Saturday Night Live: Willem Dafoe & Katy Perry

January 29, 2022

BY Vish KhannaPublished Jan 30, 2022

Saturday Night Live has had few hosts as strong, dedicated, and funny as Willem Dafoe was, Katy Perry brought some Las Vegas panache to her colourful musical performances, and Peyton Manning furthered the case that he may be the funniest athlete to ever be on the show. Here's everything that happened on SNL this week.

The cold open

James Austin Johnson's President Joe Biden was briefed on the Ukraine/Russia conflict by members of his White House staff, but the conversation soon took a turn, delving into the rash of misinformation emanating from Russia. This led to a series of sight gags based on social media posts and memes, bogus web articles and videos, and even a State Farm ad. Mired by technical and directorial issues and one of the most awkward "Live from New York…" throws in history, this had a few solid laughs and an eye-catching turn by Sarah Sherman, but was otherwise clumsy.

The monologue

Willem Dafoe recounted his early, tough days as a young, impoverished New York actor and then did a funny bit about the perception of him as an intense performer. When he mentioned he was from Appleton, WI, he was interrupted by a couple from that town, as played by Aidy Bryant and Mikey Day, who didn't really seem to know who he was. Dafoe held his own here, coming across as a surefooted and eager host.

Tenant's Meeting

At a meeting for apartment tenants, characters played by Sarah Sherman, Ego Nwodim and Heidi Gardner screamed at the moderators, as played by Chloe Fineman and Alex Moffat. Dafoe played Chet Fillmore, a hardened tenant who longs for the edgy NYC of the 1970s. Aristotle Athari and Pete Davidson appeared briefly but were memorable, and Kyle Mooney and Andrew Dismukes played coked out NYU students, while Kate McKinnon, as senior pet-hater, caused the normally unflappable Fineman to break a bit. A full-cast effort, this was amusing.

"Now I'm Up"

This remote music video featured the dynamic musical duo of Chris Redd and Kenan Thompson, who led the charge on this funny bit about all of the various things on the internet, on television, and in our minds that wake us up in the middle of the night. Featuring great turns by Ego Nwodim, Heidi Gardner and Dafoe, this was clever and very well done.

Badminster Dog Show

Dafoe and Aidy Bryant played the broadcast hosts of a dog show celebrating weird and badly behaved canines. Kate McKinnon and Punkie Johnson played the "Judges Bosworth," who assessed dogs like Luna (with an owner played by Melissa Villaseñor, who walked off camera shaking her head after flubbing her lines). Dafoe and Bryant made some amusing commentary about the dogs, whose unpredictability distracted cast members like Andrew Disnukes and McKinnon. Any animal sketch on SNL usually makes for easy laughs, and this was no exception.

Can't Get Hard

Mikey Day played a guy in his early 40s who is approached by retired athletes Frank Thomas and Doug Flutie, and also by Sir Willem Dafoe, who is not actually British. Played by Kenan Thompson, Kyle Mooney and Dafoe himself, the trio presumed that Day's character must be suffering from some form of erectile dysfunction, despite his repeated claims to the contrary. They pitched him on the testosterone pill, Nugenix but, once his wife (Melissa Villaseñor) turned up, their good-natured banter got dark. This was punchy and funny.

Katy Perry

With mushroom-centric and vaguely Alice in Wonderland-esque staging and backup dancers who looked a bit like penises, Katy Perry brought her Vegas residency show to the masses and conjured some kind of strange video game or Smurfs setting for the old-school techno of "When I'm Gone." This was kind of bizarre but decent pop fluff.

Later, Perry brought the energy down for the mushroom-based ballad rendition of 2019's "Never Really Over," which, with its acoustic guitar and synthesized orchestral soundtrack and pre-recorded backing vocals, had a kind of infectious and galloping quality, shaping itself into a cleverly written, melodramatic tune that might mellow the floor at a high school dance or something.

Weekend Update

This week's survey of the news featured some rather solid jokes, some of which elicited shocked groans from the in-studio audience ("Go to bed!" Michael Che yelled at them at one point) and a surprising and funny cameo. Colin Jost began by featuring a whole slew of jokes about the Ukraine conflict, while Che went a bit old school with a joke about Biden sniffing a Black woman's hair. Jost did make a decent joke comparing Biden to Ronald Regan, but again, some old ground covered here.

Aidy Bryant and Bowen Yang appeared as trend forecasters, dressed up as fashionable figures from, like, Zoolander or something. Actually, they kind of behaved like henchmen from that film, which, because of the dramatic staging and camera work involved, led them to engage in physical comedy that broke Bryant up in particular.

Jost highlighted the fact that characters on TV shows keep dying after using Pelotons, and later made a good joke about a connection between the Manson family and Full House. The actual Peyton Manning turned up at the desk to discuss the previous week's AFC and NFC championship games that everyone had been buzzing about. But instead, Manning went on a spirited, play-by-play like assessment of the show Emily in Paris, which, as one of the best athlete hosts in the show's history, he was really funny and poised doing.

Beauty and the Masturbates

Chloe Fineman played Belle and Pete Davidson played the Beast, who spied on her father Maurice via a magical mirror. As Maurice, played by Dafoe, proceeded to act more and more eccentric in his preparation for some sort of event, the Beast seemed to intimate that Maurice was going to masturbate in some kind of S&M mode. This was juvenile, but worthwhile just because Dafoe continued to give every premise his full, theatrical attention.

A Please Don't Destroy Video: Connor

The PDD digital short dudes were infiltrated by a 10 year-old boy named Connor, who charmed Martin into hangs at clubs and shared meals. When the drama and tension led to a heroic moment, Connor was fully accepted by all in this manic, funny remote.

Blowing Yourself

Dafoe played a self-help author named Benjamin Bloom whose new book, Knowing Yourself, has had its title confused by a local news team and its graphics department. Instead of Knowing Yourself, they label it Blowing Yourself and, as it happened, everything that everyone said and did worked out as a double entendre for someone fellating themselves. It was actually pretty funny.

Jeremiah the Temp

Lawyers working a late night tried to let off some steam with a fun group musical exercise, but are horrified when their elderly new temp, Jeremiah, tried to join in and got far too carried away. What began as quirky musical bit, the corniness of which the cast embraced, soon turned into an amusing horror show, with Dafoe's Jeremiah embracing and amplifying the dark chaos of the situation.

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