CREDIT: Rosalind O’Connor/NBC

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

Love It

Call Center – This tale of the long-distance friendship between the first lady and a Gucci customer service representative is a little reminiscent of SNL’s initial take on Kellyanne Conway, wherein she was portrayed as aghast at her boss’s behavior when the truth was that she was much more complicit. And yet, there is something beautifully human about this short film. It is hard to get an accurate read on just exactly what the real Melania Trump thinks about what is going on with her husband and the country, as her public appearances and comments are relatively few and far between. Thus, this speculative piece of storytelling is a bit of a risk, but I appreciate its empathetic message, however true to life it may or may not be.

Kumail advocates for less ignorant racism in his Monologue, and I advocate for comedians always being this hilarious…Bank Breakers features some ace comic heightening, but it also begs the question, why doesn’t the conflicted tobacco advertiser just pledge to give his winnings to his plenty-of-sob-stories opponent?

Keep It

New York Film Festival Women’s RoundtableSNL chooses to take on the Harvey Weinstein fallout the best way it knows how – with a bizarrely archaic Kate McKinnon character! Debette Goldry is a delight as usual, but frankly, this sketch does not have anything incisive, or interesting, to say about Harvey. A bit of a missed opportunity, but at least we come out of it with solid gold Debette-isms like “When’s polio coming back?” and the Humphrey Bogart Good Sport Award.

The Trump Rally cold opening is another news roundup hodgepodge, but with stronger laughs than usual, thanks to “our Lord and Savior Santa Claus” and “the pot calling the kettle Mexican”…Did anyone else notice any sound mix issues with the Kellywise IT parody? Either way, I won’t soon forget those pointy teeth…The Halloween Office Party has a solid “scary realization” premise, but it could have used more outrageous moments like still eating the cake despite knowing the truth…Michael and Colin make their mark by noting that Godzilla never tweeted and declaring #AllHolidaysMatter…Kate McKinnon really shows off her face acting as a horny grandma in the Nursing Home sketch.

Leave It

Chatsworth House Check-In – There is a lot of potential for this two-hander premise between a recently rescued political prisoner and an infuriating check-in clerk. Mikey Day is reliable for playing frustrated, and “overly officious” is right in Kumail’s wheelhouse. But Chatsworth House is plagued by bad timing and a lack of focus. Maybe there should have been a bigger obsession with The Danny Band? I want to know what Musical Kumail is all about!

Cecily Strong’s Ivana Trump and her Melania Trump have pretty much exactly the same voice (which makes sense, in a few ways), but the difference is, I can barely understand the former.

Kumail Nanjiani
On a scale of Louis C.K. and Dane Cook, Kumail Nanjiani is a stand-up comedian host who makes his persona felt in the monologue, but he doesn’t really take over the whole show. It is worth nothing that he is also a veteran sketch and ensemble player, so he knows how to let the SNL regulars shine. Which is fine, and besides, as his many guest appearances on Portlandia attest, he is often best as the weirdos in the supporting (or not-so-supporting) roles. Still, I wish he could have made his presence felt a little more undeniably.

On the scale of musicians who are clearly talented that I do not have strong feelings about, P!nk has impressive pipes, but her songs are kind of banal. Inspiring, perhaps, but not especially distinct. They also have an out-of-time quality, like they could have been released any time in the past 40 years.

Letter Grades:
Trump Rally – B-
Kumail Nanjiani’s Monologue (BEST OF THE NIGHT) – B+
Bank Breakers – B-
Kellywise – B-
Office Halloween Party – C+
New York Film Festival Women’s Roundtable – B
P!nk performs “What About Us?” – B-

Weekend Update
The Jokes – B
Ivana Trump – C

Chatsworth House Check-In – C
Nursing Home – B
P!nk performs “Beautiful Trauma” – C+
Call Center – B