Betty White delivers her expected brand of hilarity and more on the May 8 “Saturday Night Live,” and if anyone dares disagree, then her legion of fans, including Jay-Z would set them straight.
The octogenarian has admitted that she was scared to death to do the show and for good reason. Not only is the live sketch comedy show a huge challenge to perform at any age, but White has to live up to the hype that won her the gig in the first place.
And overall, it’s not a disappointment. Sure, some skits work better than others, but White does what she does best: Jokes about being geriatric or jokes that turn her sweet old lady persona on its head whether it’s through inappropriately sexual or un-PC humor or profanity.
Let’s break it down:
‘Lawrence Welk’ Opening
The opening skit introduces White very gently to the format, not requiring much of her comedy-wise. Instead it’s a retread of the four singing sisters, with the fourth one being the deformed, small-handed misfit Denise as played by Kristen Wiig. What this skit really accomplishes, however, is bringing all the returning female “SNL” alums onto the same stage. So when they shout the classic “Live from New York” line, it’s a triumph.
We’re thrilled that “SNL” is smart enough to let Betty just be Betty and not think up some ridiculous gimmick for her monologue. She’s genuine and sweet in her sparkly black outfit and pokes fun at her age — a healthy 88-and-a-half years old. Since a campaign on Facebook was responsible for her hosting, she of course takes time to take a few jabs at the social networking site. “I must say, it sounds like a huge waste of time. I would never say the people on it are losers, but that’s only because I’m polite.” Ooh, burn!
NPR ‘Delicious Dish’ with Florence Dusty
Ana Gasteyer and Molly Shannon play the mellow-voiced NPR hosts of “Delicious Dish,” which is celebrating dietary fiber. As a guest, White plays Florence Dusty, a baker who’s known for her muffin. Yes, dirty minds are best served with this skit, which is filled with double entendres about muffins. “My muffin hasn’t had a cherry since 1939,” she declares. The skit really does go on and on, and frankly, it’s just a joy to watch White’s face reacting to the over-the-top lines.
‘The Manuel Ortiz Show’
One simple concept: Every person introduced on the talk show joins an ever-increasing Latin line dance in which hips are shaken, hair is tossed. Naturally, it finally leads to Betty White joining the action. She’s isn’t really suited to that type of dance, but that just makes it that much more endearing. And of course, she has a signature racy line about her gay son not liking tacos. Yes, they went there.
Ugh, this is a rather annoying skit, only saved by Betty White’s presence. A family of prissy girls in 1904 force their tomboy sister to dress girly, much to their grandmother’s disapproval since she’s tells them over and over again, “She’s a lesbian” as she does needlepoint.
MacGruber: Parts 1, 2 and 3
MacGruber is teamed up with his Nana (White, natch), who has the horrible habit of revealing incredibly embarrassing stories of his childhood during the most inopportune times. It really is just uber silly and shouldn’t work, but it does, especially since the whole time she’s sitting in one of those mobility scooters. Definitely stick around for the third installment, which has a surprise ending.
It’s definitely more of a triumph just having Amy Poehler back to do another edition of “Really!?!” with Seth Meyers, but of course they find a way to work in Betty White. She comes in as part of Molly Shannon’s bit as 50-year-old Sally O’Malley. White portrays 90-year-old Dotty O’Donaghan, and as expected, starts rolling out the geriatric jokes. Our fave: “You know what’s an accomplishment? Staying awake on the toilet.”
This time, White is Loretta Macintosh, the grandma of inmate Lorenzo Macintosh, who mix up movie plots with their supposedly biographical cautionary tales. White wears this awesome big fright wig and says “Wizard of Ass” with such glee, but the best part of the skit by far is when she goes to slap Bill Hader around, and he’s just cracking up the whole time. We feel ya, Bill. We’d find it hard to keep a straight face too if Betty were wailing on us.
Awesome. It’s “CSI” for the geriatric set, and as Vivian Caruso, who has red hair and a familiar habit of donning sunglasses for emphasis before delivering a line, White couldn’t have given us more. We’re not going to ruin it for you if you haven’t seen it, but the old age puns fly fast and furious, and those sunglasses could block out an eclipse.
The “SNL” alums gather to sing the “Golden Girls” theme song, “Thank You for Being a Friend.” It’s so incredibly sweet, it’s kind of weird. Even as we’re enjoying it — because, who doesn’t love this song and want to be able to sing it to Rose Nylund? — we’re waiting for the punchline. There’s a huge twist, which we won’t divulge, but we can’t get enough of Betty White cursing. “Happy Mother’s Day, motherf***ers!”
Tina Fey is a census taker who has no idea what to make of Betty White’s eccentric old lady character, who insists her name is pronounced Blarfingar Blarfingar, but it’s spelled Lee Smith. The whole skit, which is purely spoken jokes is just bizarre, but there are gems in there, like the old lady’s stripper name: Ascertain.
The cheering is so loud when Betty White makes her final bows, we can’t hear her first few words. She’s lovely and gracious again. “You’ve been so dear to a very scared and happy host.”
We’re not going to into Jay-Z’s performances here (check it out in this other Zap2it post instead), but it should be noted that after his second set, for which he sang “Forever Young,” he says it’s “dedicated to the most incredible Betty White.” Sometimes, Jay-Z, when you’re right, you’re right. We think you gained even more fans than usual for that shout out.
From start to finish, the love for Betty White is so apparent in the studio, in the audience and at home, that there isn’t any real lag to the energy during the show. We’re thrilled that she was able to participate in such a landmark episode for the show’s 35th anniversary and never lets us down.
Not bad for someone who’s 88-and-a-half. Thank you for being a friend, Betty.
What did you make of Betty? Were you satisfied? Did she live up to the hype for you? What was your favorite skit?
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Photo credits: NBC