Saturday Night Live: David Harbour & Camila Cabello

October 12, 2019

BY Vish KhannaPublished Oct 13, 2019

With a solid hosting turn by David Harbour, an elaborate musical performance by Camila Cabello, and two of the show's strongest remotes in recent memory, Saturday Night Live was solid and funny this week. Here's everything that happened.

The cold open
With Billy Porter on hand to introduce each candidate, a CNN Presidential Town Hall sketch about equality and LGBTQ rights had some amusing moments. Hosted by Anderson Cooper (Alex Moffatt), hopefuls like Cory Booker (Chris Redd) left the stage in shame or else, in the case of Mayor Pete (Colin Jost), confusion as to why they weren't being taken more seriously.

Kate McKinnon has tapped into something special with her take on Elizabeth Warren, snapping on a silly question, based on the actual town hall. Lin-Manuel Miranda turned up as Julian Castro, stopping just short of breaking into an historical rap. When he hosted two weeks ago, Woody Harrelson was tapped to play Joe Biden and the show seems to envision him in the role of the rambling, old former VP for the foreseeable future. Some funny stuff here.

The monologue
Stranger Things' David Harbour used his monologue to show off his bona fides beyond the show he's most known for. Or at least, he tried to. His desire to do a walk-around-the-studio bit quickly went south, as the show's inner workings were transformed into his own show's "Upside Down" realm. Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, Pete Davidson, Beck Bennett, Lorne Michaels and Kenan Thompson all took part in this inside, and hit-or-miss idea, where some jokes fell flat and some cue card reading was particularly awkward.

Little Miss Teacher's Friend
A silly pageant for precocious kiss-ass students in a grade school, this sketch was fairly amusing. Harbour played a principal while Aidy Bryant played last year's winner, and the premise here is that some students (apparently mostly young girls) develop obsessive and invasive bonds with their teachers, which in the case of Ego Nwodim's Mrs. Polaro, are discouraged and avoided wherever possible. With creepy, stalker-y undertones, mixed with a bitter sweetness, this short sketch was funny.

This ingenious remote spoof of Joker applied all the same psychological origin story motifs employed by such character studies, but in an effort to cover the darker side of Sesame Street and Oscar the Grouch. Harbour, evoking Joaquin Phoenix's performance, was incredible in this ambitious and rather perfectly executed idea.
Ego Nwodim and Alex Moffatt play characters at a Soulcycle session where lead riders are auditioning to become instructors. Of course, the wannabe instructors are all messed up, with funny and bizarre turns by Bowen Yang, Harbour, Heidi Gardner, and Kate McKinnon, each of whom come across as far too damaged and mentally unstable to lead such classes. Harbour and Yang were particularly funny here.
Camila Cabello

With numerous dancers and actors adorned in 18th century rococo wardrobe, Camila Cabello put in a theatrical and visually arresting performance of "Cry For Me," which had a Prince/Michael Jackson vibe musically and looked a lot like Miloš Forman's 1984 film Amadeus — so, a real '80s homage overall.
Returning for "Easy," Cabello and her set were strikingly contemporary and sparse, she in a barely-there white dress and playing directly to the camera for a slight pop song that still showed off her talent as a singer.

Weekend Update
Hitting the headlines, Colin Jost went in on how the news networks have been covering polling about impeaching the President, and had a field day with the arrest of two of Rudy Giuliani's surly, Eastern European associates. Riffing on CNN's presidential town hall about equality, Michael Che pondered the 45 men who have served in that role, and whether or not we've already had a gay president, which landed him a funny punch line about Abraham Lincoln.
Heidi Gardner's Bailey Gismert, a highly sensitive yet opinionated teen, showed up to offer film reviews, crushing on the Joker, and, as always, signing off with a questionable political statement. Che had a very funny joke about a new African-American news network giving itself a questionable (and hilarious) name, and Jost told a good one about astronauts generating edible meat with a 3D printer.

After missing the show's first two weeks due to a film scheduling conflict, Pete Davidson returned, really only to appear substantially but once, at the WU desk, to do some sit-down standup about STDs. More amused with himself than maybe even his material, Davidson's bit was about as half-baked as his stoner persona.
Folk of the Past
A look back at a performance on the fictional Bob Rogers Show by a fake folk trio called Peter, Paula and Murray. Their song about the passing of time was crass and dark, with each of them coming across as liars and awful people, with an understandably dysfunctional relationship with each other. This was somewhat funny.
The Father-Son Podcasting Microphone
Another clever remote, Harbour and Kyle Mooney play a father and son who can't communicate until they buy the Father-Son Podcasting Microphone, which, in copying the confessional format of podcasts, finally enables them to have open and emotionally deep conversations. A very funny meditation about how strange it is that we engage so much with strangers talking that it may serve as a stand-in for us having actual, meaningful conversations with each other, this was funny and thoughtful.
Horny Italian Grandparents
Harbour and Kate McKinnon played an elderly couple who have cooked a meal for their grandchildren, with he as the matriarch, and she as the sex-obsessed Marco. Kyle Mooney, Melissa Villaseñor and Cecily Strong play the baffled and disgusted grandchildren who look on, as Harbour and McKinnon engaged in randy physical comedy that almost broke Harbour completely, but he managed to keep it together for this silly thing.

Dog Court
As Judge Connie Schaumberg, Cecily Strong was an overzealous adjudicator dealing with dog-related disputes between people in this random, but amusing bit about NYC dog life. With good performances by Harbour and Kate McKinnon, as foes in a case, like most sketches involving animals do on this show, this one generated a lot of cast laughs from those trying to deal with the dogs and their physicality, and was a pleasant end to a solid show.

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