It almost didn’t matter what happened after Justin Timberlake’s "Saturday Night Live" opening monologue, because by that time the episode was already the biggest of 2013.
It was the musician-actor’s fifth time hosting, which gave him access to the exclusive “five-timer's club.” Timberlake was ushered off the stage and into the inner sanctum, where he encountered a slew of "SNL" vets who had all hosted or performed as the musical guest at least five times.
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Paul Simon greeted Timberlake, as did a pipe-smoking Steve Martin, who was a tad suspicious of the club’s new member, scoffing when he learned Timberlake couldn't play the banjo.
"He can't do everything," Martin remarked. The comedian then belittled Dan Aykroyd, who as a mere one-time host, was reduced to bartending for the clubmembers. Martin Short (also not a member of the club) was forced to work as a mistreated waiter.
When Chevy Chase appeared next to Short and Martin, Timberlake was thrilled to realize he was standing next to the three amigos. (The trio would appear in full Mariachi garb later to introduce Timberlake’s second musical performance.)
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Alec Baldwin and Tom Hanks revealed their greatest pleasure of the five-timers club was making "SNL" castmembers fight each other. The pair cheer on Bobby Moynihan and Taran Killam as they went blow-for-blow in a match similar to a disturbing parlor room scene from "Django Unchained."
“I killed my best friend” Moynihan screamed after the battle. Hanks and Baldwin congratulated him and said he deserved a beer. Shortly after, Candice Bergen appeared to demand the other members put the toilet seat down after using it.
In its cold open, "SNL" took on the death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. Timberlake played Elton John, who tailored “Candle in the Wind" to fit the late president. Among the salient Chavez moments highlighted included the socialist leader calling President George W. Bush the devil during a United Nations speech and blaming capitalism for destroying life on Mars. “He really said that,” Timberlake insisted.
The star power continued as Andy Samberg and Timberlake appeared as their “D--- in a Box” characters during a dating sketch. Martin and Aykroyd competed against them as two wild and crazy guys, while poor Moynihan failed to compete. It got rather crude for the female contestant, who doesn’t seem to mind.
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Near the show's end, Timberlake revisited romantic comedy territory ala "Friends With Benefits" in a trailer in which he and a “cute brunette” (Nasim Pedrad) enjoy a grocery store meet-cute and fall in love. But they are soon torn apart by her secret—she has a penis.
Perfectly capturing the essence of dozens of romantic comedy trailers, the spot for "She’s got a D---" also featured a “confused black friend” (Kenan Thompson) and Eugene Levy (Fred Armisen), who tells the girl “if he can’t accept all of you, he doesn’t deserve you."
"SNL" is next new April 6 with host Melissa McCarthy and musical guest Phoenix.