Channing Tatum Strips, Plays the Naked Bongos on ‘Saturday Night Live’

The entire Channing Tatum episode of “Saturday Night Live” could have been set to the LMFAO song “Sexy and I Know It,” with a heavy focus on the lyrics: “Look at that body–I work out!” The late night sketch comedy writers made the most of Tatum’s muscles and had him gyrating, stripping, and humping people throughout the night. Ordinarily that would mean that enjoyment of the show would have depended on your opinion of “The Vow” actor’s hotness, but he went for the comedy with such gusto that even non-fans could appreciate the laughs.

Best of the Night

For pure beefcake wrapped up in comedy, the best of the former stripper’s “Saturday Night Live” sketches came on the Cee Lo Green talk show. Kenan Thompson got some sly humor in once again with one-liners involving the bizarre appearance of Green, but the highlight was this week’s guest host turning up as Matthew McConaughey. Tatum nailed the drawling, “All right, all right, all right!” impression, flashing plenty of bare thigh while sharing thoughts on “getting freaky.”

He then accompanied Green’s keyboard playing with a vintage McConaughety naked bongos performance. Of course it wasn’t completely naked, but with tiny hot pants hidden behind the bongos, it was close enough. Tatum totally went for it, making those bongos bounce in an entirely inappropriate and hilarious way. If the sketch had ended before the maddening and pointless “Colonel Nasty” showed up, it would have been even better. Check it out for yourself on the “Saturday Night Live” website.

Nasim Pedrad joined the gyrating fun in a sketch about a teen celebrating her Bat Mitzvah by doing a dance routine for her family. It was a bit reminiscent of “Saturday Night Live” players Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri’s cheerleader routines of old, with the petite Pedrad showing boundless exuberance as she leapt up and wrapped her legs around the tall and buff Tatum. The two alternated between total G-rated cheese choreographed by the girl’s mother, and the dirty dancing added later by her sexpot sister (played with the perfect trashy enthusiasm by Abby Elliot.)

I’ll confess, I haven’t yet seen “Downton Abbey,” but I’ve seen enough British period TV and film to have a laugh at the promo for the show “on Spike!” The snarky comments about the lame vehicles, “What’s his other car, a bike? It is a bike!” and the female cast, “Hot, Way Hot, and The Other One,” perfectly captured the Spike mentality. Combined with jabs about no conversation occurring without someone eavesdropping, this was a perfect spoof, and no doubt even funnier for those most familiar with the show.

Worst of the Night

It’s a mystery why “Saturday Night Live” has chosen to retire “What’s Up with That?” but continues to drag out “Secret Word.” The writers seem to be attempting to make it work by making each installment stranger than the last, and this time we got Tatum as a game contestant astronaut who apparently had some personal space experience with the secret word “probe.” Kristen Wiig worked overtime to finally squeeze out a laugh or two for her beaten-to-death role as a crazy theater actress, and Tatum acquitted himself well enough, but this repetitive sketch is tired and needs to be put to bed.

Jason Sudeikis once again turned up as the 70s style DJ working his last night at a strip club–only this time it was ladies night. Other than the bizarre sight of Taran Killam bouncing a little person male stripper on his stomach, and another chance to see the “Saturday Night Live” guest host shake his moneymaker, this sketch didn’t have much going for it and overstayed its late, late night welcome.

The Rest

Tatum had a pretty solid monologue, the first instance of his stripping routine, which included recognizing customers in the audience from his former pole-dancing career. He also got to portray Tom Brady killing time in a Ruby Tuesday, getting hit on by a linebacker of a woman played by Bobby Moynihan. It was a bit awkward, but this creepily seductive lady had a line about a safety pin that’s worth you checking out the video for.

Moynihan joined Sudeikis in the “Saturday Night Live” cold open for their roles as Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney in a futuristic colony on the moon. There was some decent comedy there, including the tagline “May divorce be with you!” and the show gets extra credit for taking a political cold open and putting it in fantasy land to go at the jokes in a fresher way.

The “SNL Weekend Update” is getting too light on news jokes and too heavy on guests, but it was fun to see Wiig turn up as Lana Del Rey. At first the stiff and spacey impression poked fun at the much-maligned recent musical guest, but when she noted that the Internet backlash against her “Saturday Night Live” performance showed that she was apparently a “combination of clubbing baby seals and the Taliban anthem,” it became clear this was also a shot at the way-out-of-proportion insults the singer received.

“Saturday Night Live” musical guest Bon Iver performed “Holocene” and “Beth/Rest.” The folk band’s wide array of instruments and haunting, often falsetto vocals gave “Holocene” an ethereal and intriguing sound. I found the second performance less engaging and more directionless, though fans of the band and this style of music might disagree.

What did you think, “Saturday Night Live” fans? Was Channing Tatum a great guest host or was it too much of a strip show and not enough of a sketch show?

More from this Contributor:

Daniel Radcliffe Makes the Most of Weak ‘Saturday Night Live’

Katy Perry Plays to Her Strengths on ‘Saturday Night Live’

‘Saturday Night Live,’ Russell Brand and the World’s Longest Monologue

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