Saturday Night Live, Sunday Night or Later: Episode 10


General Overview:
“I am so honored to be here tonight. Wow, 2020 has already been an exciting year. I am hosting SNL and I won a Golden Globe for my role as ‘Anita’ in ‘West Side Story.’ Not many people know this, but West Side Story is actually based on another classic tale of star-crossed lovers: ‘90 Day Fiancé.’”
—Ariana DeBose, 1/15/22

After a month and a year of waiting for its return, “SNL” is finally back to throw a wrench in everyone’s sleep schedules just before midterms. It’s alright, I didn’t want to get any studying done today anyway. Regardless of any metaphorical metal messing with my melatonin, it was certainly nice to see the show pick right back up on its feet after the fiasco that was their last episode of 2021.

This week’s episode was unique in that nearly every sketch had one or two running gags that made up the majority of the humor of the sketch. Sketches that focus on adding onto running jokes are often some of my favorites, since they can really explore the ridiculousness of a central concept in hilarious detail. However, they are inherently risky because if the main joke doesn’t land then the sketch will feel like a slog. As this episode demonstrates, playing with fire is fun but you’re going to remember the burn you got more than the cool twirl you did before getting it.

Some sketches worked really well with their main jokes, like “Sappho,” which connected modern lesbian (the sexuality) culture to the famous ancient Greek Lesbian (the island and also the sexuality) poetess. Unfortunately, when almost all the sketches are similar in structure to one another, even brighter jokes start to dull…

As previously mentioned, the critical flaw of this type of sketch comedy is that it can easily be completely unfunny. If the main punchline misses then the whole rest of the karate routine will just be hitting and kicking empty air. This happened with several sketches, most notably in “Kitchen Staff,” which I think anyone would find hard to “lurr.”

But the other issues of these one-note sketches that defined the night even managed to infect some sketches with quite successful core jokes. Even the cold open was not immune to this; it focused almost entirely around hilariously blaming the spread of COVID-19 on people seeing “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” but it kept so close to this central throughline that no matter how high it built it up it still felt bogged down by a lack of internal variety.

Best Sketch:
“NBA on TNT.” This sketch was one of the few that really managed to expand on its core concept in a strong way without reverting back to the same joke every 20 seconds (or five seconds in the cold open’s case). Also, the reveal of Bowen Yang playing Yao Ming by just standing instead of sitting was somehow the funniest moment of the night.

Best Joke:
“I think Biden just needs more time; he might be more of an acquired taste. Unfortunately, most Americans recently lost their sense of taste.” —Colin Jost

Overall Score: 6/10
Most of these sketches on their own would have been fine enough, but when it was all rolled into one episode it meant that there were only around seven or eight solid, original jokes in the entire episode. For once, I will lament the lack of quantity over quality.