CREDIT: Will Heath/NBC

This post was originally published on News Cult in November 2018.

Love It

Teacher Fell Down – Now here’s a welcome example of SNL being more experimental than usual: starting the scene right after the inciting incident, combined with generally weird (but mildly so) behavior. Then a bunch of confused spectators comment on the strangeness of the situation and try to restore some sanity, but without getting too worked up about it. Honestly, a lot of this is just solid sketch writing, but deployed in a way one would ever think to do.

6-year-old Adam Grossman cracking Catskills-style jokes at the Benihana never fails to be a delight. Giving him a (not actually) Jamaican nanny proves to be a stroke of genius for providing him with fruitful material…Oh man, those Pug Wigs are legendarily adorable.

Keep It

Jonah Hill’s Five-Timers Monologue – I always love a visit to the Five-Timers lounge, and since we’ve seen it multiple times before, subversion is a good idea, too. The basic idea here is that the #MeToo movement has spread to the Five-Timers Club, thus only female members are there to welcome Jonah. This approach doesn’t quite fit, though, as none of the male members are really known for their mistreatment of women (notwithstanding the recently arrested Alec Baldwin’s anger issues and Chevy Chase’s noted difficulty to work alongside). Of course, this could also be a commentary on the relative lack of women in the club and in the history of SNL and in comedy in general. Which is a fine idea, but then a lot of the jokes are just the ladies lightly teasing Jonah. This is all to say, there are several worthwhile avenues present here, but overall it’s a bit scattered. Side note: I gotta give it up to Candice Bergen for being a legend who just stares at her phone during the goodnights.

The Ingraham Angle has some funny gags about FOX News overreaction, though no great overarching point…The Democrat Midterm Ad‘s biggest laugh comes from Mom Aidy Bryant screaming that kidding about voting is NOT FUNNY!…Divided We Stand is fairly amusing self-satisfied theater, but I am most tickled by the fact that it is taking place at 43rd and “Lincoln Tunnel Service Road”…Michael and Colin really have to fight for desk time with all those correspondents, but at least they get a good crack about Gritty in there…I would say making fun of people’s appearances is not political satire, but Pete Davidson does acknowledge that and makes fun of his own looks as well, so he knows what he’s doing…Brittainy, Every Teen Girl Murder Suspect on Law & Order is one of those Update bits that pretty much perfectly captures the trope it’s tackling but doesn’t quite fully integrate itself within the context of Update; so: funny, but a little disorienting…Kenan’s David Ortiz really knows how to be a spokesperson for products and concepts that we never realized needed endorsing…America’s Got Talent: Wait, They’re Good? identifies what I assume is an actual overdone reality competition trope. It’s a good joke, but the execution is a little dragged-out…HuckaPM features some intense falling-over physical comedy; bangin’.

Leave It

KCR News Albany – Hoo boy, this is a mess. The writing is all wrong, what with the tone veering wildly in multiple directions, and the direction isn’t great either, with technical glitches and bad timing. The tragedy is, there are some decent jokes in there, but it is never clear what the base reality is. Thus, I am too confused to laugh. At least the sketch doesn’t end on a bummer, but alas, that happy ending only makes everything more confusing.

Jonah Hill

On a scale of SNL Five Timers, Jonah Hill is steady and effective enough. He has a memorable recurring character in his repertoire, so he hasn’t scaled this height with nothing, though he is still a far cry from the most legendary in this hallowed club. In this outing, it’s clear that he’s happy to play along pleasantly with the cast and that he doesn’t feel any need to go out of his way to make himself the star. It makes for a mostly functional episode.

Maggie Rogers

On a scale of musical guests I’ve hardly heard of before their SNL debut, Maggie Rogers has definitely caught my attention. For someone in her twenties, she sure looks and sounds polished. Plus, there’s always room in the pop scene for more folk music without getting all Mumford & Sons-artisanal about it. And you gotta love that Suspiria-style red dress.

Letter Grades:

The Ingraham Angle – C+

Jonah Hill’s Five-Timers Monologue – B

Benihana – B+

Democrats Midterm Ad – B

KCR News Albany – C

Divided We Stand – B-

Teacher Fell Down (BEST OF THE NIGHT) – B+

Maggie Rogers performs “Light On” – B+

Weekend Update
The Jokes – B-
Pete Davidson – B
Brittainy, Every Teen Girl Murder Suspect on Law & Order – B-
David Ortiz – B

America’s Got Talent: Wait, They’re Good? – B-

Maggie Rogers performs “Fallingwater” – B

HuckaPM – B-

Pug Wigs – B+