When we last saw SNL, the material left much to be desired. This time around…it was pretty good! There was a consistent energy last week didn’t retain very long, and the sketch material was nearly solid. I laughed far more than I think I was prepared too. I’m not sure if this ends up being the best show of the season or does anything for the ratings (though, some of the cameos might certainly help…) but it definitely made me feel better about Chris Rock’s less-than-stellar show.
On to a re-enthused SNL Recap…
COLD OPEN: DRINK AT THE WHITE HOUSE (Pharaoh, Killam, Zamata)
Okay, as far as all the political cold opens go so far this season, this was the first one to make me laugh a good few times. Something about Taran Killan’s Mitch McConnell belting “YOU’RE BLACK” just hit my funny bone. This was simple, and set a fun tone for the night. Far more solid than most previous season 40 political cold opens.
WOODY HARRELSON MONOLOGUE (Harrelson, Hutcherson, Hemsworth, Lawrence)
Woody Harrelson is just so much fun with a crowd, and I get the impression that he’s really fun to be around in real life. We also got his Hunger Games stars to appear, first to reveal how much younger they are than him, and also to lead up to a Jennifer Lawrence line flub that ended up being rather endearing. Because that’s just how Jennifer Lawrence works. I could watch an entire half hour talk show of just Woody singing about 1989 and Jennifer giving him snarky sideye comments.
THE DUDLEYS (Bennett, McKinnon, Harrelson, Thompson, Aduba)
Here’s the thing: I feel like this Dudley’s sketch was SNL openly reacting to their own twitter complainers about their ‘SNL stinks’ commentary – “we heard your complaints LOUD AND CLEAR.” Maybe I’m right, maybe not. But I don’t know…something about a show that tries to start out simple, then continually accomodate their audience’s gripes with the hope of pleasing everyone. But doing just the opposite…I don’t know. There was a certain bite to it, even in the voice-over narration. Maybe that’s not it at all. Maybe they’re just trying to cover a couple topical shows out right now. Either way, this sketch gave us Uzo Aduba licking Woody and visions of Woody being intimate with Kenan, so…there’s that.
MATCH’D (Harrelson, Strong, Bennett, Mooney, Killam)
First of all, Mooney’s “from head to butt” made me laugh. Then, Harrelson’s host character rips the rug right under these guys with the twist…and I just kept laughing and laughing. Good grief, this was funny. Easily the funniest thing of the night – good premise, good comedy, good execution…and good grief. I would watch this show every week on MTV. (And I hate MTV. Cecily definitely sounded like an MTV personality.)
A NEW DAY (Davidson, Killam, Bryant, Moynihan, Jones, Harrelson, Bayer, Thompson, Bennett)
I’m thinking this may be everyone’s favorite sketch of the night. Maybe, maybe not for me, but it was just so passionately put together. Pete Davidson continues to have that one thing a week that he just “owns” – I can’t wait to see how much SNL real estate he’s allowed to have in, say, two years. (I’m sure he spends his Sunday mornings watching Rugrats after an almost-deep thought.)
FOOTBALL HALFTIME SPEECH (Harrelson, Killam, Pharaoh, Bennett, Davidson, Thompson, Mooney)
This was another example of a simple premise carried out well. Football players trying to play safely to avoid concussions (a growing paranoia these days) was pretty funny, I happily admit. Harrelson’s delivery of ‘cup the nape of the neck…’ got me. Kenan’s obviously-been-a-victim-of-a-concussion-before guy just about threw me off with how distractible he was…but all-in-all, the best of this was how into it Harrelson was. The sketch should have just been him giving a pseudo-uplifting halftime speech about being safe.
YOUNG TARTS & OLD FARTS (Thompson, Strong, Killam, Lamar, Mooney, Zamata, Bryant, Bennett, Blue Ivy, McKinnon, Jones, Moynihan, Harrelson, Pharaoh, Bayer)
Good lord, they got Blue Ivy! I just…I don’t even know what to do with this. That’s incredible. It’s always fun to see everyone shell out some impressions once in a while in something like this…and while this wasn’t the best rendition of these, some of the pairings still made me laugh. And it’s worth noting that Sasheer Zamata is still slowly getting herself out there in bits and pieces. Not this show so much, but I hope she leads another sketch again soon.
This sketch not online likely due to copyright issues.
WEEKEND UPDATE (Jost, Che, Jones, Harrelson, Killam)
Man, I just love it when Leslie Jones comes on Update. And good grief, I missed Taran Killam’s Matthew McConaughey – even if he wasn’t in the white tux this time. The segments were great this week! Moments of Leslie’s material had show-stopping greatness in them. And hey, there were quite a few good jokes from Jost & Che this week too! All in all, a good week for Update. By this point, it was a pretty good night. It’s worth noting that Jost had another pretty solid week with his deliveries & interactions w/Leslie. (Finally: our favorite tall glass of almond milk said the word ‘gangsta’ and it sounded just as nerdy as I always thought it would. That is all.)
Not sure why Part 1 isn’t online…there’s some good jokes missing from the first half.
OLD NEW YORK (Thompson, Killam, Moynihan, Harrelson)
In the midst of this quartet’s nostalgia for the olden NY days, Harrelson’s character really misses crack. That’s really all there is to it – and then he shows a ‘Vote for Nader’ button. I feel like this sketch was written for people like me. (In terms of my line of humor…not because I like crack. ‘Cause I’m anti-crack. Moving on…)
CAMPFIRE SONG (Harrelson, Bayer, Mooney, Jones, Moynihan)
Well, they couldn’t all be great. Not the best material, but despite Todd’s friends making the same faces I was making when he just kept singing his song, Woody just kept on trying to sell it. I didn’t think much of this one, but I could see it working as a 30-second passing background thing within a sitcom scene…not a 3-minute sketch so much. But whatever. I think I’m the only one who didn’t laugh at this…alas, the song is darn catchy. (I have a personal thing for when people fake playing instruments, and Woody & Vanessa didn’t do a great job of hiding how one of the SNL band members was really playing…but I digress.)
LAST CALL (Harrelson, McKinnon, Thompson)
This was a good sketch to do with this host. It was weird, but I’m not sure yet if it’s any better than the others yet. It was up there, through. Kenan holding the Bible in innocence and then prepping to burn the bar down were my favorite parts. Kate & Woody were fully committed in this (she always is), but if the jokes in these sketches aren’t for you, the Kenan reactions are the next best part for you. (I’d have a Bible and gasoline ready too if I were him.)
Best Sketch of the Night: Match’d
Worst Sketch of the Night: Apples
Jokes of the Night:
“I’d you the ride of your life…from head to butt.” – Kyle Mooney
Leslie Jones: “Look at my breasts, Colin!” Colin Jost: “I feel like I’d have to talk to HR first.”
“…All while Jimmy Carter spent his week plowing through Tinder.” – Michael Che
Observations: This was a pretty consistent show, and Woody was a fine host who had a blast, meshing in with the cast rather well. With the given material, he didn’t really have to work too hard to seek anything other than just be his fun self at times – and at times he went beyond just enough to really push it to the top. The battles with the cue cards continue for everyone. It is interesting that similar to last year’s Bruce Willis-hosted show, we saw mostly the guys this week, and the most notable female leads this week were Kate in the final sketch & Leslie on Update. (Cecily was seen twice tonight, both times just doing “a voice”, and Sasheer did a brief Michelle Obama & Diana Ross.) I know this isn’t the point and likely doesn’t mean much, but I do miss having Aidy Bryant being the over-the-top put-upon character. But anyway – yeah, this was a fun show! I hope things will continue to be as consistent as possible in the next week for SNL.
Also, Kendrick Lamar was on fire last night! (Here’s his first song…I didn’t like the female singer from his second song, who sounded like she pre-gamed with sandpaper down he throat…but that’s just me.)
BLACKOMETER AVERAGE: 6.80