Daniel Kaluuya shows off his funny side on ‘Saturday Night Live’

Saturday Night Live
Daniel Kaluuya & St. Vincent
April 3, 2021

Daniel Kaluuya isn’t exactly a household name here in the States, but after last night’s Saturday Night Live, I’m thinking he could be. The Get Out actor is handsome, charming and, it turns out, very funny. It’s always fun to see actors who are recognized for their serious roles be able to pull off comedy — and Kaluuya is a very recognized actor, having won a Golden Globe just this year, and been nominated for the second time by the Academy. Despite all that Serious Actor heft, Kaluuya was light on his feet last night, an engaging host who had great chemistry with the cast. Let’s hope he’ll be back.

Our cold open is a revisit of the Britney Spears talk show, “Oops, You Did It Again,” in which Britney examines recent sex controversies tied to Lil Nas X’s video; the canceling of Pepe LePew; and the actual scandal involving Matt Gaetz engaging in human trafficking and having sex with children and hiring prostitutes and doing ecstasy. Though the impersonations here are not terrific (they really should have had Colin Jost do Gaetz, that is just a missed opportunity), the way they tied these stories together was clever, and allowed them to pass appropriate judgment on each of these characters.

Grade: A-

Our host, Daniel Kaluuya is probably best known for his Oscar-nominated performance in Get Out, and maybe his Golden Globe-winning performance as Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah. But you might not know that Kaluuya is also a talented writer who co-wrote some of his episodes of the British series Skins, and got his start as a 9-year-old playwright. He brings this up in this very tight, very charming monologue, explaining that the path that led him to the 8H stage began because as a child he was inspired by Kenan and Kel. So, if you didn’t feel old before, Kenan Thompson … 

Grade: A-

In this game show bit, “Will You Take It?” Kaluuya plays a doctor trying to convince his reluctant African-American family to get the vaccine. It’s funny, but, and I realize that this is completely unsolicited advice, but I feel like there was a missed opportunity to include some loony White anti-vaxxers, and turn it into something like the “Black Jeopardy” bit with Tom Hanks in which he played a Trump supporter with whom the Black contestants realized they had a lot in common.

Grade: A

I am an entire generation, possibly two, removed from the YouTube audience but what I think is going on here is this scandal that has erupted around David Dobrik, a YouTube personality, whose “Vlog Squad” has been implicated in a sexual assault case. Dobrik has posted multiple apology videos in the wake of the scandal. Because sexual assault isn’t exactly the stuff of hilarity, this sketch turns the thing the YouTube personalities are apologizing for into pranks gone wrong, and I guess the joke is that the apologies ring hollow and that they never seem to learn? I don’t know, the whole thing makes me feel very old.

Grade: B-

A family sits down for game night, but Mom doesn’t want to play the game that everyone else agrees on, so she has a passive-aggressive snit. I feel personally attacked.

Grade: A-

An African family hosts a dinner party for their friends, where their son reveals that he’s changing his major from pre-med to creative writing to his parents’ outrage and disappointment. All I’m saying is that I was friends with a lot of first-generation kids in college and this one rings very true. “Yes, if there is anything we have learned from the pandemic it’s that the world needs more poets.” OUCH.

Grade: A

“Weekend Update’s” Colin Jost is ON FIRE this week with the Matt Gaetz jokes — just brutal, and amazing. Che gets some decent dings in, and then undermines them with a very not OK ferret joke.

Grade: A+

Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant return to the “Weekend Update” desk as the purveyors of meats from jerk animals. Most of the joke seems to be about how badly the basket of meat products smell, which is not exactly helpful in a non-Smellovision universe.

Grade: B

Guy Who Just Bought a Boat is back to the desk to talk about dating in quarantine, make a bunch of gross sex puns and low-key reveal how terrible he is in bed. It’s gross but it’s true.

Grade: A

Finally, Mikey Day and Heidi Gardner play a couple in which she’s 106-years-old and he’s 26, and answer the charges that he’s a gold digger. Eh.

Grade: C+

A group of frat bros plan a party trip to Tahoe, only to have one of the brothers suggest that they invite their moms, an idea that unexpectedly takes off with the rest of the brothers. And as the mother of a college student, I’M FOR IT.

Grade: A

One time, a friend of ours from out of town came to visit, and she brought along with her a friend we had never met before. While we were visiting with them, my husband used “the dog’s voice” to say something for our dog at the time, Rosie, and our friend turned to her friend, and explained, “THAT’S THE DOG’S VOICE,” in case it hadn’t been clear and her friend just thought my husband had suddenly lost his mind or something. “That’s the dog’s voice” has since become something of an inside joke between us, which I have now just shared with you — and the reason I share it with you is that this sketch resonated with me until about the halfway mark at which point it completely goes off the rails. So close, guys … there was an idea here, but you lost it.

Grade: C

Kaluuya and Cecily Strong play an upright-base-playing-and-scatting couple who impose their terrible terrible music on a dinner party in this sketch that I’m sure struck the writers and performers funnier than it actually is.

Grade: C

And we have THREE cut for time sketches, any of which would have been preferable to the last two bits of the night. Honestly.

Final Grade: B+. It could have been an A had they included “The Hero.”

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

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