In one of the season's most anticipated episodes of Saturday Night Live, Louis C.K. hosted with musical guest FUN last night. The ratings may have been on the soft side for a weekend before a presidential election, but the laughs were needed in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy – a disaster which Mayor Bloomberg is comparing to Hurricane Katrina, with some 30,000 – 40,000 people in a housing crisis.
In the hours leading up to the show, the Mexican-American comedic genius, writer/director /star of the FX show Louie, and longtime New York City resident sent this e-mail message to fans on his mailing list, in which he talked about what it meant to him to be hosting SNL one week after the worst modern-day natural disaster New York has experienced.
Part of his e-mail reads:
"Its pretty impossible to describe walking through these city streets in total darkness. It can't even be called a trip through time, because as long as new york has lived, its been lit. By electricity, gas lamps, candlelight, kerosene. But this was pitch black, street after street, corner round corner. And for me, the village being the very place that made me into a comedian and a man, to walk through the heart of it and feel like, in a way, it was dead. I can't tell you how that felt. And you also had a palpable sense that inside each dark window was a family or a student or an artist or an old woman living alone, just being in the dark and waiting for the day to come back. Like we were all having one big sleep over, but not so much fun as that."
But Louis seemed honored and excited to host SNL, "something I zero ever in my life saw happening to me," he wrote.
For an SNL virgin, Louis more than delivered.
His opening monologue set the tone of a show that was decidedly his – complete with hand-held mic and old lady-with-a-crazy-accent jokesl.
By far the best skit was "Lincoln," in which he re-enacts the opening sequence to Louie to perfection. Our 16th president, portrayed as a middle-aged stand-up, tries to cozy up – however awkwardly – to a newly emancipated slave played by Kenan Thompson, rides the subway, eats a slice of classic NY Pizza, and bickers with his wife Mary Todd (played by Aidy Bryant), before walking into the Comedy Cellar to deliver a killer stand-up routine.
"One thing I'm really sure of is that someone's going to murder me. I just know I'm totally getting murdered," says a top-hat clad Louis in character.
In "Last Call," Louis plays a lonely, middle-aged horndog named Dan Pants who picks up a shoulder-pad wearing, white-trashy-looking drunken hag (Kate McKinnon) at a bar, sucks face with her to the horror of Kenan Thompson as bartender, before finally taking her home.
The show had to address Hurricane Sandy in some way, and went with a cold opening of Fred Armisen as a Spanish-mumbling Bloomberg and his hyper-animated sign-language interpreter Lydia Callis (played by SNL newbie Cecily Strong), followed by Bobby Moynihan as the tough-talking New Jersey Gov. Christie and Nasim Pedrad as his big-haired interpreter. In "Fox and Friends," Louis steps in as a FEMA official offering useless post-disaster tips.
But, as noted by The Huffington Post, Louis isn't one to fake it. In "Mountain Pass," a weak skit to be sure, he forgets his lines, laughs awkwardly, and can't seem to use his ram horn prop properly, throwing the other actors off.
But even when he phoned it in, Louis still gave NY a dose of laughter in a time of darkness.
Up next: Anne Hathaway with musical guest Rihanna. Expect the show to have a lot of political jokes, since we should know who is president by then.