Let’s get right into it: this week’s episode was pretty good, a solid 7 on a 1-10 scale and a generally fun bunch of sketches (predictably) skewering the election, with a couple of offbeat surprises.
The show continues to offer its stated take on the presidential race – Clinton’s already won, Trump’s a legendary scumbag, and we’re all idiots for letting this happen – with the requisite nods to this week’s news. And, in what’s becoming a firm angle, SNL again explores the lives of Trump’s women, with another installment of “Melania Moments” and a sharp parody of a feminist anthem; interestingly, at this point, SNL is probably giving Melania & co more substantial coverage than any actual newscasters.
Another theme: theater jokes! Last week’s Lin-Manuel Miranda lovefest had plenty of nods to all the drama kids tuning in, and this week’s snarky “Short Film” and theatrical “Hamsters” keep the highbrow humor coming.
Future Mary Poppins Emily Blunt has been on a serious streak (The Girl on the Train, of course, and tense FBI drama Sicario) but some of us (hi!) remember her best as Meryl Streep’s bitchy-but-funny assistant in The Devil Wears Prada.
So, I had high hopes for Blunt’s hosting skills, and she didn’t disappoint, taking on roles like “glitchy robot” and “polite hamster” as naturally as she plays “hot escort” and “hot Ivanka Trump”.
Town Hall Debate Cold Open
The election is creating so much of its own material that now SNL’s cold opens – typically a cheeky recap of the week’s debates and speeches – are more or less a list of obvious punchlines that the show acknowledges as drily as possible before moving on to the episode’s scripted jokes. This week, we’ve got “second, and worst ever” presidential debate moderators Anderson Cooper (Mikey Day) and Martha Raddatz (Cecily Strong) fortifying themselves with pre-game shots before bringing out “President Clinton” and our beloved Baldwin-Trump, who circle each other Mortal Kombat style before simultaneously smoothing their puffy wigs.
From there, the sketch runs through all the stuff we knew the show would cover (and that they knew we knew they’d cover): Clinton’s awkward attempts at casual movement, Trump’s Jaws-like lurking (above), the undecided voters’ general homeliness, and – OF COURSE and HOORAY – America’s own idiot hero, Ken Bone, brought out to much fanfare with his own Jock Jam-my theme song and Blingee-d out chyron.
Bonus points for Trump using his Home Alone 2: Lost in New York cameo as an example of how he’s helped kids.
Between the overwhelming number of Trump sketches on SNL, and the growing number of (largely Trump-related) negative stories making news, we could all use some cheering up. Luckily, the hilarious and infectiously bubbly Blunt is determined to spread cheer to the Studio 8H audience. Between verses of “Get Happy,” Blunt gifts a series of mute, wide-smiling audience members with fresh baked cookies, adorable (but not housebroken) puppies, massages from an eager Pete Davidson, and hugs from a handful of cute elderly extras (or maybe NBC flew in their actual moms, who knows). A fun, cute start to an overall fun, cute episode.
Mikey Day and Alex Moffatt (both looking like Patrick Bateman after a long happy hour) have ordered a pair of escorts, hoping for a Very Special Night, but are disappointed when their dates have a few weird ground rules. Sure, there’s stuff about kissing, but also, Leslie Jones insists on a safe word (suggesting “I’m scared, please stop”) and can only role-play (barely) as Stewie Griffin. Blunt has a bit more range, attempting to seduce the men with her original character, clumsy Cockney maid Patty Pendergast; she also has a handful of icky medical issues that might interfere with the evening’s activities. Day and Moffatt are alarmed but, hey, turns out it’s their first time, so why not make it weird??
Essays could (and probably will) be written about this sketch, a take on of Beyonce’s fuckboy-banishing anthem “Sorry” where a chorus of the Trump campaign’s leading ladies wave an unapologetic goodbye to guy who keeps taking them for granted.
Led by Melania (Strong), with verses from “mouthpiece” Kellyanne Conway (McKinnon), daughter Ivanka (Blunt), Trump’s “one black friend” Omarosa (Zamata), and “other daughter” Tiffany (Bayer), the song is equally empowering and threatening, pointing out that Trump’s taking major advantage of the women in his life, and imagining an ideal feminist reality where they band together and ditch him (except, at the end, they all obediently come when Daddy calls).
Plus, this is just a well shot, beautiful Beyonce parody. Most of the women are giving the camera super heightened, wide-eyed attitude, but Zamata’s Omarosa is exceptionally understated, all narrow-eyed shade and perfectly synchronized brow arching, making me crave more of her as Beyonce (brb, imagining all of Lemonade starring Sasheer…).
If you’ve ever attended a film festival (or, if you’ve ever accidentally gotten stuck at a post-film Q&A), this scene from the 16th annual Ann Arbor Short Film Festival certainly seems familiar. Following a screening of bafflingly symbolic “qua”, moderator Alex Moffatt calls the cast and crew up, and literally the entire theater minus one panic-stricken audience member (Vanessa Bayer) joins him onstage. There’s a lot of microphone passing as Bayer is forced to ask Qs about the films’ subject (“the Holocaust” says Kyle Mooney; “yeah, why do we wear makeup?” counters Strong), the crews’ influences (“Linklater and Kaufman” according to Day, “Kaufman and Linklater” for McKinnon and, for variety, “the British Office” from Aidy Bryant), and what everyone’s up to next (mostly nothing, except for the film’s star, currently appearing in The Girl on the Train).
Because women can’t shop for clothes without somehow feeling shitty, there’s Chonk: the store that caters to all sizes, as this commercial insists. Melissa Villasenor, Bryant, Strong, Zamata, and Jones all smile and spin in flowy skirts, attempting to look confident as the voiceover screams “CHONK!” at them over and over.
Colin Jost and Michael Che cover the headlines, and in summation: Ken Bone sucks, Trump continues to rack up marks against his already low character, and nobody even cares about Wikileaks anymore.
Jost points out that Trump’s repeated, loud judging of women is generally pretty moot, cause he’s assuming anyone gives a shit what he thinks about them – and, news flash, nobody has ever wanted to fuck you, Donald, literally nobody. Same goes for the lame claim that the election’s going to be rigged, says Che – as if such a landslide loss needed faking.
With all this talk about Russian hackers and the possible (inevitable, according to Jost) war we’ll end up in, who better to weigh in than sweet old Russian lady, Olga Povlatosky (McKinnon), who visits the Update desk to talk about her daily nuclear war preparedness drills, and to sing Russia’s own grim version of “Mambo No. 5”.
And in the latest installment of Newscasters of Tomorrow, young Disney star Laura Parsons (Bayer) stops by to share some age-appropriate stories. She also calls out NBC for potentially paying off Billy Bush, but it was cute, cause she’s just a kid!
This Burger King drive-thru adventure is the perfect vehicle (lol) for showcasing a bunch of hilariously named characters. Davidson, working the BK night shift with boss Villasenor, takes a series of wacky orders from a party of artists in a glittery pink Hummer limo, driven by what appears to be a leprechaun cosplaying as Matthew Lesko (Day). Heightening as Hummer window after Hummer window rolls into view, we meet cane-stroking Michael Tangelo (Thompson), Sally Jessy Raphael doppelganger Linda Tomorrow (Blunt), fancy disco toddler Randy Candy (Moynihan), alien Sia twins (Strong and McKinnon), Real Jeff (Bennett) the ventriloquist, embellished denim goddess Pam (Bryant) and her boyfriend, Bruno Mars (played by Bruno Mars). Whadup!!
A fancy bathroom sink (Blunt, in voiceover) contemplates its existence in this sketch that seems like it could have screened at the Ann Arbor Short Film Festival. They can’t all be winners.
At tech expo Nextcon, an excited Honda employee (Moynihan) introduces the latest advancements in robotic technology, DASIMO (Day) and DASIMA (Blunt). As the robots attempt to serve guests quesadillas, and to pronounce the word “quesadilla,” they’re taken down by cell phone interference, walking into walls and invading everyone’s personal space. Day’s physical work here is insaaaaane, and Blunt holds her own, too.
Melania Moments #3
Another thrilling glimpse into Melania’s mind: this time, we watch her wonder what it’d be like to switch places with her housemaid for the day (and we learn that she really, really wants to touch some sand).
Great British Bake-Off
The world’s most polite reality show, The Great British Bake-Off, is invaded by a pair of Big Brother rejects who bully their mild-mannered fellow contestants (Day, Moynihan) and beloved hosts (Villasenor, Bryant) nearly to tears. Brielle and Paisley (Blunt and Strong), who met while having their stomachs pumped in the ER and who sport competitively high ponytails and equally brash accents, don’t understand why they can’t vote off their competitors, or why it’s not cool to use their baking pans as bed pans.
Closing out the show, a worried boy (Mooney) watches as his two new hamsters get to know his two old hamsters, in a boozy battle of wits so brutal his mom (Bryant) suggests they flush the bunch and get a dog instead. Aging hammies McKinnon and Bennett are button-nosed cute and completely off the rails as they sip from tiny handheld bubblers and trade cutting remarks, while newbies Blunt and Moffatt try to politely escape.
- Donald Trump isn’t busy or anything, so of course he’s watching SNL, and of course he figured we were dying to hear his take:
If “rigging” = “pretty much quoting verbatim” then yes, that’s exactly what this is!
- Colin Jost is learning that, when something doesn’t hit, a sarcastic “cool” is usually the best response, so can someone make a supercut of him saying “cool” a bunch? Cool.
- And, in honor of Tom Hanks hosting for the NINTH TIME next week, here are a few of my fave classic Hanx appearances to hold us all over:
The Stand-Ups (1985)
Mr. Short-Term Memory: The Game Show (1990)
Tennis Players (2006)