Published Mar 04, 2018Back from a month-long hiatus, Saturday Night Live welcomed Charles Barkley back for his fourth hosting turn and Migos, who'd only ever performed a feature with Katy Perry, made their proper debut on an uneven show that struggled to strike the right tone during a particularly serious and sad time in America. Here's everything that happened.
The cold open
Framed as a CNN news segment, a Donald Trump televised address brings back Alec Baldwin's impersonation. Flanked by Beck Bennett's Vice President Mike Pence and Cecily Strong's Senator Dianne Feinstein, Trump's rambling overview recapped his news cycle from the weeks the show was pre-empted for the Olympics. In spite of a few solid jokes, Baldwin's Trump felt like a dated and stale way to come back from hiatus.
Charles Barkley nervously advocated for outspoken athletes. That was the overarching theme of his well-written monologue, which only suffered from his tentative delivery and occasional word-tripping, but it still worked.
With the Oscars this weekend, SNL opted to scandalize the proceedings with an alternate award ceremony for Hollywood's most accomplished sexual predators. Inventing actors instead of naming names, this sketch sputtered for its lack of star power and for keeping things a little too real.
Ned's Roach Away
In an attempt to mock gun rights activists, this ad parody for a cockroach killer reeked of too soon. Barkley plays a cowboy spokesman who offers customers a roach-free home by utilizing his own team of AR-15-toting, specially trained roaches. With its graphic imagery of gunshots and blood spattering with intermittent images of children, I dunno, this was unfocused and insensitively dealt with the Parkland tragedy and the movement it spawned.
Barkley plays a children's educator who hosts a call-in show for kids who need homework help, and his co-host is an affectionate puppet named Bobo. Unfortunately, some irreverent viewers pick up on some sexual tension between the pair and soon call in with lewd, inappropriate questions. This was amusingly crass and Barkley just made it through without breaking up.
Another weird taste move, this sports panel featured Barkley, a guest turn by disgraced former baseball star Alex Rodriguez, and Kenan Thompson as a concussed NFL'er who is so brain damaged he calls everyone Greg and can't complete sentences or stay in the present moment. This was literally just ridiculing people who suffer from CTE, which clearly tickled Rodriguez's scumbag funny bone but felt distasteful and dumb.
The Migos Performing StirFry With Live Instrumentation On SNL 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/tyLNninafn— 2Cool2Blogg (@2Cool2Blogg) March 4, 2018
Colourful and backed by a number of musicians, Migos made more of a visual than sonic impression on their SNL debut. Performing Culture II songs, "Stir Fry" and "Narcos," the trio seemed focused on their raps and the cameras, dancing almost stoically in enviably loud outfits, which was all rather captivating. But a rough mix and treated vocals made it tricky to engage with any lyrics or suss out technique or flow in their raps. Their energy came across more than their intent did.
Migos performing Narcos on SNL last night. pic.twitter.com/odBbyZ1bD9— MIGOS FAN PAGE🌊🖕🏾🚀 (@MigosInTheBando) March 4, 2018
Is it just me or does the audio for Migos sound weird ?? #SNL— Alex Holley (@AlexHolleyFOX29) March 4, 2018
Colin Jost made fun of all of the week's White House chaos, including 29-year-old Hope Hicks' decision to seek "other opportunities," even though she worked for the President of the United States. Michael Che reported on Dick's Sporting Goods' decision to stop selling assault rifles by making some pointed jokes about how hunting animals is not actually a sport. Cecily Strong appeared as a dim, damaged Hope Hicks who recites a teen-style note to all her former colleagues, which worked for her dedication to the performance. A really brilliant desk piece featured Kyle Mooney awkwardly confronting Jost for not inviting him to his Oscar party and it was gloriously funny. Leslie Jones also shook up WU with a highly energetic review of the Olympic Games, complete with a cameo by U.S. hockey player Hilary Knight who, at Jones's urging, called Jost a bitch.
Hump Or Dump
A funny but dark idea for a dating show parody (do dating game shows still exist?), a woman is put in an awkward position when one contestant says that if he isn't selected, he'll kill himself. Mostly notable for excellent performances by Kenan Thompson, Aidy Bryant, Alex Moffatt, Chris Redd, and Barkley, this had some entertaining moments in spite of its disturbing premise.
A crew of construction workers on the street is put on blast by a woman who calls them out for objectifying her, which causes them to contemplate their love of women's fashion. The imaginative idea plays upon the psychological repression their machismo represents; what if they really wish they could dress as colourfully and freely as women but it all comes out as envious catcalling? With virtually every male cast member involved, this was a busy sketch with solid performances that tweaked both sexism and homophobia for a decent comedy payoff.
Kate McKinnon's horndog barfly has been something of a staple in the 12:55 slot but her back-and-forth with Barkley might have been wildest version of this sketch yet. The premise is that McKinnon's fast-talking flirt and an unsavoury, lonely character depicted by the male host of the show, are the last two people in Donnelly's Pub, which is overseen by Kenan Thompson's put-upon bartender. After some crass back-and-forth between the two customers, they often get physical on their barstools, which leads to cutaways of a disturbed Thompson. But this iteration was the wildest ever, with props employed by everyone and Barkley and McKinnon barely holding on as they made out in a truly grotesque display.