Published Feb 17, 2019Don Cheadle was a great host, Gary Clark Jr. was soulful and outspoken, and most sketches were rather well-written. Here's everything that happened on Saturday Night Live this week.
The cold open
Alec Baldwin reprised his Donald Trump to riff on the president's bat-shit speech when he declared a national emergency to build a wall at the U.S.-Mexican border. The satire wasn't as absurd as the real thing, with Baldwin approximating the weird sing-song part of the speech that has already been meme'd to great and funnier effect. Trump then took questions from the press, but nothing particularly funny occurred here. The wisest and most amusing thing SNL could do with Trump these days is hire The President Show's Anthony Atamanuik to write and play him instead.
The very likable Don Cheadle made his long-delayed hosting debut with a funny, clever monologue. He had a good bit about being approached by fans who either engage him in what he hilariously described as "percussive recognition," which he exhibited well, those who like him for specific films, and of course, no-nonsense New Yorkers. Leslie Jones stopped by to exemplify the latter and it all made for an enjoyable monologue.
A pretty funny sketch about a high school news show hosted by Dustin Purcell, a character played by Mikey Day. Cheadle played a gossipy high school science teacher who says and does awkwardly inappropriate things. SNL periodically does a secondary school sketch and, like this one, they're normally fine, though the whole idea that high schools really have broadcast-ready studios on-site is a bit of a flawed premise to begin with.
Extreme Baking Championship
In a segment called "cartoon confection," bakers did a terrible job and failed to impress their judges and the results were rather amazing. Cheadle played a contestant who creates a terrible Cookie Monster and admits he doesn't know what he's doing. When judges move on to Heidi Gardner's character and her Spongebob cake, Cheadle's Cookie Monster becomes sentient and suicidal. In the ensuing chaos, it's tricky to even process the Yoda penis baked by a contestant played by Kyle Mooney. This was an uproariously absurd sketch.
With Valentine's Day still in the air, this remote addressed the awkward issue pet owners face when trying to be intimate when your dog is in the room. This fake ad promoted Pound Puppy, a tent that looks like a dog that will maybe captivate your actual dog enough so that it doesn't notice what you're doing in there. Kind of a silly thing that was somewhat amusing.
Gary Clark Jr.
Having drawn comparisons to Jimi Hendrix for being a young, handsome black man with blues-y guitar chops, Gary Clark Jr. made his debut on SNL by initially conjuring Prince more than anyone else. Yes, the guitar virtuosity on "Pearl Cadillac" recalled the late icon but it was also the soulful falsetto and romantic, devotional lyrics about a "beautiful girl," that conjured some purple rain. A whole other vibe was conjured for the politically charged, hard rock-oriented title track from his new album, This Land, in which Clark sang of racism and what being an American is truly about.
Colin Jost played clips from Trump's national emergency speech and compared him to both a coke addict and if Schoolhouse Rock! had a stroke. Michael Che feigned exhaustion at Trump's wall talk but also expressed some desire to see the damned thing already. Alex Moffatt and Kate McKinnon showed up for a desk piece as Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi to stifle their gloating at out-negotiating Trump, which wasn't as funny as they thought it was.
Che made a provocative joke about Ryan Adams appropriating black culture by copying R. Kelly's pedophilia. Beck Bennett reprised his desk correspondent Jules, a pretentious drama kid or something, "who sees things a little differently." Jules stopped by to discuss this year's hostless Oscars, which was kind of amazing.
Supercentenarian Mort Fellner came by to talk about being at least 100 years old. Mikey Day played Fellner, who mostly talked about some of his colleagues dying recently, which was depressing, mostly because it was unfunny.
Celebrity Family Feud – Oscar Nominees
After Kenan Thompson's Steve Harvey set the tone, a veterans vs. newbies edition of the Feud, featuring Oscar nominees, unfolded. Highlights included Cheadle as Spike Lee and Melissa Villaseñor doing her beloved impression of Lady Gaga, which surely got her #melissamonsters excited. But otherwise, a usually reliable cavalcade of impressions like this one was rather tame and fizzled out.
A barroom brawl descends into a dance sequence when the wrong "fighting song" is played on the digital jukebox. Beck Bennett and Cheadle end up in a tussle, as roughneck characters who bump into each other at a bar. When Bennett requests music for this formal fight, a friend played by Mikey Day tries to oblige but mistakenly plays "Lollipop" by Mika, which prompts confusion and eventually jaunty dancing in a playful bit of misdirection.
Roach-Ex Plus +
This dark remote seemed like a commercial for a cockroach spray, but took a twisted turn. Mikey Day and Heidi Gardner play parents whose home is overrun by roaches, who are human-sized and played by Cheadle and Kyle Mooney. The roaches get more than a little familiar with their surroundings, prompting Day to finally try and do something about it, only to be further emasculated. It was all a little chilling, how this funny thing went down.
Cosmo & Olympia Sparadukis
Office buddies Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant occasionally write goofy bits together and here they played Greek entrepreneurs who want to help you with your wedding. The whole thing was really meant to get us to buy into them looking silly and saying ridiculous things. Cheadle also contributed to this 12:55 a.m. filler by playing three different characters. I dunno, this was the kind of thing that made you miss Vanessa Bayer and her porn stars infomercial bit with Cecily Strong.