We got a great ad for Covid, a spot-on parody of Netflix’s “The Watcher” (the best kind, too, in that you don’t even need to know anything about the original to enjoy the humor), and a spiritual sequel to Cecily Strong’s powerful Goober the Clown abortion piece from a year ago just ahead of this week’s mid-terms.
Newcomers Marcello Hernandez and Michael Longfellow continue to get a lot of face time in the kinds of roles you expect, as waiters and guests, while Molly Kearney and Devon Walker are struggling a little more to get in front of the camera. Michael even got a big sketch starring role this week, albeit in a mostly straight-man role.
With a still-large cast, it has to be difficult to get sketch appearances, as we still see Punkie Johnson struggling with this in her third year while Andrew Dismukes (also in his third) is everywhere. So we’ll keep rooting for Devon and Molly to not only find their unique voices on the show -- as Sarah Sherman has done -- but sneak into those important supporting roles so fans familiarize themselves with their names and faces.
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 the overall premise of this had potential, we weren’t as enamored when it focused in on animal’s reacting to Amy Schumer. One of the other women was a veterinarian, so why would you not explore reactions there? Or the woman at home? While we know it’s a parody and supposed to be silly, it just kind of fell apart for us and got worse as it went along.
Cold Open: New Democratic Candidates
In the hopes of galvanizing the troops on the left, President Biden (James Austin Johnson) trotted out a whole fresh slate of unexpected candidates to combat the Herschel walkers of the GOP. So, this basically became a cavalcade of impressions including Ceciy Strong as Stormy Daniels, Ego Nwodim as Azealia Banks, Molly Kearney as Guy Fieri and a giggling Kenan Thompson as Tracy Morgan. It’s always fun when an “SNL” player impersonates another “SNL” star, but we found ourselves feeling a little let down with Kenan on this one. How is a parody less over-the-top than the real thing? Hell, Tracy showed how to do a parody of himself on “30 Rock!” This should have been funnier, but it was both intentionally disjointed and disjointed as a comedy piece.
Monologue: Amy Schumer
It was a fairly solid, if not particularly remarkable, standup routine about sex as a married couple, birth and her husband being diagnosed with autism, but Amy managed to sneak in a couple of particularly sharp jokes in a very clever way. Earlier, she misspoke the word “abortion” for “election,” and later when talking about Dr. Asperger having Nazi ties, she slipped “Kanye” in there and then immediately acted as if it was a mic malfunction. It was just a little thing, but as the stand-up monologue was only providing a few chuckles, those moments really stood out. As for the main material, the husband stuff was definitely stronger as it didn’t feel as tired and played out.
If you’re going to cut to Marcello Hernandez in close-up eating soup, is it too much to ask he actually be sipping something from his spoon? The emptiness was pretty obvious. This sketch took a little bit to get going, but by the time Kenan Thompson joined in with voiceover for Amy Schumer’s character who just really wanted to eat her soup, but Heidi Gardner was distraught and as a good friend, she should be listening and engaged? It’s one of those slice-of-life experiences we’ve probably all had (but would never admit) where we weren’t as invested in someone else’s problems as we probably should have been. For us, the sillier moments were the strongest, except the ending seemed a bit unnecessary.
This was a very strange sketch that fell apart in its own execution. Michael Longfellow was a new reporter covering a fire and he actually got a confession about who started the fire and why, but then called it a fail. On top of that, every time he tried to throw back to the anchors, played by Ego Nwodim and Heidi Gardner, it never happened. So the logic of the piece made no sense at all. Beyond that, though, the characterizations from Cecily Strong, Bowen Yang and Amy Schumer as “kissing” cousins was a lot of fun, so the piece was enjoyable in that regard. We’d have just rather it be set up in a different way so it would make sense as well as being filled with silly characters showing off their talents because they’re on TV.
Twitter Content Moderation
A glimpse into the post-Elon Musk world of Twitter saw Chloe Fineman and Kenan Thompson presiding over the Content Moderation Committee interviewing people who’d been banned and who wanted back on Twitter. We were hoping for more nutjob personalities, but those proved more sparse than expected. Amy Schumer as a totally-human-not-sexbot woman was pretty funny, as was how Kenan was falling into her trap, while Punkie’s Black Twitter commentary fell flat. James Austin Johnson is always great with his rambling Trump, with some great lines about the Truth network and maybe causing a coup if he comes back, but when he left it just kind of fizzled out with the laziest and most obvious exit.
Another long segment from Colin Jost and Michael Che with lots of great material from the GOP response to the Pelosi home attack to Kyrie Irving “pretending to not be anti-Semmitic” to Herschel Walker’s resume (compared to Obama’s) and more. Che got in a great joke about Kanye West’s Instagram ban, and got a good audience groan with his commentary about a picture of the smiling sun. Meanwhile, Colin pulled a gun -- okay, it makes sense in the context of the joke.
We had a feeling we were in for a revisiting of Cecily Strong’s powerful Goober the Clown piece from a year ago when she was introduced literally as “Tammy the Trucker, Who Promises She’s Here to Talk About Gas Prices and Definitely Not Abortion.” Goober was so brilliantly written and performed to hit hard, with laughs, as Cecily shared her own truth. This time, she was far less subtle as a mother-trucker in her plea for people to get out and vote to protect women’s access to healthcare. Obviously, it’s going to fall on deaf ears to havel the country and it’s preaching to the choir for the other half, but one part of her message might get through and that’s that the only way to have a say in what happens is to bother to vote.
Big Dumb Hat
You’ve all seen these women and you probably dread having to either interact or even overhear them. They’re vapid, insecure, arrogant and incredibly annoying. Chloe Fineman was particularly strong at delivering this personality type in this very short piece to end the night on. It was pretty funny commentary on how easy it can be to stereotype people based on just one accessory -- but also how accurately it can sometimes be done.
This was another slow burner of a sketch that started off a little annoying with the three jurors (Amy Schumer, Bowen Yang and Sarah Sherman) hamming it up with sideline reactions. But when they got a little more involved with the proceedings and it got a little more absurd, we found ourselves chuckling along. The fun twist at the end brought it all home, while keeping the whole thing ridiculous, and we appreciated that this was more than a one-note premise, but an actual complete story, as well.
Big Penis Therapy
Sarah Sherman was over-acting again -- we hope she learns to rein it in -- but we were in love with this idea that the best way to convince men to go to therapy was to call it “Big Penis Therapy” and maybe give them a badge after six months. Rather than just get them to get over themselves and accept that maybe they have real mental health issues, convince them it’s all because of them having to live with those “big” penises. Fragile male ego sidestepped and massaged. Just make it all about the phallus -- and don’t forget to tell them it’s huge! -- and they’ll support anything, apparently.
The new gold standard in fake commercial parodies, everything about the tone of this ad for Covid is perfect. And yes, you read that right, this ad is for Covid. Think of all the benefits? Long vacation, alone time -- it’s a great response to the strange place we find ourselves in now with the ongoing disease where it’s not as scary as it once was but it’s still Covid, so that’s not great. Bonus points go to everything Andrew Dismukes said and did as Heidi Gardner’s husband stuck with the kids every time she tests positive and kicks them out. There are so many great little details sprinkled throughout this, we’re almost ready to get Covid all over again … but this time, for fun!
This went from bad to worse, but in a good way, as these Jets tailgaters really let every Bills fan have it as they walked by. It was a combination of the abrupt shift from sweet neighborly talk to extremely violent language and the subjects of their tirades that kept us in stitches throughout. Probably the best segment was them wondering how their kids picked up the idea to bully people right before they laid into a pregnant woman for being “fat.” As each new line of attacks began, half the fun was trying to guess who they were tearing into this time? Children? The Handicapped?
A parody of “The Watcher,” a supposedly true story about a man who watched a family very closely and sent them letters, we weren’t sure we were going to like this, until “The Looker” started writing about what he saw this particular family doing. Everything about Amy Schumer’s mom character was awkward and hilarious, as were her insistences that he was lying about just her. Of course, as James Austin Johnson’s father (and The Looker) were reading the note, we saw video proof of everything he was writing, just making it funnier and funnier. We could have done without the silly ending, but everything up to that point was brilliant.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
In a night with zero guest stars, the women really got the opportunity to stand out, with Chloe and Heidi appearing throughout the show in lead and supporting roles. James got to appear as both Biden and Trump and proved he’s really great in those impressions, while Michael and Marcello really stepped up as supporting players.
The biggest performance of the night, though, goes to Cecily in her second week back this season. Not only did she again pour her heart out in her not-abortion piece for “Weekend Update” but she proved the queen of characters with a great redneck performance in the fire piece, her conspiracy nut at Twitter and her brutal tailgater.
While we still feel the absences of Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant, Cecily really is feeling like the glue right now for this cast as they find their footing after all those cast departures. Heidi, Ego and Chloe are quickly settling into those leadership roles, but there’s an extra layer of gravitas and commitment to the character any time you see it’s Cecily.
“Saturday Night Live” returns next week with host Dave Chappelle and musical guest Black Star.