Published Mar 10, 2019Idris Elba was a game, if nervous, host, and Khalid performed two limp songs, on a generally weak episode. Here's everything that happened on Saturday Night Live this week.
The cold open
Leslie Jones played Gayle King interviewing Kenan Thompson's R. Kelly to parody their explosive sit-down from earlier this week. The writers brought his Trapped in the Closet series into the mix, and Thompson played him as particularly dumb, satirizing his feeble, emotional denials. The funniest thing here was Kelly reciting song title "clues" about his guilt, but this was otherwise only mildly amusing.
Idris Elba recalled his early days in New York as a bouncer at Caroline's comedy club, a drug dealer and a lowly staff member at Bad Boy Records in the mid-'90s. Peppered with a couple of jokes, this was mostly an inspirational story about his rags-to-The Wire trajectory and how improbable it was that he was now hosting SNL.
Can I Play That?
Kenan Thompson played the host of "actors' least favourite game," which was produced by Twitter. The premise is that the world has gotten so PC and reactionary, actors can no longer safely play anyone of a different race or even, say, an astronaut if they're not themselves an astronaut. This was biting but also rather cynical in its pointed politics.
A fake ad for a fried chicken restaurant chain took a creepy turn when the Bok Bok mascot appeared. Kate McKinnon played the thing, which looked and acted a lot like Momo and frightened customers of all ages. Aside from that, there wasn't much to this.
Elba and Mikey Day played the leaders of a Powerpoint workshop with three pairs of co-workers doing their best, but one particular duo couldn't keep up. Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon played middle-aged receptionists whose slides got weirder and weirder and revealed some truly disturbing details about their personal shortcomings. This was rather amusing.
The Impossible Hulk
A funny concept for a remote, Elba played Bruce Banner but instead of the Hulk, when he feels as though he's been persecuted, he transforms into an emboldened white woman who calls the cops on people. Cecily Strong played this woman and did a fine job of becoming furiously enraged at fairly minor slights.
The Gold Diggers of the WNBA
Some weird camera stuff tonight, as they stayed locked on performers who looked on while others delivered their lines out of sight for some reason. It kept happening and was particularly glaring during this corny, dress-up bit, featuring Elba, Chris Redd and Kenan Thompson as money-chasing womanizers who try to entrap WNBA players. The harsh joke here was really on the players and their lack of real success compared to their male counterparts, but it wasn't clever or funny at all.
The up-and-coming R&B artist came out low-key and low energy with the relentlessly repetitive "Talk." Perhaps meant to hypnotize listeners with its monotonous arrangement and hook, it felt like being entrapped by an alarm clock whose snooze button won't work. "Better" was anything but; this second song was somehow more lifeless and boring than "Talk," with Khalid coming across as a dude with a decent voice whose songs needed more dynamic work and substance to them. You can't come in with vocal exercise runs alone and there was virtually no thought put into the visual elements of this dry, forgettable performance.
Colin Jost began Update with a rip into Paul Manafort's paltry four-year prison sentence, which Michael Che followed up on by suggesting he was kind of cool with the leniency, as a black man. Che made a good joke about the hypocrisy of Trump signing bibles and Jost highlighted Hillary Clinton's announcement that she was not running for president by comparing her missing out on a rematch with Trump to Rocky IV. Heidi Gardner reprised her role as Baskin Johns, a Goop representative who is terrified of Gwyneth Paltrow. In a somewhat underwhelmingly received appearance, Paltrow herself showed up as an equally frightened Goop employee.
Pete Davidson did a desk piece discussing the public reception to R. Kelly and Michael Jackson docs, and how we can consume the work of such people. He also commented on his new relationship with Kate Beckinsale and their age difference.
After some more jokes, Leslie Jones did some desk standup (beside Che instead of Jost for the first time ever) and outlined what her funeral should be like, which was mildly funny.
Alex Moffatt and Mikey Day played Premier League announcers who are joined by an active but injured player, David, as portrayed by Elba. As the broadcast unfolds, it seems that David isn't all that bright and is very immature and crass and so he makes a lot of sex jokes. He frustrates Moffatt and Day's well-intentioned analysts, which was funny, primarily because few cast members do resigned incredulity as well as Day does.
The Great Rudolpho
Elba played a magician whose assistant called in sick. Filling in at the last minute, Leslie Jones portrayed an eager stand-in who doesn't quite fit into Elba's magical box or water tank. Kenan Thompson played her husband whose eagerness for her to participate became increasingly suspicious, as this sketch became decreasingly funny.
Struggling Karate Actor
Beck Bennett gave his all as Alan, one of a group of aspiring actor friends who have gathered together at a Hollywood bar when they're joined by Greg, played by Elba. Unlike his unemployed pals, Greg has just landed a big part on a TV show and this pushes Alan into a jealous rage of insecurity and amateur karate, which was a masterful bit of physicality by Bennett.