‘Saturday Night Live’: Re-introducing Jerrod Carmichael

Saturday Night Live
Jerrod Carmichael & Gunna
April 2, 2022

Jerrod Carmichael is an interesting figure. Despite having starred in The Carmichael Show, his semi-autobiographical and critically-acclaimed network sitcom for three seasons, he’s hardly a household name. (It probably didn’t help that NBC aired the series in the doldrums of the summer, instead of trusting it to run in the fall or midseason schedules.) Instead, Carmichael is one of those comics’ comics, a performer who despite being very successful on paper is almost something of an industry secret. Hopefully, his smooth and unflappable hosting of Saturday Night Live last night will help familiarize the rest of America with this talented writer, actor, and producer.

Our cold open is another Fox & Friends spoof, taking on the most important news story of the week: The Slap Ginni Thomas’ role in the insurrection. Jeanne Pirro drunkenly takes on Disney, and Former President Coup-Coup-Ca-Coup weighs in on The Slap, before confessing to using a burner phone, instigating the coup, and January 6 indeed being a violent revolution. Remember how the Former Bankrupt-Huckster-in-Chief used to confess to his crimes all the damn time? And then how NOTHING HAS BEEN DONE ABOUT ANY OF IT? Yeah, what a time to be alive.

Grade: B-

Jerrod Carmichael’s monologue is terrific. He begins by refusing to talk about The Slap, which, of course, is its own way of talking about it, before segueing into having come out recently in his new HBO special, to trying to lure President Obama into coming out of retirement to heal the nation after The Slap. It’s so smooth and well-written, and we need to get this guy another TV show. (Whether he wants one or not.)

Grade: A+

This episode’s game show spoof is a post-Covid competition: “Is My Brain OK?” in which contestants are challenged to name what the day of the week is and remember the name of their college roommate. We’re not OK, y’all. No one on this planet is OK.

Grade: A-

Pete Davidson and Gunna rap about how they don’t want to watch long movies and I feel this. Hard. It’s fascinating how I will happily binge 10 hours of a series, but if a movie is over two hours, I’m like, “ARE YOU MAD? I DON’T HAVE THAT KIND OF TIME FOR NONSENSE.” Simon Rex makes a guest appearance as Jim Varney? It doesn’t make sense except it absolutely works.

Grade: B+

In the most outrageous sketch of the night, on a home shopping network, Carmichael sells a doll called Rhylee Rainbowlocks who grows new hair after it’s styled and cut. And Rhylee Rainbowlocks has hair … everywhere. Everywhere. It’s juvenile, but I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t laugh out loud several times.

Grade: A

Look, we weren’t going to get out of this episode without doing a sketch about The Slap. What they came up with was having Carmichael play an Oscars seat filler who approaches his hero Will Smith moments before The Slap takes place, only to come away from the experience traumatized by Smith’s behavior.

It’s not a perfect sketch, but it does capture part of what was so shocking about what happened last week: that of all people, it was Will “Mr. Nice Guy” Smith who reacted so violently. Had the person who slapped Chris Rock been an Alec Baldwin or a Sean Penn or any other number of celebrities who have a reputation for aggressive behavior, it would have still been a topic of conversation, but I don’t think it would have been as shocking. The disconnect between Smith’s persona and his behavior — and how unexpected it was — is what this sketch captures from that moment.

Grade: B+

“Weekend Update” also tackles The Slap, with Colin Jost landing a perfect joke about defending wives at awards shows. “Weekend Update” also takes on Putin, Madison Cawthorn’s orgy allegations, and the Amazon union story — but not the breaking news that Che might be leaving after this season. Huh.

Grade: A-

Tennessee Senator and clueless idiot Martha Blackburn comes to the “Weekend Update” desk to defend asking Judge Brown Jackson to define what a “woman” is during her Supreme Court confirmation hearing as if that was some sort of amazing gotcha question. It’s fine.

Grade: B

The one person no one wants to hear from about “The Slap” comes to the “Weekend Update” desk to discuss The Slap.

Grade: B

Carmichael and Andrew Dismukes star as funeral directors who just hurl the intact body of the deceased off a cliff to the horror of the family who expected their loved one to have been cremated. Waaaaaaay too long for a one-joke premise — and a joke that is not that funny to begin with.

Grade: C

In this bit, Kyle Mooney plays Heidi Gardner’s yokel cousin visiting the Big City, only to keep interrupting her friends’ stories in an attempt to fit in. It’s painfully unfunny.

I am begging you, Saturday Night Live: please. Please for the love of God, please stop allowing Kyle Mooney to write sketches.

Grade: D-

The final bit of the night is an ad spoof for baby onesies with progressive and gender-non-conforming messages like “Rock-a-Bi Baby” and “Future Twink.” This was clearly written by a Fox News producer in a fever dream.

Grade: B-

Cut for time is this Please Don’t Destroy bit, “Three Normal Goth Guys,” in which the Please Don’t Destroy guys are goths with otherwise completely conventional tastes:

Final Grade: B.

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

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