Photo: NBC / Will Heath / NBC
It’s gratifying to see Issa Rae, a multi-hyphenate who created her own opportunities and insisted there was a place for her in Hollywood, steadily gaining more recognition and roles from the share of the institutional powers in place. While his HBO series Unsafe aired its fourth season and has been confirmed for its fifth, Rae starred in a high profile romance (The photograph) and romantic comedy (Lovebirds). And it was only 2020.
Prior to this first hosting gig, Rae was no stranger to the comedy sketch, having also produced and A Black Lady sketch show. Although slightly awkward, a black girl can be Raes’ comedic base, as she has shown. ABLSS and on this episode of SNL, it has scope. Although she was scared during her monologue, Rae seemed at home on the SNL scene: she’s doing accents, she’s happy to look silly in front of the camera, and it’s easy to see SNL ask her to come back in the future and hopefully give her a little more screen time than she got this time around.
According to tradition, this week’s sketches are ranked here from best to worst
Much of the first half of Update Homes in on Trumps continued the rallies and the election as a whole. Michael Che makes an excellent point about the picks in this year’s contest, in that a handful of voters actually see Kanye West as a viable alternative. Ches punchline, on a possible third contender in the battle between JFK and Richard Nixon, is as sweet as tutti frutti. Donald Trump Jr. (Mikey Day) and Eric Trump (Alex Moffat) are joined by their little sister Tiffany (Chloe Fineman), whom Eric meets in person for the first time. Day and Moffat have refined their schtick at this point so it’s nice they’re still having new little moments. (At one point, after drinking hand sanitizer, Eric presents it to the public as a newly corked bottle of Bordeaux.) Fineman, playing Tiffany like she’s been Erics’ long-neglected twin, is a great addition. .
The studio audience is really hampering this week’s momentum Updatethey moan and gasp on almost every punchline, even the fairly mild gags. They can’t even handle the idea that Paul Newman in a sombrero is slightly racist. But at least they like to compare Timothée Chalamet to a ring-tailed lemur. Aidy Bryant comes in with a bit of distance from literally being on the pitch; there’s not much to do, but the Bryants’ presence is always endearing. To take a closer look, Heidi Gardner takes on another movie trope as famous’ 80s cocaine wife Carla. The performance doesn’t include a lot of jokes, but Gardners’ investment sells it. His languid dances, noxious coca sniffs, and the inevitable breakdown that ensues are all very well mapped and executed.
This miracle product, which offers an afternoon of true compassion to black people who have faced centuries of systematic oppression, is for anyone who believes the Obama presidency has ended racism. Examining what the Whites are saying lip service, the writers deliver the most biting satire the show has seen since the start of the season. The performances, including Kenan Thompsons voiceover, are really well calibrated. Beck Bennett, as a well-meaning, comfortable middle-class white man who can’t bring himself to drink it, gives just enough rights. And as the woman has convinced that she does not need it because I am a woman, it is the same, Heidi Gardner has a good time punctuated by an excellent disappearance.
Somewhere in Michigan, four militia members want their local themed restaurant, Jack Flatts, to reopen, and if they have to kidnap the governor to make it happen, so be it. The quartet of Kyle Mooney, Beck Bennett, Kenan Thompson and new star player Andrew Dismukes form a perfectly furious and unhappy team. As they communicate this gang’s little frustrations, they have a twitchy, childlike pouting energy and no power. This sketch does a great job of walking the line; While there is nothing explicitly about the very real terrorist threat of kidnapping Gretchen Whitmer (and apparently Ralph Northam), the motives explained here are only a little more exaggerated than those triggered by the tweets of Trumps LIBERATE MICHIGAN. There’s also a nice, subtle irony in that these guys want to be teased by waiters seemingly more than they want to eat in a public place without a mask.
With so many Americans focused on election day and what’s to come, SNL naturally turns to the presidential town halls this week. The channel browsing format allows writers to create two very different atmospheres: at ABC, it’s a lukewarm tub in which Joe Biden (Jim Carrey) plays both Mr. Rogers and Bob Ross; at NBC, Savannah Guthrie (Kate McKinnon) crushes Donald Trump (Alec Baldwin) until it becomes WrestleMania’s final installment. The disparity in tone is the most playful element here, although there are a few barbed jokes, including one in which Trump assesses QAnons’ anti-pedophilia stance against his former friend Jeffrey Epstein. Maya Rudolph introduces herself as Kamala Harris, but she is wasted on another short, unnecessary visit. Carrey began to sink into his Biden, and sadly, whatever underlying humanity that went through that first week gave way to something between whimsical geezer and Fire Marshal Bill. It’s great for Carrey fans, but those looking for any Biden revelations won’t find them.
This sketch is essentially a parade of goofy exes falling on a first date between Issa Rae and Chris Redd, but each of them has a good flair and hapless street vendor Clifford (Kenan Thompson) sets the tone perfectly. As the sketch features Karate Man (Pete Davidson) and Robot (Bowen Yang), they feel completely within the realm of the possible, especially once Sharon explains exactly where she continues to meet all of these characters. Rae and Redd keep things grounded and, as usual, Thompson really sticks things together. And kudos to Yang for putting money all over his body for a 30 second walk.
This short video is about one thing and one thing: getting grooved. While some of Kyle Mooneys sketches speak to a small fraction of the SNL audience, this one should appeal to all secret chamber dancers (read: everyone). Of course, Mooney was standing outside the door of musical guest Justin Biebers, dancing enthusiastically, albeit awkwardly, to get the Biebs’ attention; the fun comes when Rae joins us, and the two embark on a Missy Elliott-Mad Max future in which breaking a move is necessary to survive. The sketch ends with a fragment of coronavirus that may have been inevitable during this particular season, but that doesn’t take away from the happy jams of everyone involved, including star musical guest Chance the Rapper.
This eBay ad will surely hit close to home for many overambitious and homebound people who started the pandemic with extra P3 money in their pockets. That sums up the nation’s plight, when it comes to pandemic fatigue: Now that the privileged 40s are beyond healing and improving us, we found ourselves staring with sadness at the shit we hoped to change our lives. (And, at the same time, realizing that we’ve been spending our time watching reality TV.) While Cecily Strong has been away most of the time from recent shows, it’s nice to hear her bring her voice back. distinguished commercial here. There are some wonderfully absurd purchases highlighted, including a standing harp, and the new Prebay preventative feature is a smart idea.
At the top of this local political talk show, Jamele Demmings (Rae), the talking head of the NAACP, spells out the principle by announcing his intention to vote for everyone black. As the details make the candidates more and more successive and Demmings tries to defend their more ludicrous merits, the sketch doesn’t seem to be gaining much momentum. More than anything, it’s good that a sketch like this no longer looks like an outlier in the series. Writing doesn’t slow things down to cater to a white audience; anyone who has supported their community with a sense of blind loyalty will get it.
While Raes’ monologue doesn’t feel particularly polite, it comes from the heart. Rae confesses that his inner jokes are all from SNL, that she didn’t work on anything during the pandemic but puzzles, and compares four years of producing a TV show to four years of high school. It sounds genuine, but is less about the jokes and more about what looks like fun locations in an act that hasn’t been road tested yet. Good puzzle joke, though!
Bowen Yang and Kate McKinnon’s idea as brat, French-Canadian co-hosts of a daytime talk show in Montreal called Bonjour Hi seems like an instantly funny phrase. Really, though, there’s not much more to the writing than cowardly blows on self-righteous Quebecers and a few Drake jokes, courtesy of the brief Raes Drakewatch segment. As an American journalist, Mikey Day plays the voice of reasonYou can smoke in the studio?!but the comment seems awkward and a bit superfluous. McKinnon and Yang are having fun, and there’s a bit of shame about the bagel, but it’s hard to see why this one is at the top of the series.
From eBay to awkward dance moves, the SNL the writers offer well-told material this week. And while the cold opening continues with comments from the Peanut Gallery, two of the 5-hour Empathy and Jack Flattsmark commercials return a satire strain that hasn’t quite been there in the first two. episodes of the season. Rae isn’t in much of the show, which feels a bit spoiled considering the lovely energy and levity she brings to the sketches she appears in.
Next week there is a SNL scheduled but so far no host has been announced! You have to see who Lorne Michaels comes out of his Rolodex. I’m going to guess he still has a Rolodex.