Charles Barkley’s ‘Saturday Night Live’ was really not great and I AM VERY CRANKY

Saturday Night Live
Charles Barkley & Migos
March 3, 2018

Let me begin by saying that I am VERY CRANKY. I am suffering through the second cold in as many weeks, I don’t feel good, I can’t stop coughing and my head feels like it’s filled with cotton balls. So that might be why I did not enjoy last night’s Saturday Night Live, hosted by Charles Barkley for reasons that are still unclear. Is he in a movie? Is he selling a book? Is he running for office? Or is he just a random retired NBA player who now analyzes games who happens to be buddies with Lorne Michaels?

Or, alternatively, I didn’t like the episode because it wasn’t good. Maybe I didn’t enjoy the episode because there wasn’t a single sketch that was actually good, a sketch that mitigated all of the mediocre and outright bad sketches. Maybe I didn’t enjoy it because CHARLES BARKLEY CAN’T ACT. Maybe that was it.

A couple of programming notes: 1. NBC has apparently made all of their videos unwatchable outside of YouTube for reasons that are bullshit. The videos are still embedded below, but if you want to watch them, you’ll have to follow the link to YouTube. 2. I probably won’t have next week’s (or the week after that, if they have an episode then) up for a while. SORRY NOT SORRY.

Sorry, I didn’t mean to yell — like I said, I’m wearing my crankypants today.

Following this week’s Twitter fight with Donald Trump in which he asked the President to ask his wife to stop calling him (only to ruin the joke by adding “for SNL tickets” — it would have been a much better burn to just ask Trump to ask Melania to stop calling him), Alec Baldwin was back as Trump in the cold open, talking about gun control, Hope Hicks, steel tariffs and Jeff Sessions. And I realized why I don’t like the Trump cold opens as they have been done, particularly in this season: they always try to pack way too much into the bit. The news coming out of this White House is so overwhelming, but instead of focusing on the one or two biggest stories, the writers seem to think they need to address every single issue. It’s too much, the sketches drag, and I begin to lose interest halfway through.

Grade: B

In his opening monologue, Charles Barkley chose to address the somehow controversial position that athletes have political opinions. The material is funny-ish enough, making sure to address the fact that this is his fourth time to host Saturday Night Live for NO REASON, but he’s clearly nervous and stiff and seems to struggle to read the cue cards, making me anxious for him.

Grade: B-

SNL addresses the Oscars and the #MeToo movement and the awkwardness that is sure to occur when the two meet on the red carpet tonight in this sketch imagining a sexual harassment awards ceremony, “The Grabbies.”  The problem with the bit is that the internal logic fails: why would you have a celebration of explicitly bad behavior. And I suppose that the joke is that you wouldn’t … which isn’t much of a joke. While there were a couple of good zingers in there, for the most part, this felt cobbled together because the writers felt like they had to do something ahead of the Academy Awards.

Grade: C

In the commercial spoof of the night is “Ned’s Roach Away” in which Ned here suggests that the only way to stop bad roaches is good roaches with guns. I mean, look. I understand that they are making fun of the absurdity of the NRA philosophy that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, but the gun issue is being discussed on the national stage right now because 14 children and their 3 teachers died. And, at least for me, it’s kinda hard to separate those things while also making jokes. I’m not saying that you can’t make jokes about the gun debate, I’m just saying that if this is the best you can come up with, maybe don’t.

Grade: C-

In this bit, prank callers ruin a kids’ show that is designed to help them with their homework. This isn’t a bad sketch — prank calls are pretty funny — but it relies heavily on Barkley to pull it off. A reminder: Charles Barkley is a retired basketball player and neither a professional actor nor a comedian.

Grade: B-

In this bit, Charles Barkley and Alex Rodriguez playing themselves debate a football player over which sport is the hardest. Barkley manages to get a dig in about his time playing as a Houston Rocket saying of his 16-year-long career that “the last four were in Houston so that should just count as one.” But really this is an attack on football and the damage it does to its players and I AM HERE FOR IT. Sure, it goes on too long, and it’s not all that funny, but this is a decent example of how you can take a sad issue (CTE, the irreparable brain damage caused by playing football) bring attention to it and still be kinda funny. Alright, kinda funny. Sorta funny.  Whatever, MORE ATTACKS ON THE NFL, PLZ.

Grade: B

Here is your “Weekend Update.” Jost lands a solid priest joke, but Che puts me in a bad mood with his Women’s History Month quip. Why do they still let him tell jokes about women? Why doesn’t someone just tell him to JUST STAY AWAY FROM JOKES ABOUT WOMEN?

Grade: B

Hope Hicks visits the “Weekend Update” desk where she compares working in the White House to a slumber party and summer camp.

Grade: A-

Kyle Mooney comes to the Update desk as himself, fishing for an invite to Jost’s Oscar party, in the most deliberately uncomfortable sketch of the night.

Grade: B

Finally, Leslie Jones stops by the Weekend Update desk to talk about her trip to South Korea for the Olympics and her newfound love of winter sports, especially hockey. She and U.S. Women’s GOLD MEDAL Hockey team member Hillary Knight then school Colin Jost on who run the world. BUT THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN DIRECTING THAT AT CHE.

Grade: A

In “Hump or Dump,” Aidy Bryant is on a “Dating Game”-style competition in which Charles Barkley’s contestant threatens to kill himself if she doesn’t pick him. Um … no.

Grade: D

A bunch of construction workers imagine what they would wear to the Oscars if they were women. Because, get it? Construction workers are the last guys you can imagine being comfortable enough with their sexuality to discuss such a thing? On the one hand, I appreciate the conversation about toxic masculinity, but on the other hand, it is also suggesting that men being vulnerable and being able to explore their sexuality is inherently a joke.

Grade: B-

It’s that last call sketch again, in which Kate McKinnon licks the host.

Grade: B+

This sketch cut for time asks a Very Important Star Wars question:

Grade: B+

Final Grade: B-. Like I said, I’m cranky.

snl keenan nope body bag.gif

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

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