‘Saturday Night Live’ and Chris Rock return to mediocrity

Saturday Night Live
Chris Rock & Megan Thee Stallion
October 3, 2020

Well, Saturday Night Live is back on air and back in Studio 8H and everything has returned to (almost) normal, including a show full of mediocre and overly long sketches. When at the end of last season Saturday Night Live had to be produced remotely, I enjoyed the results: the show was lighter, weirder, and freer. Not every sketch landed, of course, but it felt like the show had to take more chances because they didn’t have any choice in the matter. The result was shorter, and frankly funnier sketches.

But now we’re back to the studio, back to sketches that don’t quite know how to end, back to sketches that seem to be written by committee. ~sigh~ It was fun while it lasted.

I’m going to be upfront with you: I do not like Jim Carrey, and I will never understand how Jim Carrey became not just a famous comedian but a household name because I find Jim Carrey — and have found Jim Carrey since the days of In Living Color — insufferably hammy and obnoxious. So you will hardly be surprised to learn that I was disappointed and annoyed to hear that Saturday Night Live was bringing Carrey in to play Joe Biden. Not only is he just … A LOT … they are repeating the same mistake they made by bringing in Alec Baldwin to play Donald Trump. I suppose I get it: it’s more “newsworthy” to bring in celebrities to play these roles — it will generate more buzz than relying on current cast members or dipping into their past rosters. But their former cast members, Jason Sudekis and Darrell Hammond, not only do a great Biden and Trump, they transcend simple impersonations and get at something deeper about these men in their buffoonery. Carrey nailed Biden’s mannerisms and expressions, but he didn’t get at the earnest goofiness that Sudekis tapped into.


Also, this just wasn’t very funny. I appreciate that the writers had to have been thrown for a loop with the news that the President is ill — perhaps seriously so — with COVID and certainly had to pull some punches. But this felt … flat and obvious. I hate that they squandered Maya Rudolph’s Kamala, and the meditation tape bit? Was that the best and only way to wedge in Kimberly Guilfoyle’s unhinged “THE BEST IS YET TO COME!” moment? Also, I am deducting points for pandering to Harry Styles fans.

I will grant the end of the bit, in which Biden mutes Trump and talks about “science and karma teaming up to send us a message about how dangerous this virus is,” was both a satisfying and not cruel way to address the news that has us all spinning.

Anyway. Bring back Jason Sudekis.

Grade: C

Chris Rock’s monologue was fine. It wasn’t terrible. But it’s not going on my list of great opening monologues given by stand-up comedians, and for that, it was inherently disappointing.

Grade: B-

Hey — when you were a kid, did you like to prank call people claiming your name was “Mike Lit” or “Edith Puthie?” Then you’re going to love this sketch.

Grade: B

“Bottom of Your Face” is an actually very catchy little rap song about the frustration of dating someone whose entire face you haven’t seen because we’re all wearing masks these days. And Megan Thee Stallion’s clapback is even better:

Grade: A-

Great news, everyone: Kyle Mooney is still around and still doing tedious bits. In this one, he’s a teen who is afforded a glimpse 20 years into his future, but the only thing he can focus on is how much more impressive the graphics on “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater video game are. Ha?

Grade: C-

Chloe Fineman is a one-woman show in this spoof of The Drew Barrymore Show, playing Drew, Nicole Kidman, and Reese Witherspoon. Her Drew impersonation is the best, though, which helps carry this bit that tries and fails to be as insane as the actual Drew Barrymore Show.

Grade: B

“Weekend Update” is back and was pretty good, especially considering they had so little time to work with some pretty dark news. Michael Che hit it on the head: “I don’t want the President to die, obviously. Actually, I wish him a very lengthy recovery.”

Grade: A

The “Weekend Update” desk was visited by China Trade Minister Chen Biao on the whole TikTok nonsense. This show needs 100% more Bowen Yang.

Grade: A

And seventh-grade travel critic, Carrie Krum, stopped by to give staycation tips. I love Aidy Bryant and gave this bit more love than it probably deserves.

Grade: B+

They also paid tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a quiet way:

In the most infuriating bit of the night, Chris Rock hosts an “NBA Bubble Draft” with women trying to get inside the NBA’s bubble to be with the players. Get it? Because women are gold-digging whores? Hilarious.

Grade: F

The final bit of the night is a spoof of some videos of stunt workers that went viral early in this whole pandemic mess. If you haven’t seen it, it’s definitely worth a few minutes of your time:

Right, so here, some stunt workers make their own viral fight scene, except a pair of the stuntwomen are strictly performers in kids’ movies, so there is a lot of farting, falling down, and being hit on the butt. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I was charmed by this and that it might have received even higher marks if it had been just a bit shorter.

Grade: B+

Houston’s pride, Megan Thee Stallion, performed her hit “Savage” and used it to share a powerful message. Megan paused the song to quote Malcolm X’s famous: “The most disrespected woman in America, is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America, is the Black woman,” and activist Tamika Mallory, who said Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron is “no different than the sellout Negroes that sold our people into slavery.”

Megan then added, “We need to protect our black women, and love our black women, because at the end of the day, we need our black women. We need to protect our black men, and stand up for our black men, because at the end of the day, we are tired of seeing hashtags of our black men.”

Grade: I don’t include the musical performances n the final grade, but this would have been an A++.

Final Grade: C+.

Do better.

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

4 thoughts on “‘Saturday Night Live’ and Chris Rock return to mediocrity

  1. It may not be #1, but high up on my reasons for wanting to get rid of the orange man is that it will finally get rid of Alec Baldwin on SNL. Easily the worst presidential impersonator in the last few decades.
    I wanted to like Jim Carey as Biden, but just couldn’t get there. Maybe in time? He wasn’t helped by the writers either – so much material to work with and they just blew it. Maya’s Kamala was the best part of the routine.

  2. I thought I was alone in the anti-Jim Carrey camp! THANK YOU!!! I have never understood how he became so successful. He is what my Cuban aunties call “un tremendo pujo” (translation: extremely obnoxious idiot).

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