Saturday Night Live: Maya Rudolph & Jack Harlow

March 27, 2021

BY Vish KhannaPublished Mar 28, 2021

Usually, the first episode after several weeks off is a stinker for Saturday Night Live, and this was certainly the case for Maya Rudolph's return to the show that made her famous and rising musician Jack Harlow. Here's everything that happened this week.

The cold open

Host and SNL alum Maya Rudolph appeared to helm an MTV spring break game show called Snatched, Vaxed or Waxed. Staged in Miami as a dating show for the dim-witted and horny, and making fun of Americans' penchant for ignoring COVID protocols, this was more painful than funny, but also mercifully short for an open, so that part was good.

The monologue

In a relatively funny premise, Rudolph took time to impart wisdom to some of the younger featured players by, curiously, mistaking her time at SNL circa the year 2000 with the basic plot of The Breakfast Club. After Andrew Dismukes was dispatched for being too young, Punkie Johnson and Lauren Holt were let to frame Rudolph and smile politely, saying little to let this half-idea limp to fruition.

Hot Ones

Mikey Day played Hot Ones host Sean Evans, rather convincingly and nerdily, welcoming Beyoncé Knowles-Carter — long a fan-favourite impression by Rudolph. After a cocky declaration of spice supremacy, Beyoncé quickly succumbed to hot wing spice terror and dementia, which was kind of funny thanks to Rudolph, but its also the point of the source material so, this was basically and actual episode of Hot Ones.


This really funny Bad Boy-style remote music video satirized the omniscient powers of baby boomers, who continue to thrive and even get vaccinated against COVID while the rest of us suffer and panic. Really well produced with perfect 1990s video imagery and clever lyrics, this was tonight's first highlight.

A Kamala Harris Unity Seder

Rudolph played Vice President Kamala Harris, who hosted a unity Seder at her home, which she shared with her husband, Doug Emhoff, played by surprise guest Martin Short. After they did a strange bump and grind, the show began a parade of micro-impressions, including Alex Moffatt's debut as President Joe Biden (following Jim Carrey's departure). Anyway, this was all pointless, barely elicited a laugh, and generally sucked.


Continuing SNL's recent, intermittent obsession with Eminem, the show found Pete Davidson playing a version of the rapper in a parody of "Without Me" and its video, performing an elaborate instructional bit about what NFTs are (also featuring Jack Harlow and, as a Morpheus-like character, Chris Redd). Really meant as a jab at Internet nerds, the best part of this was seeing and hearing an interpolation of "Without Me."

Jack Harlow

Backed by a hot live band, Jack Harlow came out stunting from the jump. The rapper went in and had a time with a medley consisting of "Tyler Herro" and "WHATS POPPIN," which was maybe only amusing if you can't get Chet Hanks' recent "white boy summer" declaration — where the laughable, patois-slinging actor mentioned Harlow specifically — out of your head.

Harlow, too, seemed like a white dude unaware that he may come across like someone cashing in with Black affectation. Maybe having almost his entire band consist of Black musicians and singers was a way for him to justify his act but, with Adam Levine joining him for R&B vocals on the hook for "Same Guy," there was something cringe about all of this.

Weekend Update

Colin Jost began with a slew of gun control jokes, which were more sharp than funny, and then Michael Che got the pair going on a series of Biden-is-old jokes that were a bit of a chore to listen to. Che made a good Jim Crow jab and, later, a dark one about "Instagram for kids." Jost got an applause break for a Trump sexual assault joke before Cecily Strong emerged as disgraced American attorney Sidney Powell, who is being sued for more than a billion dollars by the Dominion voting machine company she disparaged during the presidential election. A good showcase for Strong's talents for maniacal characters, this was fair. Oh man, Jost told a great joke about Sesame Street introducing new Black muppets; best joke of Update.

To discuss the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, Bowen Yang took to the desk. Initially meant to satirize vapid social media activism, Yang used his time to demand we all "do more" for Asian-Americans, and, as people applauded, he got in a call to "Save Kim's Convenience" to end Update.

Richard Perquest & Tanya Katank

At a Broadway troupe's dance rehearsal, a mix-up led to the company hiring not one but two substitute choreographers, Kenan Thompson's Richard Perquest and Maya Rudolph's Tanya Katank, who seemed to loathe one another. It turned out that they were once lovers but are far too volatile to be in the same room. "This is bad, right?" Lauren Holt's character asked at one point and, yeah, Lauren, this was bad. Like, open mic improv bad, yeesh.

2021 Barfly Awards

Usually it's 12:55 AM before SNL sinks to everyone pretending to be drunk for like four minutes but tonight, Shitmas came early in the form of an award show celebrating barely functional alcoholics. It was a banner night for Rudolph's Sally McFlappy, an endearing enough character who won most of the awards, but this was all more sad and depressing than reasonably good comedy. Again, the show took a month off and came back so empty, this was what they had to show for it? Frustrating.

The Maya-ing

In this elaborate remote, Rudolph took part in a SNL-based version of The Shining, featuring fascinating cameos by Tina Fey and a naked Rachel Dratch. Full of rich detail and special effects, this seemed more like a Halloween bit than an early spring one but, however random, this was a strong closer for an otherwise awful episode.

Latest Coverage