Saturday Night Live: Eddie Murphy & Lizzo

December 21, 2019

BY Vish KhannaPublished Dec 22, 2019

Living up to all of the hype, Eddie Murphy returned to Saturday Night Live for an inspired and fully engaged hosting turn, and Lizzo brought a similar hunger and power to her rookie appearance on the show. Here's everything that happened on SNL this week.

The Cold Open
Heidi Gardner played Judy Woodruff, who moderated this past week's Democratic Debate, which here featured Kate McKinnon's Elizabeth Warren, Bowen Yang's Andrew Yang, Colin Jost's Mayor Pete, Rachel Dratch's Amy Klobuchar, Larry David's Bernie Sanders, Jason Sudeikis was Joe Biden this week (Woody Harrelson has been playing the VP all season), and Fred Armisen, as Mayor Bloomberg. As the large cast seemed to come to the end of riffing on the key moments and sound bites from the debate, Maya Rudolph appeared as ex-candidate Kamala Harris and then Cecily Strong reprised her Tulsi Gabbard, whom she's playing as Cruella de Vil. In a surprise twist, Alec Baldwin appeared as Donald Trump and confronted his opposition field. Pulling double duty, McKinnon turned up as Nancy Pelosi too, making this a long, demanding open, but it all mostly landed.

The Monologue
Eddie Murphy was a on a solid roll of jokes and then some more star power joined him. Tracy Morgan, Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle appeared to support their comedy godfather, armed with joke sketch ideas. The four men were funny and casual, and made room for Kenan Thompson (sorry Beck Bennett), making an already highly anticipated monologue that much more unforgettable.

Mister Robinson's Neighborhood
Wow, Eddie Murphy reprised one of his most iconic SNL creations, Mister Robinson, for an updated satire of gentrification. Beyond the visual shock of seeing Murphy in this role, the writing here was sharp and Murphy put on a wonderful performance.

Holiday Baking Championship
On a baking contest TV show, contestants are meant to recreate their fondest childhood Christmas memories in cake form, but each of them do a terrible job. Eddie Murphy's cake is particularly creepy and evil, as it has become sentient, so much so that Murphy yelled at it and dropped a "shit" on live TV. SNL recycled this entire premise from a previous sketch they aired, maybe last year, but like that one, this one was disturbingly amusing.
Festive Family Feast
In a remote, Eddie Murphy played a family patriarch making a heartfelt speech to his visiting family members and his earnest sentiments in a tranquil dinner setting were juxtaposed with scenes from their actual dysfunctional interplay. Again, there's been a fair amount of this kind of conceptual ideal/real video remote on the show of late, but this was the least successful in recent memory, as it was mostly a study in anger and polite, social dishonesty.
The Masked Singer
In kind of a clever way of giving Eddie Murphy's iconic Buckwheat some contemporary resonance, here he was an initially anonymous celebrity on The Masked Singer. The old joke, about how he mispronounces lyrics in his own unique way, was the primary selling point and, beyond some impressions of the famous contestants trying to guess the Masked Singer's identity (Bowen Yang's Ken Jeong was good), there wasn't much else to this, especially for anyone young enough to have no idea who Buckwheat, and Murphy's interpretation of him, was.
The queen of 2019 was as gregarious as she was grateful during her two musical performances. "Truth Hurts" featured eye-catching dancers, good-humoured choreography, and a lively, live band arrangement, with Lizzo the charismatic centre of it all.

For the self-motivational "Good as Hell," Lizzo became a tuxedoed MC for a smoky club, complete with a couple of poles for dancers to swing from and, as expected, she and her dancers twerked during an explosive breakdown.

Weekend Update
Colin Jost made a few jokes about Trump's impeachment, but mostly homed in on Trump's bizarre Michigan rally where he discussed toilets flushing and demeaned a deceased local politician. Michael Che tried to undermine Trump and Mike Pence via the impeachment news of the week, but it kind of petered out.

Jost was in the middle of a political joke when the stage was stolen by Eddie Murphy's old, offensive Gumby character, doling out a slew of insults at the co-anchors and just generally being amazingly hilarious.

In his wake, Jost and Che did a few of one-liners before Pete Davidson appeared to "comedically" reveal that he would be going to rehab soon. In an annual tradition, Jost and Che read jokes the other had written, seemingly for the first time on-air, surprising the other with their offensiveness. This enjoyable bit seemed like a closer , but a long update went longer; Jost introduced Cecily Strong, who played a wine-puking Jeanine Piro, who soaked him, which was an okay bit of physical comedy.
Black Jeopardy!
Mining the Eddie Murphy character archives, Black Jeopardy found his scurrilous Velvet Jones attempting to promote his various self-help scams, designed for women he hopes to take advantage of or else pimp out. This was the most trouble Murphy had with his cue cards, which stymied the production a bit, but it was also a tad one-dimensional, as Jones is one of the few, well-known Murphy characters on SNL that doesn't really have a timeless quality to him.

North Pole News
In an explosive show closer, a news report from the North Pole detailed a horrific fire in one of Santa's workshops coupled with news that polar bears are eating elves. Alex Moffatt played an elf news anchor getting updates from Mikey Day's field correspondent who can't quite deal with an animated, angry eyewitness, played by Eddie Murphy, who brought the full force of his comedic rage to this silly thing, almost breaking after crassly complimenting an elf, played Cecily Strong. A strong end for Murphy during his triumphant return to SNL.

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