Regina King is the queen of ‘Saturday Night Live’

Saturday Night Live
Regina King & Nathaniel Rateliff
February 13, 2021

Best known for her dramatic roles playing strong, uncompromising women in series like Watchmen, The Leftovers, and American Crime, Regina King actually started her career in comedy, as one of the stars of the ’80s sitcom 227. So it should be no surprise that Ms. King, the best actress in the business right now, can do anything, including pull an episode of Saturday Night Live out of its mediocre doldrums. Regina King seemed to inspire the writers who gave her genuinely funny female-focused material to work with, and she shined, keeping pace with the cast. Of course, we shouldn’t have expected any less: the woman is a goddamned superhero.

The cold open this week is the first explicitly political one since Trump left office, covering the conclusion of the impeachment trial, and mocking the soulless Republicans who acquitted the Former Insurrectionist-in-Chief and his team of idiot trial lawyers. Kate McKinnon takes on a gleeful Lindsey Graham and Aidy Bryant plays a spineless Ted Cruz, willing to tell his own wife that she’s ugly to remain on Trump’s good side.

Mikey Day is the goofball Trump attorney Bruce Castor, and Pete Davidson, for some reason, is cast as his other attorney, the literal laughing stock of the Senate, Michael van der Veen. Davidson captures neither Van der Veen’s insane and deranged anger nor can he do a Philly accent — as married to a “Phillydelphian,” I can personally attest to that. But they did get the defense’s “Fight” video accurate, so points for that.

Grade: B

I love Regina King. I have been a fan of Regina King’s literally since the 227 days, but also enjoyed her on 24, Southland, The Leftovers, Jerry Maguire, Boyz in the Hood, and, yes, like every other White person, in Watchmen. She is a tremendous actress and she deserves better than this limp monologue.

Grade: B

In “What’s Your Type” an imagined modern version of The Dating Game, Regina King is a woman who knows exactly what she is looking for: a cringey White dude in his 40s. And the show provides. Kyle Mooney is a dude who insists she should be psyched about Kamala Harris; Alex Moffat is a “musician” complete with stupid hat and vest; and Mikey Day opens with wishing her a Happy Black History Month before devolving into a painful “flirty” accent. There are going to be a lot of very embarrassed White guys out there — AND YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.

I actually wonder if this sketch isn’t something of a nod to last week’s “Lifting Our Voices” bit, in which Black people celebrate their well-meaning White allies. One of the characters was a woman played by Ego Nwodim who was supposed to be married to Kyle Mooney, whose character there is the exact same guy as he plays in this sketch. Last week, I almost wrote something in protest to the idea that a woman as gorgeous as Nwodim would be with someone as doofy as Mooney, and then along comes this bit almost as if in explanation. 

Grade: A-

This is an ad for a “Pelotaunt” — an exercise bike for people who hate encouragement and only respond to negative attention and passive-aggression. I have never been so insulted or seen in my life.

Grade: A++

Last week, you might have heard a story about a woman who used Gorilla Glue as a styling product with the predictable (and let’s admit it, hilarious) results. This sketch is a law firm that promises to go after “Big Gorilla” on behalf of dummies folks like this woman who use Gorilla Glue for all sorts of ridiculous purposes. It’s a funny conceit, but it goes on entirely too long.

Related: remind me to tell you sometime about the person I am related to — a medical professional no less! — who decided to give themselves a facial with a band sander. “We are not stupid people!”

Grade: B-

I can’t decide if this or the Pelotaunt ad is my favorite bit of the night, it’s a dead heat. In this sketch, Aidy Bryant is the birthday girl, who is being celebrated by her friends with birthday presents: all of which are those whimsical signs some moms feel compelled to put in their kitchens like “It’s Wine O’Clock!” or “Rosé All Day!” which low-key suggest that someone might have a drinking problem. Bryant’s character is showered with such signs, each becoming less amusing and increasingly aggressive about her being a debauched alcoholic. “I’m sexually promiscuous and my house is dirty” is my personal favorite, but they’re all very funny.

Grade: A++

In this taped bit, Regina King is a police negotiator who mistakenly eats a pot gummy before trying to help end a hostage situation, leading her to have hallucinations of singing gummy bears, Marge Simpson, and the Teletubbies sun. Surreal and funny enough.

Grade: B+

“Weekend Update” is better this week, perhaps because they had more political material to work with, including Ted Cruz’s hair which if you haven’t seen it …

Also, Jost has a decent Morgan Wallen joke that feels like it was written for him by Che in one of those blind joke bits they do, and he also points out that Star Wars already had an anti-Semite problem before Gina Carano showed up. True.

Grade: A-

The best guest to the “Weekend Update” desk is a “QAnoner” who is actually just a witch looking to get in on the satanic baby-eating cabals, because it sounds like her kind of scene.

Grade: A

One of the new cast members, Lauren Holt, is McKenzie Taylor Joy, a relationship expert who is there to share dating ideas for Valentine’s Day, only to be dumped via text during her segment. Holt is funny enough, but the bit elicits more sympathy than laughs, making it the weakest sketch of the night.

Grade: C+

Finally, Beck Bennett is Drunk Tom Brady who is forced to confront the emptiness of his life now.

Grade: B

Here, Regina King is a 70s disco queen whose manager fails to stock her green room with everything on her rider. The sketch is dependent on rapid-fire delivery and King rocking a fabulous disco pantsuit. Everyone lands it on both counts.

Grade: B+

The final sketch is about a feminist theater ensemble who basically perform “The Vagina Monologues” to a high school assembly, but to make it more age-appropriate, they change every instance of “vagina” with “elbow.” There’s a tiny logic issue with one of the teacher’s jokes that I will not get into because it will only make me look like more of a pedant than I already am, but otherwise, I loved this? I definitely loved this.

Grade: A

The sketch cut for time this week is about how — get this, guys — Kyle Mooney is awkward and makes everyone around him feel uncomfortable. This is literally the 400th iteration of this same goddamned joke which was funny seven and a half years ago, but is starting TO WEAR A BIT THIN NOW. Still, the Kerrigan/Harding ending was a twist that I have to admit, I did not see coming.

Final Grade: A. WE DID IT!

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

One thought on “Regina King is the queen of ‘Saturday Night Live’

  1. I also loved how they gave so many strong leading roles to Aidy this week! She has been busy with the costume changes recently, and it’s great to see the other ladies taking some of that pressure off to Kate too.

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