What does SNL want to be under Trump? This is the second weirdly apolitical show in a very political time. Last week’s only topical outings were the impression-palooza of a cold open and some hurricane/NFL stuff during Update. This week the cold open and part of Update were devoted to Las Vegas, but nothing was said about Harvey Weinstein or all the media collusion with white supremacists. There have been more sketches about talking animals this season of SNL than about how Nazis are back in style. Which is fine. Who am I to censor Lorne’s art? As my favorite sketch of the night (a fake commercial for all the new shows on E!) so aptly put it, “Not everything can be The News.” But SNL has a long history of being at least a little bit The News. Without topical humor on which to hang sketches, SNL has to rely on the host’s brand and talents – which, in Gal Gadot’s case, meant lots of sketches about hot ladies squinting.
The show tried to repeat its Hillary-sings-Hallelujah moment by having Jason Aldean—the singer who was on stage when a shooter massacred 58 people in Las Vegas last Sunday—play Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” Is it cynical to think it was a very cynical move? SNL cannot make “musical tribute to dead songwriter/national crisis” a repeat sketch like the Coneheads. Comedy is tragedy + time, not tragedy + a different tragedy. Also, a song that repeats “stand my ground” over and over is maybe not the best song choice for the victims of gun violence.
It’s interesting that Gal Gadot was performing on SNL long after Wonder Woman came out and a little too early to be doing Justice League promo. Was she doing promo for that movie about the throuple who created Wonder Woman and did lots of bondage stuff? Perhaps. Apparently this is the first episode of SNL to be broadcast live in Israel. That’s kind of neat. Gadot briefly addressed the camera in Hebrew, explaining that the writers had no idea what to do with her, which was accurate. She said they had her eating hummus in every sketch, which sadly was inaccurate. More hummus content! Leslie Jones then came on as the Times Square Wonder Woman, and the two compared superhero personas.
New E! Lineup
Escapist TV for idiots has become an urgent need in today’s society. Luckily the good people at E! have got us covered. I would watch all of these shows, especially Background Actors of Riverdale. I want to see if the days are really as long and grueling as KJ Apa says they are! All the impressions were on point in this piece. Melissa Villasenor’s Gwen Stefani was particularly charming, doing that weird pouty thing Stefani always does that I hadn’t even noticed until this bit. Gadot pulled double duty as Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid. I wish the writers had taken advantage of how good Gadot is in pre-taped stuff and given her a role in “The Chosen One” or “Safelite.” Even if those sketches were shot for other weeks, they could have filmed an insert for her.
Bumble Date with OJ
As a ‘90s kid, it warms my heart to see SNL making fun of OJ Simpson again. Take that, Don Ohlmeyer! Gadot plays a woman who has no knowledge of US news or pop culture of the mid-’90s, since she was living in war torn Bosnia at the time. Kenan Thompson deadpanning as he tries to explain away all the weird stuff swirling around his date is super fun, and almost makes you forget all the grisly details of Nicole Brown Simpson’s murder.
The Chosen One
Pete Davidson brought back his taciturn idiot Chad. First he was seduced by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, then spurred an identity crisis in Benedict Cumberbatch. This version improves on the formula by having Chad say even less, pretty much sticking to “OK.” And one interjection of “Gay!” Like last week’s “Woke Jeans,” the editing really made this bit. All the mythical nonsense was constantly undercut by quick cuts to Chad’s dumb face.
Kenan Thompson and Beck Bennett play two NatGeo cameramen lost in the desert and hallucinating. Thompson sees Gadot offering fresh squeezed lemonade, while Bennett sees the Jamba Juice by his old work. Like most of us, Bennett is alarmed by how small his fantasies have become. This sketch raises the age-old question: is it #spon? Did Jamba Juice pay for this sketch, like the Totino’s commerical last season and the Pizza Hut and/or Domino’s sketch last week? My guess is no, because Banana-matazz is not a real smoothie flavor. Razzmatazz is, and it does contains banana, but that seems like a detail a sponsor would want correct in its branded content.
More #spon? Safelite is a real company, and that was its real logo and jingle. But they were less than pleased with how Safelite was portrayed in this fake ad (as a den of windshield-sabotaging pederasts).
Beck Bennett plays a Safelite technician who takes a personal interest in one family. This is the sort of forced familiarity that exists in real Safelite commercials, taken to its grim conclusion. Bennett keeps breaking the family’s windshield so he can talk more with Villasenor’s high school athlete. Pedophilia jokes are a tough nut to crack, one that maybe doesn’t need to be cracked in the first place. At least this ended with the dude getting hit.
It’s nice to see some more one-liner stories in Update this week. I was worried that after Update stopped accepting freelance submissions, the segment would turn into a standup set instead of Fake News. Long riffs on gun control and birth control were broken up by quick jokes like “October is National Sarcasm Awareness Month. Cool.” The short-long-short pace is part of what makes Update unique in the pretend news landscape.
Kate McKinnon’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg returned to land some more of her patented “Gins-burns” on those clowns in congress. What a bunch of clowns. And Pete Davidson came by to try and use his recent borderline personality disorder diagnosis to get more stage time. He would probably feel a lot better if more of his sketches got on the air, and if Colin Jost would write up that sketch about a chicken that eats eggs, but also about Black Lives Matter. Honestly I’d take any Black Lives Matter content at this point, so I’m all for pandering to Pete Davidson’s sadness.
The Maiden and the Mice
If mice really made a dress for a princess, it would be nasty. Because mice are nasty. And also too small to design something for humans. Once again a bizarre sketch involving face prosthesis was on way before 10-to-1. The mouse snouts were flesh-colored, perfectly blended, and super upsetting. Well done! Bryant, McKinnon, and Kyle Mooney all delivered fun cartoon mouse performances. And Beck Bennett’s douchey prince provided a nice finish. “I don’t date poor chicks,” he says. “It gets messy real fast.” But Gadot could have been more passive aggressive in her damning praise of a dress that is mostly hairballs and candy corn.
It’s not great that I spent the first part of this sketch marveling at how crisp the actors’ consonants sounded on those headphone mic sets. Why use the actual headphone mics? Gadot played Sabine, some sort of evil mastermind holding very sensitive data hostage. Unfortunately the police can’t hear her demands, because two camgirls played by Cecily Strong and Aidy Bryant are piggybacking on Sabine’s signal. I am always here for weird fetish content. I’ve never wanted a sketch to become recurring, but please bring back these fun pervs like NBC brought back Will & Grace. Have Strong and Bryant do mukbang with Sean Hayes. Or cakesitting with Megan Mullally. The possibilities are endless and disgusting.
No Lesbians on Themyscira
I have a friend who likes to play this game, “Who Fucks?” You name a celebrity, and it’s up to the group to decide whether or not they fuck. For example, Blake Lively does not fuck. Rihanna fucks. To put it in Kate McKinnon impression terms, Angela Merkel does not fuck, while RBG does. Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon play two lesbians who land on the island of Themyscira only to find that the entire Amazonian race does not fuck. “It’s like we’re in a porn,” Bryant says, “but the plumber is just genuinely there to fix the pipes.” Gadot’s Diana tries to understand where these lesbians are coming from by kissing McKinnon for a long, long time. “I’m sorry, I feel nothing,” she concludes. Has anyone done a spreadsheet to figure out which cast member has kissed the most hosts in SNL history? Between this, the rimjob last episode, and the last call sketches, Kate McKinnon probably holds the title. Kate McKinnon fucks.
When new cast member Heidi Gardner came out in a Darth Maul T-shirt, clutching two handfuls of straws and sassing the audience, I was enchanted. Gardner played AJ, one of those cash me outside nightmare teens from daytime TV. AJ’s mom has brought her onto Naomi to get some tough love from Kenan Thompson’s drill instructor. Thompson makes the mistake of asking if AJ wants him for a father, and she says yes. Gardner’s accent work was delightful in this sketch, especially her scooping on the word “daddy,” which was said approximately 90 times.