Anticipation was high for Drake’s return to Saturday Night Live. After all, he’s a superstar. But the episode fell flat, making it the second week in a row that we struggled to find a favorite clip of the night to share. There was a somewhat self-deprecating monologue that had Drake pleading with his audience to see him as more than a meme, a self-deprecating digital short where Drake wondered why the cast doesn’t respect him, and imagines rap responses to the haters, and plenty of Drake sketches.
Drake played a Canadian on an uneventful episode of Black Jeopardy, (although he came off more like a Valley Girl mashed up with a cartoon version of a Jamaican if you ask us). American Ninja Warrior put Drake in the straight man position, playing commentator Akbar Gbajabiamila, in a mostly flatliner of a sketch, with the exception of a funny performance by Bobby Moynihan as a contestant named Jeff. Dennis Walls & The Cookies was an uncomfortable parody of a PBS special about a 70’s R&B singer who says the word sexy a lot. And what may have been the night’s worst sketch (appropriately airing at 12:55), Chaperone, cast Drake as a high school dance chaperone that inexplicably put him in a penciled in black beard, and Hulk Hogan-esque blond hair and mustache. A rental car sketch and a sketch about the search for an appropriate GOP candidate for President rounded out the Drake sketches.
Drakeless moments of the show didn’t fare much better. Weekend Update trotted out some familiar characters who were not at their best, like Kate McKinnon’s old woman from Russia, Olya Povlatsky, commenting on Trump, (not to be confused with her much funnier character, Mrs. Santini, the woman who lives in Colin Jost’s building). Leslie Jones did a Weekend Update monologue, giving her take on the recent viral video “It’s Never Too Late.” We’ll never hate on Jones’ Weekend Update rants, but lets just say it won’t make her top 5.
The one bright note of the show went to Jay Pharoah, who exposed the secret rappers meeting that meets every 3 months on P-Diddy’s above-ground submarine. Pharoah recounted the evening with his amazing impressions, this time, Jay Z, 50 Cent, T.I., Lil Wayne, Will Smith, Nicki Minaj and of course, Drake. Pharoah killed earlier this season in March doing impressions from the secret meeting of black comics of Hollywood.
Next week Fred Armisen returns to 30 Rock to host the Season Finale on May 21 with musical guest Courtney Barnett. We’re looking forward to a big rebound for what has been a solid 41st season.