Well, last night saw LeBron James take the stage of "Saturday Night Live." I'd give him a C plus, but part of that has to do with it being a C minus show overall. Decent digital short, nods to Akron and to St. V, couple of laughs but there wasn't a "Box" song or, to look at sports figures and "SNL," a Peyton Manning/United Way bit. LeBron didn't do himself any harm, but he didn't advance his offcourt performing cause, either.
Sketch by sketch notes after the jump ball ...
LeBron bits first:
-- Opening monologue: Niiiiice suit. Needs to remember to pause for applause between lines. Claims that, for people who don't watch basketball, the Cavs swept the Spurs in the NBA finals. And for those who do, "Be cool. Shut up." Shout-out to "my family back in Akron." Seemingly teary about them not being there. Then a cut to pretape of his commercial characters watching the show. He does these guys fairly well, but -- aside from an Eddie Murphy reference -- not very funny. Then back to the set, where he's finishing a blackboard diagram on "how you fix our health care system."
-- First sketch: Charity organization with LeBron auctioning off a night with him. He plays straight man to Kristen Wiig for most of it. When he has to do the gag lines, he's a little stiff. And the sketch is lame.
-- "High School Musical 3" promo parody with LeBron as a new kid trying out for the basketball tea. Andy Samberg as Zac, Maya Rudolph as Vanessa (naked in the skit). Not much of a sketch, but LeBron handles his fragment of singing well.
-- LeBron tapes a "Read to Achieve" PSA, with a hyper-sensitive stagehand. Escalating funny, and LeBron does losing his temper well. Funniest LeBron sketch so far.
-- "The Lyle Kane Show." Goofy white guy (Will Forte) hosting a talk show on "Black ET," as he keeps calling it. LeBron as his first guest, Tim, just as goofy as Lyle -- although you can see early on that LeBron is fighting to keep from laughing. Also gets to mime playing the flute, to great applause. Nothing sketch, though.
-- LeBron as a "Solid Gold" dancer. OK, just a laugh to see him in the outfit. And for his expression during the "interview" segment. The silliest dancing is left to the other performers, but he's still playing along.
-- Brief appearance at the end of the Kanye West/106 & Park sketch. Kanye is asked to defend his behavior at awards shows, with "clips" of him complaining at the Kids' Choice awards, the Nobel Prizes, Thistledown County Fair best-pumpkin contest and ... "Saturday Night Live" (for not being host). LeBron and Lorne Michaels mildly amusing about Kanye's rant, but it's not much of a sketch. If Kanye himself wasn't doing it, wouldn't be of any interest at all.
--"Great Moments in Guidance Counseling." A counselor at ST. V! Advising LeBron, who wants to go to college instead of the NBA. The counselor talks him into the NBA. Once again, LeBron is fighting laughter at times, and a little more obvious about looking at cue cards. But the sketch just fizzles.
-- And goodnight.
As for bits not involving LeBron:
-- Show opened with Darrell Hammond's Bill Clinton and Amy Poehler's Hillary, as she declared victory in next week's election -- bashing other Democrats along the way. While Hammond and Poehler are dead-on funny, the sketch was slow and too long. But the smiling vitriol re John Edwards was amusing, as was the description of our own Dennis Kuchinich: "My sweet, teeny-tiny, itsy-bitsy, miniature friend."
-- Commercial parody. "Angry Dog" food, with Michael Vick on the bag. Ho hum.
-- Digital short. Samberg's ode to the president of Iran. "Like a very hairy Jake Gyllenhaal to me." Not the "box" song, or "Lazy Sunday," but it's making me laugh. And I like the appearance by Adam Levine of Maroon 5. (NBC has the video online this morning.)
-- Kanye West performs twice. Love the glow-in-the-dark stripes on the jacket. Audio drops noticeable. Liked the first song better.
-- "Weekend Update." Unfortunate Poehler hair. Good joke about a man proposing marriage in a crossword. Kenan Thompson is funny, but his OJ bit isn't well written. Fred Armisen as the president of Iran (again, since he was also in the digital short), with Maya Rudolph as his translator; probably better on paper. Very good joke about a swastika handbag/Columbia University. But too much dead air overall.
-- "Ambiguously Gay Duo." Attempt to out them using the Minneapolis airport undercover pollce. Not a fan.