Saturday Night Live
Donald Glover & Childish Gambino
May 5, 2018
Donald Glover should be in and make all of the things, the end.
Yes, yes, Stormy Daniels. I’ll give Saturday Night Live this much: it was a brilliant and successful publicity move. But was it funny? Or was any attempt at humor lost in a sea of cameos from the likes of Ben Stiller, Martin Short, Scarlett Johansson and Jimmy Fallon?
I was going to give this a B minus, but Kate McKinnon is almost indistinguishable from Rudy Giuliani so I’m bumping it up a little for that.
Donald Glover’s monologue should have been better. It started off well enough — I liked the idea of him being bitter about his failed SNL auditions — which, damn, Lorne, way to miss the mark on that one, buddy — and his goofy charm is delicious. But then the rhythm and the pacing just kinda felt … off, particularly when interacting with the other cast members. Don’t get me wrong: I like a good vomiting joke as much as anyone, but considering what a good stand-up comedian Glover is, this seemed like a wasted opportunity.
The premise here is that Glover is a lawyer representing Jurassic Park in a wrongful death lawsuit, and he’s spectacularly bad at his job. Glover sells the hell out of what would otherwise be a middling sketch.
Glover, Kenan and Chris Redd are essentially Migos in one of my favorite bits of the night, and they have some issues they need to work through:
This entire sketch is an elaborate parody of a 1986 music video by Oran “Juice” Jones — and while you don’t have to know that to appreciate the bit which is kinda funny in and of itself, watching it adds another layer of appreciation. That said, I have some questions: Who has been hanging on to this Oran “Juice” Jones video for this long? This had to be Glover, right? Because this is a DEEP cut. And this is true: there is nothing more hilarious in the sketch than the scene in the real music video when Oran “Juice” Jones packs a suitcase using his foot.
Kanye West’s latest antics are so infuriating that even in A Quiet Place universe, people are so outraged they can’t shut up about it. What I most like about this sketch is that Get Out is the obvious horror film to reference regarding Kanye’s meltdown, but they avoided using it:
Glover and Melissa Villaseńor try to use dirty talk in the bedroom in this bit, but it goes off the rails when Villaseńor uses disturbing and inappropriate references. It’s the rare Villaseńor sketch that I didn’t just automatically hate, but I will say that I was distracted by the lack of chemistry between the two. Considering Glover could have chemistry with a sock, it seemed odd that he was off here.
It was a particularly strong “Weekend Update” with some very strong Giuliani jokes and Che with the only thing that can be said about the whole Kanye mess.
Pete Davidson comes to the desk to give Che and Jost shit for being the hosts of the Emmys, and it works:
Leslie Jones goes over all the terrible men she’s dated, but basically this is all a set-up to remind us that Colin Jost is dating Scarlett Johansson.
In this inspired bit, Lando Calrissian hosts a conference for “all black humans in space.” There are four attendees. It still doesn’t know quite how to end, but it’s so sharp and zingy, I’ll let it pass.
In this very doofy bit, a focus group is asked to caption some Instagram photos of Barbie, and they offer dumb suggestions. I liked this more than I probably should have.
So, the final sketch of the night. Here’s what’s weird about this sketch: it’s basically the same premise as Donald Glover’s castmate Lakeith Stanfield’s upcoming movie, Sorry to Bother You. In that movie, Stanfield becomes a successful telemarketer by adopting a “White” voice, and in this sketch, dangerous prisoners are revealed to be customer service call operators with very “White” voices. It’s not exactly the same, I’ll grant you that, but it’s close enough that it was the first thing that occurred to me, and apparently to a number of other people, too. … So, I mean, what’s going on here, guys? And how did Glover not get this?
Grade: C- for lack of originality
Oh, hey, here’s a sketch that was both original and funny that was cut for time:
And while Childish Gambino’s — again, the inspiration for the name of this here blog — performances were great, please allow me to direct your attention to the official music video for “This is America” which is the most stunning video I have seen since “Hold Up” and “Formation” came out:
Final Grade: A-.
Saturday Night Live airs at 10:30/11:30 p.m. Saturdays on NBC.