Saturday Night Live is back this week after a Halloween break and, with any episode, there were some hits and misses. Jonah Hill came back for his fifth time hosting. He was joined by musical guest Maggie Rogers who had a bit of a rough time, but we promise that is the last we will say about the musical guest. Each week, Laughspin will break down what worked and what didn’t in our SNL recap using our Katan-to-Radner star scale. A mark of the Corky Romano star means a safe time to use the bathroom. Seeing the original Not Ready For Prime Time Player means it’s worth missing the birth of your child—well, third child.
Now that we’ve explained our system: How did this season’s fourth episode do?
The Cold Open:
The episode starts with a political cold open that feels very by the book. The sketch centers around Laura Ingraham played by Kate McKinnon. McKinnon is a master of impressions, but this one falls a little flat, possibly because the actress is on the verge of breaking for most of the sketch. The open packs in some strong laughs, but feels entirely too long. Cecily Strong delivers an amazing Judge Jeanine Pirro impression, but the sketch could have ended after she left. The open ends with a joke about “disgraced actor Alec Baldwin” that has a tone problem. The actor—who has been playing Donald Trump on the show—was recently arrested for punching a man in the face. It’s hard to tell the show’s feelings about the incident more than, “Hey look a thing involving a guy we know happened.”
The host’s monologue doesn’t always need to be a true monologue. Sometimes it is a song. Sometimes the cast joins a host. This usually happens when the host can’t carry the segment himself. We know Hill can deliver a monologue because this is his fifth time hosting the perennial program, so it’s confusing that they did a full-on sketch for it. When a person hosts the show five times, the show puts them in a special club. Every time they do a “five-timers” club monologue, it skews a little too inside baseball, but this one has so many other problems. Hill is taken to a special club with Tina Fey, Drew Barrymore, and Candice Bergen. The women deliver some half-baked #MeToo jokes that walk the line between a Michael Che shit-post and what an open mic comedian thinks women talk like. I’m sad to have to give this sketch one star because it has two great things about it: Bergen is an icon and a gem, and there is a portrait of Scarlett Johansson in the fake club which is a great visual gag.
This sketch isn’t political. It doesn’t connect to current events. It doesn’t parody anything. And it is wonderful. Hill plays a 6-year-old who speaks like an old Jewish Borscht Belt comedian. Leslie Jones plays his nanny and, while she is always on the verge of breaking, you don’t fault her because you are hysterically laughing at home as well. It’s just a little sketch that is well written and silly and fun—and that’s all it needs to be.
Nothing about this digital short feels particularly innovative, but it does feel very timely. The ad features liberals trying to believe in the blue wave. It’s funny and pokes fun at the establishment Democrats, which is almost always deserved. It isn’t a classic but works very well on the show this week.
The premise follows an on-air proposal on a local news channel. There are some great jokes in there, but the structure of the sketch is confusing. The “twist” halfway through doesn’t entirely make sense, and it could have been done better. This one was almost a three star, and it would have been if the rest of the show was worse. There is nothing wrong with this sketch, but also nothing too memorable. The best gag is just that Hill is wearing a green shirt in front of a green screen.
This sketch perfectly captures the feeling of going to a bad play in New York. It’s funny, it’s just political enough, and it doesn’t drag on. Also, it showcases who on the cast can sing (more on that later).
The Teacher Fell Down:
If this was the last sketch of the night, it would have made more sense. This sketch is funny, really funny at times, but is also very one note. Kate McKinnon makes this sketch. She delivers a Cat on a Hot Tin Roof-style monologue as her class of students watches her lie on the ground. It’s one of those sketches that makes you ask, “Is there more going on here?” And the answer is no.
The issue with judging Weekend Update as a unit is there are so many segments contained in the whole. Jost’s opening joke about a caravan of migrants going to work at Mar a Lago is one of those things that would have been called racist if we weren’t all so desensitized by the state of the nation. Michael Che’s joke about voting was less of a joke and more of a rant your uncle would go on after someone asks why he was drinking during lunch on election day. Pete Davidson brings laughs in an easy segment. Who doesn’t laugh at a “this person looks like this” set up? It is stand-up 101. Melissa Villaseñor is the reason I want to give this 4 stars, but can’t. She is great as a teen on Law and Order. Weekend Update should have ended with her, but then we get a tired David Ortiz impression. He retired two years ago—let him be. Yes, Latino people often have accents.
America’s Got Talent:
This joke feels like it’s 10-years-old. Just replace AGT with American Idol (which is ironically true of broadcast TV line-ups as well). There are some funny moments in this, but there is a big issue. The joke is that weird people can sing—but some of the actors can’t sing. The joke thus really doesn’t work, which is too bad, because as we saw in the political musical sketch, they do have people who can sing.
The concept for this sketch is good and it is carried out well. The only strange thing about it is SNL seems to want to paint Sarah Huckabee Sanders as someone with a conscious. Every time Aidy Bryant plays the character, she makes her seem like she doesn’t want to be in this administration and that it has been forced upon her. This was almost four Andy Sambergs, but it didn’t feel like it went far enough at times.
Usually the last sketch of the night is the weirdest, but this was actually very tame. I’m actually not sure this sketch really deserves four stars, but who can say no to a dog dressed like a person. It’s easy comedy but has more cute dogs than SNL has had in a long time, so worth a watch.
Disagree with us? Sound off about what we rated wrong in the comments.