As SNL says goodbye to Bill Hader, Fred Armisen and Jason Sudeikis I wonder: Why don't they get better finales?
No James Carville. No Barack Obama. No Joe Biden. No unctuous game show host leading a bizarro competition, like “What's My Name?” ($10 million to provide the name of your apartment building doorman.)
Still, Saturday Night Live’s presumed farewells to three of its most prominent players did manage to be touching in an odd way, offering backhanded goodbyes to guys who have been on the show since the Bush administration.
Jack of all trades Bill Hader seems to be the only one who officially confirmed his departure, leaving SNL after eight years. Fred Armisen and Jason Sudeikis, who have been on the show 11 years and eight years respectively, are also reportedly leaving. Weekend Update host Seth Myers, who is taking over NBC's 12:35 a.m. Late Night show when Jimmy Fallon becomes the Tonight Show host in February 2014, could still appear in the show's fall episodes, so he didn't get similar treatment.
The closest we came to a farewell was a fake Top of the Pops segment featuring Armisen, Hader and Sudeikis (with Taran Killian) as a British punk band playing a song “It’s a Lovely Day.” Eventually, they were joined by 90s alt rockers such as Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis and Aimee Mann (along with Armisen's Portlandia collaborator Carrie Brownstein) in the same way former castmember Kristen Wiig was serenaded by Mick Jagger on her last show last year. And who knew Sudeikis could actually play drums?
We also got an extended bit with Stefon, the outrageously inappropriate nightlife correspondent who mostly seems popular because Hader can’t help cracking up when playing him on Weekend Update. Myers grabbing him from a last-minute wedding to Anderson Cooper was an inspired send-off, flanked by some of the oddest characters to deliver an Update commentary.
And Armisen reprised his sidesplitting take on Iran’s president for a sketch lampooning Argo. (perhaps because word is Sudeikis “probably” isn’t coming back, we got no last shot of his glad-handing Biden.)
It’s too band SNL didn’t spend more of its energy saying goodbye to these longtime talents, because Saturday’s episode, hosted by Ben Affleck, was mostly limp without it. My prevailing thought after watching a few sketches was amazement that a guy so bad at the hosting job could still get to do it five times (you’d think he would have learned how to read cue cards by now).
Check out the key sketches below and wonder what might happen if longtime castmembers were allowed to take over their final episodes, especially when lackluster hosts like Affleck are the alternative.