As the final weekend before of the 2012 presidential election on Tuesday approached, and as Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts were underway, expectations were high for comedian Louis CK's performance as host of NBC's "Saturday Night Live" on Saturday. As soon as the episode began, though, it was clear that C.K. and Saturday's “SNL” cast did not disappoint a storm- and election-ravaged nation seeking laughter.
The story of Louis CK’s rise to the top is a long one. He slugged it out in the trenches of stand-up comedy for decades before breaking big with his own FX show “Louie,” which he created, edits, stars in and directs. That, along with some well-timed and hysterical stand-up specials, catapulted him to a level where it wouldn’t be odd for him to host the same show that a celebrity like Alec Baldwin or Britney Spears would.
The excitement leading up to the “comic’s comic” hosting "SNL" was ratcheted up another level when an email from Louis to his fans hit the Internet hours before show time. The message, available on the Tumblr page of comic Jonah Ray, gave fans a peek into the thought process someone of hosting the show, which has been a vehicle for top-tier comedians since debuting in 1975.
“Hello. It’s Louis here. I’m clacking this to you on my phone in my dressing room here at studio 8H, right in 30 Rockefeller center, in Manhattan, New York City, New York, America, world, current snapshot of all existence everywhere,” he wrote before detailing a walk he took in the power-less, completely dark sections of lower Manhattan.
“I know people in Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, New Jersey, all over, are not normal yet. And not normal is hard.
“And here at 30 rock, these folks are working so hard this week. There are kids in the studio every day, because members of the crew and staff had to bring them to work. Many people are sharing lodging,” Louis wrote. “Everyone is tired. But there’s this feeling here that we’ve got to put on a great show. I’m sure it feels like that here every week. But wow. I feel really lucky to be sharing this time with these particular good folks here at SNL”
Reviews of the show Saturday night were mostly positive, with critics finding fault with the uneven quality of some of the sketches. Logan Nicklaus of Rolling Stone credited the show with a hilarious parody of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s post-Sandy-press conferences, in which he was flanked by interpreter-turned-viral-star Lydia Callis. Callis, played by “SNL” newcomer Cecily Strong, might have only been topped by Nasim Pedrad’s portrayal of a interpreter in the mold of a gaudy Jersey Shore stereotype.
Also popular were Louis CK’s roles as a befuddled FEMA representative on the conservative “Fox and Friends,” as well as a “Lincoln” version of his FX show.