It’s officially festival season, the time of year where celebrities appear next to each other completely out of context. Do you need to see a picture of Shania Twain, Nicki Minaj, and Timothée Chalamet hanging out? I got you. This episode of SNL provided an equally surreal meet-up. During goodbyes, the first person Martin Short turned to was Stormy Daniels. He held his arms open wide for a big ol’ hug and yelled “Stormaaay!!” It was the capper to an already tonally bananas episode. Zoe Kravitz announced the musical guest, then just played dominos and drank onstage. She still had her solo cup at goodbyes, which makes me think it was actually filled.
You know how every day of being alive since Trump got elected feels like that episode of Mad Men when the guy gets his foot lawnmowered off? Saturday Night Live has really been leaning into that feeling, which meshes well with Donald Glover’s aesthetic. The man likes his silliness brutal, and his genres blended. His SNL episode was high-concept, weird, and unapologetically black.
Thus begins Cameopalooza. Ben Stiller reprises his role as Michael Cohen and calls Trump (Alec Baldwin). Stiller got a huge applause break; Baldwin got nothing. The fact that Cohen had 16 burner phones in his office was put to good use, as Cohen created the conference call to end all conference calls. Martin Short was also used well as disgraced Middle Earth Wizard/GP Dr. Harold Bornstein. Earlier this week, Mike Myers also contributed a Bornstein impression to the culture, but Myers didn’t call out how messed up it was for Trump’s doctor to say he felt raped. Marty Short got a little bit of an applause break but not huge. I think that was mostly because you couldn’t tell who was behind all the beard hair. But I’m not done listing cameos. Scarjo brought back her Ivanka that’s somehow flatter than even Ivanka. Jimmy Fallon came thru with a Jared Kushner. Playing Jared as Mickey Mouse/a parrot was quite a choice. Finally, Stormy Daniels stopped by as herself. It was a lot, but I’m proud of us for getting through it.
Wear a dress shirt, Donald, you’re on TV! Glover expressed happiness to be in New York (now that he’s rich) but spent most of the monologue being salty about not getting SNL despite auditioning twice. Under a jazzy beat, Glover bragged about being a triple/quadruple/dodecal threat. In the course of his boasts he gets food poisoning and electrocutes himself. Then out comes the clarinet. Guys. As soon as I saw the clarinet, I knew puke was going to come out of the clarinet. There should have been more puke, and it should have been yellower so as to read better on camera.
Glover, doing his old man voice, is the defense lawyer in a wrongful death case at Jurassic World. Was it a civil trial? Criminal? Unclear. They find Jurassic Park guilty at the end, so maybe the charge is criminal negligence? When Mikey Day says he can’t read the indemnification clause on his VIP pass because his friend Scott’s blood is all over it, Glover instructs him to “move your friend Scott’s blood around with your finger until you can read it.” The jury doesn’t love it.
Look what you can do with a diverse cast! Migos in therapy is a concept whose time has come. All the songs are about being sad, so it’s only fair that one song is about getting your shit together. This was very funny, but in all honesty I can’t wait until the idea of rappers in therapy is normal and boring. The specificity of Thompson, Redd, and Glover’s impressions is what makes this bit. Kenan and Chris were able to observe Migos on SNL earlier this season, and Glover cast Migos in season 1 of Atlanta.
80’s Music Video
Props for putting this retro music video in the old-timey aspect ratio. Glover plays a soulful R&B singer who follows his gf and catches her cheating. To say too much about this scene would ruin the surprise, but all the twists and turns this sketch take are worth it to see Glover dance away sing-talking “Doctor. Reginald. Saunders.”
A Kanye Place
At first this sketch felt like some kind of current events Mad Libs. Kanye’s meltdown + A Quiet Place = jokes? But eventually the thesis statement emerges: we are paying attention to the wrong shit. Yes, Kanye’s meltdown is bizarre, but so is ICE. ICE never released a song where Joe Arpaio said “scoopity poop,” but they are detaining hundreds of people without habeas corpus.
Melissa Villaseñor just can’t get the hang of dirty talk. This is the sequel to Villaseñor’s sketch with Aziz Ansari. I guess those two crazy kids couldn’t work it out. The best parts of these sketches is Villaseñor’s eager grin throughout the proceedings. If someone smiled like that at me in bed, it would already be over.
My favorite part of Update this week was a joke they didn’t make. When given the chyron of Kanye saying “Slavery Was a Choice,” Che just said “Pass.”
Pete Davidson stopped by to dis Michael Che and Scarjo’s boyfriend’s Emmy hosting gig. Davidson’s hair is getting out of control. He looks like he full-time cosplays a 10-year-old in a Miyazaki movie and it works. This desk piece didn’t quite work, though. He never found the balance between pretending to be salty and genuine saltiness. Davidson’s Update bits work best when he’s being raw and frank about his life, not when he’s just complaining. When he came on to complain that Staten Island likes Jost more than him, it worked because he clearly outlined his self-sabotaging behavior.
Finally we had Leslie Jones, dating expert. Jones came on to sing a Sarah McLachlan song in memoriam of all her dating mistakes. “These stories are real! The pictures are fake to protect the innocent,” said Jones. “Ain’t nobody innocent.” Jones dated a guy living with his mom who needed grocery money, and a guy who hid the fact he was homeless until he had moved in with her.
The four black humans in the Star Wars galaxy come together to celebrate their culture. “I held out hope that there was a black human planet somewhere, but I guess it’s just us,” says Lando. “Lots of lizard men wearing vests. Just four black people, though.” This is a fun and ballsy choice to make before Solo even comes out. Demi Adejuyigbe said it best:
Glover played Lando like a skeevy lounge singer, and now I want nothing more than Lando and Nick the Lounge Singer to do a reprisal of ”Star Wars” together. If Bill Murray isn’t too busy crashing gender reveal parties, Ron Howard should make that happen.
A perfect #spon sketch. Not only do I now know that Barbie has an Instagram, I got a brief glimpse into her dark soul. Two dumdums and a real creep are the new interns at Mattel’s Barbie division. Heidi Gardner has the least to do with her vacant victim-of-femininity voice, and Davidson is a perfect confident idiot. I actually enjoyed his performance more than Glover’s disturbed weirdo who can’t get over the idea of Barbie seeing a girl get hit by a car outside of her Dreamhouse. To really center the sketch, it needed a jump scare of that guy at the very end.
Was this going for social commentary? Or just having fun with customer service voices? I’m sure there’s a scathing political sketch to be made about the modern-day slavery of the prison industrial complex, and/or code switching at work, but this wasn’t it. And on a more nitpicky note, I would have liked more details about what the fuck company these dudes did customer service for. There was something about a kitchen, but I didn’t know if they sold kitchen appliances or decor or what. It was a wasted opportunity.
Photo by Will Heath/NBC.