Betty White told reporters last week that she was actually a little nervous about hosting "Saturday Night Live." Turns out there was no need for the 88-year-old comedian to fear her big gig at Studio 8H. White had great material and was absolutely fantastic. In fact, there were so many funny -- and raunchy -- moments, it's hard to single out just a few. But I'll try.
Perhaps the one most likely to go down in SNL legend will be the skit in which Molly Shannon and Ana Gasteyer discuss White's, um, baked goods, on their NPR food show, "Delicious Dish." Not since Alec Baldwin hawked his famous "Schweddy Balls" in the same sketch have I felt so conflicted about laughing so hard. (White's video below)
The Washington Post's Hank Stuever believes one of the reasons we love Betty White so much is because, "America loves a slightly dirty-minded meemaw with an unerring sense of comic timing." Well, the SNL writers were definitely in tune with that philosophy, because many of White's sketches seemed to rely on a bit of raunch to shock us and make us laugh. And that's totally fine. It worked.
My fear for White before the show (in addition to the usual fear of poor SNL writing), was that SNL would underuse her and rely on Fey and Poehler to carry the show. That didn't happen either. White appeared in every sketch on the show.
She breathed life into the often tiresome "Scared Straight" sketch with Kenan Thompson, sporting a frizzy gray afro wig and threats of prison rape. White's "Granny Loretta Macintosh" character, reciting a tale that involved her spinning via tornado from her family farm in Kansas, told a cracked up Bill Heder that if he didn't straighten up, he would get to meet the "Wizard of Ass."
I did like the MacGruber sketches, for a change, with Betty White playing MacGruber's Nana (though, this is the one place I could have done without the raunch). If there was a weak point -- and I'm not saying it was bad -- it was a sketch near the end of the show promoting another "CSI" spinoff called "CSI: Sarasota."
But the Digital Short that followed it featuring the entire cast serenading Betty with the theme to "Golden Girls?" STRAIGHT UP AWESOME. It starts out sweet and ends so. very. wrong. (Update: Digital short link at Huffington Post)
Another rewarding aspect of last night's show was the return of great SNL women Shannon and Gasteyer, as well as Rachel Dratch, Maya Rudolph, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler. I will never grow tired of Rudolph screeching "Bobby Brown!" as Whitney Houston (or maybe I would if they overused her like most of Kristin Wiig's characters). But man, was the audience hungry for fresh blood. Or in this case, old blood. Honestly, the "Whitney Houston out-of-breath" bit slayed me. Can't we have Rudolph back?? And turns out Molly Shannon can still get in the high kicks and splits as 50-year-old Sally O'Malley (she likes to kick! stretch! kick!). Betty White joined her in this classic as 90-year-old Dotty O'Donoghan (she likes to stand, bend, and sit).
All in all, the show was a giant A+ and I'm betting SNL gets its highest ratings in ages.
Okay, Facebook. What do we want Betty White to do next?