What’s it like, as a young comic, to be hired to work on Saturday Night Live, which has launched so many careers and been obsessively scrutinized (we all read the oral history Live From New York, right?) for longer than its latest recruits have been alive? In the show’s most recent episode, new cast member Sarah Sherman got a chance to share impressions about her début season during Weekend Update. She used it to ask something that many of us have probably wondered about SNL over the years: “Why is it live?”
In this context, the question was rhetorical, but…I would also like to know! (She didn’t go on to ask why the show is also so long; maybe if James Austin Johnson gets a chance, he can raise that next week.) Sherman’s segment — in which she turned innocent comments by Update co-host Colin Jost into damning headlines (e.g. “Self Proclaimed Nipple Expert Colin Jost Caught Mansplaining Life On TV?”) — was a special treat to those viewers who may regard Jost as a “Local Sicko,” and her giddy energy was so contagious that I can even forgive the last headline misspelling “fascist.” (Oops.)
Host Jonathan Majors seemed a bit nervous and tongue-tied during his monologue. But he relaxed as the episode rolled on, playing sidekick Kenny Gerard to Kenan Thompson’s Alan Daniels in the Syfy talk show spoof Strange Kid Tales. The premise: parents bring on their children, each of whom has had a spooky paranormal experience, to which Alan and Kenny react with increasing discomfiture. When Dave Timpkins (Alex Moffat) brings out his son Max, the latter wearing a too-adult outfit, Alan is immediately set on edge;“There’s nothing behind his eyes,” Kenny accuses. Shouts to this extremely capable child actor, because: there truly isn’t. With regard to the third mom, played by Heidi Gardner: you kind of have to brace yourself for some sort of supernatural sensitivity when you name her Coraline.
Majors also got to show off his Yale-trained chops in a late-episode sketch about a Broadway benefit starring Blythe & Brick (Cecily Strong and Bowen Yang). While a mother (Aidy Bryant) is excited to introduce her young daughter to a double act she loved watching as a kid, her husband (Kyle Mooney) is not so sure the material is appropriate for a pre-teen, which feels like ageist profiling. There are probably lots of 11-year-olds who love gags about condoms and multi-verse musical numbers about cocaine. Watch and see if this revue is something your middle-schooler would respond to!
We got two strong pre-taped sketches as well. One revolved around the recent report that, as Melanie Hamlett put it in Harper’s Bazaar, “Men Have No Friends and Women Bear the Burden.” What can women do when the men they live with assault them with dull chatter the second they walk in the door because said men haven’t spoken to another person all day? Take them to the Man Park — it’s like a dog park, except for men in relationships to get used to socializing with each other. Openers like “Rise and grind?” or “Marvel?” may not be that interesting to their opposite-sex partners, but at the Man Park, they have a VERY high success rate.
We were also treated to a Please Don’t Destroy video in which Pete Davidson pitches the guys on a bit about them hanging out and being pals. Except Davidson actually has a twist in mind, and doesn’t understand why they would object to his describing them as “3 Sad Virgins”—and sprinkling in painfully accurate details about their romantic experiences and anatomy. (Martin Herlihy: “That was my real doctor!”) No spoilers, but if anyone you know tries to complain that Taylor Swift only sang one song, you can correct them: it was one and a half.
Speaking of Swift: okay, sure, she did only technically sing one song — this week’s internet-breaking “All Too Well.” But it was ten minutes long, and gave fans everything they wanted out of the experience, including highlights from the song’s short film projected on a screen behind her while she stood in a carpet of autumn leaves. Makeup connoisseurs: stand by for a flurry of blog posts this week about the exact shade of lip color Swift was wearing, because that severe black outfit really kept the focus on her face.
“Well, guys, I think the lesson we all learned this week is, never break up with Taylor Swift,” cracked Jost at the top of Weekend Update, “or she will sing about you for ten minutes on national television.” I’m pretty sure we’ve known that for a while, actually? But maybe a “Local Pervert” has had other things on his mind.
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