It also appears her particular weakness might just be Kate McKinnon, who admittedly can make something funny with just a facial expression. The result was more breaks in a show than we've seen since Pete Davidson's early days on the show.
As expected, Jim Carrey and Alec Baldwin offered up their take on the most recent presidential debate, but that may be part of the problem. It was expected. Sometimes comedy doesn't best come from what's expected.
Maya Rudolph switched gears, taking on the moderator role for this one, but she also did some heavy lifting throughout the rest of the night, taking the lead role in a Covid nursing home sketch and even starring opposite Adele for a parody ad. Do they not remember how big this regular cast is right now?
Speaking of the cast, it looks like one of the show's tricks for managing such a large cast and doing so many episodes in a row is to just have some cast-members not appear every week at all (and it's been the vets stepping back. This week, we didn't see Aidy Bryant, Cecily Strong, or Kyle Mooney at all.
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.
Adele was charming, if not particularly funny, in her hosting debut on "SNL." She did crack an expected joke about her weight loss, saying she was only allowed to bring "half" of herself to the show due to travel restrictions, "and this is the half that I chose." Other than that, she credits "SNL" with her stateside career after her 2008 appearance during the episode where Tina Fey and Sarah Palin shared the stage.
And apparently, she thinks Kenan Thompson is really funny, too, making us wonder if he went a little off-script while they bantered about her over-full swear jar. She also set up the expectation right away that we should pay close attention to see if she can avoid swearing through the rest of the show. It was all very cute and sincere, but otherwise a bit dull as monologues go.
Ass Angel Jeans
This was no "Mom Jeans." The best bits of this commercial came when Beck Bennett was singing about the jeans that make your hind end smell as good as it looks. And this was a lot of jeans material on Adele, Maya Rudolph and Beck. Unfortunately, aside from a few warnings about how toxic the jeans actually are, the joke didn't land as sharply as it could have overall, leading to an underwhelming piece. Sometimes it's clear why something is slotted at the end, though the fact this was pre-taped and time was running short probably also played a factor.
Pete Davidson's dim-witted Chad once again gets to ham it up with a beautiful female host, with Adele playing a ghost for this encounter. Let's face it, Chad is a one-note character, so the heavy lifting has to be done by the story around him, and this one certainly had some fun elements. Adele was pitch-perfect as a spooky, seductive, slightly frustrated ghost dealing with his inherent stupidity, all the way through a fun enough twist at the end. All in all, though, the character has worn a little thin over the years.
COLD OPEN: Final Presidential Debate
Maya Rudolph switched out of her Kamala Harris to try Kristen Welker on for size, making us wonder why they're so afraid of the regular cast in these cold opens. At least Kate McKinnon was deemed worthy enough to slide into this cold open as Rudy Guliani with some well-timed "Borat" physical humor.
Otherwise, the least-exciting (in a good way) debate of the whole election didn't offer much in the way of fodder for "SNL" to emulate. We were glad to see Jim Carrey mostly stick with just doing Joe Biden, rather than mixing in other characters. Sure, Clint Eastwood's eyes made an appearance, but no Jeff Goldblum or Mr. Rogers.
"We're rounding the corner. In fact, we've rounded so many corners we've gone all the way around the block and we're back where we started in March," said Alec Baldwin's Donald Trump, and that was about as good as the jokes got. What should have happened was the writers should have seen that the debate wasn't where it was at comedically this week and explored another way to get into the political climate. This just felt like the sketch plot was locked in and they were forced to fill it with jokes, even when few real opportunities presented themselves.
The sketch wasn't nearly as funny as watching Adele lose it at Kate McKinnon and Heidi Gardner's aggressive innuendos as a couple of fellow divorcee's who've discovered all that Africa has to offer -- like "tall, tall tribesmen." Selling the point of their ad, several Black men walked by in the background with white women either on or in their arms, so this is clearly a vacation package targeting a very specific demographic. But seriously, it's really about Adele laughing so hard her wig almost comes off.
The twist on this psychic sketch was that it featured a group of four friends ready to throw off the shackles of a rough year and look ahead to a better one next year ... only they were doing this in 2019. Hilariously, Kate's psychic was spot-on with her predictions, even if Heidi Gardner (for example) never quite understood why she and her boyfriend were washing a bag of chips or Bowen Yang afraid to use a gas station bathroom or losing his friends over eating in a restaurant.
It was both dark and sad and funny, recalling a far more innocent time such a short time ago. She also threw in more timely jokes like having Heidi's character be Jeffrey Toobin's daughter, and even a more generalized warning for J.K. Rowling: "Stick to the books!" Plus, Kate got bothe Adele and Bowen giggling at separate points with just the sheer force of her character work, which is always a hoot to watch.
Colin Jost came on a little pro-Biden strong at the top of the show, actually presenting responses he wished Biden had made to some of Trump's debate statements. At least Michael Che brought some actual jokes to his exploration of Trump's "least racist" claims. As Covid looks at a third peak, Che also had to ask, "Am I the only one still terrified by this?" The answer, of course, is yes. And thus, a third peak.
Um, okay. Melissa is much funnier than this. It was just a retread of some of the material she shared on social media during quarantine, but none of it was very strong, topical or really connected in any way with either Colin or the audience. This was actually a little painful to watch, though her Stevie Nicks and Sia impressions were top-notch. If only she'd had genuinely funny material to go with them.
The boys then took on Mitch McConnell's "everything's fine" bruises, as well as other random topics like an Elton John-themed Barbie doll, Popeye's offering up its Cajun turkey again for Thanksgiving, and the bizarre story of Phil Collins' ex-wife allegedly taking over his mansion.
Absolutely making up for Melissa's misfire earlier in the broadcast, Kenan Thompson led a full Village People parody to take on Trump's use of their song at his rallies with twisted new lyrics that got so dark at one point Colin had to interrupt them to tell them they can't just make serious allegations like that. Kenan countered that you can say anything so long as it's in a song. The whole bit was a nonsensical hoot, highlighted by random Alan Dershowitz dancing. This is the kind of political nonsense we look for!
Considering how much love and love lost has played a part in Adele's music, this was a perfect spoof for her and her catalog. And with the singer not performing as musical guest, kudos to her and the crew for finding a way to give fans a "Greatest Hits" experience anyway.
Plus, her music actually fit very well with a frustratedBachelor contestants -- with Adele actually playing herself. And the singer played up a pathetic and overbearing take on her musical persona beautifully, making it both funny and exciting to be hearing some of her biggest hits live.
A simple sketch and a real winner on the night, Maya Rudolph was hilarious as the grandma who heard just enough to force her grandkids to really lay out what was going on in their lives before pulling the rug out from under them with a revelation all her own. Ego Nwodim and Pete Davidison were flawless as people trying to put a spin on their awkward and unfortunate personal situations, as you do, before she whittled them down. This was a sharply written bit of comedy, even if the ending was a little obvious from the second it was set up.
You know, they're not wrong. If Donald Trump loses this election, what will Americans talk about? How long has it been since a president has so dominated the news cycle and personal conversations? Love him or hate him, Trump is almost always at the center of discourse, whether you want him there or not. It's a rather impressive feat, and leaves these voters a little concerned about their own support for Biden. It's a twisted -- but funny -- take on America's obsession with Trump, and imaging what comes next.
Beck Bennett had a big night, but mostly played it straight, even as The Bachelor. Meanwhile, Pete Davidson was great alongside Ego Nwodim as two grandchildren forced to get real about their lives, while Pete also took on Adele's spectral ghost as Chad.
But this week, the most veteran performers on the cast also had the most consistently entertaining lead roles of the night, with Kate McKinnon hamming it up -- and cracking Adele up -- as a 2019 psychic and an excited African tourist. Add her classic Rudy Guiliani and she had about as strong a night as anyone can muster with such a sprawling cast.
Kenan Thompson, meanwhile, cracked us up with a charming cameo during Adele's monologue and as one of the exasperated voters in the election ad -- which featured great work from pretty much everyone in it. And while he didn't feature quite as strongly as Kate, we're going to still give him the edge for his stellar Village People bit.
Were it not a part of "Update," it might have emerged as the strongest single piece of satire on the night, and definitely stands as one of the funniest song parodies the show has done.
"Saturday Night Live" returns next week with host John Mulaney and musical guest The Strokes.