Amy Schumer took her shot at hosting Saturday Night Live this past Saturday, and while I’m not overly certain that I get her brand of humor, I have to admit that she did a solid job anchoring the show. It was a second straight week of quality entertainment, with all the cast coming through at different points in the night. Even musical guest The Weeknd was on point, putting on two very good performances. I have a lot more praise than I’ll have criticism of this episode, which makes writing a recap so much better than when I’m dissatisfied. SNL has been great so far this season and I’m really thinking they’ve found their groove finally!
SNL came out of the gate with a really solid opening bit, and what made it particularly great was that it was a skit I’ve normally disliked done really well this time. It was the recurring Fox and Friends spoof, where the show likes to pick on them for being out of touch and inaccurate, and while it’s always fairly humorous, I’ve always felt it to be way over the top and snarky. However, for whatever reason, the way the opening was written and acted this episode really had me entertained. I thought it was great that we got to see Pete Davidson come out in a political sketch and do an impersonation, it shows how integrated he is getting with the show. Moving on to Amy Schumer’s monologue, it was kind of as expected for the most part. As a stand-up comedian, she did more of a stand-up set, all by herself without any pomp and circumstance. When it comes to stand-up monologues, she did alright, but overall I’m much fonder of some acting or some musicality in the opening. I’ve never been big on Amy’s stand-up, so maybe it’s just my preference, but I just don’t enjoy one-person monologues on the show (as ironic as that sounds). They could have come up with something big and fun to open up the show with Amy, but instead we just got the kind of stand-up we could see on her show any day. But, she was funny, and that’s really my only complaint about the episode.
The skit portion of the night was once again fantastic, featuring a little bit everything from everyone on the cast. The first sketch was a very odd concept, with two stewardesses, played by Amy Schumer and Vanessa Bayer, performing a song they prepared for guests on an airplane. Of course, the sketch goes from fun to macabre as the stewardesses both manage to fall off the plane because the side door wasn’t shut properly. It was a really stunning concept, and my first reaction was they might be pushing the boundaries a bit, but as the skit pushed on and the traumatized stewardesses kept trying to push on with their bit, I really saw this skit for what it was; classic SNL. The show is all about pushing the boundaries, walking the line between good taste and bad taste, and Schumer and Bayer were wonderful doing that in this sketch. The next sketch up was a pre-taped bit, but it followed along the same lines thematically. It was a sentimental commercial about the ups and downs in life, and what will be there for us through the days; guns! It was a really sick skit from the writers of SNL, as we saw regular people, in all walks of life, carrying around guns like a child would carry around a stuffed animal. It was a hilarious parody, and had shades of social commentary, but mainly it was just a really funny moment in the show. At no point did I ever expect to see Amy Schumer caress Taran Killam’s face with the barrel of a gun, and for that, I give the show a lot of respect. It’s crazy images like that that I’ll remember for a long time.
Any well rounded episode of SNL is going to have a good musical performance, and The Weeknd came through in that category. The upcoming R&B crooner came out to perform his song “The Hills” and the performance got turned up an extra notch when Nicki Minaj came out to help with the song. The way the two of them vibed off each other on stage really added layers to the performance, turning it from a standard performance into quite a showcase. It was surprisingly good, considering I hadn’t heard the song before. He then came out later to perform his new song “Can’t Fell My Face,” and he really just sounded great in that song. The guy has an interesting look, but beneath that odd hair do is a very talented performer; someone who could have a great career on the top charts. Hopefully he’ll be back at SNL in future years; I thought he put on a great show!
Weekend Update was yet again a highlight of the show, with Michael Che and Colin Jost coming through in the clutch yet again to start off the second half of the show strong. Che and Jost got into a nice point/counterpoint type conversation, paying homage to early Weekend Update anchors from the 70’s, and did so with some really great wit and fervor. I love that these guys got to rap with each other a little bit so to speaks, it usually ends up being that they take turns making jokes about news, but this week they stepped out a little bit from the norms and it worked out great. One of my favorite moments of the whole show was Kate McKinnon’s crazy old lady character that was on this week, because even though it was strange, she delivered one of the best lines of the episode “I’m a teacher…I teach my monkey how to steel on the streets.” That had me cracking up about as much as anything in the first two episodes, McKinnon just has that affect on me sometimes I guess! Anyways, I really love the chemistry between Che and Jost this year, it’s all clicking so organically and it’s making Weekend Update the true centerpiece of the show again, just like it’s historically been.
SNL is firing on all cylinders so far this season, at least through two episodes. The cast was great, the writing has truly been much better, and Amy Schumer really just fit right in on this show. Next week we are all in for another treat as the third straight live show to start the season will feature veteran comedian Tracy Morgan as the host and Demi Lovato as musical guest. It’s wonderful to see that Morgan will be back on stage at SNL after his life was nearly ended in a tragic car wreck last year. Regardless of how well he does, it will be great to see Tracy Morgan back in the game, and I’m sure all viewers will be rooting for him to have a fantastic show next week!