‘Saturday Night Live,’ Kate McKinnon and Dave Chappelle offer the post-election catharsis we needed

Saturday Night Live
Dave Chappelle & A Tribe Called Quest
November 12, 2016

~deep cleansing breath~

I’m really not sure what to say about Kate McKinnon’s cold open, except holy Hell. Just when I thought I had shed my last tear over this God-forsaken election, McKinnon comes out as Hillary Clinton, sings “Hallelujah,” by Leonard Cohen whom we just lost this week, and ends the song by promising that she is not going to give up. AND HERE COME THE GOD DAMN TEARS AGAIN.

Remember, it was just a month ago that Kate McKinnon was crying in an interview with Rolling Stone over her excitement for the possibility of portraying the first female president:

The crying was because I’d just innocently mentioned that, God willing, come January, she may very well be the first woman in Saturday Night Live‘s history to play the president of the United States. Suddenly, she’s bending over the banana and holding her face in her hands. “It’s really – ” she falters. “I had not thought about it in those terms until this moment. Not my involvement in it, but just – what’s that moment gonna be like? How hard are we gonna cry? I could cry just thinking about how hard we’re gonna cry when it happens.”

Instead, our country gave her a different reason to cry on Tuesday, and she seemed to choke up a little when singing these lyrics in particular:

“I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah”

It was simple. It was powerful. And it will be remembered along with Paul Simon’s “The Boxer” after 9/11 as one of the most moving cold opens Saturday Night Live has ever done.

Grade: A++

Oh, and just to bum you out a little more, it’s also already being spun by some assholes as a “call to riot,” instead of being what it is: an expression of genuine grief and hope. So, that’s super.

As if he knew we would require his services this week, comedian Dave Chappelle came out of his semi-retirement to host Saturday Night Live for the first time ever. And thank God for it. The opening monologue is always best when a comedian is the host and the show gives them time to do some of their stand-up and Chappelle was no exception. His 11-minute set touches on everything from Trump to Black Lives Matter to Harambe to the Orlando shootings to taxes to Obama and it is hilarious and insightful from start to finish. Chappelle ends the set promising to give Trump a chance as long as Trump gives the traditionally disenfranchised a chance, and though I, personally, am not ready to make nice yet, I can appreciate the sentiment.

Grade: A++

In the first sketch of the night, a group of liberal friends watch in disbelief as Hillary Clinton loses the election while Dave Chappelle and guest Chris Rock watch on in bemusement. TOO REAL, Y’ALL.

Grade: A

In this bit Chappelle channels The Walking Dead‘s newest big bad, Negan, to kill off one of his Chappelle Show characters. I’m not entirely sure why they felt the sketch required an introduction; I suppose they assumed not every viewer would be familiar with who the characters are, despite the fact that Chappelle’s Show was one of the highest-watched shows when it was on the air. In any event, this sketch is good enough, and not liable to give me PTSD like the scene it was based on.

Grade: B+

Here is your “Weekend Update.” It is fine. It is fine! It’s fine.

Grade: B+

Visiting the “Weekend Update” desk is Ruth Bader Ginsburg to deliver her Ginsburns and to promise us that she WILL NEVER EVER EVER EVER DIE. But seriously, everyone needs to pray to preserve Ruth Bader Ginsburg for four more years. Like, pray right now and every single day from here on out. I don’t care if you’re not religious, DO IT.

Grade: A

In one of the most inside baseball sketches I’ve ever seen SNL do, a weak sketch goes off the rails, and then the cast do a post-sketch press conference to discuss where it went wrong. The somewhat navel-gazing bit pokes fun at the cast, the creative process and those of us who over analyze everything.

Grade: B

In this very brief sketch, kids talk about the election and who Donald Trump is. It’s cute but not particularly substantial.

Grade: B+

The “Last Call” bit has been done with Louis CK, Vince Vaughn, John Goodman, Woody Harrelson, Larry David and now, breaking the color barrier, Dave Chappelle. It’s not that the sketch isn’t funny, it’s that I just kind of tune it out because I have seen it so many times. Oh, are they going to say gross sexual things to each other and then lick each other’s faces? Huh.

Grade: B

In another self-referential sketch, Leslie Jones and Kyle Mooney discuss their fictional romantic relationship. There really is someone for everyone.

Grade: A-

The final sketch of the night, Chappelle plays a 43-year-old man who still lives at home with his mom and still breastfeeds. Weird, gross, and upsetting, it breaks poor Pete Davidson altogether. And given the previous sketch, the ending takes on a whole new meaning.

Grade: B

Here are A Tribe Called Quest’s performances which were powerful and moving, and paid tribute to Phife Dawg, whom we also lost in 2016. Fuck this year, man.

Final grade: TEARS. SO MANY TEARS. And also, it was an A episode.


Next week: Kristen Wiig and xx.

Saturday Night Live airs at 10:30/11:30 p.m. Saturdays on NBC.

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