Published Dec 03, 2017Following a pattern, Saturday Night Live tends to hit a hot streak where its writing and sketches really click for successive episodes, they take a break for say, Thanksgiving, and then come back cold and out of sorts. Such was the case for Saoirse Ronan's unlikely turn as a host, with musical guest, U2. Here's everything that happened.
The Cold Open
Alec Baldwin's Donald Trump encounters three ghosts from his past, present, and future. Disgraced former cabinet member, Michael Flynn (Mikey Day), forewarns him and soon he's haunted by Alex Moffatt's Billy Bush, Beck Bennett's Vladimir Putin and Kate McKinnon's Hillary Clinton (worth noting: after playing Kellyanne Conway earlier, McKinnon, unusually, appeared as two characters in the same live sketch). Maybe a tad premature in its gloating over the historically rough week the Trump admin had, this Christmas Carol riff was still oddly tepid.
Playing up the fact that she is somewhat unknown in America, previous Oscar nominee/Irish actress Saoirse Ronan's monologue consisted of a goofy song about how to properly pronounce her name. She totally bought into the concept, and got some help with this sing-along from cast members, but this was still one-dimensional and repetitive.
A parody of a new MTV show about white trash in a beach house that doesn't know enough to flee a hurricane. The requisite gawking at horny idiots is tempered by at least one roommate, played by African-American Chris Redd, who knows enough to pack up and leave before something gory happens. Nothing topical here, but it was a well-executed depiction of a relatively funny premise.
Eye on Phoenix
Alluding to the Roy Moore mall-estation controversy, a news story about an explosion at a mall is sidelined when one of the witnesses, a grown man, played by new utility cast player Mikey Day, is questioned about why he was buying dolls in an American Girl store. That was the whole creepy premise here and, again, it was all quite one-note.
Welcome to Hell
A necessarily bleak music video about why each new revelation about another male celebrity's proclivity for sexual harassment isn't really all that shocking for women. Despite its vaguely '80s aesthetic, the song simply highlighted that the kind of bullshit we've been hearing a lot more about lately is behaviour women have long become accustomed to from men in the workplace. It was a biting, raging and effective piece.
A random piece, Mikey Day (again) played an employee in K-Mart's exchange/returns department. Meant to serve as a sketch showcasing a cavalcade of weird customers, no one in this oddball parade was particularly funny or memorable. They just seemed like annoying customers.
Another '80s thing, this Kyle Mooney/Beck Bennett remote piece captured their trademark, stilted awkwardness. Bennett plays an office bully who challenges Mooney's ability to run fast enough to obtain some signed documents on the other side of the office. It all culminates in a ridiculous footrace with a slapdash bit of dated sci-fi that was mildly interesting if not really funny.
Brought on by Kendrick Lamar's recorded voice and backlit by complementary animation, U2 launched into a new song called "American Soul." It was an unfortunate choice; despite some interesting staging for the song's performance, its heavy-handed "You/and I are rock'n'roll" chorus is possibly the most embarrassingly hokey segment of the earnest band's catalogue and thus, the weakest tune on Songs of Experience. At a particularly pandering point in their trajectory, U2 seem more keen to remind people about why they once liked the band than they are in challenging fans with new ideas. As such, a song like "Get Out of Your Own Way" is infectious in a familiar way, because it's a sonic, structural replica of U2's most significant recent single, 2001's "Beautiful Day." Good lord, Larry Mullen Jr. is ostensibly playing the exact same electric drum pattern/beat in both songs. It was actually a little sad watching U2, who thrive on connection, spin their wheels here.
Colin Jost and Michael Che had a field day with Trump's rough 24 hours and even tried some fresh jokes about the President's Saturday afternoon tweets, where he openly admitted he obstructed justice. You can't write this shit and sometimes when SNL tries to, it's less absurd than real life. Che was a bit off delivering certain jokes, but got off some good ones, including one about how fast the GOP will abandon the Donald once their tax plan is passed. Kate McKinnon showed up for a sluggish bit as Theresa May passively fighting with fellow dignitaries on Twitter and Leslie Jones and Mikey Day returned as the Duncans, an unassuming couple who do the Kama Sutra violently wrong. After a good run, this was the weakest Update in weeks.
Pete Davidson's "okaying" stoner, Chad, returns to take part in a charity auction at a tennis club. Despite his limited career prospects and skills, Chad inexplicably drives the millionaire ladies in attendance wild and the bidding goes bonkers. His auction goes so well, John McEnroe himself, in a cameo, barely registers a bid. Silly and short, the sparingly featured Saoirse Ronan's performance was the most noteworthy aspect of this.
A classroom bit, this began so awkwardly, with Luke Null playing a theatrically invasive high school student who walks in late and proceeds to roast his classmates, teacher, and even the janitor. Not one laugh for maybe two minutes. But it turns out that's the point. Null's student, Brody Choad, is new and in the wrong place, and the sketch gets some mileage when everyone else tears him to shreds, but it still wasn't a worthwhile trip.
Speaking of shitty trips, this filler sketch about an Irish airline contained so many inside jokes, it was practically incomprehensible. Do Irish flights contain an inordinate number of stray or lost dogs? Is that a thing? If so, that was the big joke here and an excuse to let some dogs run free on the set. Otherwise, if you enjoy bad Irish accents and potato gags, this horrible thing was for you.
You can pre-order U2's Songs of Experience in standard CD, vinyl, deluxe CD and super deluxe vinyl editions via MusicVaultz.