Woody Harrelson brings down an already not-great ‘Saturday Night Live’ with his anti-vax bullshit

Saturday Night Live
Woody Harrelson & Jacke White
February 25, 2023

We all know that Woody Harrelson is a huge pothead. This is not exactly breaking news. Harrelson is up there with Willie Nelson and Snoop Dogg on the Mt. Rushmore of weed smokers. What I did not know about Woody Harrelson, however, which I learned from last night’s SNL is that he is an anti-science lunatic, who “doesn’t believe in germ theory” and honestly believes there is a link between 5G and COVID-19. Now, these beliefs of Harrelson’s probably also should not have been news to anyone — not because of the pothead thing, but because Harrelson is a famous vegan; a raw-foods vegan at that. And while not all vegans are anti-science by any stretch, there is a place when you start getting into “raw foods” that you begin to leave the world of science and reality behind. Weird ideas about health and diet start leading you down a path of questioning conventional medicine which leads you to start questioning basic science and the next thing you know you actually believe there is a cabal of powerful pharmaceutical companies who control the world.

Anyway, this is a long way to go to say that Woody Harrelson said some crazy shit on last night’s Saturday Night Live and people are understandably upset about it.

Also, it was his fifth time to host, so he’s officially joined the Five-Timers Club. But no one is going to remember this episode for that, trust.

H’oh boy. It’s a Trump cold open, based on his recent trip to the train disaster site in East Palestine, Ohio, in which he said a bunch of weird, dumb Trump things. And look, James Austin Johnson is the best in the business at impersonating Trump (maybe tied with Anthony Atamanuik, but let’s not quibble), and there are some funny lines in here, but I really wish the Trump part of our lives was in our past. Way in our past.

Grade: B

Woody Harrelson’s monologue is seven minutes long which even if he hadn’t made it completely unacceptable with what he said at the end, is far too long. In it, he touches upon being a five-time host, and expecting his robe which never arrives; and yammers about being a “red neck hippie” with a blue side and a red side which makes him purple … which I think was supposed to be a joke, but no one — and I mean no one — laughed.

He goes on to talk about smoking pot for the remaining five minutes — which, you know, fair enough, it’s pretty much what he’s known for — before ending on a very strange bit of anti-vax conspiracy theory nonsense that seemingly comes out of nowhere. I can only assume SNL didn’t actually approve of it beforehand.

Grade: F

In this sketch, a prisoner and his wife have a visit, only to have prison guards, played by Ego Nwodim and Kenan Thompson provide a running commentary. It was mildly amusing when it was only Nwodim, but it loses its focus when Thompson joins in.

Grade: B-

I am going to admit something that probably ages me, but here goes: I don’t care for the Please Don’t Destroy skits. They usually begin strong but then devolve into such nonsense that I grow irritated. This week was different — I actually chuckled a few times, and might say that I was moderately bemused, even. In the bit, Ben is worried that John and Martin are hanging out without him, so he and Woody Harrelson follow them and do a stakeout where they discover that John and Martin are actually married with a beautiful family and, in fact, scheming to replace him. Ten years ago, this would have been played homophobic as all get out, but somehow they managed to thread this needle without it being sophomoric or hateful.

Grade: A-

This next sketch is just this:


I mean, props to Kenan for bringing this YouTube compilation to life, but, you know. This isn’t exactly a triumph of writing.




Grade: B

As I am sure you remember if you are older than 10, back in 2016, the United Kingdom’s Natural Environment Research Council held a #NameOurShip poll online, and the overwhelming winner was Boaty McBoatface. They did not name the boat this, but instead named it David Attenborough. The whole thing caused such a row that the term “McBoatfacing” came to mean “making the critical mistake of letting the internet decide things” and the New York Times said to be “McBoatfaced” was to allow people to “deliberately make their choices not in order to foster the greatest societal good, but, instead, to mess with you.”

ANYWAY, this sketch about a submarine named “Mr. Dingleberry Goofballoon ASDFJKL; 6969” is about this now seven-year-old incident. It is only four minutes long but it feels three times longer than that.

Grade: D

The spoof ad of the night is for Cologuard, in which the Cologuard boxes are just a little too into you using their product. Yes, it’s scatological and immature, but it’s also just very funny.

Grade: A

Weekend Update starts off with your typical political jokes about Biden going to Ukraine, Trump’s visit to Ohio, Tucker Carlson, and Marjorie Taylor Green. But then it hits it out of the park with a riff on the Oscars and how they WISH there would be another The Slap this year; followed by just a very good joke about Michael Che being misogynistic — not Michael Che making a misogynistic joke (suggesting that they are finally learning) and a Jeff Koons joke that plays on the idea that Colin Jost is racist. There are a lot of outraged gasps from the crowd on this one, but it’s pretty funny.

Grade: A

Bill Walton, who I have just learned is a former NBA player and NBA analyst, joins the “Weekend Update” desk and is weird. I suspect this would be funnier if I had any idea who Bill Walton was or cared.

Grade: B-

Heidi Gardner joins the desk as a woman named “Gina Bianchi,” a woman with four adult daughters and one son, who is there to ostensibly talk about the “joys of motherhood,” but instead reveals an unhealthy fixation on her worthless son and disdain for her successful daughters. Basically, it’s every mother-in-law from Reddit’s “Am I The Asshole” forum come to life.

Grade: B+

In this bit, a movie called The Hippo about a morbidly obese man has the production shut down. The actors are disappointed after having made personal sacrifices like growing a beard, or dying their hair, or gaining 450 pounds. I mean, that’s it, that’s the whole joke.

Grade: B-

Finally, in the strangest bit of the night that wasn’t an unhinged anti-vax conspiracy rant formulated in the bowels of QAnon, Bowen Yang and Woody Harrelson are Two Men Speaking in the Most Beautiful Gym in the World. Basically, they are two barely closeted gay men working out while dressed in suits. I don’t know, y’all.

Grade: C+

Finally, after all that, Kenan Thompson presents Jack White with a Five-Timers robe during the goodbyes, while Scarlet Johannson brings Woody Harrelson his. What a mess.

Final Grade: C+. Woof.

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

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