SNL Weekly Review: February 4 by Dylan Zsigray ’18

Kristen Stewart hosted a solid, politically-driven episode of Saturday Night Live last night.  Stewart is an example of a host that I set low expectations for going into his or her episode.  She’s a talented actress, but the transition from vampire-drama to comedy and satire sometimes just does not pan out, resulting in a dismal show.  Luckily though, this did not happen.  Although Stewart was a tad reserved in some of the sketches, the rest of the cast rallied alongside her and were vibrant and energetic.  It was one of the most entertaining episodes that I have watched this season.  Below is my review of last night’s episode of SNL.

“SUPERSTAR!” (The Best Sketch of the Night)

“Sean Spicer Press Conference”: To be honest, I had a difficult time picking my favorite sketch from last night.  It was split between this Sean Spicer parody and the Homeland Security Customs information video (see below).  In the end though, I chose the Spicer parody.  Melissa McCarthy knocked her impression of Spicer out of the park.  I was put off at first when I saw that she would be portraying Spicer because sometimes when a cast member portrays someone of the opposite gender, it just does not work.  With this sketch, it definitely worked.  This sketch was extremely funny and realistic.  Spicer goes out and defends Trump’s public appearances (“where a standing ovation lasts for fifteen minutes”) and tries to deflect all questions about Trump’s policies (i.e. any question about Steve Bannon).  This sketch was entertaining to watch and it was incredibly well written and performed.  I hope that SNL used McCarthy in the future with her portrayal of Spicer.  There will surely be enough content throughout these four years.

“I gotta have more cowbell!” (Good Sketches)

“Weekend Update”: So, there was not really a structure to Weekend Update last night.  It kind of just went along and would change direction when someone said something or a joke was funny.  Despite the lack of structure, this edition of Weekend Update was solid. Michael Che was really funny last night and Colin Jost just could not contain his laughter.  My favorite part is probably when Jost began ending the sketch when there was still half of it to go.  If I had one complaint from last night’s Weekend Update, it would probably be Kenan Thompson’s David Ortiz portrayal.  Sometimes his parody is funny, but last night it just did not fit.

“Welcome Video”: As mentioned above, I had trouble deciding between this sketch for the Best Sketch of the night and the Spicer parody.  Although this sketch was not the best from last night, it was very good.  We all know about these tacky, monotone US Customs videos that are shown when one is either entering the country for the first time or coming back home as a citizen.  However, with the change from President Trump’s executive order, it sent the department into a whirlwind.  I could imagine one of their cubicle workers whipping together a video like this to incorporate all the new policies.  This sketch was funny and so blunt with the message that it was communicating that it made it one of my favorites from the night.

“Well, isn’t that special” (Hit or Miss Sketches)

“Celebrity Family Feud”: The recurring Celebrity Family Feud sketches have begun to remind me of the infamous “What Up With That?” sketches from the time of Bill Hader.  Sometimes, the Celebrity Family Feud sketches are really good and funny.  Other times, they feel super long and fall flat.  Last night’s edition fell in the middle.  My biggest issue with this series of sketches is the time it takes to introduce every single contestant.  Three and a half minutes of the seven minute sketch are spent introducing the contestants, some of which do not do good portrayals. However, Leslie Jones’s Samuel L. Jackson and Bobby Moynihan’s Bill Belichick were both good last night.  I just wish more time was spent answering questions rather.

“Kristen Stewart Monologue”: Never in the four years that I have watched SNL have I heard a host drop an F-bomb in the middle of a live episode, but it did sure happen last night.  Look, regardless of how panicked the NBC executives must have been, Stewart recovered after the slipup.  It was funny and set a whimsical tone of uncertainty for the rest of the episode.  Apart from Stewart’s diction, her monologue was not amazing, but the appearances by Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon certainly salvaged it towards the end.

“Meet Cute”: You know, this sketch could have been two minutes shorter had the girl just given the guy her phone number, but what fun is that.  Look, although this sketch is probably not a testament to our world today, it was well filmed and the acting by Stewart and Pete Davidson was good as well.  It was also edited really well, especially with the inclusion of parallel editing, which only strengthened the storyline more.  This sketch worked to get the audience to feel empathy, but it was not funny.  

“Oval Office Cold Open”: Last night’s Oval Office cold open was much better than the one that aired earlier in the season.  I loved the structure of this sketch and the plot associated with it, but I felt that it needed another punch. Seeing the Grim Reaper as Bannon was pleasing once again and Trump’s mini-desk (since he is clearly not President according to the show) was a nice touch.  Out of all the calls that Trump (Alec Baldwin) made, Thompson’s portrayal of Zimbabwe’s dictator, and the subsequent reactions from Trump and Bannon were both priceless. This was a nice open to last night’s episode, but it could have been even better with another element attached to it.  

“Buh-bye” (Bad Sketches)

“Dry Fridays”: I was confused by this sketch.  First, it appeared as the first live sketch of the night, so normally it’s one of the strongest of the night. It wasn’t. Second, everyone in the sketch just seemed uneasy, adding onto the fact that it was their characters who were written to be uneasy.  This sketch was just too long and did not have a purpose to it, nor did it seem to flow well.  I feel like the writers were trying to mimic McKinnon’s “I had an alien encounter” character with the writing of Stewart’s character.  It did not work and resulted in this mess of a sketch.

“Golden Ticket”: I fast-forwarded through this sketch for one reason and one reason only: this was not a sketch and was clearly just nonsense on a stage.  What even was this? The timing was way off and the acting was unnatural. If there was a point to including this sketch, I’d love to know, but it was terrible.

In the end, Kristen Stewart hosted a solid episode with a lot of surprising moments. Look forward to next week, when Alec Baldwin hosts, which will surely be another politically-driven episode.

Dylan’s Ranking of the Episodes:

  1. Dave Chappelle
  2. Emma Stone
  3. Tom Hanks
  4. Kristen Stewart
  5. Kristen Wiig
  6. Aziz Ansari
  7. Lin-Manuel Miranda
  8. Casey Affleck
  9. Margot Robbie
  10. Felicity Jones
  11. John Cena
  12. Benedict Cumberbatch
  13. Emily Blunt

 

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