Saturday Night Live
At-Home, Part 3
May 10, 2020
Saturday Night Live‘s season came to a premature end last night for obvious reasons, but considering what they were up against, it’s truly a TV miracle that they were able to produce three episodes of solidly funny television. And this week’s episode was no different, thanks to help from a number of friends of the show, including Martin Short, Josh Gad, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Wiig, Danny Trejo, and the aforementioned Tina Fey.
Were there some duds of sketches? Of course there were; as Tom Hanks reminded us the first time we did this, there always are. But at least in my estimation, because the writers and performers were forced out of their standard process for creating a show, they became more creative and less lazy, and the result was three episodes of Saturday Night Live that will be remembered in television history. Great job, everyone — even you, Kyle Mooney. Here’s to hoping y’all are back home at Studio 8H in the fall, and that you bring this creative spark back with you.
The cold open this week does not feature Brad Pitt, unfortunately, but instead Alec Baldwin’s Trump impersonation. Trump is here to deliver the commencement address to a high school Zoom graduation and the jokes are pretty much what you think they will be — drinking bleach, etc. But that’s not to say it doesn’t have its moments like “valadictator” and his demand that the “jazz types,” i.e. black students, be muted. Of course, one can’t help but identify with Beck Bennett’s student character when he begins yelling that they want Fauci. We all want Fauci, Beck Bennett’s Student Character. We all want Fauci.
I was excited when they announced that the host — or “host” as the case may be — was going to be Kristen Wiig. That deflated after this weird-and-not-weird-in-a-funny-way-just-weird monologue. Couldn’t someone have written her … something?
So then there’s this Zoom hangout with friends, except two of the friends played by Heidi Gardner and Martin Short are just obnoxious and to the disgust of the others reveal that they spent their quarantine in Italy. How are these people supposed to be friends, exactly? The thing about obnoxious characters is that it is a treacherous path to navigate — you want the audience to laugh at them, not be so repulsed by them that they want to turn the TV off and never turn it back on again. This sketch comes perilously close to the latter.
But just when I thought all was lost, they brought me back in with the new anthem of this virus: “Let Kids Drink.” Brilliant. And the Josh Gad cameo? I don’t know how or if they’ll get away with it, but it is genius.
In my recap of the last episode, I had a little rant about Melissa Villaseñor and noted that she’s not for everyone. And she’s not! But I have to admit, she’s an excellent impersonator. Her John Mulaney in this MasterClass spoof is eerily accurate. Also, Chloe Fineman is stunningly good as both Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Britney Spears. But it was the Mulaney bit that really spoke to my soul.
— John Mulaney (@mulaney) May 10, 2020
A beleaguered pastor tries to conduct a church service over Zoom and it goes as well as any Zoom meeting does. It’s fine.
Pete Davidson and Chris Redd’s musical contribution this week is a long-overdue tribute to the great Danny Trejo. Hell yes.
I guess Kristen Wiig’s hosting duties required her to be in at least one sketch and it is this send-up of beauty vloggers; in this case a hair vlogger who offers TERRIBLE advice and is obsessed with bad gifs. It has plenty of Wiig’s likable daffy energy but it does dangerously skirt that line that I discussed earlier with annoying characters.
“Weekend Update” is once again fairly solid — the material just offers itself up on a goddamned plate these days — and it’s worth noting that it might be Jost and Che’s last Update together. And while I can’t say they are my favorite “Weekend Update” hosts, I have to admit, the joke swap concept was terrific. Speaking of, they offered someone the opportunity to write the joke swap to raise money for charity and it was … well, let’s just say that as much grief I give the writers of this show, it was a reminder that it’s not as easy as it looks. Fortunately, they save it by doing one last one for Colin to read that Che clearly wrote.
“Weekend Update” also pays a visit to their favorite drunk Fox News contributor, Jeanine Pirro, who manages to perform a few costume changes mid-interview (and clearly inspired by this amazing outfit she actually wore last week:
Is she wearing her prom dress from 1933? What is going on?!! pic.twitter.com/XNSo699wqL
— SassyMétisChick ❤️ 🇨🇦❤️ (@SassyCanadianCk) April 26, 2020
Truly, the only Mother’s Day present I, a mother, wanted: a prayer from Tina Fey. I truly feel blessed.
“What’s Wrong With This Picture?” is the Kenan-hosted game show where all the contestants are morons, and because it’s Mother’s Day weekend, they’re also moms. It’s fine.
In this surreal sketch, Aidy Bryant is the host of a kid’s show in the model of Blue’s Clues, and things take a turn for the upsetting when her cute friends invite a bunch of creeps to her imaginary party. It’s not great.
But then there is this sketch in which Mikey Day’s son pranks his father mercilessly for his YouTube channel, and it is sheer chaotic bliss. I will not show this sketch to my own children for fear that they might pull the Gigi Hadid prank on their father. There is a 100% probability they would do this if they saw it.
Kate McKinnon is a lighthouse keeper with his own tips on maintaining one’s sanity while in isolation. Except SPOILER ALERT! He’s not sane.
Oof. Kyle Mooney’s at it again. Look, I get that Mooney’s humor is just not for some people (raises hand) but other people love him. But my problem is genuinely that he seems to only have one lane of joke — at least these days — which is “let’s make fun of corny 80s and 90s movies and TV shows but like in a weird surreal kind of way.” And there is a place for that, for sure, but now that Leslie Jones is no longer on the show to play his romantic love interest, and now that he’s too famous to do any more of those awkward man-on-the-street interviews he did when he first came on the show, he’s become this one-trick pony. And I am very tired of this trick. Anyway, this is a long way to go to say I would like to replace Kyle Mooney on the cast with Mikey Day’s son.
Finally, the episode ends on this wistful but still funny sketch in which the cast members dream of life in New York before — or maybe after — the lockdown. It’s sweet, and sad, and let’s just all hope things get back to normal sooner rather than later, and this is the last of the “At-Home” episodes.
Additionally, the show had three sketches cut for time, any of which I would have taken over Aidy Bryant and Kyle Mooney’s misfires:
Cut for Time: “A Message to the Girls from the Boys,” in which Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant play teen boys detailing to their dates how prom would have played out had they been able to go.
Cut for Time: “The Last Dance” in which Bowen Yang’s Kim Jong-Un shares some thoughts as a participant on the Michael Jordan documentary. This is particularly irritating as not only was Yang barely seen on this episode, but this bit was really timely.
And finally, Cut for Time: “Momming With Denise” in which Ego Nwodim is a mommy blogger hiding from her children during quarantine because SHE CAN NOT TAKE IT ANYMORE. And I guess the thinking here is that Yang and Nwodim are merely featured players, not cast members, and therefore the cast’s sketches are given preferential treatment, but both of these were better than some of the sketches offered last night. OH WELL. MAYBE NEXT SEASON, BABIES.
Final Grade: A-. Suggestion: If this really was Colin Jost’s last episode, bring Tina Fey back for “Weekend Update.” I KNOW IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN, but I’ll never give up hope.
Saturday Night Live will return in September.