So the State of the Union was just this week, right?!? Saturday Night Live has done live shows during U.S. wars before, but somehow we remained detached enough to enjoy the comedy back then, didn’t we somehow? This feels ominously different for whatever reason (Putin. It’s Putin). So how will the show handle it? SNL opened solemn last week. Might President Biden’s big primetime address give them a reason to lighten it up a bit?
What’s The Deal For The SNL Cold Open For Last Night (03/05/22)?
They lightened it up and then some, going to the opposite extreme for a topical take on the Ukraine. No State of the Union. No Biden. SNL would rather head back to Trump country, aka Mar-A-Lago, where Laura Ingraham (Kate McKinnon) and Tucker Carlson (Alex Moffat) hosted “The FOX News Ukrainian Invasion Celebration Spectacular,” which is not so much a mea culpa from the FOX News anchors about their early support for Russia and Putin, so much as it is a fund-raiser for all of the poor Russian oligarchs who might face some financial consequences from the world’s sanctions on them. Alex does offer a solid take on Tucker’s voice, as well as his politics, at one point describing his desire to focus our attention instead on the Mexico border with, “In my defense, I am racist, so I thought this was true.” James Austin Johnson still gets the stream-of-consciousness rambling take on Trump, but who among us really wants to be thinking about Trump right now, anyhow? Far better is Bowen Yang as a mockery of Steven Seagal. We’re also subjected to Donald Trump Jr. (Mikey Day) and his fiance, Kimberly Guilfoyle (Cecily Strong), who duet on a modified lyrical version of “Shallow.” JAJ’s Trump gets in the singing action, too, dedicating “My Funny Valentine” to Putin. Please dear God, let this end soon. The war and this sketch.
How Did The SNL Guest Host Oscar Isaac Do?
Oscar Isaac has been on the show before, but only to get upstaged in a live “What Up With That” sketch. So this was his proper debut as a host!
And if you’ve ever seen Isaac act before, you just knew he’d be great at this. And he was!
Even his monologue was extraordinary, as Issac reminded us that show-biz only uses half of his half-Guatemlan, half-Cuban name (it’s Óscar Isaac Hernández Estrada), and he showed off multiple clips of the first film he ever made and starred in, “The Avenger,” at age 10. He marveled at having to sign a licensing agreement with NBCUniversal to share the clips in the show, and how his childhood buddy he made the movie would be so amazed by all of this. But even better, Issac’s explanation for doing so: “It’s important to encourage kids to be weirdos.”
So inspiring. Made more inspiring by Isaac’s gusto in getting super weird throughout the show.
The first sketch, “Paw Patrol,” cast him as a city councilman looking to recall the mayor (Ego Nwodim) over her replacing the police and fire departments with dogs, all under the command of a 10-year-old boy. What if Paw Patrol were real life, indeed. Kate and Mikey play concerned citizens. Andrew Dismukes plays Isaac’s kid who cannot read well since Paw Patrol took over everything. The idea is fun and odd, but it should’ve and could’ve escalated a lot quicker? Because the surprise joke at the end is a nice button, but it took too long to get there.
His next live sketch put him as a work (and more) partner with Cecily Strong as HR reps at a company running the annual “HR Meeting” sexual harassment seminar into the ground and trying to have “raw intercourse” with it.
In a sketch that feels like a callback to Aidy Bryant’s pleas in the week’s promos for a reason to kiss the host and/or the musical guest, Issac dutifully played whatever part she wanted in “Aidy’s Dream.” Even if that meant reverting to using his real name halfway through the sketch, after already sitting on her lap and then serenading her and declaring she’d given him a big ol’ boner. In pre-taped backstage bits where Aidy explains her reasoning for it all, apparently she got to do whatever she wanted in exchange for playing 150 characters she didn’t really care for first. Or something like that.
He also proved game for a “Home Repair Show” gone wrong sketch, in which he’d electrocuted himself trying to rewire his place by himself. Kenan and Ego play husband-and-wife in this sketch, with her overturning his proverbial apple cart by revealing his tool box is filled with beer cans, and all of his tools are really just chocolates. OK.
How Relevant Was The Musical Guest Charli XCX?
Charli XCX, a decade after first breaking big with “I Love It,” and getting even more popular in 2014 (when she performed “Boom Clap” on SNL), was supposed to make her second appearance as the musical guest back in December. But the Omicron variant of COVID-19 took out part of her crew and sidelined her performance, although she did appear in a pre-taped bit in that episode. Rain check delivered and cashed this week. She’d already released four singles from her forthcoming album, “Crash,” out March 18, and sang two of them here.
First, “Beg For You.”
Which Sketch Will We Be Sharing: “Inventing Chloe” or “Meatballs”
The trending topics will tell you the predicated viral video from this week’s episode is Chloe Fineman getting too much into her binge of Inventing Anna by trying to con her cast mates and NBC pages into doing what she wants.
But “Inventing Chloe” has nothing on Sarah Sherman’s meatball lady.
It’s so wild to see a sketch you’re used to expecting in the final minutes of the night instead getting a prime placement in the first half-hour. So what a treat! At the end of an otherwise lovely date, Chris Redd wonders why Sarah sports a green ribbon around her neck. Turns out there’s a singing meatball attached to it, with the face and voice of Oscar Isaac. He’s not the only meatball dangling from Sarah’s body, as we soon see Aidy, Bowen, Kenan, Andrew, Melissa Villasenor, and even Charli XCX all getting into the act and harmonizing? SNL needs more wild and weird sketch ideas that can become timeless earworms for fans. Meatball earworms, at that.
Which of these two sketches are you more into? It probably says a lot about your sensibilities and sense of humor which one you choose.
Who Stopped By Weekend Update?
After an uncanny Update segment last week that featured no guest appearances, this week’s episode had two.
Kate showed up as herself to talk about Florida’s new “Don’t Say Gay” legislation, and as a lesbian, you might expect her to have some thoughts about it. Her first thought, though? “I think it’s amazing!” Namely because when she was in middle school, her fellow students only said the word “gay” as an insult or slur. When Colin Jost explains the Florida law actually bans teachers, students or staff from even acknowledging gay people exist, Kate naturally has more thoughts, and cannot stop herself from saying gay words over and over. Heck, even her 1990s experience teaches her something now: “This is the gayest law I’ve ever seen!”
Ego is back with her “Weary Mother” character, Pauline, who says her experience is nothing like Rihanna’s. “I’m just regular pregnant. I want to be famous pregnant!”
What Sketch Filled The “10-to-1” Slot?
At 12:54 a.m. Eastern, we’re in a writers workshop of some kind meeting at night in a school, led by Aidy with JAJ, Chris, Melissa and Heidi Gardner. They’re interrupted by the janitor (Issac), and wouldn’t you know it, he just happens to have a full notebook in his pocket, so he’s invited to sit down and read from his book, “The Apogee of Midnight.” Turns out this book is erotica in which his janitor winds up meeting Dua Lipa, who wants him to teach her how to make out. And then a “famous ginger MILF” gets in on it, too? That’s too much for the ladies in the circle, but the fellas want to hear how the story turns out. Somehow, they let Issac’s janitor keep reading.
Not sure why this sketch ended up ending the night, but this season has been marked by confoundingc choices.
I mean, this “Cut For Time” fake ad for Aerotoilet feels much more like a night-ender, don’t you think?
Who Was The Episode’s MVP?
As it stood, several cast members wound up sidelined for much of the night. No Pete, Punkie or Aristotle. Barely any Heidi, and barely more by Melissa, Alex and Chloe. Aidy Bryant deserves kudos for celebrating her 150th character. But you know what’s even better than 150 characters? How about 1,500 sketches?!?! Congrats, Kenan Thompson!
Next week, it’s Zoë Kravitz hosting, with musical guest Rosalía, and the accent button on our keyboards will finally get some use.
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.