‘Saturday Night Live’ Finale Recap: Historic Season 40 Comes To Close With Louis C.K. & Rihanna0 Comments

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Posted on 17 May 2015 at 10:35am

SNL Season 40 Finale

In recent “SNL” history, the season finale has been reserved for familiar faces. Year 40 was no different, with Louis C.K. hosting for the third time in as many seasons and Rihanna making her fifth appearance as musical guest. Finales often have a celebratory air, with an overabundance of cameos, or an ode to the upcoming summer, or a farewell to departing talent, but there was not much of that this time. Instead, this was a fairly standard Season 40 episode, with a focus on original material that was best when it got weird. Unfortunately, it did not go weird often enough, and what resulted was a show that did not succeed too much as either a finale or as any old episode, especially disappointing considering the talent involved.

It’s Summer (BEST OF THE NIGHT) – The musical monologue is well-known to all, but a lesser-known, but just as durable tradition, is the musical season-ending cold opening. The former often indicates malaise, while the latter is usually a fun bit of form-breaking. This edition took it a step further, with another “SNL” standby – the Clintons – crashing the party. A long-term “SNL” narrative is taking shape here with the Democratic frontrunner leading up to the 2016 election, and it is simultaneously consistent and variegated. B+

Louis C.K.’s Monologue – Offhandedly admitting that he may be prepared for this to be his last episode yet, Louie brought some of his riskiest material to a discussion of the how the 70’s were different. The mild racism bit danced right on the right edge of dangerous, with the hooded teenager punchline going just slightly, significantly, different than expected. The examination of the psyche of a child molester was likely too intense for some viewers to handle, but it showed a striking amount of empathy – a quality necessary for good comedy. B+

The Shoemaker and the Elves – This fractured fairy tale committed two cardinal sins of sketch comedy right away: it completely gave away its premise, and it shocked for shock’s sake, without actually being that shocking. The reveal that the cobbler was actually into the BDSM and was only pretending not to be so to hide it from his wife provided a little boost of energy. Then the Choose Your Own Adventure texting gambit really took it to another level. Still, it was one and a half great quick moments following way too much obvious repetition. C

Sprint Store – “SNL” frequently takes on some hacky premises. Usually, the show does not go beyond the simplistic foundation. But occasionally, with a guest like Louis C.K. – who also takes on hacky premises but really explores them for all they are worth – these sketches can manage some surprises. C.K. is a student of human character, so his grasp on slang comes with conviction, which is why he was the perfect choice to pull off fronting for five whole years. Rarely has Leslie Jones’ energy been matched and challenged – who knew Louie would be the one to do it? B

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