Saturday Night Live
Kim Kardashian West makes her hosting debut on Saturday Night Live. While she doesn’t have anything premiering, Kim has been in the public eye for years. Her reality show Keeping Up With the Kardashians ran for 20 seasons, and her very public separation from Kanye West has kept her in the news cycle. (I wonder if he’ll be watching. I checked his Twitter and his last tweet was about voting on Election Day.)
According to TMZ, Kim enlisted the help of Dave Chappelle, Ellen DeGeneres, Amy Schumer, James Corden, and my former improv classmate Michelle Wolf. At the very least, this crew will likely convince Kim to have a good sense of humor about herself.
- Facebook Hearings (Cold Open)
- Kim Kardashian West Monologue
- Jasmine and Aladdin
- Ladies’ Night Song
- The Dream Guy
- The Switch
- Lotto Drawing
- Halsey: “I Am Not a Woman, I’m a God”
- Weekend Update (Terry Fink’s Fall 2021 Movie Review / Life Coach Kelly Party on Positive Thinking)
- The People’s Kourt
- Please Don’t Destroy — Hard Seltzer
- Halsey: “Darling”
- Skims Commercial
Facebook Hearings Cold Open
Saturday Night Live opens up with C-Span coverage of the Facebook hearings in Congress. This is a solid sketch, with the out-of-touch older senators asking basic questions about technology. (“When you open an incognito window on Google, does that prevent God from seeing what you’re doing?”) The impressions are very good, but Aidy Bryant’s hilarious Ted Cruz deserves a shout-out.
My only minor gripe is they spend so much time with the out-of-touch senator game, they leave a lot of good material about the Facebook whistleblower on the table. Frances Haugen testified that Facebook amplified misinformation and was exploited by foreign adversaries. It feels like a missed opportunity for SNL to actually go into these details and see how the senators react. I admit it’s tougher ground to cover. But in exploring what actually happened at the Facebook hearings, we’ll find richer material than the senators just showing Haugen memes and asking what they mean.
Kim Kardashian West Monologue
Kim Kardashian West delivers a terrific monologue that unloads on every single part of her life. “I’m just so much more than that reference photo my sisters show their plastic surgeons.” Kim’s monologue is so aggressive that it bodes well for the rest of the episode. You sometimes wonder if a non-comedian will have a good sense of humor about themselves, and Kim seems to open the entire menu to SNL. She even dips into Kanye territory: “When I divorced him, it came down to just one thing: his personality.”
Jasmine and Aladdin
Aladdin and Jasmine, played by Pete Davidson and Kim, are on a magic-carpet ride when Aladdin admits he may not be able to handle Jasmine sexually because of how small he is. While the visual of Pete and Kim on a magic carpet is pretty great, the sketch itself is weak. The idea that Aladdin is self-conscious about being small is not a strong enough game to carry a sketch, and bringing on Cowboys running back Zeke Elliott to emasculate Aladdin throws this immediately off the rails. This is not to compare to past seasons, but this sketch pales compared to the Adam Driver Aladdin sketch where they keep flying into things.
Ladies’ Night Song
Kim, Cecily, Ego, and Punkie are four women struggling in the club. Out for a fun night without their husbands and kids, the women realize the music is too loud, they’re too tired, and their bowels aren’t what they used to be. This sketch is a hit, and it’s my highlight of the episode. Kim plays against type, as she now can barely stay awake at the club. Ego gives a busboy $500 for his shoes, and Punkie wonders when the music started playing so fast.
The Dream Guy
Kim is in a Bachelorette-type show about to make her selection for the next round. The remaining contestants are Jesse Williams, John Cena, Chris Rock, Tyler Cameron, Chace Crawford, Blake Griffin, and Kyle Mooney in a horrible ponytail. This sketch works. The hot guys are all pumped to be there, and Kyle is hysterical as the nerdy loser. We even get a really fun moment with Amy Schumer walking on as a producer who also gets a token. (“Do you accept this token?” “With both of my holes.”)
Kenan and Aidy are news anchors who throw over to the lotto segments with Kim and Cecily, but the lotto numbers revealed include letters, blanks, and the Milwaukee Bucks. Eventually, even weirder things pop up as balls, such as a meatball sandwich and condoms. The sketch never really lifts off, but I’ll talk more about this later.
Halsey: “I Am Not a Woman, I’m a God” and “Darling”
Halsey sings their hit song, “I Am Not a Woman, I’m a God.” No notes.
Halsey sings “Darling.” My girlfriend says it’s a bold choice for them to wear a Stevie Nicks hat while singing with Lindsey Buckingham.
Weekend Update induces a few groans, but it’s part of the fun with these two. Colin reveals he went to Harvard with Mark Zuckerberg. (“Sometimes I wish I had a time machine so I could go back to college, find Mark, and say, ‘Hey man, can I be part of your company?’”) Michael announces Fox News is turning 25, and it’ll be celebrating its birthday the same way he does: “by paying some white women to say some nasty stuff.”
Alex Moffat plays movie reviewer Terry Fink, a Sandy Kenyon–style reviewer on LSD. This character really works because Alex plays each movie in a different way. Bond reveals childhood trauma; Paw Patrol is horrifying; and Venom is a fun rom-com starring Meryl Streep. It keeps us on our toes, which is what you want with a character sketch.
The People’s Kourt
Kim plays her sister Kourtney in an ad for her new show, The People’s Kourt. The sketch provides a lot of fan service for Keeping Up With the Kardashians. But the ad format causes it to meander a bit and putting Kim in the Met Gala outfit feels like a cop-out. However, we soon strike gold with Chris Redd as Kanye. Kim watching someone do a Kanye impression in front of her is quite a moment, and I wish this case were the entire sketch rather than a snippet from a commercial. You can still bring on Kris Jenner and the others as witnesses. It feels like a missed opportunity for a hall-of-fame sketch.
Please Don’t Destroy — Hard Seltzer
Sketch group Please Don’t Destroy debut their first SNL sketch, Hard Seltzer. This is typical of their style — something insane happens as they hard-cut with sharp camera moves from joke to joke. I’m a fan of theirs, and I enjoyed this sketch, even though it can feel a bit of an awkward transition from Twitter sketch to network TV. SNL producer Steve Higgins and former SNL head writer Tim Herlihy must be proud watching their funny sons follow in their footsteps.
Kim introduces a new product for her company: Skims Shapewear for Thick Dogs. I like this premise, but the sketch flies wildly off base. If a dog owner buys body shapewear for their dog, it says more about the dog owner than the dog itself. But instead, we just get testimonials about how all the dogs’ lives have gotten better. There’s probably only so much room for the writers to maneuver since Skims is Kim’s company, but it doesn’t feel fun to say that Skims actually makes thick dogs hotter.
The lotto sketch has a fun premise: What would happen if a J came up during a lotto drawing? But the sketch suffers because the people announcing the numbers never react. Yes, lotto announcers are typically cheerfully robotic, but announcing “Milwaukee Bucks” as a number is technically a disaster. When Kenan and Aidy question them, this is the perfect opportunity for them to respond with their point of view: “I don’t know, I just call what comes up, the machine is out of control.” Any reaction at all will elevate the sketch.
Compare this to PowerPoint from a few years ago. Every time something goes wrong, Aidy and Kate justify and react. A person who creates a bad PowerPoint is certainly a different idea than somebody calling the lotto numbers. But I think the actors would have a lot more to play with if Kim or Cecily explained that they were the person who put the meatball sub in the lotto machine and felt a certain way about it.
Kim reminds me of when professional athletes host SNL. While they have natural charisma, you have to be strategic about what they play. In this episode, Kim played herself a lot. The few times she played a character, in the Aladdin and lotto sketches, she was a little too one-dimensional to serve the sketch. Again, it’s one of those things where sometimes you’re limited with what you can do, but I would have given the episode more credit if they took a bigger risk and gave Kim a sketch where she really had to show range. I felt this episode put Kim in some good spots with an incredible monologue and the hilarious “Ladies’ Night” Song sketch, but we’re still waiting for that episode that has two banger sketches that get everyone talking. However, everybody will be deservedly praising the monologue.
This was a pretty strong episode for Aidy. She’s been one of SNL’s funniest players for years, and the cold open and the Switch display her tremendous star quality. It feels like, at this point, you can just give Aidy a weird character and she can carry any sketch. She gets my MVP.
This week, we saw a little more from Chris Redd and Punkie Johnson, and I hope SNL fully works them into the rotation. Punkie specifically held her own next to Ego, Cecily, and Kim, and I hope that that’s the catalyst she needed to get more opportunities. I feel for anybody who joined the cast last season, as it must be extra-difficult to break through during the pandemic. But I’ve never seen Punkie waste any of her parts; she’s a terrific stand-up, and she hasn’t even scratched the surface on what she can do.