‘Saturday Night Live’ owes Don Cheadle a better episode

Saturday Night Live
Don Cheadle & Gary Clarke Jr.
February 16, 2019

Look, this was a perfectly fine episode of Saturday Night Live. Let me be clear: that’s not meant as a compliment. With a talent like Don Cheadle hosting, this should have been a very good episode at the least. Cheadle is a funny actor, he’s charming, and game — what more could they ask for? Sadly, the material felt obvious and a bit lazy, as if the writers weren’t really trying. It’s a shame because Cheadle did the most he could with some really flat material and he was easily the best thing about the entire night.

Which leads me to ask: how the hell is this the first time Don Cheadle has hosted Saturday Night Live? Cheadle has been in the business since the 80s, well-known since his BRILLIANT 1997 performance in Boogie Nights, and outright famous since he was nominated for a God damned Academy Award in 2004 for Hotel Rwanda. And he’s just now getting around to hosting long after Lance Armstrong, Paris Hilton, Adam Levine, Michael Phelps, and Ronda Rousey have had their turns? That’s some bullshit right there.

Alec Baldwin is back to mock President Screamy’s press conference on Friday where he declared a …

NATIONAL EMERGENCY!

… because there are brown people in the country to our south, true fact. The sketch is exactly what you think it is, making fun of Trump’s sing-songy explanation of how this whole charade is going to go down, his very racist use of accents, his attacks on the press, his own admission that all of this is complete bullshit, etc.

But honestly, the funniest part of this sketch is how MAD it made Donald Clementine Trump:

There is so much to unpack here: The new nickname for NBC: “Fake News NBC!”; The President of the United States calling for Saturday Night Live to be “looked into” by … someone because … they do political sketches? I guess?; And, perhaps most hilarious of all, the man who stole a presidential election with help from a foreign enemy suggesting that a sketch comedy show did the “real Collusion.” I mean, that’s just some comedy gold right there.

Grade: B

Don Cheadle is one of my favorite actors, able to seamlessly slide into both comedic and dramatic roles, and so it’s very difficult for me to imagine that anyone wouldn’t recognize him, as is the entire thesis of his monologue. It’s fine; he doesn’t sing, so points for that. But otherwise, this is a fairly forgettable bit.

But, again, how on earth is this the first time Cheadle is hosting SNL? What’s wrong with y’all?

Grade: B

This is a parody of a high school news broadcast with breaking stories about cold sores and school ski trips, and one teacher who gossips way too much about the other teachers. This wasn’t terrible or offensive, but he writing felt phoned in and it’s a little surprising that it is the first sketch of the night (following the cold open).

Grade: B-

See, it’s a baking competition show, but the contestants are terrible at baking.

I have questions: Did the writers of this sketch just assume that no one but them has seen Nailed It! on Netflix? Or did they say, “Yeah, it’s basically Nailed It! but with more Yoda dick and vomiting cakes so how can anyone accuse us of ripping off Nailed It!” Or — more intriguingly, but completely impossible — have they never seen Nailed It! and actually believe they came up with the idea for a baking competition where none of the contestants are good at baking? Or, most likely, did this sketch start off as a spoof of Nailed It! but then other people in the writing room were like, “It’s kinda hard to make fun of people who are already making fun of themselves like they are on Nailed It! so let’s make this a straight baking competition and cross our fingers that no one has seen Nailed It! on Netflix.”

Points for the sentient vomiting cake, points deducted for flagrant plagiarism.

Grade: C+

This commercial spoof solves the very real problem of dogs watching you have sex. The entire joke is in the name of the product.

Grade: B-

“Weekend Update” spends a LOT of time on that batshit press conference on Friday, noting that Trump was doing his “coke user impersonation,” which: accurate. Che also has a joke about Ryan Adams and R. Kelly which is pretty zingy. And come for the Trump jokes, but stay for the Bernie joke which wins the bit.

Grade: B+

Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi join the “Weekend Update” desk to totally not gloat over trumping Trump on his wall funding.

Grade: A

Jules Who Sees Things a Little Differently gives his take on the Oscars and it’s fine. I liked this character well enough when Beck Bennett introduced him, but I don’t know, this seemed a little stale.

Grade: B-

A supercentenarian joins the “Weekend Update” desk to give some supercentenarian news. This is one of those one-joke bits where the joke is “and all of the old people are dead.”

Grade: C+

Hey, it’s another Celebrity Family Feud, this time with Oscar nominees including: Spike Lee,; Glenn Close, Sam Elliott, Olivia Coleman, Melissa Villaseñor doing her Lady Gaga again because dammit, they bought that white suit and wig, they are going to get their money’s worth out of it; Bradley Cooper as played by … wait ~checks notes~ Kyle Mooney? Huh. Rami Malek, and Mahershala Ali.

The best part of the entire bit is Cecily Strong’s drunk Olivia Coleman which is not saying a whole heck of a lot.

Grade: B-

Two dudes get into a bar fight, but the MIKA’s “Lollipop” song comes on the jukebox and no one can resist dancing to it. Look, what this reminded me the most of were those “Les Jeunes des Paris” sketches and I didn’t like those “Les Jeunes de Paris” sketches, but I know some of you did, so there you go.

Also, I suppose the rights to MIKA’s “Lollipop” were cheap enough that they could post this online? Interesting.

Grade: B

The second commercial spoof of the night was for roach spray for those pesky roaches that move into your house and sleep with your wife.

Grade: B+

Honestly, my favorite sketch of the night was the final bit, an ad for an outer borough wedding venue. I don’t know how well it will play in places that aren’t New York City where ads like this are a very real thing (I’ve never seen a venue ad here in Houston, for instance), but I assure you this is only barely not a real ad for a real wedding venue in Queens.

Grade: A

Final Grade: Solid B. 

❤️🧡💛💚💙💜

Final Grade: Solid B. 

 

One last note: for a really funny show, try The Other Two on Comedy Central from former Saturday Night Live writers Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider. You’re welcome.

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

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