John Mulaney returns to save ‘Saturday Night Live’ for the second time in a year

Saturday Night Live
John Mulaney & The Strokes
October 31, 2020

It’s election eve and we’re all very tense, so having the charming and hilarious John Mulaney return to host Saturday Night Live right now is like a nice cup of cocoa and a warm blanket. But you know what is NOT PARTICULARLY COMFORTING RIGHT NOW: news that Dave Chappelle is hosting next week, the Saturday after Election Day. FUN FACT: Chappelle hosted the Saturday Night Live immediately following Election Day, 2016, SO. YOU KNOW. MAYBE NOT? MAYBE DON’T DO THIS, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE? And look, I know I’m just being superstitious and unreasonable. But counterpoint: NO. ABSOLUTELY NOT. FIND SOMEONE ELSE.

We begin the night with Jim Carrey’s terrible Joe Biden delivering a Halloween message: a version of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven,” except it’s about the 2016 election and how it could all happen again. Kate McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton makes an appearance along with Nate Silver, Lil’ Jon and Ice Cube, Kamala Harris, and Beck Bennett’s alarmingly accurate Mitch McConnell. I will give Jim Carrey this: he appears to have read some of the reviews of his Joe Biden and toned it down — a lot. But he’s still not good.

Also, I don’t need any more election anxiety, guys, thanks.

Grade: B-

John Mulaney just needs to come do the monologue every week. He doesn’t have to host — just do the monologue. Everyone would be happier.

Grade: A+

This “Cinema Classics” bit making fun of The Birds starts off strong: The conceit of The Birds is patently weird and ridiculous, after all, McKinnon does a great Tippy Hedren, and her attempts to explain the bird attacks and why they are so terrifying are funny. But then it starts going off about turtles and sandwiches … and I get that they are trying to emphasize the ridiculousness of it all, but it just doesn’t land.

Grade: B

In “Strollin’,” a group of African-Americans attempt to vote, only to be turned away from polling places, face hours-long lines, and be intimidated by white supremacists with guns. It’s funny and depressing because it’s true.

Grade: A

See, it’s the Sleepy Hollow story, except instead of being scared of the Headless Horseman, Ichabod Crane has a lot of questions about whether or not the Headless Horseman blows himself. That’s it. That’s the joke. And lest you think I am a humorless prig, I actually didn’t hate this — more jokes about the Puritans being sexually repressed, please.

Grade: B

This is a PSA thanking New York’s essential workers and celebrating the city in general, but mostly an eccentric old woman who runs around the park. I don’t know. It’s not as kooky as they seem to think.

Grade: B-

“Weekend Update” is short and sweet, making fun of Trump attacking doctors and killing his own supporters at his superspreader events. HOW ARE THERE ANY PEOPLE VOTING FOR THIS GUY? I just don’t understand.

Grade: A-

Ugh, Baby Yoda.

Grade: C+

It’s a John Mulaney episode, which means we are due for another tribute to both Broadway and the grosser underbelly of New York City. This time, it’s a love letter to Times Square, and its gross souvenir shops, gropey costumed mascots, tourists, and perverts. As someone who worked in Times Square (IN AN OFFICE BUILDING TO BE CLEAR), this is an accurate portrait — but it’s also not as strong as previous Mulaney musicals.

But a question: between this and the Issa Rae Times Square mascot sketch a couple of weeks ago, does someone on the writing staff have a vendetta against Times Square mascots or something? I mean, they’re gross, for sure, but …

Grade: A-

In what is now officially a recurring bit, Mulaney is an uncle who is furious that his nephew has turned his dating profile picture into a humiliating meme. I don’t care what my teenagers think, I still find this bit funny — and the line about communion is clearly a Mulaney addition. 

Also, it’s always funny when people miss a high five:

Grade: A-

This PSA bit was cut for time, but I don’t understand why: it’s WAAAAAY better than the New York City PSA. I’d give it an A, but based on my own dumb rules that I made up, it can not be factored into the grade average


Final Grade: A-.

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

One thought on “John Mulaney returns to save ‘Saturday Night Live’ for the second time in a year

  1. I was really looking forward to a Mulaney show being his usual wonderful. But to be honest, other than the killer monologue, the show kinda sucked.

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