Saturday Night Live: Jason Sudeikis & Brandi Carlile October 23, 2021

Saturday Night Live: Jason Sudeikis & Brandi Carlile October 23, 2021
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Still missing in action: Kate McKinnon. But back in action: Kyle Mooney. And after being a recurring, dominant force last week, Bowen Yang only really appeared once this week. Interesting casting rotations aside, Saturday Night Live was strong this week, with Jason Sudeikis making a rather glorious return to host and Brandi Carlile putting on two of the strongest musical performances in the show's history. Here's everything that happened on SNL this week.

The cold open

Chloe Fineman and James Austin Johnson played White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki and President Joe Biden respectively, going through a daily briefing in the Oval Office. Once Psaki left, present-day Biden is confronted by a spectre of his past self, as played by SNL's former resident Biden impersonator and tonight's host, Jason Sudeikis. This became a bit of A Christmas Carol, once the ghost of Biden recent past (Alex Moffat) joined them briefly, but it was all a bit slight and not much more than an excuse for Sudeikis to return home, familiarly.
 
The monologue

All-star alum Jason Sudeikis returned to his old stomping grounds for his first hosting turn since leaving as a cast member in 2013. He described his surprise at Ted Lasso becoming such a massive TV hit, despite "being based on two things that Americans hate: soccer and kindness." He then went on to make a rather earnest and emotional speech about how special and historic Studio 8H is, which was a bit Lasso-esque actually, but it ended humorously, and amounted to a triumphant return for a beloved cast member.
 
Science Room

Sudeikis played Mr. Teacher, the host of a PBS Kids science show whose topic was gravity. Flanked by hyper-supportive yet nervous kids, as played by Cecily Strong and Mikey Day, Mr. Teacher seemed a bit exasperated by the children's inability to identify the planet Earth or pretty much anything else on his model of the solar system. When Mr. Teacher asked "What is matter?" he received answers like "I'm fine?" and "Black Lives?" which was very funny, and the exasperation ratcheted up when the kids' parents showed up, including one played by Kyle Mooney, who's been elusive this season.
 
mellen

Sudeikis played the host of a new daytime talk show geared towards awful men, in the spirit of ellen but called mellen. Conjuring all manner of terrible people that some men abide (Conor McGregor, Jake Paul and Louis CK were each conjured), this was some condemnation of such behaviour but framed in this odd but occasionally amusing parody of talk shows like ellen.
 
Annie

In this twisted version of Annie, when the titular character (Melissa Villaseñor) was introduced to Daddy Warbucks' employees, Sudeikis played Ricky, a dubious character who does something creepy and unspeakable for Mr. Warbucks. Channeling Dan Aykroyd's sleazy 1970s SNL salesmen, Sudeikis was good in this elaborate if unevenly funny sketch.

Skylar

At a parent-teacher interview, Sudeikis played a teacher and Kyle Mooney and Ego Nwodim played the Wilkerson parents, who are there to discuss their child, Skylar. Things get awkward quickly when Sudeikis and Mrs. Wilkerson move from casual to more intense flirting, and the sexual intensity drives Mooney bonkers, inspiring a Kevin McDonald-esque level of nerd rage, which was amusing.
 
Jake's Non-Stick Underwear

In this fake commercial, a company tried to help men who shit their pants during the day by manufacturing non-stick underpants. This was about as juvenile and gross as it sounds.

Brandi Carlile
 
Dressed in a gold lamé suit that recalled Elvis Presley, Brandi Carlile and her six-piece band ripped through the impassioned roots-rock of "Broken Horses," a well-arranged and dynamic song that jumped through the screen thanks to this explosive performance.


Returning in another striking suit (this time sparkly and black and white), Carlile was initially seated at an upright piano and garnered a huge cheer for hitting a beautiful note with her voice during "Right on Time." It wouldn't be the first time the crowd went wild; after leaving her seat and packing a Les Paul, she and her band rocked out, she struck those vocal breaks again, and, after channeling Freddie Mercury and Queen, this gorgeous and strong musical display resonated well after it was done.


Weekend Update

Colin Jost made a Ye joke that transitioned into a Steve Bannon bit that circled back to the Ye joke. Michael Che made an amazing observational jab about Donald Trump's new social media venture and later he and Jost made jokes about President Biden's CNN Town Hall. Che was fiery, taking a good dig at Chicago Police and got an applause break for a Walmart joke. Sudeikis reprised his Update creation, the Devil, who checked in about his activities in recent years and explained how Florida is basically pre-hell. As he had a few times already tonight, Sudeikis had a bit of trouble reading cue cards during this sketch, pausing awkwardly and lost at one point, but there were some funny things here about how the Devil invented most of the things that offend and annoy everyone, and he even went on a funny run about Jost's relationship with Scarlett Johannson, all of which was quite strong.
 
What Up with That?
 
One of the show's most iconic and absurd sketches, which was always bolstered by Sudeikis' b-boying Vance and Fred Armisen looking like Kenny G and pretending to play sax in the background, returned with both of them and, of course, Kenan Thompson's D'Andre interrupting or else not interviewing the real-life likes of Oscar Isaac, Emily Ratajkowski and Nicholas Braun, who may have actually been Lindsey Buckingham (who was on the show recently, accompanying Halsey). Always great, always dumb, this was another classic What Up with That? that one couldn't help but laugh at.
 
The Declaration of Independence

At the Pennsylvania State House in 1776, some of the America's white founders gather together to write the Declaration of Independence and list their citizens' unalienable rights. Andrew Dismukes played one of them, sounding a bit like Nicholas Cage and really insistently suggested that the document should include a "sick-ass treasure map." When he was shot down, he doubled down to clarify that the map is not for children, it's for adults, who could gather together in teams to locate this treasure. This was a good last-chunk-of-the-show idea and funny for such a thing.

Indecent (and Confusing) Proposal

At a Vegas bar, a couple are discussing his catastrophic gambling loss when they're approached by a supposedly wealthy man who offered them an indecent proposal. Sudeikis and Heidi Gardner played the couple, while Kenan Thompson played the eccentric millionaire who kept changing the terms of the transaction, which was actually pretty funny.