Adam Driver and Olivia Rodrigo Flipped the Script on an Excellent 'Saturday Night Live'

December 9, 2023

Photo: Mary Ellen Matthews / NBC

BY Vish KhannaPublished Dec 10, 2023

By taking every ridiculous premise as seriously as a great, focused actor can, Adam Driver is already a hall-of-fame Saturday Night Live host, and Olivia Rodrigo flipped the musical guest script, doing a sparse ballad first and a charged-up set piece second. All in all, it was an entertaining episode. Here's everything that happened on SNL this week.

The Cold Open

C-SPAN introduced us to their broadcast of a hearing about antisemitism on college campuses, where Ivy League school presidents were grilled by congresspeople, most prominently Chloe Troast's Elise Stefanik. Unlike most of her castmates, Troast endured a lot of silence after delivering many of her lines as the infamously odd Stefanik, which made her the uncomfortable focal point of a so-so cold open.

The Monologue

One of the greatest of the young crop of SNL hosts, Adam Driver made his return to the show by taking to a baby grand piano and reciting his Christmas list. The comical wishes were dark and meta, with Driver's melancholy musical performance melding well with his deadpan jokes.

Baby Making

At a winter cabin retreat, one of three couples stunned the others by announcing they were attempting to have a baby. The shock came because the couple, played by Driver and Bowen Yang, were gay and having sex with each other to conceive a child. This was amusing.

Old Friends

In this remote ad for Facebook, Chloe Fineman and Mikey Day returned to his childhood home for Christmas and accidentally reconnected with an old friend, Keith, played by Driver. As it happened, Keith was an infamous and criminally charged conspiracy theorist, which was exhibited in a funny and strange manner.

Beep Beep

At a dinner party gathering, Driver and Andrew Dismukes played Ned Flanders-esque, moustachioed characters who had a stand-off at a buffet table where food was set to be served. Their benign "beep beep" excuse me-ing soon took on a chilling tone. When Kenan Thompson's character showed up in a similar manner, the audience gasped as he revealed he was packing a gun, and then a clever bit ended with unfortunate menace.

Holiday Deals

In its mockery of the American South, this Shopping Channel-style infomercial bit was centred around a phallic chocolate Santa. Mikey Day and Heidi Gardner played hosts, Lindy and Rhett, and Driver played chocolatier Dean Delaney, and while this was deliberately juvenile, it was staged, performed and written rather cleverly.

Olivia Rodrigo

Taking to a baby grand of her own, Olivia Rodrigo began a stark, solo and poignant performance of "vampire" on a darkened, smoke-filled stage, which accentuated the song's emotional tenor.

In a much more elaborate bit of staging, for "all-american bitch," Rodrigo appeared in a scene at a dining table full of sweets and cakes, which soon turned into a blast of theatrical mall punk. Both compelling and contrived, the set and props here were used inventively and Rodrigo, a whirling and eventually cake-smeared dervish, was inarguably mesmerizing.

Weekend Update

Colin Jost began Update by ridiculing Donald Trump for not knowing about Hunter Biden's alleged discretions during his presidency. After Michael Che make a funny visual joke at Jost's expense, Jost in turn made fun of Cuba. Che told a double-edged joke about Jeffrey Epstein and RFK Jr., and later killed with a bit about "Cosby McDonald."

Marcello Hernández did a desk piece about men's depression based on his experience growing up in a house full of women, who support each other more than men do, which was amusing.

Che returned with a jab at Philadelphia and after a rough one about Derek Chauvin's stabbing, Jost had a funny bit about fast food jobs being like jail, and later a great one about Osama Bin Laden and the Buffalo Bills.

After being introduced to do a desk piece, Chloe Fineman surprised the Update hosts by re-enacting Julia Stiles's dance sequence from Save the Last Dance. An already funny idea ramped up when Stiles herself showed up to participate, which made this Update closer a little less random.

Baby Plane

In this surreal sketch, an 11-month-old baby and her mother freaked out a fellow airplane passenger because the baby, played by Driver, had the body of a baby but the head of a 40-year-old man. Demented and disturbing, this worked because Driver is an amazing sketch actor.

Prank Victims

In this remote, Driver and various cast members played seniors protesting being pranked by TikTok users. This was…cruel? Sad? Seemingly siding with actual people
performing such pranks? Not sure what the comedic perspective was here, but it sucked.

Tiny-Ass Bag

Marcello Hernández, Ego Nwodim and Driver appeared in an infomercial (another one tonight), playing salespeople touting very tiny yet expensive designer bags, luggage and backpacks. Rodrigo turned up as well, and this manic, silly bit of filler moved swiftly with amusing purpose.

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