It’s a new year and a new era for Saturday Night Live, especially since the show announced six weeks ago that it wouldn’t return until Donald Trump had left the White House. So now what? Let’s find out together!
What’s The Deal With The SNL Cold Open for 1/30/21?
Speaking of what now for SNL, the opening sketch ditched a topical political re-enactment for a whole lot of catching up on the news, with Kate McKinnon appearing as herself to ask in the wake of Trump: “What Still Works?”
Does government work? Cecily Strong as newly-elected Q-Anon Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene from Georgia quickly spouts off on several of Greene’s conspiracy theories and shows off her gun, which makes McKinnon question how in the world Greene is an elected official. Would Google confirm this? “It might not be the first thing that comes up, but yeah,” Strong’s Greene quips.
Does Wall Street work? Pete Davidson shows up as a new GameStop winner: “You want to buy my stonks?”
McKinnon (who pretty much left social media behind after getting on SNL) knows the Internet is broken, but it’s a fun opportunity to see Mikey Day as wild chin-bearded @Jack from Twitter, and Alex Moffat as an anxiously dabbing and giggling Mark Zuckerberg who cops to Facebook’s massive failures.
Kenan Thompson shows up as O.J. Simpson, who received his COVID-19 vaccine shot this week, in case you didn’t know that, now you’re burdened with that knowledge, too.
And host John Krasinski gets to indirectly pay tribute to one of his Boston sports idols by portraying quarterback Tom Brady, who at 43 left the New England Patriots for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers only to steer the Bucs to this year’s Super Bowl. “You might be the only thing in America that still works,” McKinnon says.
How Did The SNL Guest Host John Krasinski Do?
For a guy originally scheduled to make his SNL hosting debut in March 2020, only to have that scrapped by the pandemic lockdowns, as well as putting a hold on his movie he would’ve plugged back then (A Quiet Place Part II), Krasinski still showed up eager and ready to fulfill a lifelong dream of his.
Despite the tired premise of cast members interrupting the host with questions in which they confuse the host with their onscreen persona, this monologue schtick eventually turned nothing into something for people to talk about when Davidson agreed to play “Pam” so “Jim” could “kiss Pam” and make all of those Americans stuck at home watching The Office reruns just a little bit happier.
Krasinski got to cover a lot of bases during the episode, including a sheriff introducing his New York City cousin to the new “Blue Georgia,” a surprising member of the U.S. Capitol insurrection, and the old host of Supermarket Sweep in the 1990s, David Ruprecht.
He played the straight man in what turned out to be the best sketch of the night, in which Krasinski depicted an economist weighing in on live TV about the GameStop stock squeeze, only to have his twin children (McKinnon and Mikey Day) upstage him their increasingly terrifying behavior. Also kudos to the writers for getting so specifically weird. One twin is “stingy with the mustard” because the other is “indulgent with the mustard.”
In a pre-taped short, Krasinski played the popular jock at school rushing to defend his younger brother, “The Loser,” (Andrew Dismukes) even if it means revealing so many other reasons to make of the little guy.
And toward the end of the night, he joined Beck Bennet as the Subway fast-food franchise’s two oldest “idea guys,” who claimed to have discovered Jared, and whose brightest idea in 2021 is still bringing Jared back to sell subs.
How Relevant Was The Musical Guest?
Machine Gun Kelly gained mainstream attention a few years ago by challenging Eminem, and so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the radio DJs call him MGK now and he’s going after emo music now. MGK also is good friends with Pete Davidson, co-starring in Davidson’s past two movies, Big Time Adolescence and The King of Staten Island.
So the only real surprise is that the two buds didn’t share a sketch together. Unless you count them tumbling off the stage during good-nights.
Both of MGK’s musical performances, “My Ex’s Best Friend” and “Lonely,” come off of his latest album, released in September, and were co-written and produced by Travis Barker, so all of you on social media making snarky references to Blink-182…well, laugh’s on you.
Which Sketch Will We Be Sharing?
Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon make comedy gold whenever they team up for a sketch, so their 1991 lesbian lovers on Supermarket Sweep should find lots of online allies. And Bowen Yang was trending on Twitter for good reason, but we’ll get to his bravura in a moment.
Because nothing guarantees viral sharing quite like a medley of celebrity impersonations doing something outlandish. In this case: promoting an album called “Now That’s What I Call Theme Songs Sung By The Stars Of The Show.”
Starting with Chloe Fineman’s rendition of Nicole Kidman, who actually did sing the opening credits to HBO’s The Undoing, we’re then treated to inspired lyrics by Melissa Villasenor as Anya-Taylor Joy’s “Beth Harmon” for The Queen’s Gambit; Beck Bennett as “Sheriff Hopper” singing Stranger Things; Cecily Strong as Julie Andrews, the narrator from Bridgerton; Pete Davidson as “Cousin Greg” from Succession; Kate McKinnon as Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher for The Crown; Fineman once more, this time as Kim Cattrall for the Sex and the City reboot without Samantha; Kyle Mooney as “Baby Yoda” for The Mandalorian; Alex Moffat as Kelsey Grammer updating the lyrics for Frasier; all capped off with the pièce de résistance, Krasinski writing and performing lyrics to open The Office.
Who Stopped By Weekend Update?
Perhaps the comedy pieces with the biggest impact happened with this week’s visitors to the Update desk.
Bennett, who’d already portrayed MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell before on the show, really put the diehard Trump supporter to bed with a series of conspiracy theories he heard from his pillow, as well as reading a perhaps probably definitely fictional passage from his 2019 memoir, “What Are The Odds? From Crack Addict to CEO,” which nevertheless was a real book. As for Lindell getting caught outside the White House with a memo advocating martial law? “If that’s not democracy, then I don’t know what is.” He said it.
Bowen Yang may nail New York City in a way nobody else on SNL can or will, and Yang brought his uncanny take on Fran Lebowitz to anyone who hasn’t yet watched Pretend It’s A City on Netflix. All while the Netflix show’s director and longtime Lebowitz friend Martin Scorsese (Kyle Mooney) couldn’t stop laughing. But with gems like this — “Gender doesn’t exist anymore. You know why? Ed Koch died.” — who could blame him?
Meanwhile, we also were treated to the return of Cathy Anne, aka “the lady always yelling outside (Michael Che’s) window,” played by Cecily Strong, to explain how so many people could end up trying to overthrow the U.S. Congress earlier this month. She compared Republican politicians to possums, who only got two moves: “they hiss, and then they play dead.”
What Sketch Filled The “10-to-1” Slot?
At 12:57 a.m. on the East Coast, that’s just enough time for a sketch with multiple layers of weird, and only two of those layers were hiding under Krasinski’s top hat. Start with him crediting Ratatouille (as in the animated rat from the 2007 Pixar movie) for his sexual prowess in bed with Chloe Fineman’s character. Don’t ask how or why. Then the rat, played by Mooney, reveals Bugatouille (Bryant) under his chef’s hat. But wait. There’s more. An artsy goth sex critic (Davidson) is typing away with his review of the scene. I mean. OK. Sure. Why not. But why?
Who Was The Episode’s MVP?
While the more veteran cast members all showed why they remain show stalwarts, the cast member who got the most chances to shine this week was rookie Andrew Dismukes. Dismukes, an SNL writer promoted last fall to the featured cast, appeared in multiple sketches with opportunities to show how he can and will contribute moving forward. Before now, he’s mostly gotten screen time in more eccentric outings alongside the likes of Bennett and Mooney. This week, though, he popped up as a Don Knotts type of sheriff’s deputy in the “Blue Georgia” sketch, an understated husband on “Supermarket Sweep,” and played essentially the mark for his fellow actors to go wild around him in two other sketches: playing “The Loser” who gets mocked by his classmates and his brother; and the new “idea guy” for Subway who has to win over the old-timers. None of these sketches might make for a recurring breakout character, but there’s always going to be a need for someone to fill in the role of the guy whom the recurring characters run wild around.
This week’s SNL also closed with a tribute card to Cicely Tyson, who died on Thursday at age 96, and hosted Season 4, Episode 11, with musical guest Talking Heads on Feb. 10, 1979.
Next week: Dan Levy with musical guest Phoebe Bridgers!
Sean L. McCarthy works the comedy beat for his own digital newspaper, The Comic’s Comic; before that, for actual newspapers. Based in NYC but will travel anywhere for the scoop: Ice cream or news. He also tweets @thecomicscomic and podcasts half-hour episodes with comedians revealing origin stories: The Comic’s Comic Presents Last Things First.
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