How Miley Cyrus silenced her critics on SNL – except for Republicans

The Globe and Mail

This June 29, 2013 file photo shows Miley Cyrus hosting the iHeartRadio Ultimate Pool Party at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami. NBC said Monday, Sept. 9, that the singer and actress, who popularized the word twerking and found new uses for foam fingers during an attention-getting duet with Robin Thicke on the MTV Video Music Awards last month, will be both host and musical guest of the NBC late-night program on Oct. 5.

(Jeff Daly/AP)

For some bad girls, being funny just comes naturally.

Miley Cyrus didn’t twerk or make any inappropriate gestures with a foam finger on last night’s edition of Saturday Night Live, but she did display a deft comedy touch beyond her years, delivering at least one oh-no-she-didn’t moment. Oh, and she sang two songs.

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Love her or hate her, girl’s got game.

At only 20 years old, Cyrus has already spent more time in front of the camera than literally all of the current, mostly rookie SNL cast combined.

When she first hosted SNL in March, 2011, she was a gawky 17-year-old and forgivably shaky among the more experienced comedy players. During last night’s hosting gig, Cyrus was sharp, funny and focused, even though she was reading all her lines off a teleprompter. That’s a pro, y’all.

More importantly, and completely belying her seeming hell-bent behaviour of late, Cyrus was firmly in control throughout her SNL appearance, both in the sketches she appeared in the management of her public image as America’s redneck sweetheart.

How did she pull it off? Let us count the ways.

SHE GOT RIGHT TO THE POINT

The bold opening flash-forwarded to an apocalyptic vision of 2045, after civilization has apparently been decimated by Cyrus’s booty-shaking twerkfest at the 2013 VMA awards, worked right off the bat.

Miley played Miley, naturally, shown backstage at the VMAs wearing one of her risqué outfits and stretching her tongue, when she’s visited by a future version of herself (played by newcomer Vanessa Bayer) who attempts to warn her against scandalizing humanity. Future Miley also brought Today Miley, a doll named “Molly,” because, well, you know.

Even though the opener was overlong and overwritten (Will Smith showed up at some point?), Cyrus sold it with crisp comedic timing gleaned from 98 episodes of Hannah Montana.

She also got to punch home the line: “But I’m only 20 years old. I need some freedom to grow up and make mistakes.” Point made.

SHE GOT TO THE POINT AGAIN

In her opening intro/monologue, Cyrus wore a black-checked miniskirt and midriff-baring top and reminded the viewing audience that there’s more to her than shaking her booty.

She promised: “There will be no twerking tonight.” More pointedly, she threw another handful of dirt on the grave of her former TV persona:

“I’m not gonna do Hannah Montana,” she said. “But I will give you an update on what she’s been up to: She was murdered.”

SHE DID IMPRESSIONS

The show’s first skit involved unlikely celebrities auditioning for the male and female roles in the film version of Fifty Shades of Grey. Someone played Jane Lynch, someone played Tilda Swinton.

Cyrus stole the show as the sexpot Scarlett Johansson, who suggested, in a husky voice, “I can do it naked.”

And in another sketch skewering a proposed TV miniseries about the possible presidential run of Hillary Clinton, Cyrus played a hillbilly version of the politician. This Hillary raised her blouse to display a tube-top with 2016 on it.

SHE GOT ALL CURRENT

The transformation of Cyrus’s recent music video for “We Can’t Stop” into a video satirizing the current U.S. government shutdown, titled “We Did Stop,” gave SNL its first water-cooler moment in years.

Again, Cyrus was in impression mode, this time as the Republican politician Michele Bachmann, albeit a slutty version of her. The video was almost frame-for-frame identical to “We Can’t Stop,” except in this version Bachmann and Republican house leader John Boehner (Taran Killam) were shaking it out and partying down like there was no tomorrow, possibly because there might not be.

Weird imagery abounded, including a Republican elephant being beheaded and oozing what looked to be Pepto Bismol, and Cyrus licking an effigy of Abe Lincoln.

And how happy can the GOP be with the image of a tipsy Boehner in a sparkly tank-top being rebuffed by a male model for hitting on him?

SHE MADE BAD WRITING LOOK GOOD

In the sketch called “Girlfriends Talk Show,” Cyrus played a white-rap highschooler named Little Teeny, who insisted on going all girls-’n-the-hood with two nerdy classmates while hosting a small-town talk show.

This catty-girls concept was better executed when it was being done by Chris Farley, David Spade and Adam Sandler, but on this occasion Cyrus’s gangsta girl was the only one to watch.

SHE REALLY CAN SING

Wearing a see-through mesh sports jersey with Poison emblazoned on front – and obviously no pants – Cyrus belted out an impressive power-ballad version of her current single, “Wrecking Ball,” which is pretty much all you can ask for in a SNL music performer.

Later, Cyrus reined in the energy for an acoustic rendering of “We Can’t Stop,” which wasn’t that exciting, but correctly came late in the show so it felt appropriate.

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