Ronda Rousey SNL Host, Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin: Review Roundup, Video Highlights

January 24, 2016

Ronda Rousey was the host of Saturday Night Live. The MMA star turned her monologue into a fight on the night that Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin made her hoped-for return to endorse Donald Trump and keep apace with the election season news cycle. See a review roundup of what critics had to say and watch video highlights right here!

Ronda Rousey Tina Fey

Ronda Rousey made news worldwide after her stunning loss to Holly Holm at UFC 193 last October. While that might not have been the kind of introduction to the wider audience she might have hoped for, it’s clear that it’s opened the proverbial doors. Not least a hosting stint on SNL. On a tough night — as Winter Storm Jonas, dubbed #Jonasblizzard on social media — raged outside and gave New York City record snowfall that shut down the roads, nothing was going to stop this fighter.

She did indeed turn the monologue into a fight, of sorts, as she, of course, noted her defeat to Holm — and congratulating her. She went on to insist that she hadn’t suffered any brain damage — all while speaking as if more likely she had. And in mock sports commentary, cast members interjected mock sports commentary as she spoke, letting us, the audience, know if she was winning or not. So for the last five people on planet Earth who didn’t know about the epic fight last year, well, now they know.

But we must say, the night was already won with the cold open, as Tina Fey reprised her Sarah Palin impersonation for a very special occasion; her real world counterpart had just endorsed GOP front-runner Donald Trump a few days earlier in Iowa. And, as has always been the case with the former Alaska governor, keeping ahead of reality with parody is a challenge. But leave it to Tina Fey to meet the challenge, alongside Darrell Hammond’s Trump. It’s given us another viral moment.

Not least, we had to have our requisite Oscars diversity and boycott spoof, and we got that with the fictitious Screen Guild Awards which, of course, were whiter than the blizzard outside. Truthfully, it was a brutal send-up of the ever-growing firestorm, and more importantly, of the the Hollywood industry and its narrow standards that have brought us to this social media #OscarsSoWhite moment in cinematic history.

And along the way, the usual, hits and misses as some skits go awry and others don’t. So what did critics think of SNL carrying on bravely, and often hilariously, in the midst of a blizzard? Here’s a roundup of what they’re saying.

“….Ronda Rousey’s recent defeat at the hands (and feet) of Holly Holm at UFC 193 was a major upset for the former women’s bantamweight champ, but her performance as the host of “Saturday Night Live” was a triumph. Even if this success was due to the cast–along with a few high caliber cameos–really pulling together to make it happen….”– The Wrap

“….But the question we all had coming into the show was how Rousey would fare in a different sort of arena — live sketch television. She hasn’t had much acting experience at all and what we’ve seen hasn’t been that impressive. But to her credit, Rousey held her own as much as she could on SNL this week and turned in a performance that was probably better than most cynics were expecting…..”– Fan Sided

“….Who knows? Maybe Rousey turned out to be less adept with a punchline than SNL boss Lorne Michaels had originally anticipated. But it seems like she should’ve at least had the opportunity to be the comedic anchor of one or two skits — and live or die based on her own talents……”– TV Line

“….Ronda Rousey works hard to perform the best possible opening monologue, as her every move is judged by boxing match-style commentators. Rousey held her own pretty well in her first appearance of the night, which was one of the more clever monologues of the season; even if it relied on the old tropes we see way too much in this slot (cast members storming the stage with only sometimes-relevant impersonations, applause-grabbing shout outs to New York, song and dance numbers), at least it utilized a self-awareness of these cliches.
Read more at….” –HitFix

“…. Sure, [Ronda Rousey] was staring down the cue cards pretty hard in the Bachelor-style sketch, but she took some of the gas out of the issue in her monologue, a funny bit where Beck Bennett and Taran Killam called the monologue like a fight and she made a joke about possible brain damage from her defeat at the feet of Holly Holm. (She also gave props to Holm, which was classy.) On the scale of athlete hosts from The Rock to Nancy Kerrigan, I’d put her at right about a Fran Tarkenton. …” — The A.V. Club

“….Here’s the sad thing about this episode: If it was just the cold open and the Oscar spoof, it’d be great. Unfortunately, two great sketches and some serious duds sink the show down dramatically. Also, this just isn’t Rousey’s thing … though it’s not like “SNL” gave her many chances, either. Grade: C-…… ” –Carter Matt

If nothing else, Saturday Night Live proved once again that the show must go on, even as Broadway theaters closed that night, nothing but nothing was going to deprive us of the return of Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin and Ronda Rousey’s SNL hosting debut! Watch video highlights below!

Pictures: PR Photos

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