From Jesse Williams's NSFW Broadway exposure to a deep dive into the Depp/Heard trial, this week's show was at its funniest when at its weirdest -- and when things went wrong (live TV, baby!)
Selena Gomez brought an interesting energy to a disappointingly uneven episode of “Saturday Night Live.” There were some brilliantly hilarious sketches, but a few that left us scratching or shaking our heads, too.
It’s rare for “SNL” to be both great and terrible in the same episode, but it might be indicative of a long season and a team ready for a break this summer. Hopefully, though, they’ve saved their best for last as it would be a shame for a pretty strong season to go out with a whimper next week.
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Selena was joined by one of her “Only Murders in the Buildings” co-stars with a surprisingly effective appearance by Steve Martin. And while we wondered if Post Malone, who can be a very funny dude, would appear in any sketches, we were delighted by both of his guest spots.
As for Selena herself, we found ourselves confused by her delivery through much of the night. She kicked off the show clearly very excited to be there, and then she seemed totally disinterested in half the sketches. She’d admitted to being nervous, so maybe her nerves were impacting her performances?
On two different occasions, the show almost went completely off the rails as the “Live” of “Saturday Night” caused things to go awry, leading Colin Jost and Sarah Sherman to break during “Update” and Selena Gomez and Post Malone much deeper in the night. Both moments, though, were hilarious as they happened during strong comedy moments and managed to make them even funnier.
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 wrap up with a look at the cast-member who had the strongest week.
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.
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There was potential in this premise of guidance counselors suggesting to the graduating class of high school students to get into modeling because they’ll never be this young again, but that’s all there was … potential. None of it was ever realized in the execution of this sketch. Selena Gomez as an alumnus of the school who maybe modeled turned out to be pointless and all the poses and faces in seconds bits fell completely flat. Even the questions from the students weren’t funny. What happened to this sketch?
A bit of a mess, but we do agree that Bratz dolls coming to life would probably be as narcissistic, shallow and stupid as Bowen Yang, Selena Gomez and Aidy Bryant here. There was some humor in their awful advice to Sarah Sherman as a pre-teen struggling with her parents’ divorce. Selena was giving a strange delivery in this one, as if she wasn’t quite feeling the material or didn’t feel confident in her role or her lines or something. It was a disconnect we didn’t quite get. The piece on paper had a lot of potential, but the execution left some to be desired.
What a strange concept for a sketch, but Mikey was definitely committed to the role of an exasperated prince trying to figure out what’s weird about the third princess. It’s a play on the common fairy tale trope that one sister is odd in some way, but all three of Kenan Thompson’s daughters seemed so normal. The actual reveal at the end was incredibly stupid to the point it wasn’t funny at all and undid all the good will the sketch had begrudgingly earned earlier on. Kenan’s delivery of why he had to choose by midnight was great, as were Mikey’s reactions to the ladies, but otherwise the whole thing was just okay.
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A parody of a real Japanese show where toddlers are sent out to run simple errants for their parents, this one brilliantly takes a look at man-children; grown men who never grew up. Selena Gomez’ disinterested delivery works perfecty on this one, as she’s clearly frustrated at her pathetic boyfriend, Mikey Day. But Mikey Day was hysterical as a grown man basically acting like a toddler when faced with simple things like finding a Sephora and then remembering what his girlfriend wanted. He bursts into tears and breaks down constantly and just nails that over-the-top emotions -- probably because he has younger kids at home. We also enjoyed the interaction between him and Kenan Thompson as another inept boyfriend. The ending could have used some emotion from Selena’s performance, but it still worked well enough.
Cold Open: Depp/Heard Trial
It was inevitable that we’d go all in on the Depp/Heard trial, but we were really hoping for something a little sharper in its humor, and funnier in its execution. They went with the “boo-boo” in the bed, which makes perfect sense, but by the time the third and fourth staffer was finding the item on surveillance video, it was getting repetitive and a little boring -- as was Cecily Strong’s judge allowing the video to continue because it’s fun. A strong enough premise that had some potential, but it went on a little too long and then petered out with no real ending.
A fun surprise appearance by Steve Martin as the inventor of so many classic gags. They were able to use old photos and video of him through the years to add authenticity of this love story between him and the unluckiest woman in the world, played with great energy by Aidy Bryant. Her flatulence and penchant for getting struck by lightning, among other things, inspired many of the greatest gag gifts we’ve all come to know and dread. The whole format of the sketch was flawless, though Selena Gomez as host turned out to be entirely unnecessary as Steve was telling his own story perfectly. It was goofy and silly, but played so seriously, we were drawn right in.
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Monologue: Selena Gomez
Selena Gomez was genuinely giddy when she started, which was sweet and charming. She got in some pretty good burns on her “Only Murders in the Building” co-stars (and “SNL” legends) Steve Martin and Martin Short, and then she said why she was really there. Turns out “SNL” is apparently a great place to meet a partner, and she’s single! She talked about Emma Stone, Scarlett Johansson finding their partners here, as well as “Pete Davidson and … Machine Gun Kelly.” Then, she said the wrong thing by saying she was willing at this point to settle for just about anyone -- and that’s when the cast started offering. Her performance here was great, playing off of them brilliantly. This whole thing was a lot of fun and set a great tone for the night.
A Peek at Pico
A fairly gentle piece, carried by strong performances and funny characters by Melissa Villaseñor and Selena Gomez. Their pair of Hispanic dingbats hosting a show by constantly interrupting and dismissing their guests and saying everything is “sad” was actually pretty funny. They were so lowkey throughout, but it fit the tone of their dim characters perfectly. We’re not sure if this was intended as a possible showcase for Melissa, or if it just made it on the air because of Selena being host, but it’s a fun character that we wouldn’t mind Melissa revisiting. There was a nice rhythm throughout, with Mikey Day’s Chad playing it straight in frustration of their stupidity to perfection like only he can.
This could have aired much earlier in the night, though it is pretty risque content. Still, Punkie Johnson and Post Malone were perfect as that little paranoid voice on your shoulder that can convince you that your partner is cheating based on no evidence at all. It was a catch piece with a lot of fun interplay between Selena Gomez and Chris Redd as the couple, but the all-stars were definitely Punkie and Post revealing how to hack into your partner’s phone and just become the worst version of yourself. Paranoia is a dangerous, dangerous thing.
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A Storm Within
Unexpectedly -- though we probably should have expected it -- “SNL” devoted an entire sketch to the NSFW video leak from Jesse Williams’ Broadway debut with Kenan Thompson introducing another play with very strict warnings about not disseminating imagery of the show’s nude scenes or “you will lose the penis!” Then, in an even more unexpected and fun twist, he revealed that the entire cast has Covid so the show was going to be performed entirely by understudies with 30 minutes of prep time.
They didn’t even need the penis, just the awful performance deliveries by the cast with Kenan interjecting constantly to try to keep the play on track was enough to keep the laughs coming. We almost didn’t need Mikey Day and Melissa Villaseñor as a couple in the audience reacting to it, but thanks to Melissa’s take, they managed to find a lot of laughs there, too. There were many layers to this one, but all of them managed to be funny. They even stuck the ending!
Selena Gomez cracked up at one point and guest “baby” Post Malone blew his line, so he cracked himself up. But the winners of this sketch were definitely Bowen Yang and Sarah Sherman going all out as the weirdest, creepiest and funniest babies we’ve ever seen. This was such a strange sketch, but a style of humor that works perfectly on this show. They could have gone even weirder with the babies and it would have worked. The only logic flaw as Kyle Mooney’s character talking about watching the babies on the monitor when he clearly couldn’t see it. But otherwise, a 10-to-1 sketch this funny is a rare delight. We get that it’s weird and maybe that’s why they held it back, but funny is funny!
Colin Jost wasn’t too far off in thinking the news these days sounds like the start of another “Mad Max” movie. And Michael Che got the first big reaction when he talked about Republican leaders refusing to appear before the January 6 committee, as if they’re saying, “You can’t force us to do anything; we’re not pregnant.” It was another strong outing for the boys with digs at Apple, Putin, cryptocurrency and the baby formula shortage. It’s nice to see them poised to go out of the season strong!
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Kyle Mooney’s Baby Yoda is such an obnoxious character, each time he appears we start groaning. And then, within a few lines of inappropriate content and shocking one-liners, we find ourselves laughing despite ourselves. The characterization is based on absolutely nothing other than a pampered star who thinks way too much of themselves. His look is ridiculous, the whole concept is ridiculous, but dammit it if it doesn’t work despite itself!
Somehow, underage and creepy sexuality became a common thread in the second news segments with stories about Kevin Spacey, a pregnant chimpanzee and even Barbie with hearing aids. They also got the audience involved in a New York City rats joke, while Che had a fun take on the major Mega Millions wrong-number mistake.
In a fun segment that immediately reminded us of Kevin Nealon’s “News From 10 Feet Away,” Jost then cut to Sarah Sherman standing just a few rows in front of the “Update” desk to offer viewers a tour of the studio. She then proceeded to rip into Colin, making this a recurrence of what she used to do at the desk but with a lot more personality and fun. When it went off the rails after she dropped something and lost it, we loved that she was able to just keep the bit moving while Colin lost it back at the desk. We could watch her make him squirm over and over again!
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PLAYER OF THE WEEK
It was so good to see Melissa Villaseñor get some quality screen time tonight, and there’s definitely potential in her “Pico” character. Kyle Mooney was everywhere, and got some laughs with Baby Yoda, but this week’s top performer was about quality over quantity.
We usually try to strike a balance, but in just three appearances, Sarah Sherman put her stamp on this show in a major way in her first season. She played it straight opposite the Bratz to show that she can carry simple supporting roles.
She played it very weird as a baby opposite Bowen Yang, which is definitely her niche, but she really broke out in the chaos of her “Weekend Update” bit as a version of herself intent on destroying Colin Jost.
Sarah has such a fresh and exciting energy she brings to the show, with a unique comic sensibility. The fact she’s finding ways to stand out in such a sprawling and largely established cast is a testament to her talent.
“Saturday Night Live” wraps Season 47 next week with host Natasha Lyonne and musical guest Japanese Breakfast.