Published May 06, 2018In a glorious turn as both the host and musical guest, Donald Glover was a dynamic, funny and committed performer whose Childish Gambino left behind two of the most memorable musical performances in the history of Saturday Night Live. Here's everything that happened on the show.
The cold open
Ben Stiller returned to cameo as Michael Cohen, this time calling Alec Baldwin's Donald Trump in a tizzy from a payphone. After some back-and-forth, Cohen connected with Martin Short's outlandish former Trump physician, Dr. Bornstein, while FBI agents listened in. Cohen eventually called Rudy Giuliani, played with vampiric perfection by Kate McKinnon. It soon becomes a cavalcade of cameos with Scarlett Johansson and Jimmy Fallon — playing Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner — addressing Giuliani's recent claim that the latter was disposable. But the most shocking appearance was by Stormy Daniels herself. She got on the phone with Trump for a bit of fierce banter and, in spite of obvious nerves, it was still cool to see America's favourite new folk hero on the show.
Donald Glover played up his past, faux mocking the fact that he auditioned for and was rejected by SNL twice. This led to a bit of singing and traveling around the studio with Glover asking various cast members about their own auditions and trying to demonstrate that he can really do anything. This had a certain charm to it and played up Glover's status as at least a triple threat.
Jurassic World trial
In an absurd sketch, Glover played a terrible lawyer trying to defend Jurassic World against a claim that they bore responsibility for the death-by-dinosaurs of several patrons visiting their theme park. Kenan Thompson was clearly having trouble keeping a straight face anytime Glover, who was made up as an elderly man, said any of his ridiculous lines in an exaggerated accent. That was about the most notable aspect of this.
This great remote wondered what it'd be like if a group like, say Migos, had to enter group therapy to deal with interpersonal issues. Framed as a music video, this had some clever flourishes and great performances by Glover, Kenan Thompson and Chris Redd as the group confided in their therapist, played by Cecily Strong. And by the end, A$AP Rocky was in the waiting room.
Razz P. Berry
Glover gave his all for this take-off on an '80s R&B pop video that takes a strange turn. As the jilted lover in the song he's singing, a Razz P. Berry (Glover) accosted a woman at a bar (played by Cecily Strong) whom he assumed is his lady who has done him wrong. After a series of outlandish claims and threats by Berry, it's made clear that she is not in fact a woman who knows him at all, and then things get very awkward for everyone involved.
A Kanye Place
A funny spoof of the recent horror film The Quiet Place, this remote finds a group of friends unable to ward off monsters by being quiet because one of them, played by Glover, can't stop monitoring and reporting upon the horrible things Kanye is tweeting. The premise of this remote was good enough and went over even better thanks to cast performances, notably Aidy Bryant.
Glover and Melissa Villaseñor played a couple settling into their Saturday night sex routine when Glover's character suggested they engage in dirty talk. Unfortunately and hilariously, Villaseñor's clueless character goes very dark and personal in her put-downs and really spoils the mood by invoking Bill Cosby, which was all very funny.
childish gambino premiered a new song on "saturday night live" and it's an absolute hit pic.twitter.com/lXvVpDKLfg— 🌊 (@mattwhitlockPM) May 6, 2018
It's always heartening when musical performers put some real thought into making their SNL debuts pop and Glover's Childish Gambino definitely made sure his songs were spectacles, as they both came across like fully realized music videos. For "Saturday," he was introduced by Zoë Kravitz, who proceeded to leave her camera mark and sauntered onto the stage, as a character in a block party scene. The song matched the setting, as it was rollicking, infectious pop-funk, showing off Glover's range as a singer.
Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya was on-hand to introduce the second performance and tellingly, "This is America" had a pointed political edge and urged for black empowerment. More in the realm of hip-hop, the song was bolstered by strong visuals, including a shirtless Glover mostly standing stock-still while children dressed in school uniforms danced with great spirit beside him. Towards the end, a magical lighting effect and panning cameras made the whole thing seem like it was 3-D. Two of the most engaging performances of the year, no doubt and, soon after he left the stage, Childish Gambino released the official video for "This is America" into the wild.
Colin Jost hilariously sent-up the Rudy Giuliani fiasco of the past week, landing upon how absurd it was that he freely used the word "funnelled" to describe the financial transaction between Trump and Stormy Daniels. Michael Che in turn couldn't get over the fact that Trump paid his lawyer Michael Cohen back in instalments and also delivered a stinging joke about racism and pornography.
After a slew of such Trump jokes, Pete Davidson appeared for a desk piece to skewer Che and Jost about their forthcoming gig hosting the Emmys on NBC, which was funny, but seemed more like a sharp promo. Che and Jost then dealt with the news more generally, with the biggest hit coming from Che who, when an image of Kanye West appeared over his shoulder with the caption, "Slavery was a choice," simply joked, "Pass," and the segment complied. WU concluded with a dynamic bit by Leslie Jones who lamented about some terrible romantic choices she's made throughout her life by calling each man out and telling some ridiculous anecdote about them, all broken up by a loving song she sang sarcastically. It was one of her strongest desk pieces ever, and she's had many of them.
Galactic Summit for All of the Black Humans
In an interesting "biting-the-hand-that-feeds-you" move, Glover appeared as Lando Calrissian, his character in the new prequel, Solo: A Star Wars Story, who spoke at the first ever Galactic Summit for All of the Black Humans. Doing his best Billy Dee Williams, Glover proceeded to highlight the disparity between the number of "lizards in vests" in the Star Wars universe, compared to the number of black characters (four). This was very funny, pointed, and more than a little surprising as a way to promote a new film.
This well-written sketch featured an interview with prospective interns at Mattel who are looking for assistance making Barbie's Instagram account really fun. Unfortunately, two of the interns, played by Pete Davidson and Heidi Gardner, were unimaginative idiots, while Glover's character was stern and fixated on the notion that Barbie was traumatized by a gruesome accident that occurred outside of her dream house. This was all well done and put over by Kenan Thompson's increasingly exasperated and bizarre social media executive.
Prison Call Centre
Glover reunited with Chris Redd and Kenan Thompson — the only black men in the cast proper — for a prison job sketch. They played three roughnecks, whose lives are impossibly dark and hopeless, who work as call centre clerks for some kind of high-end home shopping catalogue. In between talking about their prison lives as themselves, they must engage with customers as gently and pleasantly as possible. This just worked on every level.