Musical guest Halsey gets in on the action as Jon Lovitz helps tackle impeachment and the cast delivers their strongest episode in a long time.
This isn't us saying that he was bad his first two times, because Adam has proven one of the most impressive hosts in recent memory, bringing his own unique energy to the stage that proves infectious across the cast and invigorates and revitalizes any malaise they may be feeling.
There certainly wasn't any in this first episode of 2020, as this cast felt refreshed and excited on the strongest episode of the season yet with only two sketches really qualifying as misfires, and even they had their moments.
This was just one bona fide hit after another, including the return of Adam's most famous "SNL" sketch, that "Undercover Boss" parody with Kylo Ren. This week, they did a "Where Are They Now" parody to catch up with the Supreme Leader as he goes undercover again to see how things have changed.
Yes, it's a little bit more of the same, and quite totally as successful as the first, but still it offers plenty of laughs and a dark and bizarre performance that works so well because of just how much Adam pours into it.
And that was the theme across the night, as we got some truly weird sketches and uncomfortable moments created by Adam's intensity, and yet he masterfully knows how to mine that aspect of his persona for the biggest laughs. He even played up perceptions of who he is for one of the strangest monologues in recent memory, and it worked, too.
While the show didn't really need guests, we got a really fun appearance by "SNL" alum Jon Lovitz as well as a couple of moments where Halsey invaded the sketches ... though we're not so sure about one of those.
As usual, we're ranking all the sketches from worst to first, including the Monologue, Cold Open, "Weekend Update" and any sketches that were cut for time but made their way online. 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.
While we're not quite sure why Halsey got to close this sketch, unless it was to show she could lift her leg high, it was otherwise a pretty funny bit about a bunch of injured kids who wanted to be "on mat" for the big tournament in Daytona ... except for Kenan Thompson. The kids were ridiculously committed and the cheer coaches Heidi Gardner and Adam Driver clearly without any sympathy for their injuries, but the sketch itself just got a little repetitive and overall fell a little flat. It just didn't seem to have anywhere to go comedically, so it just repeated the same material with different details.
Del Taco Shoot
Soooooo okay. This was weird. "Aw man, I'm all out of cash!" was just about the only line in the sketch as director Beck Bennett tried to get the right read out of Kyle Mooney's commercial actor. On top of that, Adam Driver as VP of Del Taco got in on it and it just got even stranger as they went full-on Great Cornholio from "Beavis & Butt-head." What is happening here? This was so strange, we're not sure if it ever quite made it to funny, but it certainly showed commitment from everyone.
COLD OPEN: Impeachment
Jon Lovitz swug by as Alan Dershowitz, apparently a man so evil that Satan (Kate McKinnon) just wanted to meet him for a few moments. Yeah, they went right for the jugular on this one, and then kept it going as he went on Satan's podcast (she invented them) and even saw some of Hell's other recent denizens like Adam Driver's Jeffrey Epstein. Seriously, Alan asked him, "What are you doing here?" and his response was, "Just hangin.'" Maybe jugular isn't strong enough for this level of satirical attack. This was a great return, and a fresh way to poke fun at politics without doing all the same talking head bits. Plus, you gotta love seeing Satan next to the guy who made him a recurring character back in the '80s.
MONOLOGUE: Adam Driver
This was easily one of the most bizarrely entertaining monologues in a long while. Adam simply played up his own persona, trying to prove he wasn't intimidating or serious by looming around the stage. There were a lot of pauses and awkward stares and he used the silence beautifully. It was a great use of space and discomfort for comedy. Plus, we lost it when he said he was stretching on purpose because he didn't like a sketch set for late in the show and he was trying to get it cut by stre-e-e-e-etching. "I can't tell if it's really transphobic or just really dated."
Halsey joined the cast for this pre-taped R&B jam about finally going all the way, but the guys are determined to take it slow. And that's all they did in the writer's room, really, just take that one word as literally as possible until Chris Redd, Kenan Thompson and Adam Driver's gals (Melissa Villasenor, Heidi Gardner and Halsey) finally couldn't stand waiting for them. Oh, and of course they were slow in every single regard ... except for one. While this won't go down as a classic "SNL" song, it definitely made for a brilliantly bizarre sketch.
According to Michael Che, there's so much evidence Trump did wrong but Republicans are still like, "But Maury, he love me!" like this is an episode of "The Maury Povich Show." Later, Colin Jost couldn't quite finish his rhyming joke about Rudy Giuliani, who was once highly regarded but now seems mildly--- well, you get where it was going. The guys were savage in their take on the start of Trump's impeachment trial, with one stray jab at Hunter Biden and a slew of them at the GOP.
Aidy Bryant's seventh grade travel expert came back and she was more confident and on point than ever with this character. Yes, the travel stories are all still about visiting her various families, but there's such a sweet innocence to how terribly dumb they are and she sells it with her childish glee about the simplest things that are just a little bit taboo. This is a recurring character really growing on us.
The guys took some time to mourn Mr. Peanut -- who was cremated in accordance with his wishes -- while also celebrating Derek Jeter's almost-unanimous vote into the Hall of Fame. The audience tonight was all fired up (and half of them apparently from Florida), which left Colin chasing off cheers and Michael just shutting down over their animated responses to his most off-color takes
So Melissa Villasenor was able to sum up the Oscars and most of Hollywood's film out put in three simple words: "white male rage." Well, she's not wrong. Oh, and in the case of "Little Women," she was able to make it fit by saying director Greta Gerwig getting snubbed (again) by the Academy is the "white male rage." So it was consistent at least, if not super-funny.
Okay, there are two things about this sketch that stand out. One, it was extremely funny as Adam Driver's dad character explained the depths to which Kate McKinnon's teen Megan went to try and cover up destroying the toilet. And two, it normalized periods and pads and everything around them so effectively, making them just a normal part of life that a dad might openly talk about a group of slumber party girls about them ... and how they've destroyed his house. Kate was hilarious as the obvious culprit, both from her physically disheveled appearance and everything she said to deny, deny, deny. We don't quite get the solidarity from her friends, but the whole thing was so stupid it was pretty damned funny.
The audacity and absurdity of this sketch makes it one of the strongest last-of-the-night bits, and again it was sold almost entirely by the strength and seriousness of Adam Driver and Cecily Strong as would-be lovers. Yes, this was entirely built around a play on words with the restaurant concept of "marrying ketchup" and it worked way better than it had any right to. What we got was a sordid love story with twists, turns, betrayal and condiment puns and jokes. Even Cecily couldn't quite keep it straight when she revealed the baby packet she had with some hot sauce. Absurdity at its finest and funniest.
Undercover Boss: Where Are They Now?
Adam Driver's most famous "SNL" sketch went instantly viral when they put Kylo Ren through the "Undercover Boss" treatment. It was hilarious then, and it definitely held up again as Kylo is more unhinged than ever. Chloe Fineman had a great little scene, showing her range as an actress and potential in this cast in a major way, while the rest of it was more the same. Everyone knows "Intern Randy" is Kylo as he was even worse at hiding it this time, and yet he felt he really grew and learned. If anything, this proves that comedy in the world of "Star Wars" can be very funny, so how about it, Disney?
Once again, "SNL" mined Adam Driver's intensity for laughs as he played a tournament knight with a few too many acting classes under his belt. He went way too into character at the themed restaurant, lobbing racist comments at Bowen Yang and Chris Redd and offering a backstory that's much, much, much too dark for the young kiddos in the audience. Kenan Thompson was on hand to provide the audience perspective, and he was a little drunk and a lot loving it. Adam carried the sketch here, with the cast playing off of his crazy commitment and focus.
The Science Room
What comes first in science? "My sister said the guy always comes first." Okay, they are just riding the edge of comedy all night long and we are so here for it. Adam Driver was perfect as the increasingly frustrated TV science guy dealing with Cecily Strong and Mikey Day's imbecilic young helpers. The only thing negative we have to say is that it ended sooner than we would have liked. All three performers were so perfectly in sync and in character throughout, it was just a flawless execution of a simply-yet-funny premise.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
What an incredible night of comedy, as "SNL" just went from strength to strength to strength. This was Adam Driver's third and easily his best show. His brand of humor is aggressive and strong, but it worked so well in these sketches and his commitment as a performer and actor seemed to raise everyone else's game.
Newcomer Chloe Fineman had a great start to the night in her biggest outing yet that showcased what a powerhouse she can become on the show, while Bowen Yang continues to prove he's pretty much there already.
While it's hard to find one standout performer, we're going to have to give the edge to Cecily Strong who nailed Susan Collins and really brought it as an inept kid in "The Science Room" and a complicated Catsup.
"Saturday Night Live" continues with host J.J. Watt and musical guest Luke Combs next week.
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