Oh boy, this show. As the first show after the inauguration, I was curious about how SNL would handle an actual Trump presidency. On the first day we had one of the largest protests in history, one of dumbest lies in history, and a president pissing off intelligence leaders. So, um, yeah. Quite the day. But with crazy stuff happening so fast and so frequently, I wondered if SNL could even keep up with the crazy-o-meter of the Trump news cycle.
I wasn’t particularly encouraged by the cold open. Using the Russian hack on our election as a punchline just felt, weird. Following that up with Putin joking about making his vocal opponents disappear just felt tone-deaf. I don’t know, the laughter seemed a little more nervous as opposed to genuine. However, Kate McKinnon came to the rescue with her OlyaPovlatsky character and saved the day. After kowtowing to Putin, she showed up outside his window and brandished a pink hat. It was the perfect way to end the sketch.
I had a feeling that Aziz Ansari would be a great host and my feelings were pretty much confirmed the second he started his monologue. Stand-up comics are always the best at SNL monologues, and Ansari was no different. His performance felt like the other side of the coin to the cold open. He was measured and empathetic, not to mention funny. His plea to not enable secret racists was spot on, and he made it with both logic and humor. If SNL can provide this sort of commentary, I think we’re in good hands. Aziz Ansari was awesome.
“La La Land Interrogation”. This sketch was fantastic. Ansari’s character gets picked up for not unequivocally loving “La La Land”, and is brutally interrogated. The escalating anger exhibited by Cecily Strong and Beck Bennett, Ansari’s self-defense (“I liked it, I didn’t think it was amazing singing.”), and Kenan Thompson’s arrest for not loving “Westworld” – all pitch perfect. The sketch was reminiscent of the old digital short “The Beygency”, where law enforcement hunted Beyonce deniers, which is another all-time classic. Great stuff.
This show was really great, so “The Worst” is definitely relative. Strong and Sasheer Zamata serenading President Obama with “To Sir With Love” was sweet and even touching, but it just felt a little flat and out-of-place. Look, I’m gonna miss him too, but for me, this one just didn’t hit the target for which it was intended.
- I don’t know what it is about the sketches involving animatronic movement, but they really get me every time. I’d rather not risk delving into this preference too much.
- The “Five Stars” digital short was perfect for anyone that has taken an Uber or checked their user rating or been offered a wet, sticky mint. Five stars (nailed it).
- McKinnon’s musical portrayal of Kelly Anne Conway this week was biting, hilarious, and heartbreaking all at once. That’s quite a feat for a four-minute sketch.
- Ansari was awesome as a condescending know-it-all in “Beat the Bookworm”, proving immediately that he has the chops to be a great SNL host. Hopefully he’s back sooner rather than later.
- If you are in need of legal services and happen to call Broderick & Ganz, ask for Broderick.
LINES WITHOUT CONTEXT
- “If you’re going to lie, don’t make it so obvious. Say you’re friends with Lebron James, not that you are Lebron James.” – Beck Bennett
- “Pretty cool to know (Trump’s) probably at home right now watching a brown guy make fun of him.” – Aziz Ansari
- “And when the world goes down in flames, at least for now they knew my name. Kelly Anne Conway.” – Kate McKinnon
- “On Thursday an inaugural concert featuring Three Doors Down, Lee Greenwood, and Toby Keith was held in front of the Lincoln Memorial. It was the second worst live performance Lincoln has ever attended.” – Colin Jost
- “Scientists in Britain have uncovered a 4,000 year old etching of a face in a rock, which may be the first stone-age selfie. Or, and hear me out, it isn’t.” – Michael Che