Saturday Night Live: Rami Malek & Young Thug

October 16, 2021

BY Vish KhannaPublished Oct 17, 2021

In a well-written, well-executed Saturday Night Live, which is still missing Kate McKinnon so far this season, Rami Malek and Young Thug were each strong guests, while Bowen Yang was the cast MVP. Here's everything that happened on SNL this week.

The cold open

In a rare step away from his Weekend Update desk, Colin Jost played NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, addressing the league's latest controversy: the racist and homophobic comments made by Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden. As played by James Austin Johnson, Gruden was the first in a parade of bad actors that should be embarrassing for the league, including Raiders owner Mark Davis (Alex Moffat), Larry Rucker (Pete Davidson) and a Washington Football Team cheerleader (Heidi Gardner). After Colin Kaepernik (Chris Redd) stopped by for an I-told-you-this-shit-was-racist, and we learned that the league might have a coaching gig for Levar Burton (Kenan Thompson), this snappy cold open ended on a fairly strong note.

The monologue

Rami Malek played up his reputation for intense and villainous performances. He then went on to humorously defend all sorts of classic pop culture villains and celebrate his family for a tight, well-paced monologue.

The Bug Assembly

A junior high puts on a bug assembly where four students dress up as and explain what certain insects are all about. One of the students, Russell (Bowen Yang), is proudly and perhaps even assertively gay (we later learned he might otherwise be repressed) and brings everything to his portrayal of a daddy long legs, stealing the show and blowing up the crime scene, in a loud, Scott Thompson-esque feat.

The Squid Game

Riffing on the Squid Game phenom, this music video, with its hip-hop-flavoured country vibe, performed primarily by Pete Davidson and Rami Malek, was as dark and violent as its inspiration, and somewhat amusing.


At an audition for a new Prince biopic directed by Jordan Peele (Chris Redd), Malek and Kenan Thompson played themselves but also two wannabe Princes, who are each asked to prove which one of them is best for the role. After a funny bit that riffed on "Kiss," there was some good satire of Peele's oeuvre, and then a cameo by Malek's co-star in No Time to Die, Daniel Craig, which was fine.

Celeb School

Kenan Thompson played host Bert Simpson, leading a lotta celebrities through a game show, including faux versions of John Oliver, Jennifer Coolidge, Adam Driver, Kristen Wiig, George Takei, Lil Wayne, Pete Davidson as Rami Malek, and Malek as Davidson. The contestants, as played by Punkie Johnson and Andrew Dismukes, were at the mercy of these folks, which led to some strong impressions by Chloe Fineman as Coolidge, Melissa Villaseñor as Wiig, Malek as Davidson, and Yang as Takei. Not so bad, all told.

Young Thug

With Blink-182's Travis Barker on drums, Young Thug blasted through "Tick Tock," which may have been one of the shortest musical performances in the history of the show. It's dizzying pace and disorienting visuals seemed to vanish just as soon as it appeared. but it was still impactful.

For the catchy ballad, "Love You More," things took on a more drawn-out and heartfelt tone. With assists from Gunna and fun.'s Nate Ruess, Young Thug presented a song whose slight chorus is addictive as candy.

Weekend Update

Colin Jost made some good Joe Manchin jokes, while Michael Che made good fun of Kyrie Irving. Jost invented a "bat courier," which garnered dark laughs, while Che suggested that a report that COVID-19 causes infertility meant it's maybe not so bad.

After Jost mentioned a news story about Timothée Chalamet being slammed with homophobic slurs for his prospective portrayal of Willy Wonka, Bowen Yang appeared as A Proud Gay Oompa Loopa who felt chagrined to be outed on national television, which was very funny.

Che made a funny "trickle down economics" joke, and eventually introduced Chris Redd to the desk to discuss important issues that never get addressed by anyone, like who drives a blimp? Soon, we learned that Redd was really on to address a bizarre comment he made on Update in February 2020.

Che made an excellent giant childbirth/Grand Canyon joke and then Jost brought out hypnotist Linus Minus and his volunteer, Roy. Mikey Day and Kenan Thompson played the pair, respectively, and both were funny, as the act goes horribly wrong and wet.

Sleepy Town USA

Malek and Aidy Bryant played a couple shopping for a mattress and were helped by a salesperson played by Bowen Yang. In trying it out, the two role-played, having strange and intense arguments, one of which Yang rightly described "as a little play." As things got uncomfortably intimate and even more intense, this got better and Yang was particularly good as the confused Sleepytown employee.


Daniel Craig returned for another sketch, pairing up with Cecily Strong to attend a coveted lounge singer set. The vocalist, Angelo, is renowned for taking song topic suggestions from the audience and writing in-the-moment songs based on that. As played amusingly by Aristotle Athari, Angelo doesn't seem all that talented, and things take a further downturn when he's joined by a dancer named Todd (Malek). Craig's character, Lance, is beside himself with incredulity, and Athari finally broke through with a great performance in his debut season.

Cut for time on the broadcast and posted the next day:

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