Former cast members have a superpower other hosts don’t: They get it. Sketch comedy is not just about getting onstage and trying to be funny. You gotta share focus, straight man, hold for laughs, and hit your cues. After being on the show for ten years, Jason is going to give SNL all of that. But in a sense, that raises the degree of difficulty. If you have a host that can do anything, you better be funny. And this week, they delivered.
- Ghost of Biden Past Cold Open
- Jason Sudeikis Monologue
- Science Room with Jason Sudeikis
- Parent Teacher Conference
- Men’s Underwear Commercial
- Brandi Carlile: “Broken Horses”
- Weekend Update (The Devil on his Latest Accomplishments/Guy Who Just Bought a Boat on Halloween Dating Tips/Melissa Villaseñor on Hispanic Heritage Month)
- What Up With That: Oscar Isaac, Emily Ratajkowski, and Nicholas Braun
- Declaration Pitch
- Brandi Carlile: “Right on Time”
- Casino Proposal
Best Biden Impression
James Austin Johnson continues to impress with his Biden impression. (“I used to be … what’s the word I’m looking for? ‘Lucid.’”) Sudeikis pops in with his eight-years-ago Biden and immediately gives the present-day Biden a massage and a sniff. The third we get is Alex Moffat’s March 2021 Biden, though neither the audience nor the other Bidens knows why he’s there. There should be more acclaim for James’s Biden impression. Whereas the previous incarnations are polarizing based on how much you like Joe Biden, who can deny that James has Biden’s mannerisms down?
After rocking a blue velvet suit at the Emmys, Sudeikis comes out for his monologue in chocolate velvet. I’m a big believer in sticking with what works. Jason ends his monologue by talking about how inspired people are by the comedy at SNL. Maybe I don’t know much about Jason, but is he actually becoming Ted Lasso?
Best First Line
“You know I don’t study this table all the time, just periodically.” Mike and Cecily return as our bumbling science students in the “Science Room” sketch, but with Jason as the new hosts. Even though Sam Rockwell and Adam Driver were great in the earlier incarnations of this sketch, Jason kills it. More on that later.
“You don’t strike me as the punishing type.” “Well, you don’t know me very well.” Ego is such a good actor, and the “Parent Teacher Conference” sketch is my highlight of the episode. I have to imagine the thousands of people who are horny for Jason Sudeikis needed a break after this one.
Jake’s Non-Stick Underwear. What is it about men on SNL looking into the camera and confidently saying the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever heard that tickles me so much? “If you’re like me, you’re sick of throwing your underwear in the trash.”
Best ‘Weekend Update’ Joke
“Donald Trump announced the launch of his own social-media network he’s calling Truth Social. But most people know it by its original name, the National Sex Offender Registry.”
Biggest ‘Weekend Update’ Groan
“Biden admitted he hasn’t had time to visit the southern border, though his approval rating has.”
Colin Jost Accusation of the Week
Jason Sudeikis returns as the devil and lets us know Colin Jost not only made a deal with him to get Scarlett Johansson, but he also “baby-trapped” her. This week Colin broke Seth Meyers’s record for most “Weekend Update” appearances at 155. While Colin and Che are consistently the bright spots of SNL every week, it’s a reminder of how little the cast has changed in recent years. Kenan Thompson has been on the show for almost half his life.
Line of the Night
“What if we put a sick-ass treasure map on this thing?”
Best Dance Moves
While I am tempted to give this to Jason Sudeikis’s Running Man, Chris Redd as “Miami Al Sharpton” got me good. I really wish we could have seen Bill Hader return as Lindsey Buckingham, but Fred Armisen was more than happy to reprise his saxophone-playing Giuseppe.
A sketch-comedy concept I believe in is that the more you focus on character intent, the funnier the sketch is. This week I wanted to highlight two good examples.
• In the “Science Room With Jason Sudeikis,” Jason’s intent is to teach two kids science on a kids’ show. Mikey and Cecily’s horrible answers keep derailing him, but the key is that Jason’s character keeps trying. I love this moment where Jason gives up on the diorama and tries to move on to a simple gravity exhibition. That leads to the biggest laugh of the sketch: “My sister says you should never ignore the balls.”
• In “Annie,” Cecily is trying to welcome Melissa to the Daddy Warbucks house. She’s derailed by the mysterious Ricky. However, instead of JUST going back to singing, the sketch makes a really sharp adjustment by having Cecily interrupt Melissa to ask Ricky what his mysterious club is. Last week I wrote that a straight man isn’t just there to stare at things and find it weird. Here, by attempting to gather new information, Cecily’s character pushes the sketch into surprising territory.
Jason Sudeikis was a sketch-comedy Swiss Army knife this week, and he gets my MVP. I guess I need to stop thinking of him as “the guy who wasn’t Bill Hader or Will Forte.” I especially loved his commitment when reacting to Andrew in “Declaration Pitch” and Kenan in “Casino Proposal.”
This was a good episode of SNL. There wasn’t one bad sketch, and they seemed to have a lot of fun with Jason. Going forward, I really hope Kate comes back after the break. I think she’s shooting a Tiger King show or something, but she’s missed. It also appears that SNL cut another Please Don’t Destroy sketch for time for the second week in a row. I guess we can live with that, but we’re going to need it uploaded to YouTube ASAP.