If you can get past the fact that a concerning majority of the hosts lately seem to be rather old (Matt Damon a couple weeks ago, Seth Meyers last night), you might find that SNL has really been rattling off some boombastic sh** lately. Like I said in the last post, that Pete Davidson “gross political candidates” part of Weekend Update definitely held up (for which he got in trouble, yes), and just last night Lorne Michaels and company put together what I’d argue is possibly the most well established episode I’ve ever seen, a shocking statement for a show that’s battled several ebbs in popularity in its years.
Last night at work I’d made plans to watch it. Maybe, though, since I hadn’t voluntarily tuned in to NBC that time of that night since the days of Night at the Roxbury, the endeavor almost escaped me completely. The first thing that appeared on my TV was this circle of people around a campfire and there was no laughter so I almost changed the channel, thinking it was something else. Anyway, it ended up being a guy telling a “horror story” about a sort of “movie snob film student” type figure complaining about the general state of movies and boring him with his own creative cinematic plans for the future. All around him, people were gasping in horror at the sheer, horrifying level of boredom this would have summoned (I think one girl even threw up at one point), the episode coming to a beautiful head when the storyteller cast a kind of spell on one unlucky attendant, causing the filmmaker to appear in the flash and ask, “Hey, you wanna be on my podcast?”
After that came Kenan Thompson doing a great Bill Cosby and rejoicing that they served Jell-O in jail, as well as a solid Weekend Update. In the latter, Michael Che pointed out that even though there’s an impending climate apocalypse predicted, people aren’t that up in arms about it. White women, he claims, would be more alarmed if on the way were purported an extinction of the substance yarn.
Sure, there were some clunkers, like the one about the left liberal talk show down in Mississippi or whatever that appeared to take place in some sort of log cabin (I’m sure people have similar stereotypic visions of my own home state of Indiana), and it’s obvious to me that the New Yorkers writing the show underestimate the amount of progressive conversations and settings about in places like the college town of Oxford and Ole Miss. Still, they just pulled it off with such enthusiasm that it captivated my attention the whole time: this really normal looking dude in fake facial hair yelling in this fake Southern accent the entire time, this other portly lady getting up and shooing Seth Meyers’ character out of the room for offering intelligent viewpoints, and of course, a mention of Taylor Swift, or a portrayal of her by Heidi Gardner. The Paul Simon performances were thoroughly brilliant, as well, and warrant an entire other article of their own, at least.
Pete Davidson was back at it, too, which I was glad to see: a white rapper in this environmental hip-hop group getting arboreal “trees” confused with the “trees” term for marijuana. Another guy in the group guy then got, having planted a tree and then noticing, while rapping to the beat, “Da**, trees take a long time! Do I got bad dirt?” Finally, what really got the skit going, which was sort of set up like a commercial, was when the group took their sum total of interest in both types of “trees” into a doctor and asked, “Surely we can agree that ‘trees’ are good in general, right?” Well, not so fast: the doctor wasn’t too amused and wasn’t going to dole out his professional stamp of approval that easily. And so the comedic impasse continues.
Another skit, which I believe was the last one, had this couple coming in three hours late to dinner at this restaurant with these two other couples, just back from Cuba, which they kept pronouncing “Kuba.” The other couples want desperately to leave, since it’s quarter to midnight and the place is about the close, but instead, the newly arrived lambast them forcibly with their stories of “Kuba,” which include little kids looking so cool smoking cigarettes (the lady mimics having smoked with one of the kids, looking most regal). All in all, I think SNL is “back,” without any question, and I think everybody is writing an acting with, if not a sense of urgency, at least a sort of edgy standard, an inspiration and perhaps
most of all just the drive to craft a unifying force our nation can gather around and enjoy in these troubling times.