Much of the buzz for this week’s SNL surrounds “Welcome to Hell,” a Kyary Pamyu Pamyu-esque pop number about all the men being exposed as predators this year. It was a fun take on an exhausting and triggering news cycle. Yet other sketches in this episode were downright yucky in their sexual politics. Comedy is hard in this era of PC culture gone amok, as Jerry Seinfeld keeps yelling out of his car to random passersby. It’s a tightrope walk that SNL hasn’t always performed well. One of the first recurring sketches was Buck Henry’s pederast uncle, so only cringing at two sketches for being regressive/rapey is progress.
Not cringeworthy at all was Saoirse Ronan, whose perky performances kept an uneven night from going completely off the rails. Ronan switched seamlessly through wigs and accents like this was her third year on the show.
The only thing more tired than a Christmas Carol parody is this Trump impression. However I would like it on the record that Mikey Day’s Flynn makeup was eerily accurate, and the choice to always make Putin shirtless is a very good one. I wonder if Beck Bennett works out or drinks any diet tea the week before a Putin impression.
As Saoirse Ronan walked onto the stage, my husband said “I bet they’re gonna goof on how hard it is to say her name.” Dude was spot on, but even he didn’t think there would be an entire (surprisingly pleasant) songologue about it. The Rodgers & Hammerstein-iness was very cute, especially Beck’s counter-melody explaining his name. Kate McKinnon got the best line of the piece though: when Saoirse congratulated her on keeping up with the needlessly complicated song, McKinnon deadpanned “I’m fluent in nonsense. It’s my sixth season; do you know how many racoons I’ve played on this show?”
Full disclosure: I watched the premiere of Floribama Shore drunk in a hotel room in Tulsa, and I really liked it. Kortni peed in her roommate’s bed on the first night, then in a trash can on the beach the next day. Why not pee in the ocean, Kortni? SNL’s version had even more twists and turns and ridiculous spellings of Courtney. “What’s up weiners?!” yells Aidy Bryant. “My name is Quartney with a ‘quart.’” This version of Floribama Shore was filmed during Hurricane Irma, and the cast (save for sensible token black guy Justin) underestimates the peril in which they find themselves. “My mama didn’t raise me to be ‘fraid of no storm,” opines Ronan’s character Trish. “My mama raised me to be a fearless, Christian sex addict with gum diseases you ain’t even heard of.”
American Girl Store
A local news report on an explosion outside an American Girl store winds up focusing entirely on an adult man who likes dolls, and is therefore probably a creep. Policing masculinity is hilarious. Earlier this week, I was watching a very funny episode of The Simpsons where Jimbo intended to beat Bart with a brick because he danced ballet. Funny! The details in this sketch mitigate its premise a little. Mikey Day’s doll enthusiast is obsessed with his doll being an accurate representation of 1920s upper-class girlhood, and his pathetic attempts to claim his doll was a gift for someone else are well played. But in the end, I would rather people not laugh at dudes for liking dolls.
Welcome to Hell
A fun, Asian pop-inflected video explaining to all the boys out there that women have been living in this “oh God, I can’t trust him either?!?!” nightmarescape since forever. The cutesy backgrounds juxtapose nicely with the grim realities of trying to be a woman in the world. “This is how I walk home at night,” says Kate McKinnon as she holds her keys in between her knuckles like a shitty Wolverine. The gestures towards intersectionality are appreciated, as Leslie Jones and Melissa Villasenor get solos in the second half of the song. Villasenor’s turn as every woman in history who got the shaft from society is also very good.
Almost the whole cast gets to be a freak at Kmart in one of the weirdest piece of #spon since the Safelite pedophile. Mikey Day plays the hapless Kmart returns clerk who has to endure this cavalcade of ding-dongs. There’s the woman whose bird shat all over her (Aidy Bryant), the man who doesn’t want a woman’s hand muff (Kenan Thompson), and the woman who wants to exchange her boyfriend’s cologne for some tampons because apparently he’s “actually a bitch on the rag” (Ronan). If we had stayed with any one of these characters, the sketch might have felt more substantial. As it was, I felt like I was watching a raunchier version of The Muppet Show’s ballroom sketches – passingly funny, but hard to get a hold of.
Greta Gerwig! If Lady Bird continues to do well, maybe Gerwig can host and not just have a fun cameo in a filmed bit. In a pitch-perfect ‘80s corporate drama parody, Kyle Mooney plays an office worker who can’t run anymore. Not after what happened (he ripped his pants). Back Bennett plays his workplace bully, who rubs his running ability in Mooney’s face every chance he gets. “When you can run like that you’ve got it all. Money…all of those.” As with most Mooney/Bennett joints, the music and costuming are almost as important as the words. I am also a sucker for poorly defined businesses in comedy, so this hit many sweet spots for me.
My favorite part of Update this week was the commentary on how commonplace the outing of serial predators has become (what podcast The Daily Zeitgeist has taken to calling “Menghazi”). “It’s just a whole segment of the news now,” says Colin Jost. “You just gotta announce the names every week like Powerball numbers.” My least favorite part of update was the return of the Duncans. Played by Leslie Jones and Mikey Day, the Duncans make sex jokes that often read more like marital rape jokes. Day makes a point to say his injuries were sustained during “consensual intimate trauma,” but one of their sex positions was him literally hiding from his wife under a bed. On the plus side, Jones’ manicure was a very pretty periwinkle.
Vape Queen Chad is back! And like the wealthy tennis club ladies in this sketch, I am utterly charmed by Pete Davidson’s taciturn goober. Chad not only sports the heroin chic bod of a young Shalom Harlow, he can do a dead-on Grinch impression and starts dance crazes at the drop of a hat. This is Chad’s first live sketch, and something is lost without the quick edits of previous outings. But on the whole, I would take Chad over John McEnroe any day.
Late for Class
I am starting to think this classroom set is cursed. Ever since they put crown moulding on the Gilly set, sketches just underperform on it. Sketches with good premises, solid jokes, and passable visual gags just don’t work in this yellow classroom. Luke Null plays a Spicoli-type class clown who waltzes in late and personally harasses every member of his class. Turns out, this is his first day. He has gotten everybody’s name wrong, and offended everyone he just met. The sketch bombing for the first two minutes could be intentional since we’re not supposed to like this character, but that’s still two minutes of laughless air. Poor Luke Null.
Saoirse was a good sport, wasn’t she? I imagine this is what it was like when the writers tried to sell her on this:
Writer: In this sketch, everyone but Kenan is going to try and do your accent, the one that you walk through life with every day. Will they sound more like the Lucky Charms leprechaun? Only time will tell. I’m guessing Cecily will nail it. Saoirse: I’m offended but intrigued. As long as there aren’t any potato jokes. Writer: …there will be some potato jokes. Saoirse: Writer: But also a lot of dogs. Like so many dogs. Saoirse: I love dogs!