Saturday Night Live returned for their first show of 2017, and picked up right where it left off: trying to elicit an early morning tweet storm from the President-Elect. The cold open featured a “rebroadcast” of that shit-show of a “press conference” from Wednesday afternoon, complete with piles and piles of “important documents” on the table next to the podium. I’ve tried to explain my thoughts on these sketches before, but I still have a hard time getting into the portrayal of Trump and his crew.
Alec Baldwin does a great job in his role as Trump, but the absurdity and incredulity of the real thing makes it much harder to turn into satire. Lines from Baldwin like, “Listen, sweetheart, I’m about to be president. We’re all gonna die.”, are clearly meant as laugh lines, but instead are met with nervous chuckles and sideways glances. It’s strange. Not necessarily bad, just strange. Like, if Trump won, say American Idol, it would probably be funnier. But instead, he won the presidency. There’s only so much humor you can draw from that.
Anyway, rant over. For now. Felicity Jones was a game host, and before the episode I set the over/under on Star Wars sketches at 3.5. If you took the under, cash your ticket, as outside of the opening monologue (complete with a Tina Fey cameo, which is always much appreciated), the movie wasn’t really mentioned. It’s too bad, really, that a small indie production such as Rogue One could probably use all the publicity it can get.
Shondra & Malik. Sometimes it’s the simple things. This was a shorter digital sketch, but it was sweet and wonderfully acted by Leslie Jones, Kenan Thompson (who had a low-key great show), and Vanessa Bayer. Thompson trying to be a tough guy while his junker car wouldn’t cooperate was really great. Add in my personal favorite way to get out of a sketch without an ending (shout out to random explosions), and you have the recipe for success.
SNL’s spoof of The Bachelor returned this week, and “Beard Hunk” didn’t bring anything new to the table that its predecessors (“Farm Hunk” and “Bland Man”) forgot. In fact, it brought exactly the same thing to the table, almost verbatim. I’m all for recurring sketches, but this just seemed more like a tired retread. There has to be better material to mine from The Bachelor franchise than to just run out a carbon copy of this sketch every January.
- I loved the “Susan B. Anthony” sketch featuring modern women visiting the Susan B. Anthony house and subsequently conjuring Anthony out of thin air. Their heart-felt, if ultimately empty gratitude, followed by their hard turn to patronizing the women’s rights activist was pitch perfect.
- Mikey Day had another solid performance, even if he was only sparingly used. The physical comedy of played a 104-year-old confined to a wheelchair in “Theatre Donor” was great, and Felicity Jones’s role as his nurse held the sketch together.
- “Movie Interview” was a nice play on the self-important press tour interviews, with Kyle Mooney stealing the sketch as the social crusader director of Hot Robot 3: Journey to Boob Mountain.
- Michael Che is really good at “Weekend Update”. It’s been awesome watching him get more comfortable in the role, and he has become one of my favorite parts of the show.
LINES WITHOUT CONTEXT
- “I’m even gonna have a little pet. Bill Clinton had Socks, Barack Obama had Bo, and I’ll have Paul Ryan.” – Alec Baldwin
- “Also if Leslie Jones suddenly appears at the end of a sketch, acting vaguely horny and angry at everybody, it means the writers couldn’t think of an ending.” – Tina Fey
- “It feels like every decision Donald Trump makes starts with the sentence: ‘Yo, you know what would be hilarious?'” – Michael Che
- “You knew we were in trouble when every liberal in the country was like ‘C’mon Mitt Romney!'” – Pete Davidson