‘Saturday Night Live’: The Quarantine Edition

Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live at Home
April 11, 2020

Soooooo … Last week, Saturday Night Live announced kinda at the very last second that they were going to do an episode this week, an episode taped entirely from the cast’s homes and everyone was like, “Whaaaaa?” and “Huh?” and “But how?” and “Why?” And I guess the answers to those questions are, in order, “Because if all the other late night shows can, so can they,” and “I know it’s weird but give them a chance” and “Look, everyone’s phone and computer can record videos these days, it’s just not that hard,” and “Because WE NEED SOMETHING. WE ALL NEED A LITTLE SOMETHING TO GET US THROUGH THIS RIGHT NOW.”

And you know what? It wasn’t half bad! I will grant that perhaps my standards, much like the characters in one sketch, have lowered as this quarantine grinds on. But I thought the cast and writers having to make do with limited resources actually forced them into a corner that works best for them: 1. they are all digital sketches (and since YouTube/Zoom/TikTok is our entire world right now, it felt especially relevant) and 2. the sketches had to be brief and to the point. (As a result, there were 17 sketches last night. 17!!)

I, too, have kept my comments brief and to the point because 17 SKETCHES.

Who knows if these kids are going to try this again before the season is over. I applaud them for making a go of it, and it working out for the most part. (I’d can the Zoom laughter, “Weekend Update.” Go watch Seth Meyers and Stephen Colbert and take notes on how to make a joke work without the benefit of laughter), and genuinely thank them for making an effort to make us laugh when we needed it the most.

Just as there is no cold open and no “LIVE FROM NEW YORK, IT’S SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE!” (because it isn’t), there is no “host” for this unconventional show, at least not in a normal, celebrity-is-wedged-into-the-sketches sort of way. But they do keep the opening monologue, and for that purpose, they have brought in America’s Dad and the first person most of us “know” who was hit by COVID-19: Tom Hanks. It’s just the sort of warm blanket we all need right about now.

Grade: A-

Pete Davidson performs a “Drake” song which is just him singing about how he misses his ex. That’s it. That’s the joke.

Grade: C

Kate McKinnon brings out her RBG for a workout video and most of the jokes are about how tiny she is or delivering Ginsburns on Republicans. We love RBG but I don’t want to think (and worry) about her right now, thanks.

Grade: B+

In this bit, an office meets on Zoom for a tutorial, and things quickly go south for the older, less technically-savvy receptionists, played by Kate and Aidy. I’ve only done Zoom calls with friends, but y’all, this is very relatable.

Grade: A

Larry David returns to wrap up his Bernie Sanders impersonation and announce that Bernie’s dropping out of the race. Honestly, David’s Bernie Sanders was the best political impersonation on the show — even if it was the most obvious thing in the world — and I’ll miss Larry/Bernie.

Grade: A-

In this MasterClass spoof, Chloe Fineman impersonates Timothee Chalamet doing a class on fashion (which is just him wearing hoodies); JoJo Sewa gives a class on how to do TikTok; and Carol Baskin of Tiger King teaches how to ride bicycles. Each impersonation is so good that I genuinely didn’t realize it was the same person until much later.

Grade: A

Michael Che and Colin Jost decide that “Weekend Update” needs an audience to work, and to that end they bring in a “Zoom audience” to laugh at the jokes. It’s a terrible miscalculation that is incredibly distracting and insincere. Hate.

That said, they do their best, and end with a “joke swap” in honor of Che’s grandmother who passed from the virus, and I love me a joke swap.

Grade: B-

Trump calls into “Weekend Update.” And it will shock you to learn that Baldwin’s Trump is just as irritating on the phone as he is in person.

Grade: C+

Heidi Gardner’s teen movie reviewer and YouTuber, Bailey Gismert, gives her reviews of films she’s watched at home during the quarantine. It’s fine, but the character works better when she has a straight man to work against.

Grade: B

THE “Middle-Aged Mutant Ninja Turtles” HITS TOO CLOSE TO HOME, SNL.

Grade: A-

In this bit, Mikey Day is a video game player with his own Twitch channel who decides to play Call of Duty for the first time and keeps getting killed. It’s a simple idea, but Day really sells it.

Grade: A

This bit involving a British sports reporter looking for something, ANYTHING, to do a commentary about is an actual thing that actually took place on Twitter where it was much funnier:

(Sound on)

Grade: B- (It would have been a great idea had it been an original one)

I just … I don’t know what this is but I hate it.

Grade: C

Aidy Bryant guides you through pleasant visualizations to try to take your mind off the hell we are all living through, and the thing is, I’m not sure that it’s very funny? But I want to be her friend.

Grade: B+

In perhaps my favorite sketch of the night, Beck Bennett hosts a dating game show for singles just coming out of quarantine whose standards are so low, they’ll literally take any loser.

Grade: A+

Ego Nwodim does a YouTube makeup tutorial using markers and … you know. It’s a funnier idea in thought than practice.

Grade: B-

The final bit of the night is another song from Pete Davidson, this time a rap about how he’s just getting started in the rap game and only has $2000, but that he tries to make it look like it’s a lot more. It’s funnier than it should be.

Grade: B+

Cut for time is this bit wherein stand-up and sad sack Bruce Chandling auditions for a role and it goes … poorly:

Finally, cast members past and present pay tribute to Hal Willner, the show’s music supervisor who passed away last week from the virus.  It is clear he was beloved by everyone he worked with and will be profoundly missed.

Final Grade: A solid B+! And well-earned!

Saturday Night Live airs at 10:30/11:30 p.m. Saturdays on NBC. Or it did before the whole Goddamned world ended.

One thought on “‘Saturday Night Live’: The Quarantine Edition

  1. I loved it, loved the effort, hope they do more! I hope next time they work in more sketches that incorporate multiple people. How is it possible that Bowen Yang, Cecily Strong, and Kenan Thompson weren’t featured? It left me wondering if/hoping that they are in good health.

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