Betty White didn’t — and couldn’t — physically bound out on stage to take the reins of “Saturday Night Live,” but her highly-rated hosting gig Saturday will go down in history as one of the 35-year old show’s sweetest moments.
See what a little Facebooking can do for a gal? Hard to believe the 88-year-old comedienne had never hosted the venerable late night show, although truth be told, it turns she turned down the offer several times — until the onslaught of online pressure finally got to her.
A new groundswell has already started urging Lorne Michaels to book her as a host next season. If there is not a precedent for a host doing the program twice in one season, perhaps it should start now, because sadly, there is not infinite time. For Ms. White, with her instant iconic hosting status, there can numerically be no rivaling of the multiple emcee gigs of Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin.
Highs and lows have marked “SNL’s” recent history, from Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s takes on Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton — and the general bullseyes struck regularly during Campaign 2008 — to Gabourey Sidibe’s stumbling and bumbling through most of her sketches just a few weeks ago.
From the moment White took the stage and ragged on Facebook, which she’d never heard of before, for being a waste of time for losers, viewers knew they were in for some great comedic moments. What else did you expect from a consummate pro who’s been in the business for six decades?
White alternately charmed, cajoled and cussed in sketches ranging from amusing to hysterical. Talk about physicality. Even though she didn’t dance frenetically in sketches, there was barely a moment in the all-too-fast 90 minutes when she wasn’t killing on camera — in guises ranging from a batty cat lady being interviewed by census taker Tina Fey to the star detective of ”CSI: Sarasota.” Three delectable times she appeared as MacGruber’s grandma, the one with the tendency to reveal embarrassing personal information just before things totally blow up.
With “SNL’s” Mother’s Day edition also featuring female alums like Rachel Dratch, Maya Rudolph, Ana Gasteyer and Molly Shannon, all of whose talents are missed — and a reuniting of Amy Poehler with Seth Meyers on “Weekend Update,” White had an elite supporting cast to back her up.
As Shannon and Gasteyer took their roles as the geeky hosts of a public radio cooking show, you just knew you would be on the edge of your seat — waiting for a reference to the infamous “Schwetti balls” so deliciously showcased on the segment by Alec Baldwin. But the “muffin” schtick was right up in there. As White said, it hadn’t had a cherry on it since 1939.
Jay-Z’s two lengthy medlies of Blueprint material added to the special-occasion quality of the show, and as he shouted out after his performance of “Forever Young” with the mysterious Mr. Hudson, “This is for the incredible Betty White.” And to quote Neil Young, Betty, long may you run.