After more than a decade away from Saturday Night Live, former cast member Will Forte finally got the invite back to host an episode. And yet, for whatever reason, the show seemed to undermine Forte throughout, from jabs at his ego’s expense in the monologue, to a number of sketches that never quite reached their full potential. It’s not Forte’s fault. He still came prepared and willing to extend himself into extremely eccentric characters. But something was missing. Was it Jason Sudeikis? Kristin Wiig came back to support Forte. And yet. This episode did not score highly on the whelming meter. Perhaps everyone was holding back on their big ideas for next week? Perhaps Lorne Michaels or the other producers or head writers held the rest of the staff back? But like Lorne loves to be requoted about, the show doesn’t go on because it’s ready or funny, it goes on because it’s 11:30 p.m. on a Saturday night in New York City.
What’s The Deal For The SNL Cold Open For Last Night (01/22/22)?
Kate McKinnon opened the show as Laura Ingraham hosting her primetime FOX News hour with usual potshots at President Joe Biden. Unsurprisingly, McKinnon’s reliable comedy partner/foil, Aidy Bryant, showed up as her first guest, Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. Pete Davidson came through as sorta kinda top tennis player Novak Djokavic to laugh getting deported from Australia for his lack of vaccination. Ego Nwodim made a blink-and-you-might-miss it appearance as Candace Owens. None of the “guests” in this sketch really struck gold, although McKinnon got off a few quips before James Austin Johnson livened things up with his Trump impersonation employing the new “Wordle” game craze into his stream of unconsciousness riffs. As a Wordle player myself as well as a lover of games, I do appreciate that they wrote JAJ’s Trump riff in accordance with the actual rules of the game (even if one of the entries might not be an acceptable word).
How Did The SNL Guest Host Will Forte Do?
Will Forte made light of the fact that so many of his colleagues had gotten invites to host SNL long before him, and multiple times, too. His sincerity worked a lot better than the end of the monologue, which found Lorne and others taking shots at Forte.
Of course, we’d get to see plenty of Forte’s past SNL hits, first and foremost MacGruber now that the SNL sketch has blossomed all these years later into a new series on Peacock. But he’d really only bring back one other recurring character, instead choosing to channel his energies into other weirdos and wackos. Forte himself shines brightest when he’s accompanied by other bursts of kinetic comedy energy to challenge, heighten and elevate his game. When he was in the SNL cast, that usually came from Sudeikis, although Wiig also contributed.
Too few in the current cast seemed game enough tonight. The only one who really did throw themselves into it, quite literally, was Aidy Bryant as the contestant to Forte’s host for the game show, “Kid Klash.”
Other sketches such as the “Cinema Classics: Gaslight,” or “Threesome” may have let Forte ham it up, but ultimately were more let downs than anything else thanks to the writers and cast pretty much leaving him out to dry.
How Relevant Was The Musical Guest Måneskin?
Måneskin made their US TV debut a few months ago, in October, in this building on Fallon, from ITALY, and won the Eurovision competition last May, but it’s their 2017 cover of a 1960s song, that went viral this past year on TikTok, that really makes them relevant. If you’ve ever been on TikTok, then the chorus of this first song, “Beggin’,” will sound all too familiar. And if you’re old, you know it’s originally a song from Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.
For the band’s second song, I’m begging TikTok not to make “I Wanna Be Your Slave” a thing.
Which Sketch Will We Be Sharing: “Jackie & Clancy”
The only other big reunion of the night happened when we discovered a new collection of songs from Clancy T. Bachleratt and Jackie Snad. You might remember their previous compilation album, “Clancy T. Bachleratt and Jackie Snad Sing Songs About Spaceships, Toddlers, Model T Cars & Jars Of Beer.” Well, they’re at it again. This time, Clancy sings “Pool Trip Tango,” while Jackie croons “Salad Bar Boogie,” and together they duet on a new song that the NFL really should consider playing before every football game instead of the national anthem. Yeah, I said it!
Who Stopped By Weekend Update?
Three, nay, four guests swung by the Update desk this weekend, all of them recurring characters.
Bowen Yang’s Chinese Trade Minister, Chen Biao, had plenty of thoughts about NBC’s decision to have sports analysts do play-by-play and color commentary from Connecticut instead of traveling to Beijing for this year’s Winter Olympics in February. Bowen’s Biao also keeps up with pop culture, whether it’s referring to Michael Che as “Che Diaz,” mocking season two of The Wire, or describing China’s Olympics mascot as a panda at a rave that he dreamt up “when I was on ketamine.”
Yang always has such fresh, vibrant energy to bring to the show. And so, too, does rookie cast member Sarah Sherman. The rainbow colors don’t hurt, either. But Sherman still had fun dressing down Colin Jost for everything he said in conversation with her, and then suggesting (to wild cheers from the live audience) that Jost and Che should just make out already.
And then there’s the real-life news from this week in which Pete Davidson and Colin Jost joined in a successful bid to buy an old Staten Island ferry at auction from the city. Alex Moffat’s Guy Who Just Bought A Boat naturally announced this news to the audience in the midst of all of his single, double and triple entendres. And Davidson, who quipped at one point that he usually bails immediately after he’s done with his final sketch, clearly seemed literally half in the bag, drinking out of a paper bag and cracking up after almost every punchline that came out of Moffat’s mouth.
What Sketch Filled The “10-to-1” Slot?
No real sketch following the second musical performance. Instead, at 12:58 a.m. Eastern, they aired a third and final MacGruber short. Here are all three bits, as we see MacGruber slipping further and farther into the alt-right conspiracy camp. Complete with his cast mates Wiig as Vicki St. Elmo and Ryan Phillipe as Dixon Piper. Is it weird to think or say or type that these shorts didn’t go far enough???
Who Was The Episode’s MVP?
Kristen Wiig may have received more applause during the monologue, but this was definitely still Will Forte‘s show. Nobody in the main cast, save for McKinnon and Bryant in the first half-hour, had to extend themselves too much this week.
Next week, it’s host Willem Dafoe with musical guest Katy Perry!
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.