Soon Alec Baldwin will be playing all of the roles on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ (And that’ll probably be fine.)

 Saturday Night Live
Louis CK & The Chainsmokers
April 8, 2017

After a strong first half , the back half of Saturday Night Live‘s season has not been terrific, despite a wealth of material to work with. I mean, Devin Nunes? Obamacare? Mar-a-Lago? Kushner v. Bannon? How are you guys whiffing with everything the Trump Administration has had to offer?

And so, after a month-long break, the show was back this week with Louis C.K., the closest this show gets to a “sure thing” for a host. So did the show finally deliver or did it disappoint yet again?

As the headline referenced, Alec Baldwin was back this week, and he’s added to his cast of characters: enjoy Alec Baldwin as Bill O’Reilly which is somehow more Bill O’Reilly than Bill O’Reilly.

While I think Baldwin’s impersonation of Donald Trump is quite good, I believe he captures more of the dimwitted spirit of Trump than the man himself (unlike Anthony Atamanuik, who is eerily on point as Trump). So I was not prepared for just how good Baldwin would be in capturing not just Bill O’Reilly’s je ne sais quoi, but his speech patterns, his mannerisms and even his facial expressions. This sketch could have been a smidge sharper — there are more jokes to be mined from the O’Reilly shitpile — but Baldwin’s O’Reilly impersonation could not be more perfect.

Grade: A

And of course, Alec Baldwin is back as Donald Trump for the cold open, in which Trump visits with his voters, reveals that his interests don’t actually align with theirs, and the joke is his rural supporters won’t abandon him regardless. Or it would be the “joke” if it weren’t so depressingly accurate. “In Trump’s America, men work in two places: the coal mines and Goldman Sachs.” Ha ha ugh.

There’s nothing wrong with this sketch, but damn, is it a bummer.

Grade: B+

I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: the best SNL monologues are by stand-up comedians who come out and do a 10 minute stand-up routine because who doesn’t like a solid stand-up routine? Race, chickens, hotels, privilege, an unfortunate goat joke, it’s all in here.

Grade: A+

I don’t know what this sketch is with the lawyer and the eyelashes and the weird Maybelline tagline at the end… I would almost think that it’s some sort of response to Maybelline hiring the first male makeup model, but considering how old that news is and how no one really cares, I doubt that’s it. I suspect it’s more that someone in the writers’ room said something about guys with pretty lashes (as a woman I have always found it profoundly irritating when men have better lashes than me, as my cousin and my son do, ~grrrr~) and they just ran with it. But is it really 1. worthy of an entire sketch and 2. a sketch this early in the episode? (A.: 1. No and 2. No.) Still, points for naming the judge “Wallace Stevens.”

Grade: C

The first of three really strong digital sketches of the episode is this ode to slackerism, “Thank You, Scott.” The struggle is real, you guys.

Grade: B+

In the most problematic sketch of the episode, an older, married soda jerk is inappropriate with a teenage customer. The joke here would have been OK if it had been entirely at his expense as a creepy middle-aged man. But for some inexplicable reason, at the end the sketch, they decide to make the teenage girl some weird Lolita-esque temptress. What the actual fuck, guys?

Grade: D

Every comedy show has taken on the recent tone-deaf Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad and for good reason: HOW MANY ADULTS HAD TO SIGN OFF ON THAT STEAMING PILE OF GARBAGE? How many people saw the concept, the script and the final product and said, “Yeah, that works! No one will find this offensive or cheapening a genuine movement!”

On a side note unrelated to Saturday Night Live: my husband pointed out that no one seems to be exploring the real story here: what if it was a Coke ad all along?

Anyway, Grade: A

Here’s your “Weekend Update.” Michael Che manages to not say anything overtly misogynistic, so yay?

Grade: B

Only one visitor to the “Weekend Update” desk this week, but it’s a good one: Kate McKinnon’s Cecilia Gimenez, the “art restorer” who touched up that Jesus painting a few years ago. She visits the desk to give her critique of the derptastic Ronaldo bust.

Grade: A

I hate clowns. I love this sketch.

Grade: A+

In the most surreal sketch of the night, Louis C.K. plays a man obsessed with sectional sofas. As the owner of a sectional (although not one of these sweet puffy numbers with the ottomans and the electrical outlets), I TAKE OFFENSE.

Grade: A-

Finally, Kate McKinnon and Louis C.K. can not stop breaking character in this sketch where they play actors portraying racist turn-of-the-century tenement dwellers. While the joke here seems to be “look how far we’ve come in racial sensitivity,” I can’t help but feel like it’s also a dig at that same sensitivity, that people maybe shouldn’t get so bunched up about racial jokes or something. I don’t know. Maybe I’m being too sensitive.

Grade: B-

Final grade: A solid A.

cecily strong sectionals snl.png

Next week: Jimmy Fallon and Harry Styles

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

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