Liev Schreiber is nearly overshadowed as host of "Saturday Night Live" as Dan Crenshaw drops by for revenge on Pete Davidson, and Robert De Niro helps Kate McKinnon say farewell to Jeff Sessions.
Pete Davidson put his foot in his mouth with a bad joke about Congressional candidate Dan Crenshaw's eye patch last week on "Saturday Night Live," so Crenshaw came back this week to get his revenge and did so in epic fashion.
As for the actual host, Liev Schreiber is not known as a funny man, as he readily admitted in his monologue, so most of the jokes were done around him and with him playing it very straight. And to his credit, he does that very well. The same goes for Robert De Niro, who dropped by as Robert Mueller again in a surprise cameo.
And for a guy known for very serious work, like "Ray Donovan," Liev did manage to bring plenty of laughs to a mostly successful show. One sketch later in the night was so stupidly hilarious that almost no one involved in it could keep a straight face, and Liev lost it with Kate McKinnon in another.
The audience loves it when cast-members break, but these weren't breaks in a way that derailed either sketch.
Elsewhere and as expected, "SNL" tackled the firing of Jeff Sessions, allowing Kate one more chance to shine, as well as the White House intern who became embroiled in the middle of the Jim Acosta scandal after his credentials were revoked and Sarah Huckabee Sanders released doctored footage of his exchange with the intern as evidence to justify the decision.
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.
MONOLOGUE - Liev Schreiber
Liev Schreiber came out with a monologue about how he is not particularly known for being funny, which he thinks is great because it's all about "managing expectations." He also appeared to be very nervous, stumbling over several lines along the way. Or maybe it's because, as he pointed out, he said more words in this monologue than in the entire fifth season of "Ray Donovan." So don't fault this sketch for sitting at the bottom as it wasn't supposed to be funny. It was to manage expectations and praise the more than 100 million people who voted in a midterm election.
So this was a weird premise, a podcast awards show celebrating the most jarring transition into an advertisement and white women who are where they don't belong. Liev Schreiber had fun as Michael Barbaro, stammering and stuttering his way through the nominees alongside Cecily Strong's Sarah Koenig before Alex Moffat came out and owned an impression of Marc Maron. And they did nominees, shots to the audience and acceptance speeches, so the commitment to the premise was all in. Oh, and did we mention this was weird. Not even sure if it was funny, but man was it weird.
Outside the Women's Bathroom
Another weird sketch, this one featured Liev Schreiber filming a pilot for a talk show outside a women's bathroom. It was mostly cringe humor, save for when Leslie Jones walked out and stared him down. She didn't even have to save a word. While Liev messed up his lines a few times, it's easy enough to pretend it was part of the character ... but we know it wasn't. For the most part, none of this ultimately came together as a successful sketch, but it did have a few memorable moments and funny bits, including Heidi Gardner as his poor date, abandoned at the table so he could film. But yeah, odd stuff.
We've seen this countless times, but it's always worth seeing what ridiculous things Kate McKinnon's trashy character had to endure, this time as it relates to ghosts. She compared Cecily Strong and Liev Schreiber's stories to "Ghost" while hers was more "Beetlejuice." And it was every bit as stupid and awful as we predicted. Oh, and she totally found a way to harass the guest, grinding her bottom on Liev's chest as he tried to hide his laughter. At some point, these are going to stop being so funny, but so long as Kate keeps coming up with new rhyming ways to describe her frontside and backside, we'll be there ... a bit uncomfortable, but there.
In a country divided, the cast came together to unite under all the things they dislike together. Because if there's one thing modern Americans are good at, it's bitching and complaining. As for the list, it includes the words "moist" and "crotch," airplane pilots who say too much when there's nothing going on and nothing when there's too much going on and the damned chip reader sound. So yeah, they pretty much nailed this one. And you know what? We do feel better.
Future returned for this one, joining Chris Redd and Kenan Thompson as the Booty Kings with Uncle Butt (Pete Davidson) and Lil Wayne. It's a typical hip-hop song about dat booty, but it's also about consent and Time's Up. What a bizarre combination, but with sharp writing it had wit and heart. We love the women in the club (Ego Nwodim and Melissa Villasenor) stunned that the guys are respecting their boundaries. At the same time, it's sad that this was so funny because it's so unexpected that guys can be decent in this scenario. We still laughed, though.
COLD OPEN - Jeff Sessions
It was an inevitable as sunset, but still appropriate that Kate McKinnon got to say farewell to her brilliant take on Jeff Sessions in the cold open. "Goodbye trusty Bible," she said as packing up her awful. "I justified a lot of bad things with this book." As he packed, he was visited by Sarah Huckabee Sanders (Aidy Bryant), Mike Pence (Beck Bennett), and even Eric (Alex Moffat) and Don Jr. (Mikey Day). In a closing surprise, Robert Mueller (Robert De Niro) dropped by for a final farewell. The whole thing was more of a bizarrely touching tribute to her performance, with plenty of possum jokes and just brilliance from McKinnon for what's hopefully not the last time.
First up, Colin Jost and Michael Che broke down the midterms, with Jost quickly tempering the left's enthusiasm by reminding them Trump still control everything except the House, including the media, space, time and our ability to perceive reality. Che gave it up to Stacy Abrams taking on a white man in Georgia in a runoff election where he's also in charge of the election. "That'd be like taking on LeBron [James] at home where he's also the ref. It's an uphill battle to say the least."
And then, in a brilliant little parody, Cecily Strong showed up as the White House intern who tried to take Jim Acosta's mic and she proved just as disruptive here. And then they doubled down on the intern story with their own doctored video in response to the one Sarah Huckabee Sanders showed to justify revoking Acosta's press credentials. We think this one is more believable.
The guys then moved on to other topics, with their won funny reason Justice Ginsburg broke three ribs, and calling new acting Attorney General Michael Whitaker a Michael Chiklis ("The Shield") impersonator.
Dan Crenshaw dropped by "Weekend Update" to confront Pete Davidson directly after last week's poorly-received joke comparing Crenshaw to a pirate in a porno. And boy, he didn't have to say anything to shade Pete in the most epic way possible. It's all in the ringtone. Damn!
Liev Schreiber and Leslie Jones were the couple trying to decide between all the houses they'd looked at and if you love how ridiculous this show is but wish it were even more ridiculous, this is the sketch for you. We loved the gas stove in the middle of the bed, and the fenced in backyard for Liev's sister to run around in. Oh, and did he mention his man cave? He definitely wants his man cave. They absolutely nailed it with this one. Now the actual show will just be a letdown.
Beck Bennett and Kyle Mooney portrayed two grade-school brothers struggling to impress the neighbors. Let's see, Liev Schrieber was their father who kept a garden hose in the house to hose them down when they got too rowdy and that was always. Beck and Kyle were so into these roles that the rest of the cast couldn't even keep it together as their antics got more over-the-top and stupid.
Good Day Denver
Reporter Cecily Strong accidentally referred to Mikey Day and Alex Moffat as the "incest" twins rather than the "invest" twins. That's the catalyst for this whole thing, but anything that gives us the great comedic chemistry of Day and Moffat together is worth it. Everything they said was double entendres and really creepy with the graphic "Incest Twins" below them in this news segment parody. And they went pretty far down this particular rabbit hole and every bit of it worked. Clever writing, top-notch commitment from everyone equals a disturbingly funny sketch.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
While Mikey Day, Kyle Mooney and Beck Bennett turned in some amazing work it came down to veterans Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong this week. McKinnon treated us to another brilliant Jeff Sessions and her ghost story was both terrifying and-- well, it was just terrifying.
But we're going to have to give the edge to Cecily Strong, who pantomimed beautifully as the White House intern, and kept things moving during the "incest" sketch as well as embodying a wholly different vibe with her ghost story, as well as anchoring the "Unity" song and mostly keeping it straight in the brothers sketch.
I will take arguments for Kate, though, as this was easily one of the tightest battles of the season and she had two very strong sketch appearances on a more balanced night across the cast.
"Saturday Night Live" returns next week with host Steve Carell and musical guest Ella Mai at 11:35 p.m. et on NBC.
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