Sterling K. Brown is really funny! Too bad his ‘Saturday Night Live’ wasn’t.

Saturday Night Live
Sterling Brown & James Bay
March 10, 2018

Look, this episode aired almost 10 days ago, and I’m only writing about it because I can’t stand for things to be incomplete. So I’m going to keep this super brief: Sterling K. Brown has great comedic talents, he was let down by the writing in this episode, the end.

This week’s cold open was simultaneously one of the best cold opens of the season and one of the most depressing cold opens of the entire series. An almost-word-for-word recreation of this season’s controversial Bachelor finale, the cold open imagined Robert Mueller in the role of Arie the Bachelor delivering the bad news to Becca: that he has a stronger obstruction case on Trump than a collusion case. I don’t know if the joke is lost on those who didn’t see The Bachelor finale (or had to blog it like some of us), or if the audience was absorbing this dispiriting news along with “Becca,” but I find the audience’s muted response to a very clever sketch fascinating:

Grade: A+

Sterling K. Brown’s monologue, in which he finds himself becoming overly emotional, is a great showcase for his comedic talents, unlike most of the rest of this episode.

Grade: A

Oh, hey, it’s a Celebrity Family Feud with a bunch of lazy impersonations Oscar winners and losers. Kate McKinnon’s Frances McDormand is terrific, and the meta joke about one needing to move on from sketch comedy (~cough~ Keenan ~cough~) made by the single worst Jordan Peele impersonation ever is pretty funny, but otherwise, this bit was fairly forgettable.

Grade: B-

See, it’s like This is Us, the show that Sterling K. Brown is on where everyone is crying all the time, but instead it’s “This is U.S.,” as in the United States, and everyone in the Trump administration cries all the time because we elected a hideous monster and everything is terrible. Bonus points for Sterling K. Brown’s Ben Carson.

Grade: B+

In this bit, a woman brings her boyfriend home to meet her parents where he reveals himself to be a very serious Shrek fan. While Brown is terrific in this bit, it could go into the Saturday Night Live museum as an example of how these people don’t have any idea how to end a sketch.

Grade: B-

Hey, wouldn’t it be funny if a bunch of campers met Bigfoot and then he was like super violent and aggressive with one of them and made him hold his penis and stuff?

Grade: C-

Here’s your “Weekend Update.” I definitely cringed when I saw that Michael Che was setting up the International Women’s Day joke, but I have to admit, it wasn’t as bad or offensive as I was expecting. Also, that Amelia Earhart joke was solid.

Grade: B+

The Trump boys stop by the desk to do their Trump boy thing again. It was fine — but unfortunate (if interesting) timing considering news of Dummy Jr.’s divorce broke a couple of days later.

Grade: B+

Vanessa Bayer popped by to revisit Dawn Lazarus, her weathercaster who only speaks in nonsense.

Grade: B

Black Panther’s T’Challa visits his ancestors in the afterlife, including some uncle who is more interested in barbecue than pressing matters of war. This is a showcase for Keenan Thompson who breaks poor Leslie Jones.

Grade: B

A man visits his doctor who is more interested in the state of his love life than in his physical health? I don’t even know what is happening here.

Grade: C-

I have to admit, I found this sketch in which a script coordinator reads lines to an actor — but in a ridiculous accident, and while using ridiculous euphemisms — much funnier than I expected, especially considering how late into the episode it came. Cecily Strong is a gem.

Grade: A-

The thing about Kyle Mooney’s man-on-the-street video bits is that he makes himself the butt of the joke with his awkwardness. However, there is sort of a mean edge in this “Rock v. Rap” bit, in which he drags some of the strangers he films down to his character’s dumb level, making fun of them as much as himself. Do not like.

Grade: D

The entire punchline of this dumb sketch is that an old dying woman’s last words are the lyrics to a Nickelback song. Pass.

(Although, it did remind me of a scene in the second to last episode of Crashing this season in which the star of this very sketch, Melissa Villaseñor, playing herself, explains to Pete Holmes that it’s OK to be good at a particular dumb kind of comedy that maybe doesn’t appeal to comedy snobs like myself. So, you know, I guess the point is maybe I’m wrong?) (Note: Nope, thought about it, I still don’t think I’m wrong.)

Grade: D-

Final Grade: B- Honestly, this should be lower, but Sterling K. Brown saved the day when he had the opportunity to.

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

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