Saturday Night Live, Sunday Night or Later: Episode 5


General Overview:
“This isn’t my first time being here. I was on an episode of SNL back when my brother Mack hosted thirty years ago almost to the day. I was nine years old and I got to be in three sketches, two of which are non-problematic!”
–Kieran Culkin, 11/8/21

The theme of tonight’s episode was creativity. After almost every sketch I found myself thinking, “Huh, that was a really clever idea.” As an example, I couldn’t have predicted someone playing Donald Trump doing a “Pardon the Interruption” segment within a cold open about the Virginia gubernatorial race, but somehow it worked.

In the cold open, James Austin Johnson played Trump, meaning that, despite being one of this season’s new cast members, he has already done impressions of both presidents Trump and Biden. I am used to seeing Alec Baldwin’s over-exaggerated portrayal of the former president, so Johnson’s focus on accuracy instead of parody was a refreshing change of pace; he sounded shockingly like Trump.

This episode had two cameos, with Tracy Morgan showing up unexpectedly at the end of “Men’s Room” and Dione Warwick showing up as a guest on “Dionne Warwick Talk Show,” one of SNL’s ongoing sketches. The latter was especially fun, because it’s always great to see that the people SNL pokes fun at are in on the joke and are happy to see it keep going.

None of the sketches were among the funniest I’ve seen this season. They were all entertaining, but they relied on the strength of their concepts more than the jokes they added. This is a nitpick for sure, and I might just be salty because it meant that it was hard to find a “best joke” for this episode because so few of the lines are funny out of context.

Also, it might be just me but it felt like there weren’t all that many sketches in this episode. Perhaps the reason why all of the sketches felt so strong and creative was because there was no padding to fill in the gaps. It’s the classic quality over quantity dilemma. Well “dilemma” implies that I can do more than just whine in a column…

Best Sketch:
“Car Heist.” Look, I know making fun of the younger generations for not understanding old technology is overdone, but there’s just something so funny about an elaborate heist getting stalled (pun intended) because someone doesn’t know how to drive a stick shift. Chris Redd really killed this sketch.

Best Joke:
“When my son brought home the book “Beloved” by Toni Morrison, I put down my copy of ‘Fifty Shades’ and said noooo. A woman named Toni? Not in my America.” –Heidi Gardner

Overall Score: 8/10
This episode was kind of the opposite of Rami Malek’s. For all the turkey suits and talk of Trump-voting Mushroom Kingdom residents, this was the most sophisticated episode in the season so far. The only thing it needed was Bowen Yang dancing around in a spider costume with legs falling off for no reason.