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Sunday, May 6, 2012
Updated: May 7, 2:10 PM ET
Brother spoofs! Drag queens! That's Eli on 'SNL'

By Jane McManus

Eli Manning
Eli Manning on finally hosting "SNL" after turning it down in the past: "It seemed like the right time. I felt ready to do it."

It was worth watching Eli Manning's "Saturday Night Live" appearance for this exchange.

Setup: Manning is doing a public-service announcement for a charity group to support little brothers, and it turns out the "charity" is all about getting back at obnoxious older brothers.

Manning tells one big brother as he puts him into the trunk of a car: "Maybe now you'll learn to treat your younger brother with some respect, Peyton."

Big brother: "My name's not Peyton!"

Manning: "Whatever."

It was the best scene of the night. Manning wasn't terrible; he was a bit wooden, but pretty good-natured, which is all "Saturday Night Live" requires of its sports-figure hosts. As always, Manning was mostly used as a comedic foil.

But let's get to the heart of the matter when it comes to sports stars and comedy:

Eli Manning
Will Eli Manning's "SNL" appearance help him in future appearances at the podium? Time will tell.

The outfits: What crazy clothes did the show's writers dress the Super Bowl-winning quarterback in? The silly, like the black unitard with pingpong balls (a.k.a. a motion capture suit) or the modern hippie outfit at an Occupy Wall Street protest. The dress; here, they went all out. Manning took third place in a drag show, wearing a blond bouffant wig, pale pink lipstick and a yellow feather dress that evoked The Chicken Lady from old "Kids in the Hall" sketches.

The humiliation: Manning had to pantomime brushing his long hair, pretend to eat a sandwich off the floor, cry and, worst of all, Tebow in the aforementioned black unitard.

The potty mouth: The "SNL" writers got Manning to say some funny lines, which I will present out of context here for comedic effect:

"My penis."

"We know that big brothers can be real d--------."

"Very elderly butts."

Asked, "Are you Eli Manning?" He replies, "Nope I'm your worst f*#%!@$ nightmare."

And the ever sensitive, "Hey, I always tell you you can go home after."

Manning was more natural reading scripts off cue cards than I've ever seen him in three seasons worth of news conferences. The most familiar scene to me was when Manning played the Swedish sports star who spouted clichés in between fragments of fake Swedish.

"Big plays … (More Swedish) … try to have some fun out there."

Despite the blond wig and turquoise shirt, it's easy to recognize that guy.

The most shocking thing about Manning's "Saturday Night Live" performance? When he pointed out the offensive line in the audience, there were only four linemen, and one of them was retired. OK, maybe that's being too literal. As for that offensive line, Chris Snee, Shaun O'Hara, David Baas and David Diehl made the cut.

But even with all that -- and a skit that imagined him as the square third member of the Cheech and Chong dynasty -- the show was not as funny as what Newark Star-Ledger columnist Steve Politi suggested before the show aired. The consistently funny Politi envisioned a news conference in which Manning was asked nothing but Tebow questions, like, "Eli, don't you think it's just a matter of time before Tim Tebow wins a Super Bowl?"

And it didn't help that Manning's actual monologue aired just before a fake Mother's Day ad for Amazon/Kindle. (You know what I'm talking about if you watched the show.)

"Look, a microphone!"

Now that's funny.