"SNL" Proves There's Life, and Laughs, After Election Day

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Is there life after the 2008 election cycle for Saturday Night Live? When the show can score a trio of winners as it did with Saturday’s first new post-election edition, yes, there is.

The opening sketch, with Jason Sudeikis as Joe Biden, was the only big nod to political humor, and was no big deal. The past few months, SNL usually hit its peak with the opener (debates, Tina Fey as Sarah Palin), so that didn’t bode well.

The show, however, featured three absolutely hilarious, superbly performed pieces of comedy.

First was a musical piece in which Kristen Wiig and guest host Paul Rudd (with guitar), as country artists, sang a preposterously meandering vocal about a package delivery, to the tune of “Ode to Billie Joe.”  The absurdity of the lyrics, embellished with the surprisingly polished singing, made this a big winner.

  And on “Weekend Update,” an unbilled appearance by Justin Timberlake was another home run. Timberlake always has done superbly on this show, and this time pretended to apologize for dropping out of a planned appearance next week. To make up for it, he enacted a fast-forward version of what he claimed would have been the entire Thanksgiving-special edition, imitating everything from announcer Don Pardo’s introduction to sketches, musical numbers and digital shorts. It was a three-minute solo mini-masterpiece.

And finally, Timberlake appeared again, with Rudd and musical guest Beyoncé, for a parody of a shoot of a Beyoncé music video. Rudd played the director, and Timberlake, Andy Samberg and Bobby Moynihan played Beyoncé’s backup dancers – dressed in black leotards and high heels, approximating the diva’s look as well as her dance moves.

The studio audience never stopped laughing during the entire sketch. Timberlake, imitating Beyoncé, was priceless, and so were her reactions. Much of the rest of the show was flat, but with those three bits, SNL proved there are still reasons to tune in.

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