Last week, the Saturday Night Live premiere set the bar high with great sketches in a Margot Robbie helmed episode. This week Lin-Manuel Miranda had big shoes to fill, but team SNL was handed the greatest gift a live show could ask for- the Trump Pussygate Video released a full 30 hours before the show went live. The Trump news gave this week’s show its highlights, but unfortunately the rest of the show fell short this week. Some bright moments gave the show some punch this week, but for the rest of the sketches, there was a failure to find the right rhythm, and maybe a too heavy lean on the love for Hamilton with hip hop musical bits popping up everywhere. Fortunately for the show, Alec Baldwin as Trump is still new and full of surprises. Baldwin-Trump’s newest Trumpism- “APPLE uh gize” is a hit. It was a strong open, with a near SNL perfect impression that is just the right balance of reality and exaggeration to become an all time political favorite.
Unfortunately there weren’t enough great sketches to build a top 5. Hamilton fans were probably thrilled with Lin-Manuel’s musical monologue, and the Broadway centric Crucible Cast Party, and Wells Fargo Wagon, but for everyone else, these sketches didn’t make a lot of sense, and although Lin-Manuel was impressive in a sketch about his Spanish-English phone call home, it just wasn’t funny enough to make our list. So instead of a Top 5 sketches list, we’ll just feature the three (and a half) best moments from this week’s show.
Our favorite sketch of the week appeared dead last Saturday night. Normally the 5 minutes to 1am spot is reserved for the weaker material, knowing many viewers have dropped out or dozed off. But this week’s last sketch, a parody on Stranger Things, was undoubtably the show highlight. The sketch opens with Stranger Things creators promising to answer one of the show’s greatest mysteries in Season Two, “where is that black kid’s family?” Leslie Jones and Kenan Thompson star as Lucas’ parents and handle the situation a little differently than the parents we saw in Season One. Sasheer Zamata, Kyle Mooney, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Kate McKinnon play the Stranger Things kids, landing the best sketch of the night, proving that Kate McKinnon is still SNL’s MVP, and Leslie Jones is a true power hitter.
New cast members made early appearances in the Cold Open with Melissa Villasenor opening the show and quickly answering the question on everyone’s mind (who is that?) Mikey Day and Beck Bennett play the Vice-Presidential candidates mid-debate when breaking news interrupts with Alec Baldwin as Trump addressing the Pussygate Scandal. Trump’s apple-uh-gee poked fun at Billy Bush, blamed his own youth for his mistakes- “It was 11 years ago, back when I was just a young, childish 59 year old man”- and ended with another hot mic moment. Meanwhile at Clinton headquarters, Team Clinton celebrates.
One of the most interesting parts of the show this week was Weekend Update which normally doesn’t make our SNL Sunday morning review column. While we love Che and Jost, it’s usually too comfortable and too predictable to stand out. This week Weekend Update broke from its usual delivery rhythm to go after Trump with a fierceness that almost risked being too real, too heavy to be funny. But the jokes were strong and frequent and the result was the best Weekend Update we’ve seen so far from Team Che/Jost. The change in delivery with both anchors using tonality closer to their normal speech brought the segment to life; something to explore in weeks going forward.
Highlights included Coln Jost’s “And you know this isn’t even the worst thing he ever said. This is just the worst thing he said to Billy Bush, while mic’ed on an Access Hollywood bus,” as well as Che’s “I don’t think the problem women have with sexual assault is bad breath. That’s like Cosby using a coaster for one of his love potions,” and another killer from Jost, “Now if you’re a woman and you hear Tic Tacs shaking, it’s like hearing the Jaws theme.”
Not everything on Weekend Update belongs on the best of the week list. We are baffled by Pete Davidson’s Propecia bit and disappointed with what should have been a more exciting return to Weekend Update for Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey.
Tina and Jimmy covered a favorite comedic topic rarely explored on television or in film, but frequently mined brilliantly on SiriusXM’s Bennington Show, and that’s the Philly accent. The sketch was written with a lot of funny words and pronunciations, but lacked flow, and it just wasn’t funny enough. Fey got some great laughs- she’s taken on the Philly accent before appearing with Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph as the Philly friend of their Bronx girls characters. But Fallon wasn’t able to hit the right notes and was more tuned in to his character’s gender than diving into the Philly bit. If you want to hear the Philly accent done right, grab a clip of Bennington, or even YouTube’s Philly Guy.