CREDIT: Will Heath/NBC

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

Love It

Pete Davidson and Dan CrenshawPete Davidson’s commentary last week about various electoral candidates understandably caused a bit of an uproar, though I imagine I was not the only one who thought that Lt. Com. Dan Crenshaw demanding an apology was a bit of an overreaction. True, Pete made light of a combat injury sustained by Crenshaw, but saying that an eyepatch makes you look like a detective in a porno isn’t necessarily an insult. It’s more like a weird observation. After all, it’s strange that in 2018 an eyepatch is still the prescribed way to handle certain ocular injuries.

Anyway, while Pete’s joke wasn’t exactly high-minded, it wasn’t like he was attacking Crenshaw’s character.  And it turns out, Crenshaw understands that! He’s not thin-skinned or humorless (or, more cynically, he’s not making a bad faith argument to gin up controversy). It looks like everyone involved came up with the best solution, as Crenshaw stops by the desk to in turn make fun of Pete in an awkwardly personal matter. Fighting fire with fire is usually a bad idea, but fighting comedy with comedy is often the best idea.

Dave’s Outside the Women’s Bathroom – This is exactly the sort of off-the-wall, experimental, possibly terrible idea that the last sketch of the night should be. It helps that nobody really knows what is going on and that there are a variety of reactions to the situation, some reasonable and some absurd. The women walking out of the bathroom are understandably confused and horrified, while Heidi Gardner slays as Dave’s uniquely passionate girlfriend, who is more worried that she will “look like a prostitute” while sitting alone and that Dave might leave her if his ridiculous talk show somehow becomes a runaway success. And through it all, Schreiber fascinatingly plays Dave as not a creep, but a weirdly earnest hustler and dreamer.

House Hunters demonstrates that relentlessly throwing a bunch of crazy details out there works if the characters delivering them maintain a straight face the whole time.

Keep It

Booty Kings – This hip-hop club banger is not the most hilarious music video parody SNL has ever presented, but it does have one of the best messages. Those who tout the importance of consent are sometimes (wrongly) accused of taking the fun and the sexiness out of sex, but the Booty Kings demonstrate that the room can still be hot and heavy if you take a second to ask someone if they are okay with their backside being worshipped. I think we can all benefit from making “booty ally” a part of our vernacular.

As we witness the Jeff Sessions Farewell, I just want to say how thankful I am that in 2018, we can have a political impression as silly as one in which the departing attorney general’s family tree is filled with possums…Liev Schreiber’s Monologue is like one of those monologues of yore in which the host is “managing expectations” by simply explaining to the audience who he is…Good Day Denver reveals that gremlins must be running the graphics department at morning talk shows…Unity offers an admirable message of, well, unity, but I gotta say, “crotch” and “moist” are perfectly decent words…Colleen Rafferty is back, this time for a Paranormal Occurrence, and hoo boy, it is quite the stunner that she is only 27 years old AND she’s a surrogate mother. But the biggest laughs this time come from Liev Schreiber’s love of tiny things…Michael and Colin are reliable for more jokes about Florida, Gritty, and RBG defending her UFC featherweight title…The Poddys deeply understand podcast culture and tropes (and what with it taking place at the “MeUndies Theater,” it almost sounds like the awards will be for “potty” excellence)…I won’t soon forget Beck Bennett and Kyle Mooney as a pair of pantsless, feuding tween Brothers. Mad props for those Rasta-style Looney Tunes shirts.

Leave It

No Leave It sketches this week. Not too many outright classics, but no duds, either.

Liev Schreiber

On a scale of serious actors I never would have expected to host SNL, Liev Schreiber fits squarely within that classification. Despite his relative lack of an impact in the zeitgeist, he has the sort of dramatic intensity that could be hilariously slotted into sketch comedy if deployed correctly. And for a decent number of sketches, that is what happens. Schreiber does flub quite a few lines throughout, but interestingly enough, it appears that that is how his characters were written.

Lil Wayne

On a scale of the greatest living rappers, Lil Wayne is often included on that list, and man, I just don’t get that. His two performances in this episode don’t do much to change my opinion. He’s certainly confident and in the zone with his unique flow, and I appreciate that he has what looks like a gulag of backing dancers for one song. Maybe these tracks aren’t the cream of Wayne’s crop, and there are better offerings that can convince me of his prowess. (I’ll let those who are more in tune with the rap game sort that out.) Ultimately, what he has to offer is perfectly fine to listen to.

Letter Grades:

Jeff Sessions Farewell – B-

Liev Schreiber’s Monologue – B-

Good Day Denver – B-

Unity – B-

Paranormal Occurrence – B

Lil Wayne ft. Halsey performs “Can’t Be Broken” – B

Weekend Update
The Jokes – B
Pete Davidson and Dan Crenshaw – B+

The Poddys – B

House Hunters – B+

Lil Wayne ft. Swizz Beatz performs “Uproar” – B-

Brothers – B

Dave’s Outside the Women’s Bathroom (BEST OF THE NIGHT) – A-