John Mulaney is great and this week he made Saturday Night Live great. After spending six seasons as a writer, Mulaney is very at home at Studio 8H. He was wonderful when he hosted SNL last April and the Big Mouth star is always a treat when he pops back in (for example, to review The Mule). Mulaney really elevates SNL whenever he comes back and, while there were some misfires on this week’s show, his energy and commitment set the gold standard for hosts. As always, Laughspin is breaking down what you need to watch (and what you can skip) with our SNL Star scale!
SNL Cold Open
This week’s cold open was simply too long. Clocking in at almost 10 minutes, this sketch feels even longer than that. While it has its moments, the cold open is more star-studded than it is funny. Ben Stiller and Bill Hader appear as Michael Cohen and Jim Jordan, respectively, during last week’s Michael Cohen testimony. Kate McKinnon is also funny in this sketch, but she comes in so late that you will already be asking yourself, “When is this thing over?”
John Mulaney SNL Monologue
Much like the cold open, Mulaney’s monologue was lengthy for SNL—but it was great. Mulaney did a tight eight minutes of stand-up that will leave you thinking, “Why doesn’t a comedian always host this show?” Honestly, Mulaney should host every week. He is such a great stand-up, we named his 2018 Netflix special, Kid Gorgeous, the sixth-best special of the year!
Chad Horror Movie
Chad is one of those characters that the SNL writers use often. If someone isn’t falling in love with him, he’s learning a new truth about himself. The character has never had much to say by design, making it important that the other person in the scene is funny and engaging. This sketch is just ok, but Mulaney’s knock-off Scream character makes this sketch. Without him, this Chad sketch would be less than okay. Even with him, it’s average in the myriad of Chad sketches.
What’s That Name?
Hader’s return sees him reprise his role in this iconic game show. SNL does a lot of game show bits, but What’s That Name? is one of the more remembered ones of the past decade. A lot of that has to do with Hader. The feminist take and end of this sketch make it better than the original What’s That Name? from five years ago.
This is the spiritual sequel to Diner Lobster. However, this one doesn’t capture the magic of the original Diner Lobster sketch. Part of the reason this sketch doesn’t work as well as the first one is, while every diner has lobster on the menu, New Yorkers know that bodegas don’t have bathrooms. If you ask for a bathroom at a bodega, they will usually say they don’t have one—even if you watch someone leave the bathroom as you’re told this. Also, the music is not as good as the original. While the sketch is funny, it doesn’t do a good enough job as a follow up to hold it’s six-minute run time.
Legal Shark Tank
Legal Shark Tank is actually a great pitch for a real show. However, this sketch suffers from some issues. One is an interstitial of Celino & Barnes. Not only is the reference super New York-specific, but it doesn’t really fit into the rest of the sketch. The other issue with this sketch is the editing. No one watches SNL for the editing and, usually, it isn’t something you would even think about. However, the editing of this sketch is distracting. The best editing goes unnoticed, but when it is bad, it really detracts from the sketch.
Toilet Death Ejector
It is surprising that they hired real elderly people for this sketch, but the rest is a typical SNL parody commercial. The physical comedy really makes this one hilarious. It is one of two toilet sketches in this episode and, while the other one will get more attention, this is the funnier one.
SNL Weekend Update
The best part of this week’s shorter-than-usual Weekend Update is McKinnon and Aidy Bryant’s strange meat joke. Their characters own a farm. When they come out with a box of meat, everyone breaks. It can be annoying when cast members break too much, but seeing McKinnon break feels like a treat.
To Have and Have Not
This reviewer has seen the film To Have and Have Not, but it is unclear if this sketch is funny without seeing the original film. The only real joke here is the Lauren Bacall character, played by McKinnon, doesn’t know how to whistle. It is hysterical, but you might need to have seen the original scene to get the context of this sketch. Especially since some parts are shot-for-shot.
Cha Cha Slide
This sketch is haunting. What does it mean? Are the greater social implications and commentary going unstated? What is happening in this sketch? You will find yourself asking all these questions, but more importantly, you will be laughing. There is so much going on in this final sketch of the night, but at its base level, it is Mulaney dancing at an all-black wedding. How could that not be hilarious?