Michael Phelps' Opening Monologue (Grade: B-)
Phelps, understandably, lacks a little charisma, but he held his own in the monologue. This sketch gets bonus points for the funny cameo from William Shatner. Shatner coaches Phelps on maintaining integrity in product endorsements, while at the same time plugging Priceline. Phelps' mom also makes an appearance at the end, which was a nice touch.
"Quiz Bowl" (Grade: C+)
This sketch was a quiz show with public high school kids pitted against home-schooled, extremely religious kids. This was a good idea but the execution was only mediocre. The point was that both groups of kids were equally uneducated, but unfortunately the jokes were not all that funny. After a good start with the home-schooled kids not knowing anything about biology - they thought cells inside the body were made of magical spirits - the jokes became a little over the top and lost their zing.
Commercial - "The Jar Glove" (Grade: F)
We've all seen the commercial where they go a little overboard in saying how bad life is without their product - the person has to clean for hours and hours if they don't have the all-in-one kitchen gadget, or something like that. "The Jar Glove" spoofs that idea, but takes it so far out of relateability that anything humorous is lost. Basically if you don't have the jar opener, you kill your husband, go to prison, and then mastermind a great escape. Some subtlety might have made this a good idea.
"Big Kids" (Grade: C)
We first saw these characters in the Seth Rogen episode from last season. Basically the parents (Bill Hader and Amy Poehler) are hosting a party and their extremely strange kids are a constant interruption. It is funny that the parents heap praise all over their kids' weirdness, but the sketch grew pretty tiresome by the end. The kids were played by Kristen Wiig and Michael Phelps. At the very least Phelps looked funny in his enormous head-gear.
"Weekend Update" (Grade: C-)
With the competition of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, "Weekend Update" has lost a lot of its edge. Personally I'm not a fan of Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers as the anchors. Poehler seems to have a hard time letting someone else get a laugh without trying to get in on it. Meyers is okay, but hasn't left a big impression. The two managed to get in quite a few Sarah Palin jokes, and they brought out three commentators. Fred Armisen as the college student who thinks he has the world figured but isn't actually able to say anything, is a pretty good piece of observational humor. Will Forte's Alaska Pete, Sarah Palin's biggest supporter, was a fairly obvious send-up of mindless "rednecks" who only care about hunting and small town values. The low point was Andy Samberg doing Cathy from the comic strip. His bit was pointless and not funny in any way. He relied completely on doing a funny voice, and didn't actually say anything funny.