A Solid 'SNL' Overcame So-So Showings by Shane Gillis and 21 Savage

February 24, 2024

Photo: Mary Ellen Matthews / NBC

BY Vish KhannaPublished Feb 25, 2024

Despite the uproar over Saturday Night Live booking Shane Gillis to host this episode after they infamously hired and then days later fired the comedian as a featured cast member in 2019 because racist and homophobic comments he made resurfaced, there was nothing explosive about this week's show. On a solidly written episode, Gillis was a mostly fine guest host, while rapper 21 Savage had all the charisma of a nervous open mic performer. Here's everything that happened on SNL this week.

The Cold Open 

A few Republican senators gathered at a bar after the 2024 South Carolina primary, which was won by Donald Trump, to bond over their shared love of him, despite the fact that, at various points, he'd publicly and viciously humiliated each of them. Ultimately meant to send up Republican spinelessness and power-hungry phoniness, because it was likely written within hours of being staged (the SC primary occurred earlier on Saturday), this had a tentative and stilted pace that made it more sad than funny.

The Monologue

In his hosting debut, Shane Gillis made light of the fact that, before even appearing on the show after being hired, he was fired from Saturday Night Live. Gillis highlighted his parents' presence in the audience and made a few jokes at their expense. Acknowledging that some of his jokes about his family's experiences with Down syndrome might have been awkward to make on TV (and playfully begging the audience to laugh), Gillis soldiered on, at points garnering the big laughs he sought, but he also gave the camera a "so-so" sign about his own so-so monologue as the show cut to commercial.

Church in Jamaica

A white family on vacation in Jamaica decided to attend morning mass at the behest of their patriarch, as played by Gillis. Ego Nwodim and Kenan Thompson portrayed the lively leaders of the congregation, reciting vaguely religious reggae songs, and Gillis occasionally broke into patois. This was silly and pretty good.

Rock Bottom Kings

In this remote ad, sports gambling promos were satirized, with Gillis, Kenan Thompson and Marcello Hernández playing spokespeople urging us to bet money on how much other gambling losers might actually lose. This was a sardonic critique of the prevalence and tone of these pervasive gambling spots, and it worked well.

Mandatory HR Meeting

Bowen Yang and Chloe Fineman, who joined the SNL cast together the same week Gillis was hired and fired, played office colleagues leading a human resources session. Perhaps nodding to the aforementioned casting context, Gillis played an obnoxious member of the staff who repeatedly and humorously asked them about sexual harassment loopholes he hoped to exploit. Quick and with a revealing ending, this was pretty good.

White Men Can Trump

In this remote, a fake trailer showed off a movie making fun of Donald Trump's new line of gaudy sneakers. Featuring Gillis as a loser whose shoes magically transformed him into a Trump-like liar and charlatan who encountered the show's real Trump (James Austin Johnson), this worked well.

The Floor

Mikey Day played Rob Lowe, the host of a game show called The Floor, whose contestants were played by Gillis and Bowen Yang. Things were going okay until a segment demanding contestants identify various Black icons made Gillis's character nervous. This was nonsensical, half-realized garbage and ended abruptly (seemingly because an ending wasn't written).

21 Savage

With a prominent violinist, opera singers and ballet dancers, "Redrum" found 21 Savage making the most of his SNL stage time. The vaguely RZA-esque production and catchy hook were more compelling than 21's static, low-energy stage presence.

Fronting a live band for a medley and briefly joined by vocalist Brent Faiyaz, 21 rapped the romantic “Should've Wore a Bonnet,” and then “Prove It” with singer Summer Walker. Both songs came across a tad lifeless, anticlimactic and just awkward to watch. This was rehearsal energy for the actual gig, which was both puzzling and boring.

Weekend Update

Colin Jost began Update by reporting on Donald Trump's victory in South Carolina and comparing him to Bane, while Michael Che made two great jokes about Tim Scott and Nikki Haley. Jost made one good IVF joke and then, after stealing one from Twitter, bombed out.

Marcello Hernández appeared as a frozen embryo from Alabama to make fun of the IVF ban and also Vanderpump Rules. He involved Che in a gross masturbation joke, but overall, this failed to climax.

Che warned people not to have sex with deer and also suggested that women can't deal with jars. Jost skewered Red Lobster and people who might want to have sex with lobsters: beastiality besties.

In a nod to the contemporary TV series FEUD: Capote Vs. The Swans, Bowen Yang appeared as the late Truman Capote to discuss Women's History Month. Catty and sexist, Capote's jokes about historical women mostly elicited groans and bewildered laughs from the audience who, likely because the show it was skewering is somewhat obscure, seemed to have trouble picking out what this bit was all about.

Greenbow High 20-Year Reunion

An Alabama high school reunion featured Gillis as a jock named Ricky who didn't seem to know much about the exploits of his more famous classmate, Forrest Gump. Mikey Day played Gump, who was voted "Most Successful" alumnus. Ricky tried to undercut Gump's success and his family and friends by ridiculing all of them, but, based on the movie's plot, they'd all passed away, which made Ricky seem like a jerk. This was random and okay.


Gillis played a spokesman for an average sex doll called Fugliana, as initially played by Sarah Sherman. As the ad continued, we encountered other satisfied customers and different strange dolls (s/o to the committed Chloe Fineman, who's an underrated physical comedian), all of which was just fine.


A bunch of friends at a bar were discussing how devices hear everything they talk about, when Gillis's incredulous Brent discovered that his phone was promoting a Green Bay Packers' butt plug. But why? The obvious answer was made more obvious. Just a silly five-to-one sketch that Gillis was good in.

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