Everything else might be shit in the world, but at least we’re alive at the same time as Dolly Parton

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Dave Chappelle returns to guide ‘Saturday Night Live’ through another post-election crisis

Saturday Night Live
Dave Chappelle & Foo Fighters
November 7, 2020

The first time Dave Chappelle hosted Saturday Night Live was four days after Donald Juniper Trump had been elected to the Presidency. It was a fraught moment for more than half of America, and Chappelle, a gleeful critic of White America and its deep-rooted racism, in the wake of this nation electing an unabashed racist, chose to take a moderating path, urging us to give Trump a chance.

Welp, we gave him four years, and now as Chappelle returns for only the second time to host, we as Americans have affirmatively declared the Trump experiment a failure. (Thank God.) As for Chappelle, he hasn’t changed his tone much: he still thinks we need to try to understand one another better, to give one another a chance, to not hate. And I will! Just as soon as Trump and his GOP loonies stop trying to burn down our faith in our democracy. Go ahead and book Chappelle for November 9, 2024, Lorne, and I’ll be happy to update us all on how that went.

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Adele hosts the season’s strongest ‘Saturday Night Live’ so far. That’s not saying much.

Saturday Night Live
Adele & H.E.R.
October 24, 2020

Look. I’m not saying that last night’s Saturday Night Live was great or anything — it wasn’t. In fact, one sketch might have been the most offensive one they’ve done so far this season — although NBA Bubble Draft, “titty meat” and Bill Burr’s entire monologue are still giving it a run for its money. But overall, last night’s episode felt more like an episode from the beginning of last season: not knock down hilarious, but amusing and even clever at points. Host Adele’s energy was a large part of this: her enthusiasm was infectious, and she seemed to be having a genuinely great time. In fact, her energy rubbed off on the audience who seemed to be enjoying themselves more than they have in the past three episodes. That, or I’m deluding myself, so desperate I am for one … just one … SNL episode be half good already.

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Not even Issa Rae can save this week’s ‘Saturday Night Live’

Saturday Night Live
Issa Rae & Justin Bieber
October 17, 2020

I really wanted to like this episode of Saturday Night Live. The past two episodes have been weak and pointlessly misogynistic, so I was hopeful that with a smart and funny woman like Issa Rae hosting, this week would be better.

Friends, it was not better. Leaving aside the weekly assault that is Jim Carrey’s Joe Biden, many of these sketches were awkwardly unfunny and barely elicited even polite chuckles from the audience. And then there was the sketch in which a woman is harassed by three different men, all of whom refer to her “titty meat.” Cooooooool.

What’s going on in the writers’ room, you guys? Are y’all alright? Anna Drezen, can you get control of this situation, please?

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‘Saturday Night Live’ and Chris Rock return to mediocrity

Saturday Night Live
Chris Rock & Megan Thee Stallion
October 3, 2020

Well, Saturday Night Live is back on air and back in Studio 8H and everything has returned to (almost) normal, including a show full of mediocre and overly long sketches. When at the end of last season Saturday Night Live had to be produced remotely, I enjoyed the results: the show was lighter, weirder, and freer. Not every sketch landed, of course, but it felt like the show had to take more chances because they didn’t have any choice in the matter. The result was shorter, and frankly funnier sketches.

But now we’re back to the studio, back to sketches that don’t quite know how to end, back to sketches that seem to be written by committee. ~sigh~ It was fun while it lasted.

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‘Saturday Night Live’ and Tina Fey offer a prayer to mothers as the season’s parting gift.

Saturday Night Live
At-Home, Part 3
May 10, 2020

Saturday Night Live‘s season came to a premature end last night for obvious reasons, but considering what they were up against, it’s truly a TV miracle that they were able to produce three episodes of solidly funny television. And this week’s episode was no different, thanks to help from a number of friends of the show, including Martin Short, Josh Gad, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Wiig, Danny Trejo, and the aforementioned Tina Fey.

Were there some duds of sketches? Of course there were; as Tom Hanks reminded us the first time we did this, there always are. But at least in my estimation, because the writers and performers were forced out of their standard process for creating a show, they became more creative and less lazy, and the result was three episodes of Saturday Night Live that will be remembered in television history. Great job, everyone — even you, Kyle Mooney. Here’s to hoping y’all are back home at Studio 8H in the fall, and that you bring this creative spark back with you.

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‘Saturday Night Live’: The Quarantine Edition

Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live at Home
April 11, 2020

Soooooo … Last week, Saturday Night Live announced kinda at the very last second that they were going to do an episode this week, an episode taped entirely from the cast’s homes and everyone was like, “Whaaaaa?” and “Huh?” and “But how?” and “Why?” And I guess the answers to those questions are, in order, “Because if all the other late night shows can, so can they,” and “I know it’s weird but give them a chance” and “Look, everyone’s phone and computer can record videos these days, it’s just not that hard,” and “Because WE NEED SOMETHING. WE ALL NEED A LITTLE SOMETHING TO GET US THROUGH THIS RIGHT NOW.”

And you know what? It wasn’t half bad! I will grant that perhaps my standards, much like the characters in one sketch, have lowered as this quarantine grinds on. But I thought the cast and writers having to make do with limited resources actually forced them into a corner that works best for them: 1. they are all digital sketches (and since YouTube/Zoom/TikTok is our entire world right now, it felt especially relevant) and 2. the sketches had to be brief and to the point. (As a result, there were 17 sketches last night. 17!!)

I, too, have kept my comments brief and to the point because 17 SKETCHES.

Who knows if these kids are going to try this again before the season is over. I applaud them for making a go of it, and it working out for the most part. (I’d can the Zoom laughter, “Weekend Update.” Go watch Seth Meyers and Stephen Colbert and take notes on how to make a joke work without the benefit of laughter), and genuinely thank them for making an effort to make us laugh when we needed it the most.

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J.J. Watt charms ‘Saturday Night Live’ on Super Bowl weekend

Saturday Night Live
J.J. Watt & Luke Combs
February 2, 2019

I’m going to be honest, I was worried for J.J. Watt. Athletes do not have a great record on Saturday Night Live, and for every Payton Manning, there is a Michael Phelps (and the less said about that, the better). While J.J. is a beloved Houston treasure and we all know he’s charming and delightful, would he be able to translate that charm to the 8H stage? The short answer is yes! Watt held it together and was funnier than your average athlete on SNL. The longer answer is, it took him a little while to warm up, and he didn’t always have the best material to work with, but he was always game and did not once embarrass Houston or himself. All in all, well played, J.J.

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Relive Eddie Murphy’s almost-perfect ‘Saturday Night Live’

Saturday Night Live
Eddie Murphy & Lizzo
December 22, 2019

I’m going to try to avoid overthinking this episode because comedy never benefits from thinking about it too hard. (It’s one of the reasons I never recap comedies.) But, Eddie Murphy returning to Saturday Night Live for the first time in 35 years is not just a historically notable TV event, it’s one that required a little contemplation on both our part and the writers’.

Here’s the thing: Eddie Murphy blazed into superstardom on Saturday Night Live in 1980 when he was only 19 years old with characters like Mr. Robinson and Buckwheat — characters that made fun of racist stereotypes in a way that was so close to the chest that some viewers may not have understood they were supposed to be laughing with Murphy, not at him. Murphy was never putting on a minstrel show, he was pointing out how racist the minstrel show was. The problem is some viewers, particularly white ones, might have missed that nuance. (Honestly, maybe the greatest SNL sketch of all time is the one in which he went undercover as a white man — genuinely brilliant and tackling race in a way that remains as stinging and poignant 40 years later.)

So because a great deal has changed in the past 40 years, it was always going to be a delicate dance bringing some of these characters back to the show in a way that not only would be relevant but culturally palatable. But God damn, if they didn’t pull it off. Murphy’s 80s characters found themselves up against 21st-century issues like gentrification and the #MeToo movement — and that tension is where the comedy blossomed.

Then when you add to all of that the fact that Eddie Murphy waited long enough to come back to the show so that there were no more hard feelings, that he had shed enough of his movie star ego and aloofness that he could really enjoy himself on that stage in an uninhibited, genuine way … well, it made for the best episode of the year, certainly, and one of the best episodes of Saturday Night Live I’ve ever seen.

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‘Saturday Night Live’: BREAKING NEWS! Jennifer Lopez is attractive

Saturday Night Live
Jennifer Lopez & DaBaby
December 7, 2019

I don’t know if you are aware of this, but Jennifer Lopez is a very attractive woman. I only mention it because the writers at Saturday Night Live seem to believe we were not aware of this, and so they devoted the first full hour of last night’s episode to reminding us that Jennifer Lopez — despite being the unimaginable age of 50 — is, in fact, a very attractive woman. And it’s not that any of the sketches were bad, exactly, it’s just that they were so very repetitive and unimaginative.

And listen, I get it, it’s easy to criticize. I’m not having to come up with 10 original sketches every week — I wouldn’t be able to, I know that. But. If I were in that writers’ room, my pitch would have been to have the very attractive 50-year-old Jennifer Lopez pay tribute to SNL‘s most famous 50-year-old, Sally O’Malley:

i'm fifty sally o'malley snl saturday night live.gif

Oh well. Missed opportunity.

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