It was a given that Saturday Night Live would play up Charles Barkley’s sports background for his hosting gig tonight, and the show wasted no time doing just that. The show’s been heavy on sports-related segments throughout, but never more so than when it spoofed Barkley’s main gig these days, TNT’s Inside the NBA. This one had a twist, though – Barkley appeared not as himself, but as Shaquille O’Neal, complete with fake beard. (Kenan Thompson slid into the Barkley role.)
And how did Barkley do as Shaq? Well…not too badly, actually. Sure, it pretty much consisted of saying minimalist lines in a monotone voice, but still, he was good enough that we wouldn’t mind seeing the real Inside the NBA go to the “all the hosts pretend to be each other” well now. And Thompson was solid as Barkley, too. And take note at the 4:30 mark: it looks to us like the guys are actually cracking up, not as part of the sketch. As long as those moments don’t happen with Fallon-like frequency, they’re gold.
The show as a whole has been up and down – Barkley’s at his best when he’s just being himself off the cuff, rather than doing prepared material. But this was one of the better moments – the Inside the NBA formula provides almost guaranteed entertainment value, apparently. Video below, via NBC.