SNL in Season 40 has had a fantastic run. And on their finale, unlike others, they didn’t rely heavily on meta-surprises and cameo appearances; they just prepared good sketch comedy and showcased what has been an absolutely stellar cast. Louis C.K., now third-time host, was featured as a great player also, but he didn’t overshadow the proceedings; he instead worked with them to facilitate the showcase of their talents. In short: SNL40 ended just as great as it started.
COLD OPEN: SUMMERTIME (McKinnon, Hammond, Cast)
Hey, what a fun way to open the show! It’s always great to see the entire cast involved in something which shows just what a strong ensemble the show has. And hey, the Clintons are definitely going to remain a part of our lives!
LOUIS C.K. MONOLOGUE (Louis CK)
The monologues are typically at their best when the host is a standup comic who can just go out there and do their thing, engaging with the audience by just telling jokes (the very first SNL with George Carlin featured this in 1975). Louis C.K. is great at what he does! But of course, like Chris Rock’s monologue last fall, this is some…sensitive subject matter. Look, I’m a black male, and the “mild racism” bit didn’t upset me because it came from the perspective of comparing his 70s upbringing to now. That’s fine. The second half, although it didn’t have to be worded that way, was up there with riskiest things in 2015 TV comedy.
THE SHOEMAKER & THE ELVES (Louis CK, Thompson, Bayer, Bryant)
Oof. My biggest problem with this sketch is it’s placement. By itself, a sketch about dominance and fetishes could be buried later in the show. Mostly, it was just hard watching this sketch after some of the monologue subject matter. And the ending (which felt like “how do we end this?”) made me frightened that we’d get a “Darrell’s House
-esque reprise which makes everything make sense. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.
THIS IS HOW I TALK (Louis CK, Pharoah, Bayer, Jones, Bryant, McKinnon)
This one was saved instantly from being dead on arrival, simply by Louis C.K.’s first monologue as a Sprint employee who has to continue impersonating his boss’ voice. Watching him here reminds me of Micheal Keaton during the Ad Agency sketch last month – a host who’s just in control and in charge of the sketch.
WOOD PSAs (Moynihan, Bayer, Bennett, Louis CK, Strong, Zamata)
Yes, this was silly…but it was funny! More Beck Bennett singing backup in ad parodies.
WEEKEND UPDATE (Jost, Che, Killam, Davidson, Moynihan)
The best part of Taran Killam’s Tom Brady was Jost’s boyish “oh-aren’t-you-perfect” charm towards him. Pete Davidson ended the season just as charming at the desk as he was at the season premiere, and I can’t wait to see him get even more involved in Season 41. And I’m sucker for puns, and a goofy Colin Jost joke, so yes, “Jalapeno business” was definitely for me. Finally, we got the amazing Riblet, which, even if we’re not completely surprised with the character, will always be fantastic.
CABANA (Thompson, Bayer, Louis CK, Strong, Zamata)
This is exactly the same sketch we saw in the Dwayne Johnson episode, and that one only worked because of his undeniable energy to sell the sketch. However, we don’t get that here, and Louis C.K. didn’t seem as into this one as his previous sketches, so it just didn’t work. It was a pretty basic copy-paste from last time.
POLICE LINE-UP (Thompson, Davidson, Killam, Mooney, Bennett, Louis C.K.)
I will always laugh at a well-done “we’re over-the-top theatre people” sketch. Beck Bennett is definitely the star here, and Kyle Mooney (as we’ve seen before) nails several of the mannerisms you’ll see in a thespian troupe. The two of them, for sure, have claimed their place in the continued future of this strong ensemble cast.
WHOOPS! I MARRIED A LESBIAN (Thompson, Louis CK, McKinnon, Bryant, Moynihan)
I started to type “if this were a sitcom, I’d watch it” just because of how good everyone is in it. However, I’d rather watch half an hour of either Reese De’What reacting to/defending failed sitcoms like this, or a sitcom featuring Bobby Moynihan playing the 50’s dopey best friend character. He’s got that down like no other.
Best Sketch of the Night: Louis C.K. Monologue
Worst Sketch of the Night: Cabana
Joke of the Night: “Jalapeno Business” – Jost
Observations: Another good episode that strongly represents how solid Season 40 has truly been. This cast (and writing staff) could return as it is in the fall with no changes and sustain the show just fine, provided that they have nowhere to go but up with the talent they possess. My personal hope is for no cast changes whatsoever. Unlike previous seasons, there are no rumors of a repertory player moving on to pursue a movie career or another show; and none of the featured players seem to be in danger of being grossly under-utilized like last season. (You could make a case for Sasheer Zamata not finding a true voice on the show yet, but she has at least shown the potential all year.) Also, the cast is at 15 – which is bigger than it needs to be for letting each of them shine, but still manageable. Plus, the cohesion among them seems very strong, and we’ve also had great glimpses of connecting to each cast member on occasion. It’ll be exciting to see what Season 41 of this truly miraculous show brings to Studio 8H!
BLACKOMETER AVERAGE: 6.81
By the way, here’s another cut sketch by Kyle Mooney as NYC standup, Bruce Chandling
Thanks for reading these SNL recaps this season! Happy summer, and here’s to many more SNL seasons!