Michigan, you crazy son of a bitch. You went and got Cecily Strong back on SNL! Though Strong has been away filming another project for much of this season, did we really think she’d let a woman with that flat tire of an accent, with those jingle-jangled conspiracy theories, with that Goody brush-teased of an updo, slip out from under her? As Kate McKinnon’s Rudy Giuliani farted alongside her, Strong’s Melissa Carone lit into her state representatives about Trump’s stolen bid. “Fraudulent erection. It could still get you pregnant!”
This week’s cold open gave us a welcome break from Jim Carrey’s swing and a miss at President-elect Joe Biden, and we’re all in need of a forever detox from Donald Trump’s jowly pout. (The next time I see Alec Baldwin at Studio8H, let him be sucking his thumb during a sketch about Biden’s inauguration—or doing a handcuffed march.) But it was still long to the point of being a slog. Had it stuck to McKinnon and Strong and then gone straight to Chloe Fineman’s hilarious take on Grace from The Undoing’s testimony, it could’ve sung.
Tonight’s host, Jason Bateman: fine as hell in a suit. The man’s charm has always been that he’s at once biting and drowsy. He’s so laconic he should’ve been a cowboy, though part of his vibe indicates that he’d also hate bugs or getting wet. And he made clear in his blowsy monologue that he’s not a fan of unpredictable wildlife, either. Bateman had gold material from his one other hosting experience 15 years prior, so he didn’t have to rely on the usual mishmash of actor jokes. Instead he told one solid, absurd story. The last time he stood on this stage, a guest chimpanzee lunged at him during the cast goodbye—and nobody cared (except for poor, horrified Rachel Dratch).
Bateman rolled his hot dad appeal right into the next sketch, in which McKinnon’s Megan had once again made some very poor choices during a slumber party. Someone had gotten a very large menstrual stain on the sofa and needed to fess up. Megan promised Bateman’s cardigan-and-cool-sneakers dad that she wore “monster tamps” and “big leather underwear.” Bubbles floated around the two, as McKinnon’s suds-soaked There’s Something About Mary hair batted Bateman’s face. Megan was 50% sure she might be gay, but was willing to make love to her friend’s father and mother to find out one way or the other.
Listen, Twitter: Pete Davidson never said he was born to play George Bailey. (It’s a table read for charity. Lay off the kid!) But he surely was put on this Earth to play Stu in the best musical number of the season. A fat Christmas bonus to whomever dreamed up Davidson donning Stan’s white tank top to pen an unhinged Dear Santa letter. “I’m a year older, but I’m still your soldier.” Stu wanted a PS5, and he was done being ignored. McKinnon loomed like a specter, giving excellent Dido, and Bowen Yang was an inspired Elton John. Things didn’t turn out so hot for Stu, but Eminem popped up unwrapping an unrequested PS5 on Christmas morning. From top to bottom, this was perfectly conceived and executed.
Michael Che had the best joke of Weekend Update, talking about the coming vaccine. “On the one hand, I’m black, so naturally I don’t trust it. But on the other hand, I’m on a white TV show, so I might actually get the real one.” There’s a graduate level course on American history in that joke, the lessons of which will alternately outrage, bore, and be lost on resident teen Bailey’s head. Heidi Gardner picked at the ends of her flat-ironed hair as she got defensive about having a crush on Silence of the Lambs’ Buffalo Bill. “He’s a dog dad and his dancing is fire,” she argued. The world may be going up in smoke, but can we please not forget that teens like Bailey are, like, really overwhelmed right now? “I nailed my choir solo, so there’s a target on my back.”
Was it the three weeks off? The national gift of a dumped Trump? Bowen Yang and Cecily Strong singing “Happy days are here again”? This week, there was no hopeless valley of dud sketches in between the musical guests. Bateman was a very natural mustachioed cabaret keyboard player. and I’d like to see more Devons from him in the future. In a sketch about grown daughters breaking the news to their mothers that they wouldn’t be coming home for Christmas, McKinnon argued that she’d fly to her daughter instead. “I’ll quarantine in the plane bathroom!” Kyle Mooney appeared not once, but twice as an elf.
SNL deftly tackled musical guest Morgan Wallen’s previous bouncing from the roster, after the young country singer was caught flagrantly violating COVID safety protocols on social media. He returned to the scene of the crime, an Alabama honky tonk with Fineman promising she wouldn’t post their kissing selfie, except for on Tik Tok. A mulleted Bateman blew in the door as Wallen from one month in the future, and then Yang from two months, both warning what would happen if he didn’t leave. When the country singer sighed that he had been looking forward to appearing with Bill Burr, Bateman put up his hand for an unreturned high five, speculating that he might just end up with an even better host. “Dave Chappelle?” said Wallen. “Let’s not get greedy,” said Bateman.
You got your night, Wallen. Let something good come from it. And wear your mask on the plane ride home.
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