Jim Carrey is one of those comedians who always seems to be a walking contradiction. On the one hand, his over-the-top delivery, penchant for bizarre comedy and experience on a live sketch comedy show should mean that he'd be the perfect guest host for Saturday Night Live. But his enthusiasm and manic energy frequently seemed to sabotage his best bits during his previous two times hosting.
However, while starring in the pre-Halloween episode of Saturday Night Live's 40th season, everything seemed to fall into place (minus a few striking missteps), and Carrey managed to set the bar for the rest of the season with one of the funniest episodes in recent memory.
The night started off shaky, with a cold open that seemed to sit there like a dead fish, and things were only made worse by Carrey's bizarre and jokeless musical monologue. But then we got introduced to Carrey's Matthew McConaughey impression, and all was right with the world.
So, let's take a look at some of Carrey's crowning achievements, and the sketches that almost sunk the evening.
Sketch Of The Night
Carrey's hilarious three-part recurring Lincoln Town Car parody commercials were definitely the most consistently funny and memorable. And, as seems to be the norm for SNL, the best sketch of the night was pre-recorded.
In the fake commercials, Carrey rocks an incredible McConaughey impression to satirize the Oscar-winner's recent string of bizarre and philosophical Lincoln commercials. The first in the three-part joke played after the (insane and terrible) monologue, then again before two other commercial breaks. Each time, McConaughey got weird and more hilarious.
There have been more than a few parodies of this particular ad created in recent weeks but SNL's is easily the best.
Carrey's Weirdness In All Its Glory
In the funniest, weirdest and most intelligently written sketch of the night, Cecily Strong plays a contestant on the dating reality show Secret Billionaire. She has to ask questions to four potential suitors, one of which is a billionaire while the others are just pretending. Essentially, it's a Dating Game set-up.
However, that doesn't really matter because Carrey is so brilliant that the premise falls to the wayside. In the sketch, the Dumb and Dumber star plays Abbot Bonneville King, a paraplegic 70-year-old who may or may not be a billionaire member of the Illuminati and has a robot hand. Eventually, the joke just gives way into Abbot telling truly insane stories of the crazy things he does to keep from being bored, including renting out an airplane hangar and filling it with 250 men named Dennis and one named Brian just to see what would happen. It's surreal humor at its finest.
The 'Chandelier' Costume Contest Is Awesome
Sometimes, a funny sketch doesn't have to be complicated. Here, an office party has a costume contest. Kate McKinnon's character dresses up like the dancing, leotard-wearing little girl from Sia's "Chandelier" music video. Then, Jim Carrey's character also comes out dressed in the same uncomfortably tight beige leotard. Then they have an interpretive dance-off.
Guilty Pleasure Sketch
Just because a sketch is kind of goofy or dumb, that doesn't mean it can't be funny. In The Haunted Graveyard, two young lovers come into a graveyard to get "faded" on Halloween night. But, the graveyard comes to life with grave stones, a tree and a grim reaper statue all singing a rehearsed musical number.
However, two well-meaning ghosts named Paul and Phil (played by Carrey and Taran Killam) keep interrupting their song with their own verse about how their names are Paul and Phil, annoying the haunted sculptures. Sure, it's stupid, but for some reason the clear friend-chemistry (friemistry) between Carrey and Killam just sells it.
The Sketch Everyone Will Talk About
One of the night's early segments was the Carrey Family Reunion. It was a chance for every cast member to do their best Jim Carrey impressions from different movies, and for audience members to realize how hard it is to actually do a good Jim Carrey impression, because they mostly fell flat.
That is, of course, except for when Jeff Daniels comes on the set dressed as Carrey's character Lloyd from their classic (and its upcoming sequel) Dumb & Dumber. And really, that alone is worth getting through the rest of it.
Worst Sketch Of The Night
Now, we get to the downside of the evening. In the sketch, a group of zombie apocalypse survivors are approached by an outsider who hasn't been bit and wants to join. However, the outsider's son is a zombie already, and the man refuses to believe it, so he keeps his son on a leash at the end of a pole. And that's the sketch really. It doesn't progress from there.
The joke suffered from all the classic pitfalls of a bad SNL segment. It didn't have a clear objective, there was no real central joke, it was filled with needlessly over-the-top accents, and it lasted way too long. And it's sad, too, because there is so much good zombie humor, but SNL never seems to pull that off.
What Is Going On?
Carrey's monologue might have been the strangest part of the whole night. Now, admittedly, most SNL monologues aren't very good. Some are downright terrible. Carrey's was something else entirely.
He dressed like "Helvis" which is just Elvis in a red, spangly jumpsuit and demon horns. Then, he sang a song about pecan pie, and almost every lyric was just the words "pecan pie" while the cast and backup singers came out dressed like demons. There wasn't a joke to be found in the whole thing. It's not like he told jokes that just didn't land, there were no jokes. Just a demon Elvis singing about pecan pie, non-stop, forever. Maybe it actually gave an insight into what hell is like.
Weekend Update was more solid this week than it has been in the past, and a lot of that might have been due to the triumphant return of Bobby Moynihan's Drunk Uncle.
The cold open was about Obama's Ebola Czar and, like almost every cold open, it wasn't funny. Kenan Thompson tried to save it with a solid Al Sharpton impression, but it was too late.
Another pre-recorded sketch about ghost hunting shows was short, sweet and to the point. Newly added cast member Leslie Jones (who had been a writer before getting added to the cast this season) plays a "skeptic" on a team of paranormal researchers. Only thing is, she's as terrified of ghosts as most people, and watching her freak out and be terrified is oddly hilarious.
Finally, the night closed with an ad for Geoff's Halloween Emporium. Vanessa Bayer and Cecily Strong are employees talking about their discounts and Carrey plays Geoff, the owner, whose body was possessed by a hell demon. Not exactly high-brow, but some of the costumes the store sells include, "Sexy Katniss Everdeen. Sexy Her Sister. Sexy Woody Harrelson. Sexy Tracker Jacker." Also the store is in Appleton, Wisconsin, for some reason.
Over all, Carrey proved to be a superb host. After Bill Hader's return last episode, it seemed unlikely that any guest would top him for at least a few weeks, but Carrey's segments were (mostly) solid, and didn't rely on playing fan-favorite characters.
Next week, former cast member Chris Rock hosts with Prince as the musical guest. So, that should be something. In the meantime, check out the video below for a behind-the-scenes look at Chris Pratt's SNL episode.
For more SNL coverage and TV news, you can follow Zach Seemayer on Twitter @ZachSeemayer