Published Nov 04, 2018Jonah Hill was sort of welcomed into the Five-Timers Club while Maggie Rogers struggled to make a good first impression. Here's everything that happened on Saturday Night Live this week.
The cold open
Kate McKinnon played Laura Ingraham, live on location at the Arizona border, where she was reporting on the Republican talking point that is the migrant caravan approaching the U.S./Mexico border. Cecily Strong played fellow Fox News fear-monger Jeanine Piro, and Kenan Thompson played Sheriff David Clarke. Each threw to supposed footage of the infamous caravan of migrants, which was really clips of people storming department stores on Black Friday, riot scenes from movies or even insects moving in groups in nature documentaries. Kind of funny because, in terms of Fox towing the president's line and trying to scare up Republican votes, it was all kind of true.
Jonah Hill joined SNL's famous Five-Timers Club and was greeted by established members Tina Fey, Candace Bergen and Drew Barrymore. A recurring sketch since Tom Hanks' fifth turn as host some 20 years ago, this one was a mildly amusing update suggesting that fewer men are permitted into the club these days because so many turn out to be terrible people.
Adam Grossman at Benihana
Hill reprised his role as precocious six year-old Adam Grossman, who winds up bothering fellow customers at a Benihana. Leslie Jones played Lily, his put-upon nanny, whom he insists is Jamaican. Hill's Grossman is very much an Adam Sandler-esque character, which was highlighted every time he sang Lily a Bob Marley song, which made Hill and Jones break.
A faux ad about how nervous Democrats are to admit any confidence in their mid-term election prospects, this was well done, with particularly stressed out performances by Heidi Gardner and Kate McKinnon.
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Hill played a guy named Matt who attempts to propose to his girlfriend, a weatherperson played by Cecily Strong, who is on-air and working when he shows up. The jokes here were that she wasn't keen to marry Matt initially and that his torso was lost in a green screen so that he was just a head floating above a graphic for a daily weather forecast. The sketch had a twist by the end but was ultimately only marginally funny.
Divided We Stand
This faux promo for an off-Broadway show was rather good. More skewering desperate, pretentious actors than anyone else, it imagined a musical that promised political commentary, but was actually apolitical at best, selfish and nihilistic at worse. Kind of amusing, if only because it gave frequent drama nerd attackers Aidy Bryant, Kyle Mooney and Kate McKinnon some familiar fodder to feed on.
Teacher's On the Ground
This was good. Kate McKinnon plays a teacher who falls in class, which leads to all sorts of tension, as she refuses help from her students and instead espouses a kind of dramatic philosophical monologue. Pete Davidson, Aidy Bryant and Hill played the primary students puzzling over this strange circumstance and the sketch had the right mix of absurdity and drama to work.
During her first performance, Rogers was flat and flailing, desperate to create and embody a mood for her white gospel-tinged pop song, "Light On." It was rather off-key and unremarkable and made her already head-scratching elevation to SNL-ready all the more baffling. She fared better during the dynamic "Fallingwater," which still seemed rather contrived despite Rogers' emotive singing and spirited if cringe-worthy dancing. The show can be commended for showcasing more obscure and emerging artists of late, but every once in a while, it seems clear certain performers aren't quite read for live television.
The caravan and America's crucial mid-term elections inspired many jokes at the top of Update, including more than one rant about white people by Michael Che. For his part, Colin Jost had a couple of good jokes about Oprah and Obama canvassing for and urging people to vote. Pete Davidson dropped by for a bit where he immaturely mocked the physical appearance of candidates running for office and to quasi-apologize to his ex-fiancée Ariana Grande for making jokes about their breakup. Che made an excellent blackface joke about Megyn Kelly. Melissa Villaseñor made a rare desk appearance as Brittainy, a representative of Every Teen Girl Murder Suspect on Law & Order. Initially a bit inside for anyone who hasn't seen the show, this ended up working rather well, as the premise became more and more clear and funny. Kenan Thompson reprised his role as Boston Red Sox superstar David Ortiz to barely comment on his old team's World Series victory. As this will likely be Thompson's last season, so too was his Ortiz back for one final run around the diamond.
America's Got Talent: Wait, They're Good?
An amusing rip at America's Got Talent's central conceit that every contestant manages to surprise the judges with their skills. The show's ability to continue to command an audience that is shocked when an unknown person has talent was mocked with over-the-top contestants, including Kenan Thompson playing a guy who wakes from a coma onstage to sing with his partner, played by Leslie Jones.
Aidy Bryant played Sarah Huckabee Sanders schilling for a sleeping pill she takes to knock herself out. Sanders downs the pill, which helps her respond to people who ask her how she sleeps at night after lying so much on behalf of the president, and then immediately collapses wherever she is. A nice bit of physical comedy by Bryant.
Hill and Cecily Strong star in an infomercial for a business wherein owners of pugs can outfit them in wigs. Really an excuse for a late-in-the-episode animal segment, the likes of which always makes the cast and guest star laugh in spite of themselves. Mission accomplished, and some of the wigs were funny.