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

Love It

Song for Peace – Here we have a patently brilliant formula for sketch comedy excellence: I have no idea what is going on, and I do not care. I can tell you what is literally happening: Beck Bennett’s European rapper bemoans the sorry state of the world and his own pornography addiction, while Kyle Mooney provides the minimalist hype and a well-coiffed Chris Pine throws down the chorus. Bennett does an amusing Slavic accent – actual Eastern Europeans can attest to the accuracy or lack thereof, but there can be no doubt about the hilarity – and the digression into mainly focusing on porn (which is softcore, because weird details prompt chuckles) add up to an unforgettable combination.

Auto Shop – The most obvious (and most outdated and backwards) potential joke behind a group of mechanics watching RuPaul’s Drag Race would be that they accidentally stumbled upon it, thinking it was drag motor racing. There is a bit of a feint towards them being embarrassed by how this might reflect on their masculinity, but ultimately they love it too much to care to hide. This sketch is less about comedy and more about the unbridled joy of fandom. It’s infectious. And with the (accurate) appraisal of current contestant Trinity Taylor, it clearly comes from a place of love and knowledge.

Chris Pine’s Monologue song teaches us how to distinguish between all the Chris’s (he’s the one who’s not a Marvel hero, while Evans is the one who hasn’t hosted SNL yet), which isn’t that notable an observation, but the fun is in the details…Kid Actor Alert! I really wanted to see them tease out Where in the World is Kellyanne Conway?, but sometimes when you’ve got a real sharp zinger, you just get in and get out…The SWAT Lookout team wonders when they stopped allowing themselves to have fun, and I have to agree with that sentiment…An HR Meeting that devolves into a “Boy is Mine” contest? Totally up Aidy and Vanessa’s aisle…The House Seattle (the SECOND Beck/Kyle joint in the FIRST HALF of the episode) is basically The Real World by way of Dogville (Do they only do these when Chris’s stop by?)…Michael and Colin go right after the nasty American Healthcare Act, inspiring gasps and groans, and they have the staredown game to throw it right back at the crowd…As meteorologist Dawn Lazarus, Vanessa Bayer’s Fred Armisen influence is showing, as she sprays out a barrage of nervous, loopy wordplay…When a Star Trek sketch revolves around Spock’s Queens-bred goombah half-brother, we know we have gone to the goofy point of no return (also: kudos for letting longtime production designer Akira Yoshimura reprise his role as Sulu)…There was a distinct lack of Cecily Strong in this episode, until the Game Night, where she debuted her gorgeous curls and bewitching black dress and sang the Frasier (or Frazier) theme song, and all was right with the world.

Keep It

The Handmaid’s Tale – It is theoretically possible that dystopian futures are not equally terrible for everyone, considering that the real present is already bad for some groups. So what would happen if the oppressed just randomly bumped into the well-off, and the latter were a bunch of naïve bros? It would be a decent SNL parody of a hit Hulu show that could have used some more Kyle Mooney.

When almost every sketch in one episode is as weird as can be, it really sticks out when the cold opening just follows the formula. Still, when “John Miller” calls into Morning Joe, I am laughing…Leslie Jones went down to Jamaica and got herself a hookup, which means that her videos with Kyle must be a completely separate continuity. Anyway, this is typical Leslie being Leslie.

Leave It
It’s one of the best episodes of the season, and accordingly there are no Leave It’s!

Chris Pine
On a scale of Emily Blunt to Tom Hanks, this Chris is one of those great supporting hosts, consistently inspiring go-for-broke performances among the whole cast. He does not quite reach Hanks level (i.e., combining the roles of star and utility player), but his exuberance is infectious. And maybe he was the one inspiring the writers to be at their weirdest all season?

LCD Soundsystem
On a scale of Guns ‘n’ Roses to Led Zeppelin, LCD Soundsystem are one of those bands I thought would never reunite for an SNL gig. So I guess now they do not really belong on that scale anymore. I thought the James Murphy-fronted dance rock icons had hung it up for good, but apparently they have a new album on the way. Anyway, as for their actual performances, they have slinky dance moves and some densely poetic lyrics that I might be puzzling over for a while.

Letter Grades:
Morning Joe – B-
Chris Pine’s Monologue – B
Where in the World is Kellyanne Conway? – B+
Song for Peace (BEST OF THE NIGHT) – A-
SWAT Lookout – B+
HR Meeting – B+
The House Seattle – B+
LCD Soundsystem perform “call the police” – B+

Weekend Update
Michael and Colin – B+
Dawn Lazarus – A-
Leslie Jones – B-

Auto Shop – B+
The Handmaid’s Tale – B
Star Trek – B+
LCD Soundsystem perform “american dream” – B+
Game Night – B+