NewsCult’s Jeffrey Malone watches every new episode of Saturday Night Live and then organizes the sketches into the following categories: “Love It” (potentially Best of the Season-worthy), “Keep It” (perfectly adequate), or “Leave It” (in need of a rewrite, to say the least). Then he concludes with assessments of the host and musical guest.
Kyle’s New Look – Considering who was in the building, it looked like we were about to get a sequel to the landmark Kyle vs. Kanye as the latest short from Mr. Mooney began. But while the behind-the-scenes saga takes a different route this time, it is no less welcome. In an episode all about Pete Davidson’s summer, the high point comes via Kyle’s copycat tactic. Wendy Williams as his choice of celebrity boo is inspired, and small details like the way Heidi Gardner eats a banana fill in the scenery nicely. But I am left to wonder how this sketch might have been different if original musical guest choice Ariana Grande had been around to provide her reaction.
Domenico’s Coffee – Burger King disguising its cup of joe as the upscale “Domenico’s” to fool unsuspecting customers obviously calls to mind the classic Colombian coffee crystals filmed piece in which Chris Farley completely loses his mind. But this time around it’s a somewhat different tack, instead targeting faux-upscale coffee snob arrogance. It’s right up Cecily Strong’s grotesque character alley, and Adam Driver’s intensity matches up quite well. Their threats once they realize the ruse are awfully silly, but also scary in their sincerity.
In an Update dominated up top by the Kavanaugh hearings, Michael and Colin are more straightforward than they have ever been, and we are the better for it…Kate McKinnon’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg is enough to brighten up any day.
Kavanaugh Senate Hearing – The typical SNL cold open tackles the major political news of the week, which can grow tiresome, so I always enjoy when the show switches up the routine. But there was no avoiding the major development this time, but luckily (for comedy’s sake), the alarming Brett Kavanaugh hearings allow for a somewhat different cast of characters than the usual recent political insanity we’ve had to endure. It doesn’t necessarily make for a great sketch, but it’s a decent one, and I’ll take the “Lindsey Graham auditioning for regional production of The Crucible” joke to the bank.
Adam Driver’s Monologue is a small idea about small talk, but Driver is amusing when he’s angry. And also Pete Davidson had an interesting summer…The “adults don’t know how to play video games” shtick is as old as video games, but at least the Fortnite sketch adds some backstory involving a real dad/stepdad rivalry…I would guess Rad Times at Frat U was inspired by Brett Kavanaugh’s schooltime secrets, although the focus is a bit wayward. But it still works as a solid takedown of blowout party movies…Leslie Jones’ “impression” of Serena Williams is actually sort of impressive in a verbatim sort of way, and Colin’s insistence that it won’t work actually fits as a dramatic counterpoint…I hope that Pete Davidson talked to his fiancee before he discussed how his summer was (he probably did)…Once we meet old school oil baron Abraham H. Parnassus, the Career Day sketch hits exactly the beats we expect, but it’s committed character work from Driver…The League of the South Meeting‘s premise that Vermont is some kind of white people paradise is kind of clever, but I’m most amused by the ruling that they CAN pick black players for their fantasy football teams.
No Leave It sketches in a solid premiere episode.
On a scale of “omnipresent host” to “host getting lost in the background,” Adam Driver is not really either extreme. He has some lead characters, and he wholly commits in a way that justifies his booking despite not being an obvious choice for a season premiere. But it kind of feels like the actual host of this episode was Pete Davidson’s birthday.
On a scale of Kanye the Visionary to Kanye the Inexplicable, we definitely leaned toward the latter this episode. Seriously, does anyone understand why he and Lil Pump chose to dress as Perrier and Fiji, respectively? Although, hey, I can’t say I wasn’t amused. But besides the wacky artistic choices, there’s also the MAGA of it all, which I don’t think there will ever be a satisfying answer for, so we might as well seek serenity for something that’s beyond our control.
I’ll be around next week to let you know what I’m loving, keeping, and leaving from Awkwafina and Travis Scott!