This review was originally posted on News Cult in April 2017.

Love It

Sectional Couches – This is what classic sketches are made of. What at first appears to be a simple infomercial parody morphs into so much more as an intricate, multilayered story emerges: elephants gathered for an important reason, Barb from Racine, the fact that the couches are all made on Earth, and then that twist – brava!

At the Soda Shoppe, Louis C.K. plays a fascinatingly creepy soda jerk, and Cecily Strong plays a satisfyingly sneaky budding dominatrix…Cecilia Giminez is back to praise the Cristiano Ronaldo bust, most notably because he looks like he has a fish in his mouth…The ending is a bit on the nose, but Ernie’s Birthday demonstrates that Louis C.K. and Bobby Moynihan are adept at making the best out of an uncomfortable situation…The moral of the Tenement Museum sketch: when in doubt, go full Borat.

Keep It

Monologue – Louis C.K. is one of the best – if not THE best – standups performing today, so it stands to reason that his monologue should be at the top of the heap whenever he hosts SNL, no? Not quite, in this case. His bit about racist chickens skirts the line of offensiveness, but he always skirts that, and there is always a point to his examination of stereotypes, and this time is no different. The (slight) problem here is that the animal-centric material just feels a little inconsequential. Still funny, though.

In this week’s Trump Press Conference, his voters still support him, despite so many broken promises, which is a comedically worthy observation, but also kind of depressing…The prosecution makes a winning Murder Case because Louis C.K. lets those eyelashes speak for themselves…Thank You, Scott is not the most nuanced slacktivism parody, but it just might be the catchiest…The Pepsi sketch earns its keep when the black neighbor immediately shuts the whole thing down…Michael and Colin go out with a bang, thanks to that chocolate bunny butt and Yahoo! and AOL not wanting to die alone.

Leave It

The O’Reilly Factor – There is always the risk of a painfully stilted rhythm when having one actor play two characters side-by-side in a live sketch. This could have gone worse, but it is still noticeably awkward. As for the actual meat of the concept, it does not go much beyond re-stating what actually happened. The Dog Cocaine bit is great, though.

Louis C.K.
On a scale of slightly nervous to slightly arrogant, Louis C.K. is just the right degree of confident in his fourth outing. I recall that when he hosted for the first time way back in 2012, in the lead-up to the show he mentioned one sketch that was so ridiculous, but he was going to be shameless and get through it. (It was probably this.) Now there is no hesitation, as he takes on an array of silly roles like an old pro who can sell the goofs AND hit his marks.

The Chainsmokers
On a scale of Karmin to Disclosure, The Chainsmokers actually appear to be pulling away from a spectrum that could peg them as some mix of ridiculous novelty act and deep-diving EDM heroes. Right now that feels like a big mistake, because while they have not exactly gotten a lot of respect in their short career thus far, they have been plenty catchy. But as they hit the SNL stage, their performances of “Paris” and “Break Up Every Night” are perfectly pleasant but also disposable.

Letter Grades:
Trump Press Conference – C+
Louis C.K.’s Monologue – B
Murder Case – B
Thank You, Scott – B
Soda Shoppe – B+
Pepsi – B
The Chainsmokers perform “Paris” – B-

Weekend Update
Michael and Colin – B
Cecilia Giminez – B+

The O’Reilly Factor – C
Birthday Clown – B+
Sectional Couches (BEST OF THE NIGHT) – A
The Chainsmokers perform “Break Up Every Night” – C
Tenement Museum – B+