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Tina Fey’s Successful Return to ‘Saturday Night Live’

Marissa Forbes | Monday, April 12, 2010

This weekend, “Saturday Night Live” returned after a four-week break with an impressive lineup. “SNL” alumna Tina Fey hosted and teen heartthrob Justin Bieber was the musical guest — the ingredients for what was sure to be an entertaining episode.

Fey made an appearance in each skit, save Fred Armisen’s opening parody of President Barack Obama that detailed the fear of privacy invasion surrounding the 2010 Census. Armisen went through the “simple, straightforward” questionnaire with inquiries like “If some member of this household had to die, so that others might live, who should that be?”

Though hilarious, Fey’s following commercial was on a whole other level of funny. Advertising for “Brownie Husband,” Fey flaunted an easy man-shaped dessert to satisfy any lonely, middle-aged woman. 120 calories-per-serving, 500 servings-per-man, Fey’s companion could appeal to “cravings in your mouth and your soul.”

Soon after, Fey assumed her striking Sarah Palin persona to discuss all the new shows to be aired on the upcoming Sarah Palin Network. Exaggerating fears of the actions of the Obama administration with shows such as “My Daughter Only Sprained her Ankle, You Can’t Seriously be Considering Euthanizing Her” and “Tea Party Wheel of Fortune,” Fey’s Palin impression was comedic gold. As “SNL” sarcastically promoted a network with “All Palin, all the time!” the audience should have been chanting “All Tina, all the time!”

In the next sketch, Fey portrayed a teacher who had subconscious longings for one of her charming students, played by Bieber. The teacher couldn’t help but think Bieber’s “smile was like watching a baby bunny sniff a tiny flower” and, each time these thoughts crossed her mind, the classroom lights dimmed and Bieber broke out into a song-fantasy for Fey. He crooned ridiculous desires of the teacher —”I’ll buy you a Panini, and some Spanx to make you teeny”— and then she would snap back to reality.  The punchline hit when Bieber realized the weird yearnings of his teacher and Fey defended herself with the excuse, “I’m very lonely and I would like to give you a bath.” Creepy? Completely, but it was another sidesplitting performance by Fey.

The classic “Weekend Update” followed, with appearances by the devil himself, who managed to find people more evil than himself in the world; Aunt Linda, the movie critic whose favorite recent film was Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s “The Tooth Fairy” and Fey as the “Women’s News” reporter. During her stint on the “Update” Fey made a feminist statement against all  of the cheaters in the world, insisting the “Oscar curse is just a lady curse” and criticizing men like Sandra Bullock’s husband Jesse James.

Some of the last skits included a weaker Al Roker parody by Kenan Thompson, where Fey appeared as the crazy Dina Lohan to promote “Checkles,” her new chest-freckle concealer, the prom of a nerdy teenager (Nasim Pedrad) obsessed with her mom (Fey), and a bar scene about Lolene, a nine-inch tall hooker (Fey).

Bieber’s musical performances were predictable, with backup dancers twice his age embarrassingly jumping around behind him as he sang “Baby” and “U Smile.” He’s pretty cute, but there is not much more to say about this him as a musical guest. However, he did well for a 16-year old, maintaining composure in the two skits he was able to participate in.

Overall, the show was a refreshing change with the addition of Fey’s strong female presence. Currently, male cast members like Andy Samberg and Seth Meyers tend to overshadow the less tenured females on “SNL,” with the exception of Kristen Wiig, who holds her own against the men in her fifth season on the show. But Fey stole the show Saturday, as she superbly performed each less-than-perfectly written skit she was given.