Fred Armisen Hooks Up With Old Friends On SNL Season Finale

Photo: Dana Edelson/NBC.
Fred Armisen found himself in a familiar spot when he stepped on the stage of Studio 8H. After all, Armisen spent 11 years on Saturday Night Live. He has a special knack for sketch comedy, always bringing a charm and vulnerability to his work. That's a skill that has served him well with IFC’s Portlandia. Plus, Armisen has an arsenal of characters at his disposal. The tough part would be choosing just where to go with them. So, how did season 41 wrap up? Which of Armisen’s former cast mates showed up to celebrate the end of another season?

Here are three highlights from Saturday night’s finale.

1. Couples Night
: Kyle Mooney, Aidy Bryant, Vanessa Bayer, and Beck Bennett are all waiting to meet their friend and his new girlfriend. A knock at the door reveals that their friend is played by Jason Sudeikis. Fred Armisen plays Sudeikis's new girlfriend. Regine, Armisen’s character, is a cultural snob who won’t stop insulting her hosts. Sudeikis and Armisen run through an escalating series of PDA. Everyone except Sudeikis cracks in the sketch. Bryant is barely able to hold it together when Armisen’s foot ends up in the guacamole on the coffee table. Even Armisen can’t keep it together. Armisen and Sudeikis’ comfort with each other and their willingness to go for it manage to sell what could have been an otherwise flat sketch.
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2. Farewell, Mr. Bunting: This digital short features Armisen as the misunderstood poetry professor in a Dead Poets’ Society parody. Most of the male cast is featured, many as students. The principal, played by Bobby Moynihan, has come in to take over for the fired and disgraced Mr. Bunting. Beck Bennett reads the opening passage in their poetry textbook: “Poetry should not be fun. It should be oppressive and we should hate it.” He ends with, “Poems stink.” As Mr. Bunting goes to leave, the students stand on their desks in solidarity. “I sing my song for all to hear,” they say in succession. Then, something unexpected happens and the whole thing descends into chaos. Fast. It is too good to spoil here, but here’s a two-word hint: ceiling fan.

3. Student Theater Showcase: This recurring sketch returns with Fred Armisen joining the troop of highly sensitive, incredibly clueless high school performers. This time, their show is called “America The Beautiful?” Once again, they are addressing social issues in the most naïve, high school way possible. In the audience, Larry David, in his second appearance of the night after playing Bernie Sanders to Kate McKinnon's Hillary Clinton in the cold open, only makes it through one of their skits. Vanessa Bayer, as a mom in the audience, points out that they dedicated their show to Prince. “Yeah, but they have a picture of Michael Jackson on the back,” Kenan Thompson says in reply.

All-Star Finale Award
: The final sketch of the night, and of the season, was packed with special guests and the entire season 41 cast. Jason Sudeikis, Andy Samberg, Maya Rudolph, and Larry David join in as a '70s-Style Southern rock band. Carrie Brownstein, from Portlandia, was there, too, playing guitar — just like she should.
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