Charles Barkley Hosts ‘SNL’ “for No Reason”

Photo: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Hey, we’re adults. We can talk about big issues directly and frankly. I need to know why Charles Barkley hosted SNL this week. He was promoting nothing, he didn’t have a hit indie movie last summer. What gives? Was it because all the movie actors are in Hollywood for the Oscars? Does Charles Barkley live in that same fancy New York building as Lorne Michaels and Paul Simon? In his monologue, Barkley posited that it was because Lorne needed someone to talk to about Black Panther. We may never know the truth, but Barkley proved a dependable fourth timer. His completely flat delivery style really, really worked for me. It was Christopher Walken-esque, and it brought the right deadpan tone to excellent satire pieces on harassment, guns, and CTE. While the political humor of Trump-era SNL still leaves me cold, its cultural work is finally on point.

Cold Open

We all should have known Alec would be back once Trump tweeted about him. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Baldwin said doing the impression is “agony.” This is the only point on which I, Donald Trump, and Alec Baldwin are in agreement. We probably all like wedge salads too, but that’s it. This particular outing was less agony than usual. Baldwin underplayed the facial contortions for the first half and simply sold the jokes. Then he said “Wakanda” and twisted his face like a Gushers commercial and I just could not.


It’s funny we all call this section the monologue, even though it so often is a sketch or a song or some weird steadicam shot through the building. Sometimes gimmick-less monologues can be nice. Okay, this isn’t technically a monologue because Michael Che came on, but it was still very pleasant to hear Barkley discuss athletes’ right to speak out. Not hugely funny (there were maybe four jokes) but enjoyable nevertheless.

Harassment Awards

Weirdest Massage Envy #spon ever. An award show for all the men (and one very forward-thinking woman) accused of abhorrent behavior in the past year. Barkley stood out as Best Non-Apology nominee Tim Franklin. Franklin is one of the men who was chanting “Believe women” right until he was accused. Then he “called her a lying troll and had my lawyer publish her home address.” Barkley’s matter-of-fact delivery sells the disgusting actions. My only complaint is how this sketch frames harassment accusations like a disease men in power catch. You never know who’s next! This is misleading, because we often do know who’s next, because harassment is a bad thing someone did intentionally and repeatedly.

Roach Product

“The only thing that can stop a bad roach is a good roach with a gun,” claims Ned of Ned’s Roach Away. Ned provides honest, God-fearing, heterosexual roaches to patrol your cabinets and massacre any bad roaches with tiny AR-15s. A sensible solution for a saner America.  Roaches on a tiny firing range was the best visual gag of the night.

Homework Hotline

Actually, this episode was full of sight gag bangers. For example, a puppet seemingly jerking off Sir Charles Barkley. Barkley played the host of a homework help show that is plagued with prank callers and rumor. Is Barkley engaging in sexual congress with his puppet pal Bobo? Every single caller seems to think so. Dick joke after dick joke can feel a little flat, but Barkley’s repeated use of the insult “turkey” livened it up.

The Champions

A-Rod broke before this sketch even began, and he never recovered. Barkley and Rodriguez join Kenan Thompson as football player/CTE sufferer DC Timmons on a panel show about which sport is toughest. Obviously, it’s the one that breaks your brain. This was a well-structured “two normals and a weird on a panel” sketch. The two real sportsman can say real sports stuff, then Kenan gets to sell gibberish. What’s not to like?

Weekend Update

I’ve been waiting for a Hope Hicks impression from Cecily Strong. The resemblance is striking. It’s odd that Strong looks like most of the severe hot women of the Trump administration: Melania, Stormy Daniels, and now Hicks. Strong’s characterization of Hicks as a summer camp counselor out of her depth feels spot-on, and I appreciate that the farewell poem she read on air still had the ragged edge from being torn out of a notebook. It deepend the “I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing” to a new level.  

Leslie Jones is back from Korea and she is stoked! She is saying what we’re all thinking, namely that bobsledders have the juiciest butts of any Olympic sport. Jones even brought back a souvenir, gold medalist Hilary Knight. And Kyle Mooney came by to talk Oscars, and also why he wasn’t invited to Colin’s Oscars party. Funny and triggering!

Hump or Dump

Another “two normals and a weird” sketch, and a good one at that. Of course, “normal” for a dating show is a gross swaggering mistake of a man. Alex Moffat and Chris Redd performed the masculinity perfectly. But the star of the show was Barkley as a man who vows to suffocate himself with car fumes if he doesn’t win this love contest. Kenan wonders how a clearly unstable man got through the screening process to be on this show, but it can’t be that hard. Do you know how many murderers have been on game shows? At least two!

Con Ed Repair Site

A group of construction worker stereotypes discuss what they’d wear to the Oscars if they were women. It’s always nice to see fellas letting their feminine side out, but I liked this sketch better when it was on The Kids in the Hall in the ‘90s. But Beck Bennett was right to run away crying when his friends said they picture him showing up to the Oscars in a long denim skirt. Anyone who says you would dress like Kim Davis is not a true friend.

Last Call

Is there any torture more brutal and exquisite than seeing the establishing shot of this sketch, and knowing that in approximately four minutes you’re going to see Kate McKinnon and Charles Barkley make out? Our lovely friend Sheila Sovage is back and trying to smash. This time it’s with a gentleman who lost his crown in the toilet, but then found it and put it back in his mouth. There was a lot of fun prop stuff happening in this sketch, but Barkley was tongue-shy when it came to the actual sucking face. Like my family crest says, you gotta use that tongue and put every place imaginable!

Charles Barkley Hosts ‘SNL’ “for No Reason”