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SNL Love It/Keep It/Leave It: John Mulaney/Jack White

CREDIT: Rosalind O’Connor/NBC

NewsCult Entertainment Editor 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.

Love It

Hollywood Update – Mulaney finds brilliant inspiration from his very own “Family Flix” (aka “Rocket Dog”), one of the greatest sketches he ever wrote during his SNL tenure. This time around, the objectionable material for supposedly family-friendly entertainment is squarely present both in front of and behind the camera. Simply mentioning the uncomfortable sexual ramifications of a parent-child body switch premise would have been enough to make this sketch a winner, but the disturbing details just keep on coming.

Horn Removal – The second sketch of the night to take obvious and winning inspiration from a previous SNL bit hearkens back to a pre-Mulaney time, namely the Will Ferrell-starring Bad Doctor. This time around, it is the patients who are more the crazy people, although the biggest laughs come from Mulaney’s plastic surgeon calmly explaining to the horned fellow and his fetishistic girlfriend just how idiotic they are.

It always bodes well for the Monologue when you have a stand-up comedian hosting, and I furthermore appreciate that Mulaney delivered jokes I had never heard from him before. Maybe this was material that he had used on stage previously, but it was new to me…I have to give it up to Big Nick’s Greek Diner, or any comedy sketch past or present, that turns into a full-blown Les Miserables homage.

Keep It

Robert Mueller/Michael Cohen Lie DetectorMeet the Parents came out 18 years ago, which was around the time that my SNL fandom was really starting to bloom. So this Mueller investigation homage to the Fockers is like if Steven Spielberg and Drew Barrymore had cameoed in 2000 for an ET-centric parody about the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Anyway, we certainly don’t need Ben Stiller and Robert de Niro to rehash their “you can milk anything with nipples” routine in 2018, but it is a unique enough entryway into the current scandal du jour.

The Drag Brunch is what we can refer to as precision comedy, and the target is hit…Mulaney’s student leader attempts to hide a boner on National School Walkout Day, and we should all know from Big Mouth how masterful he is at humorizing awkward bodily functions…Ah, a parody of Wild Wild Country, that new Netflix documentary series about a cult that a lot of people are obsessing over but that I have not watched (yet?); this isn’t the first time a sketch has revolved around Kenan’s insatiable appetite for booty, nor is it the best, but it is still fairly amusing (and props to the audience for cheering Nasim Pedrad’s cameo without prompting)…Michael and Colin’s most memorable bits this time around involve bringing the Cleveland Browns’ futility into all this and a zinging follow-up about cream soda…I have never subjected myself to Laura Ingraham, so I have no idea how accurate Kate McKinnon’s impression is, but the list of all her disreputable new sponsors is on-point…Kenan’s Lavar Ball routine is a steady, unwavering formula, but damn if I don’t lose it when he claims that his son Lonzo is certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes or that he has a long-lost Mexican son named “La Biblioteca.” And “You say ‘tomato,’ I say ‘this tomato costs $500’” might just be the quote of the season…The Real Intros of Reality Hills zeros in on what that genre is all about, doesn’t it?

Leave It

No terrible sketches on John Mulaney’s watch!

John Mulaney

CREDIT: Will Heath/NBC

How many former SNL writers who were not also cast members have returned to host? The only other one besides John Mulaney that I can think of is Larry David. Mulaney is certainly well-known enough among comedy nerds to justify booking him as host, but is he famous enough among the general public? The correct answer is: who cares? The episode he is in charge of runs smoothly, and it appears that he had a powerful effect on the writers’ room, what with the plethora of concept-driven sketches. Also, Darrell Hammond twice refers to him (on purpose?) as John “Mulvaney.”

Jack White

On a scale of “absolutely essential” to “playing the hits,” this is hardly a landmark performance from Jack White, but of course his chops are as strong as ever. Are “Over and Over and Over” and “Connected by Love” future classics in his oeuvre? I’m not banking on that legacy, as they do not sound terribly different from his typical garage rock numbers, but maybe after a few more listens, I’ll notice some peculiarities.

I’ll be back in three weeks to let you know what I’m loving, keeping, and leaving from host Donald Glover and musical guest Childish Gambino!

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