Last night’s Saturday Night Live delivered the first mediocre episode of the season, after an impressive hot streak. It did however yield a few highlights and host John Cena acquitted himself nicely, proving that the comic chops he showed in Trainwreck weren’t a fluke.
The Lead With Jake Tapper Cold Open
SNL continues to mine comedy gold from the befuddling choices President Elect Donald Trump makes for his cabinet. On the titular CNN talk show, Walter White, the chemistry teacher turned meth cook from Breaking Bad, is announced as his choice to head the Drug Enforcement Administration. It’s always a treat to see Bryan Cranston reprise his most iconic role and the sketch is both great conceptually as well as very funny.
John Cena plays a college athlete required to get an A+ on his science fair presentation in order to play in the big game. The judges of the presentation promise to be just as harsh on him as they will be on the other two students also presenting their projects. As the camera pans to show Keenan Thompson’s judge with school color face paint, clearly this won’t be the case. Newcomer Mikey Day‘s student has built a particle accelerator. Vanessa Bayer’s character has John Cena’s jock character has nailed 3 bananas and an orange to a piece of wood. His presentation is as follows; “A banana is a yellow snack that monkeys eat. They’s 5 types of bananas; yellow, brown-spotty, very brown, green, and round”. The sketch is a little on the nose (we get it, jocks are dumb and intelligence is often undervalued compared to athleticism), but still manages to produce some laughs.
Weekend Update hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che can barely contain their contempt and disgust at the current US political situation. The jokes about Trump have been harsher than ever and there’s an underlying weariness to them that seems to say “I can’t believe this is really happening”. This segment seems to be on a mission to undo the damage done to the show by having Trump host last season. It’s not there yet, but if Che and Jost manage to keep up this level of scorn and outrage, while still being funny, it’s definitely possible.
Through Donald’s Eyes
Finally, we have the best sketch of the evening. Funny, smart, almost David Lynch-ian in its surreality, this sketch takes place entirely from Donald Trump’s POV. As he goes about his day, the audience gets a glimpse at how he must see the world. Fox News proclaims that everything is great. A TV show headline reads “Hollywood Beauty HATES TRUMP” which causes him to tweet “MEDIA STUPID. TRUMP IS KING. MEDIA IS BAD. SAD”. He sees himself in a mirror as John Cena with comically massive hands. Mike Pence literally pushes Melania Trump out of the way to say “Mike Pence here. Work job. Duty. Focus. Other people. Other people not Trump. So many people” which overloads him and forces Kelyanne Conway to swoop in to soothe him saying “calm, calm, Kelyanne will fix it. Mommy does everything. Mommy lives for you.” This was fantastic.