Lady Gaga is known for being shocking and controversial, but during her hosting stint on Saturday Night Live, she put the shock aside and focused on showing everybody that she's a great vocalist...and that she knows how to poke fun at herself.
Gaga arrived for her monologue in a sequined mini-dress and Marilyn Monroe-style blonde wig, and performed an elaborate song and dance number that was a take-off on her hit "Applause," with the chorus changed to "I'll take your cheap applause, applause, applause." The whole number was a commentary on the things all performers do to pander to the audience and get unearned applause.
At the end, the song segued into "New York, New York" -- another bid for cheap applause -- and Gaga sang, "I wore my blonde hair tonight/And got my 'tuck' just right." That was a reference to the rumors early on in her career that she was actually a man.
For the rest of the show, Gaga was somewhat underused, taking small supporting roles in sketches rather than being the focus of them. The one exception was the final sketch, which was set in New York City's Upper West Side in 2063. Gaga played a dotty, elderly version of herself, with wild grey hair, big glasses, smeared lipstick and gold sequined hotpants, living in a small apartment, surrounded by mementos of her career, such as Grammys and VMA Awards. When a handyman shows up to fix a light bulb, she asks him repeatedly if he knows who she is, and when he claims he'd never heard of her -- he calls her Mrs. Germanotta -- she tries to jog his memory by playing bits of her past hits on the piano, like "Poker Face" and "Bad Romance." She drapes herself in roast beef, hoping he'll remember her "Meat Dress," but to no avail.
To add insult to injury, when Gaga mentions her duet with Beyonce, the handyman gasps, "You know Beyonce? Empress Beyonce?" "We were superstars together, but everybody forgot about me," Gaga says sadly. When the handyman advises her to put the past behind her and find something else to live for, Gaga notes that she already has something to live for...and plays her hit "Applause" on the piano. "I live for the applause, applause, applause," she sings, and then turns on a little machine that claps for her. It was funny, yet poignant.
During the music performance section of the show, Gaga sang her hit "Do What U Want" and her duet partner R. Kelly showed up to join her. She wore a plunging silver jumpsuit; he wore a white suit, and at one point, she simulated a sex act on him. At another point, she lay on the floor, and he got on top of her and did modified pushups to simulate, well, you know. Her second performance, of the song "Gypsy," started off with her seated at a pink piano, and ended with her getting up and strumming a guitar. She wore a multi-colored bodysuit with an enormous collar, and looked a bit like Tinkerbell on acid.
Here's a rundown of the other characters Gaga played:
--Karen, a nerdy Apple store employee who's a guest on a fake morning show called Wake Up with Kimye, hosted by Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. When Kanye, played by cast member Jay Pharaoh, dissed her for lack of fashion sense, Gaga-as-Karen said, "I don't care about fashion. I think people who try too hard with their outfits are maybe hiding something." She then looked right at the camera and let the irony of that comment sink in as the audience laughed.
--Herself, in a commercial for an album called Worst Cover Songs of All Time. She was introduced as Lady Gaga covering Madonna's "Express Yourself," but instead, she sang her own hit, "Born This Way," which, of course, Madonna has derided as a rip-off of "Express Yourself."
--A member of a New York City co-op board, approving a new tenant. She looked and sounded exactly like Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny, and she asked the new tenants if they knew who had inspired that movie character. In the past, Gaga has said that she'd want Tomei to play her in a movie of her life.
--Lizzie Jacobson, a child actor in a talent school for kids who are "serious" about acting. She was shown recreating Denzel Washington's role in Training Day, and Sally Fields' role in Forrest Gump.
--A woman dressed as Marie Antoinette who appears in a fantasy sequence in a sketch about former Blockbuster employees. She fed the employees Twizzlers, whipped them with the candy, and made out with them, until the fantasy ended.
--An over-involved parent trying to guide her fourth-grade daughter through a very inappropriate talent pageant performance. It ended with her ripping open her shirt to reveal her bra, and grinding suggestively.
Variety reports Gaga helped SNL score a 4.9 household rating in Nielsen's metered markets, giving the NBC show its best overnight rating since the March 9 installment featuring Justin Timberlake.