explain exactly what it is. it can't just be that he's weird. there's gotta be more to it than that

jason sudeikis
there is something great about jason sudeikis. he has a certain energy and a certain seriousness to him that's quite likable if not funny

fred armisen
fred just has a certain friendly calmness to him that i really can't see anyone disliking. he might only be kinda funny, but he's good at what he does

kristen wiig
with the right material, kristen is definitely very good at making people laugh. but she just doesn't have the likability, or realness maybe, of other, better female sketch comedians. horrible characters like gilly and doing almost the same stuff with her characters doesn't help

bill hader
i don't know what to think about bill. it's almost like he's not even on the show, if that makes any sense. i don't think it does. i don't have anything against him, but just about everything he does just isn't very funny to me

kenan thompson
every once in a while kenan will do something that's funny or exciting, and i'll think, hm, maybe he ain't so bad. he's somewhat likable. but most of the time, it just doesn't work

andy samberg
andy is weird, but completely goofy weird. sometimes it works alright, but i'm not much of a fan

i haven't seen the newest members enough to really have much of an opinion, except that i'm not really impressed yet by any of em
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Old 11/10/2009, 2:22 AM
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This is tough. Aside from Kristen (who's getting an automatic five stars), to date, I haven't put much (if any) thought into how I'd rate the others. I prefer to think of the current cast as a cohesive unit than a series of players. As a whole, to me, they're an easy five. On their own? Well, let's find out, shall we?

Kristen Wiig: Kristen is Kristen. Need I say more? She's an endless fountain of talent and versatility, and thank goodness for that, given that she's the only female who receives starring roles. That said, careful with the recurring characters, hon, or I may have to dock half a star at some point.

Bill Hader: A spectacular impressionist, but Bill's so much more than Darrell Hammond II: Electric Boogaloo. He oozes personality in a way that Darrell never did, which makes him suitable for almost any role. By the end of his tenure, it's entirely possible that he'll make my Top 10 list. For Keith Morrison alone, five stars; the rest is just icing on the cake.

Fred Armisen: Quiet and unassuming, Fred is nonetheless the driving force behind many of my favorite sketches, characters, and impressions in recent years. It's easy to overlook the guy -- hell, even I had to swing by his profile to figure out just why it is I was about to rank him so high -- but beneath his subdued exterior lies considerable talent. Plus, to add to something that's already been mentioned, he *NEVER* breaks character, even managing to hold it together during the infamous debut of Debbie Downer. That has to count for something.

Kenan Thompson: I hate how much I love Kenan. He has zero range, he couldn't do a valid impression to save his life, he plays each and every character with his goofy, borderline-blaxploitation natural voice, and for some reason, I couldn't care less. Maybe that right there is the definition of true talent? Nah.

Jason Sudeikis: Sudsy has a certain smugness about him that makes him the perfect straightman. He's probably not someone I'm going to remember after he departs, but the show wouldn't be the same without him.

Abby Elliott: All aboard the bias train! Here's the thing -- Abby hasn't done a heck of a lot at this stage, but not only am I unable to point to anything she's done with which I've had even the slightest problem, not only have I thoroughly enjoyed every moment she's been on screen (and no, not just for that reason), she already has several spit-take moments under her belt to boot. Mmm, under Abby's belt... Uh, point being, she shows tremendous promise. Being the sucker for adorable that I am, it's true -- I'd be eating her up even if she was the worst cast member in SNL history, but thankfully, that's far from the case. Four stars for now, probably an eventual five. Rock it, girl!

Will Forte: As one of sketch comedy's biggest wildcards of all-time, when Will's at the helm, inevitably, I know I'm in for either a direct hit or a catastrophic miss. The good news? He scores direct hits more often than not, and when he *does* miss, it's usually in a B-movie-esque, so-awful-that-you-still-have-to-laugh sort of way. I'm not sure it's necessarily fair to rank him below Abby at this stage in her tenure, but... this just feels right. Either way, still a four, and that's nothing to sneeze at.

Andy Samberg: Similar to Will, but far more likeable and far less talented, which, in the end, balances out. I'm tempted to give him bonus points for his Digital Short classics, but then I'd have to dock for all the dreck. Let's just go with a solid 3.5 and move on.

Bobby Moynihan: I christened him the Bobby Lee of SNL in another thread, and although I stand by that, he has his moments. Continue to walk on the right side of that fine line you're currently walking, Bobby, and someday, I might grow to appreciate you to some small degree.

Nasim Pedrad: See what I said about Abby above, minus the spit-take moments, minus the adorable, and, for the time being, minus the rating. NR

Jenny Slate: She looks like she's going to be annoying, she sounds like she's going to be annoying, but she hasn't been given the chance to prove me right (or wrong) as of yet. Like I've said elsewhere, I'm not overly hopeful, but fingers crossed. I'll reserve judgment for now. NR

As for Seth, I no longer consider him part of the cast, so I'm not rating him either.

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