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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Be thankful: Will Ferrell and a slew of other stars deliver an excellent ‘Saturday Night Live’

Saturday Night Live
Will Ferrell & King Princess
November 23, 2019

When it comes to judging hosts, it’s unfair to compare regular actors, sports figures, musicians or even other comedians to former cast members. For former hosts, this was their job for years — they understand how to play to the audience; they aren’t afraid of a live performance; they, better than probably most actors, understand comic timing. This is how they became household names. And among those who have been invited back to host Saturday Night Live, Will Ferrell might be one of the funniest and most talented cast members of all time. So to compare him as a host to a Harry Styles or a Kristen Stewart, it’s just not fair. They aren’t on the same playing field.

Will Ferrell returned to Saturday Night Live for his fifth time hosting and delivered easily one of the funniest — if not the funniest — episodes of the season. Ferrell’s big golden retriever energy makes every sketch just that much funnier, even sketches that by all rights should have just been mediocre. And while I can’t be certain, it certainly felt like the writers held back on the last couple of episodes so that they could give Will Ferrell the choicest material. And honestly? I don’t blame them in the least. He knocked it out of the park.

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Chance the Rapper continues to be a natural on ‘Saturday Night Live’

Saturday Night Live
Chance the Rapper
October 26, 2019

The impossible-to-not-like Chance the Rapper was back to host Saturday Night Live¬†for a second time, and it turns out that he’s just one of those irritatingly talented people who can do everything. He’s charming, he has impeccable comic timing and delivery and when given good material can pretty much sell anything. Fortunately, aside from one particularly weak sketch and one terrible transphobic joke, most of last night was pretty good material. Is this season going well so far, or am I becoming a big dumb softie? It’s really six of one, half dozen the other, honestly.

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‘Saturday Night Live’ returned with Woody Harrelson, a bunch of other stars and a nod to Rice University. And it was OK.

Saturday Night Live
Woody Harrelson & Billie Eilish
September 28, 2019

Welcome to the 45th season of Saturday Night Live, a season that was marred before it even began by a casting controversy after the show cast a “conservative” comedian whose “humor” involved making fun of Asians, women, and homosexuals. Hilarious! He was fired, but not before everyone and their racist uncle decried “cancel culture” for a solid week.

I’m just going to put this here for no particular reason:

The show returned last night with two new cast members, Chloe Fineman and Bowen Yang, the show’s first Asian-American cast member ever, and both acquitted themselves quite nicely in the episode.

As for the episode itself: it was fine. It was fine! There wasn’t any one particular sketch that made me angry (with maybe the exception of Woody Harrelson’s monologue, but to use the word “angry” here is strong — it mostly just left me irritated), but there weren’t any knock it out of the park, A+ sketches either. Instead, everything felt comfortable and predictable — not boring, exactly, but also not memorable in the long haul, either.

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The saga of Chris Cuomo, Fredo, Sean Hannity, Donald Goddamned Trump, the N-word and how we all, together, became a little bit stupider.

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The best shows of the year according to people who actually know what the hell they’re talking about

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President Racist Grandpa just keeps doubling down on his racism, and I am fucking exhausted.

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‘The Good Place’ is going to TV’s good place after next season

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Putin is making his own ‘Chernobyl’ and you’ll never guess who the bad guys will be

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