The "Five-Timers" is always a fun bit to return to, an exclusive club made up of people who've hosted five times or more. A recurring bit since Tom Hanks joined in 1990, the "Five-Timers' is an all-star roster of comedy legends, and Hill was joined by some of them for his own induction.
Elsewhere, it was really the veteran cast-member who took center stage this week to show how it was done, with Kenan Thompson leading the way and appearing in almost every sketch, followed closely behind by Kate McKinnon. But the absolute funniest moments came from Aidy Bryant.
As usual, we're ranking all the sketches from worst to first, including the Cold Open and the regular "Weekend Update" segments. We'll skip the musical guests, because they're not usually funny - unless Ashlee Simpson shows up. We wrap up with a look at the cast-member who had the strongest week.
And then there was this, which was a thing that aired. And honestly, "Pug Wigs" is both a description and everything you need to know. All of the humor was in seeing pugs in wigs, no matter how hard the cast was working to sell the flimsy premise. Still, the dogs were cute.
One of the perks of hosting so many times is you get your own recurring characters, and Jonah Hill wasted no time in bringing back six-year-old Adam Grossman, this time assisted by his nanny, Leslie Jones who could not keep it together any time Hill started singing Bob Marley toward her. He was convinced she was Jamaican apparently, and got to learn about gay marriage, but mostly he just went on and on like every Jewish grandmother stereotype. While it had a few fun moments, the whole sketch turned out more awkward and loud than hilarious. It was one of those cases of trotting out a familiar character even if there was nothing new or noteworthy to say with him.
MONOLOGUE - Jonah Hill
The return of a long-standing tradition, Jonah Hill was welcomed into the show's "Five-Timers Club" by Drew Barrymore, Candace Bergen and Tina Fey for hosting his fifth show. The joke was that all of the attention is paid to the guys who are members, with Jonah actually asking if it was ladies night in the Five-Timers Lounge. "Oh the guys? They're not allowed in right now. Turns out they're all a bunch of horny perverts," Fey explained. While we loved the smart commentary on problematic men in Hollywood -- including a nonsensical takedown of Tom Hanks -- the sketch wasn't as strong as previous Five-Timer moments, as if the ladies were kind of just phoning it in.
So... Kate McKinnon fell down as a teacher in front of her class and the entire sketch was her existential crisis as she tried to interact with her students, but refused to get up or allow help. This may be one of the weirdest concepts every on the show for its simplicity alone, but McKinnon totally sold it, while Pete Davidson, Aidy Bryant and Jonah Hill were great as students alternately concerned, confused and entertained by her stupidity.
America's Got Talent?
Maybe because it airs during the summer, but it's sad that "SNL" doesn't take more pot-shots at "AGT," because the show is so corny at times it's practically begging for it. This week, quite randomly, we got to see this show's take on that show's judges, with Kyle Mooney as Howie Mandel, Ego Nwodim as Mel B, Kate McKinnon as Heidi Klum and Beck Bennett as Simon Cowell. The whole bit was poking fun at the hackneyed way "AGT" sets up acts so we think they'll be bad and then they're good, and they absolutely nailed how ridiculous some of these moments have gotten. But damn if they don't work every time. We're so predictable.
COLD OPEN - The Ingraham Angle
When I hear white nationalist, I just think of a fun Fourth of July barbecue," Kate McKinnon's Laura Ingraham said. "The kind you don't have to call the cops on." Assuming that Alec Baldwin wasn't available, we actually got a stronger cold open in his absence. McKinnon did a great job of skewering the fear mongering going on about the migrant caravan coming up through Mexico, with an able assist from Cecily Strong's angry Jeanine Pirro and Kenan Thompson's David Clarke, who argued that the women in the caravan were holding in babies so they could use them to anchor to America. While over the top, it was the perfect way to satire the ridiculous stories that are being spread about this group as the election looms.
Colin Jost and Michael Che took on Trump's caravan with scathing commentary about "what old white people" are afraid of. Meanwhile, Che wants to know why we're only concerned with the Mexican border. Could it be because Canada is mostly white so they don't scare us? He then gave a scathing takedown of all the liberal kids from red states who moved to blue coastal states where their votes don't matter as much.
Pete Davidson kicked off his political commentary with a nod to his breakup with Ariana Grande. "After I had to move back in with my mom, I started paying attention," he said of politics. For the most part, though, he just poked fun of various candidates' appearance like when he showed a smiling Greg Pence and said, "This is a picture of him watching the episode of 'This Is Us' where Jack dies." And then to keep it fair, he threw up a picture of himself and went in on it. He did close with a sincere moment about his breakup saying, "It's nobody's business and sometimes things just don't work out. And that's okay. She's a wonderful, strong person and I genuinely wish her all of the happiness in the world."
Is there any way to make the latest salvo in the 50 Cent v Ja Rule feud any funnier than what 50 Cent did by buying 200 front row tickets to a Ja Rule concert so they'd be empty? It turns out no. The guys also skewered Megyn Kelly and took more shots at the terrifying new Philadelphia Flyers mascot.
Melissa Villasenor brought out "every teen girl murder suspect on 'Law & Order,' and she totally nailed the vapid ridiculousness of these characters. They're not so much teenagers as what middle-aged people who've never had children think teenagers are. But yeah, we've seen this character on TV and she totally did it.
Finally, the only way to properly commemorate the Red Sox World Series victory is with Kenan Thompson's David Ortiz. By this point, the character is just a litany of catchphrases, descriptions of food and bizarre advertisements, but he brings such enthusiasm to it, that it still manages to be funny.
We saw this one coming a mile away, the second Jonah Hill showed up as the weather forecaster's (Cecily Strong) boyfriend in a green shirt. Green-screen humor! Honestly, it worked without the green-screen element, as Hill totally nailed the loser boyfriend schtick. It was also a nice touch that he asked for her mother's blessing, by springing her birth mother (Aidy Bryant) from the clink who then tried to hit up Strong for some cash. It even had a great twist ending with police looking for a hit-and-run driver, which was earlier revealed.
Okay, that's how you do a political satire. The biggest fear among Democrats is that they might lose again, even though polls are again predicting their victory. And so this ad to try and get out the vote, with various cast-members playing extremely nervous Dems who are pretending to be confident. Of course, if no one votes, it's impossible to actually predict the will of the people, but this is America, where a tiny fraction of us gets to choose for everyone. But hey, a fraction of us have all the money, too, so in a way this makes sense, right?
Divided We Stand
"I guess the worst part of the play was the confidence," said Alex Moffat as an audience member forced to endure a very politically "woke" play, "definitely written by the actors." In other words, it oversimplifies complex issues, turning them into caricatures of themselves. Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon were great as overly confident performers, but the reason it worked so well was the commentary by disturbed and horrified audience members. And the best part is you know there are absolutely stage productions just like this going on across America and they have no idea how cliche and awful they truly are.
This was already on its way to being a funny skit about a sleeping pill strong enough for Sarah Huckabee Sanders, but then they had Aidy Bryant (as Sanders) take a pill and pass out mid-sentence, flopping onto and then off of her bed. It was a rare moment of physical comedy pulled of brilliantly. Two more pratfalls and we were done for. They didn't have to add this element to the fake ad, but it was everything that they did.
This was a big week for the veterans, with Kenan Thompson appearing in eight different sketches, while Cecily Strong, Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon were heavily spotlighted as well. Melissa Villasenor gave a couple of strong performances, but it was really the vets who led the night.
But while Thompson takes it for sheer volume -- closely followed by McKinnon -- Bryant had the funniest moments of the night in "Huckabee," but we're going to give the edge for quality to Cecily Strong because all of her appearances were both key and memorable.
All four of her featured skits were great, with her cracking us up as Jeanine Pirro, killing it as a freaked out forecaster and bringing something truly bizarre to both the pugs skit and her turn as a feral singer on "AGT."
That said, this was a very close battle and could have easily gone to any of the four of them.
"Saturday Night Live" returns next week with host Liev Schreiber and musical guest Lil Wayne at 11:35 p.m. et on NBC.