Saturday Night Live: Keegan-Michael Key & Olivia Rodrigo May 15, 2021

Saturday Night Live: Keegan-Michael Key & Olivia Rodrigo May 15, 2021
A generous and grateful Keegan-Michael Key and a dramatic Olivia Rodrigo gave their all to Saturday Night Live, and their efforts paid off. Here's everything that happened on SNL this week.

The cold open
Kate McKinnon reprised her Dr. Anthony Fauci, who hosted a session explaining the protocols for our pandemic transition period and whether wearing masks is still a good idea, as more and more of us are vaccinated. Comprised of a series of instructional skits featuring a variety of amusing scenarios and almost every single cast member, this was a clever idea that was funny and executed well.
The monologue

Donning a tuxedo, Keegan-Michael Key was greeted warmly and responded with gusto. He spoke of loving SNL ever since he was a little kid in Detroit. He then sang a kind of show tune about all the plans he had for the evening, with minor assists from Pete Davidson, Cecily Strong, Kenan Thompson and some faux audience members. More song-and-dance-y than hilarious, this was endearing thanks to Key's charm and warmth.
Braxton High School Prom Red Carpet

Bowen Yang and Heidi Gardner played the hosts of a broadcast for a high school prom's red carpet and Key played their correspondent. Beyond the bizarre, unlikely premise, this was little more than a bunch of high school politics and sex jokes, which was half-baked and unsatisfying.
The Last Dance: Missing Scene

In this remote, Key played Michael Jordan in an extended and disturbing scene from the 2020 documentary The Last Dance. Jordan's intense competitiveness was lampooned when the doc's coin toss competition escalates to ludicrous heights, which was funny, thanks especially to Heidi Gardner's contribution.
The Muppet Show

During an episode of The Muppet Show, Statler and Waldorf's heckling of Kermit and Lily Tomlin draws the attention of โ€” and, after repeatedly ignoring their requests to be quiet, the ire of โ€” venue security guards played by Key and Kenan Thompson. This random thing had some good jokes and a bit of interspecies physical comedy and violence, and was rather funny.
Gene's Sad Birthday

At a birthday party at TGI Friday's for Kenan Thompson's Gene, the hired band gets all up in his grill. Featuring Cecily Strong's eccentric British wannabe singer, Gemma, the tension here had to do with Gene's wife having left him on his birthday, but it took on a stranger turn as Gemma and her partner, Key's DJ Balls, sang odd songs and delved into his personal affairs and apparent longing for his wife. This was silly but fun.
Olivia Rodrigo

Olivia Rodrigo brought her massive hit, "drivers license," to the stage with an intense and riveting performance. It was a fascinating reprise, as SNL had shone a light on the song earlier this season by basing a whole, very strong sketch on the song and its ascent.

For the more rocking "good 4 u," the 18-year-old Rodrigo channeled Avril Lavigne and, with its quiet-loud-quiet dynamics, maybe even a Disney-fied Pixies somehow. "Maybe I'm too emotional," she sang at one point, emotionally, and this was all very actor-y (which made sense, since Rodrigo got her start as a Disney actor).

Weekend Update

Colin Jost made fun of the wishy-washy CDC directive around not wearing masks, and Michael Che highlighted a piece of news about COVID impacting men's penises. Che then made a good Liz Cheney joke and Jost suggested that IBM should not stoke COVID conspiracy theories.
Kate McKinnon appeared as Liz Cheney to comment on her removal from her leadership position within the Republican Party, which was actually pretty good. Jost made a good subway joke and Che criticized Uncle Ben's marketing department. Andrew Dismukes appeared to do a comedy desk piece about his Texas roots and his great grandmother, "Old Mawma." The focus of the piece was ultimately their shared experience of watching the Disney movie, Brink! This was fine.
Jost got a round of applause for a Chicago accent he managed, and Che introduced Bob Baffert, the trainer of Medina Spirit, the horse who tested positive for drugs after a recent race. Played humourously by Beck Bennett, Baffert was a funny character and he wrapped up a strong Update.
George Gershwin Tribute

At a Kennedy Centre Honours ceremony paying tribute to George Gershwin, a trio of older, out-of-it Broadway stars upend the proceedings with their off-script ramblings and inability to remember the lyrics to "I Got Rhythm." Kind of paltry fare to work with here, but Cecily Strong, Kate McKinnon, Mikey Day, Kenan Thompson, and Key gave it everything they possibly could, which almost made this watchable.

Hold Your Applause

At a high school commencement, the principal's request that parents hold their applause until after the entire cohort receive their diplomas is ignored to the extreme. Loud parents, as played by Key and various cast members, were boisterous, and this was really kind of annoying, actually. Oh well.