‘Saturday Night Live’: Chance the Rapper keeps alive a good episode streak

Saturday Night Live
“Chance the Rapper and Eminem”
November 18, 2017

Saturday Night Live is finally on something of a (sorta) winning streak. Following last week’s strong outing with Tiffany Haddish at the helm, Chance the Rapper hosted the series for the first time and was an easy fit with the cast. Chance the Rapper is a charming human being who, like Justin Timberlake and Drake, radiates an air of wit and intelligence, making him something of an ideal Saturday Night Live host.

But aside from Chance being a natural comedian who is willing to embrace the goofy, the material was just better this week than it had been earlier in the season. If I were to speculate, I’d point out that the hosts of the seasons’ best episodes both happen to be African-American and that maybe, possibly what is happening here is that the minorities in the writers’ room were given more of an opportunity to pitch their ideas and express their perspectives, leading to better, more original material. And if SNL were smart, they’d realize that maybe they could make that a regular thing, instead of just saving it for special, minority-hosting occasions.

Ha ha, that’ll never happen.

Donny Trash Jr. meets with Wikileaks’ Julian Assange to work out a deal between the Trump campaign and the notorious website in the cold open, mostly to serve as a reminder that Eric is the true superdummy of the Trump family/administration. And while the “Eric is so very very stupid” jokes are very funny, thanks to the constant drip (or flood) of stories about Donald Jr. communicating with Russians and Russian cutouts, I have a harder and harder time not thinking that the actual Eric Trump of the family isn’t DonDon. Basically, Saturday Night Live is giving Donkey Trump waaaaaay too much credit here.

Grade: B+

Chance the Rapper’s many charms fail to work on me with this Thanksgiving song monologue. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but I hate when the monologue is a song and dance number.

Grade: B-

In this subversive little sketch, a group of minorities visit Wayne mansion and share their very different perspectives on Batman’s “heroic” activities.

Grade: A-

In the highlight of a pretty good night, a 90’s R&B group sings the ballad we’ve all been humming to ourselves since January 20: “Come Back, Barrack.” BABY, COME BACK. At the very least, convince Michelle to run.

Grade: A+

In this edition of “Family Feud,” Steve Harvey’s own family plays against what might be Steve Harvey’s other family. Mostly this is just Chance the Rapper doing his impersonation of Kenan Thompson’s impersonation of Steve Harvey, and I’m not mad at it.

Grade: B+

When it came to former Saturday Night Live writer and player, Al Franken, “Weekend Update” finally found its bite. After being criticized for not addressing the Harvey Weinstein mess fast enough, SNL has done an admirable job of not backing away from the never-ending sexual harassment story. While they certainly knew they were going to be watched carefully for how they addressed their alum Franken, they should be commended for tackling it head on and devoting adequate time to the story without once sounding like apologists for him.

Grade: A

Jeff Sessions is a possum with memory problems.

Grade: B-

Ugh, it’s Kyle Mooney’s terrible comedian Bruce Chandling again. Here’s the thing with this recurring bit: it shouldn’t be a recurring bit. It was a one-joke sketch that exhausted its welcome after its initial airing and we do not need to visit with Bruce ever again, please and thank you. If we’re going to do a stand-up character, PLEASE BRING BACK JEAN K. JEAN, MERCI.

Grade: C-

Pete Davidson is not my favorite visitor to the “Weekend Update” desk. That said, his commentary on how his and Colin Jost’s home borough of Staten Island treats its native sons differently is hilarious.

Grade: A+

In this overly long, but not unfunny sketch, Chance the Rapper plays an NBA sideline announcer covering his first hockey game. In short: he’s cold. Very cold.

Grade: A-

70s era rappers teach a Lil’ Pump-esque rapper what it means to look ridiculous in this sketch about rap history:

Grade: A-

In this wild misfire of a sketch, two high school kids are overly excited about their dads’ presentation during career day. WHY IS THIS PIECE OF TERRIBLE FIVE MINUTES LONG, Y’ALL? WHY?

Grade: D 

And in contention for two prizes: “Laziest Sketch of the Season” and “Most Likely to Have Been Originally Written by a Writer When He Was in Junior High School,” is this porn parody. Oof.

Grade: D

Final Grade: B+ Those last two sketches really brought down the average. 

Bonus: Here’s Eminem’s medley from last night:

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

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