SNL: John Mulaney, The Strokes, Ego Nwodim (CREDIT: YouTube Screenshot)

With this, the most Halloween-iest episodes of Saturday Night Live, former SNL writer John Mulaney enters rarefied hosting territory by hosting more than once in a single calendar year. His last time on the Studio 8H stage was on February 29, 2020, which was a notable date not only because it was a Leap Day but also because it was one of the last live in-studio shows before the pandemic necessitated the shutdown of most in-person gatherings. This booking might demonstrate that the folks on SNL are not a superstitious lot, for otherwise they would fear that Mulaney’s presence would portend another shutdown. Or perhaps they are superstitious, just in the opposite direction, with the hope that his return might augur a return to safer times.

Musical guest The Strokes, like Mulaney, are also making their fourth official appearance.

They were last on in 2011, a time when Charlie Sheen was inescapable. What’s Carlos up to these days? Still throwing heaters?

While watching this episode, I downed some scrambled eggs, toast, and coffee cake, and the night before, I watched some football and put on a hybrid Halloween costume, so I was ready and rarin’ to go!

The show began with Joe Biden (played by Jim Carrey) delivering us a “Holiday Message.” Supposedly it’s Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, but there are digressions. Several other people show up. I’ll give it a Grade of a Pair of Soiled Pantaloons.

After the opening montage in which all the cast members’ names were announced, John Mulaney came out for his Monologue (Grade: 4 Nana’s Driver’s Licenses). As expected, he told jokes. He did a whole routine about The Daily Press Conferences of Andrew Cuomo. If you know, you know. And if you had your American TV on back in the spring, then you probably know.

There were several recurring sketches in this episode. The first of the bunch was Cinema Classics (Grade: 4 Floppy Floppy Things), which I had thought was a pretend TCM show, but it looks like it’s actually always been a pretend PBS show. This time, the target is Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, which has always been ripe for parody thanks to its inexplicable nature of unexplained avian attacks, and Kate McKinnon and John Mulaney go straight in for some ripe picking.

Before cutting to the next commercial break, we got a pre-filmed segment called “Strollin'” (Grade: 3 Bell-bottoms), which cuts a 70s vibe in terms of fashion and musical style as it presents the enthusiasm of voting but the struggle to do so in a country where polling places seem to be an endangered species. I most enjoyed Kenan’s orange suit.

Is this the first time that the legend of Sleepy Hollow (Grade: 3 Gag Reflexes) has parodied the Headless Horseman so directly for his sexual potential? That couldn’t possibly be the case (could it?), but I can’t think of any other! What I do know is, everyone involved in this sketch was excited to be as thorough as possible.

As someone who has lived in New York City for an extended period of time, I must say that I am familiar with actual people who resemble Kate McKinnon’s occasionally topless Central Park dancer in the New York PSA (Grade: 40-Floor Walkup Energy), so that was a fine way to spend a couple of minutes.

If you had guessed that at this point in the show it would be some time for some Strokin’, you would be right, so long as if by “Strokin'” you mean “American garage rock band The Strokes performing their 2020 song “The Adults Are Talking” (Grade: 3 and a Half Obeys).” As they were playing, I thought to myself, “Is it 2003?” And then I said, “Yes.”

In the vast majority of new SNL episodes, Weekend Update immediately follows the first musical performance, and that was the case once again this time. I think I laughed most when Michael Che mentioned how Lil Wayne (the rapper) puts cough syrup in his Sprite (the soft drink).

There was only one Update guest correspondent, which is unusual, because usually, there’s more. It was Kyle Mooney reprising his bit as Baby Yoda* (Grade: 3 Jabba the Kombuchas). (*-Officially known as “The Child” on the Star Wars show The Mandalorian) It’s a goofy bit about an alien who likes to get high, but I’ll allow it, because the references are so amusingly all over the place.

When John Mulaney hosts Saturday Night Live, the Comedy Gods have decreed that there must be a Broadway musical pastiche about a chintzy New York City commercial establishment. Following in the wake of Diner Lobster, Bodega Bathroom, and Airport Sushi, we now have Big Nick’s Souvenirs (Grade: More Than One Singular Sensation), and you know what? I kind of want those “I Heart NY” underpants myself now (preferably clean, though).

I would like everyone to know that at this point I will be talking about one more musical performance and one more sketch (because that’s what’s left of the episode). The Strokes’ second song was “Bad Decisions” (Grade: ’72 Moscows), and while they were playing it, I found myself wondering, “Is this an old song of theirs?” Because, you see, I thought I had heard it before. Well, I had heard it before, but not that long ago, just earlier this year, as it was released in 2020. This is to say, the Strokes have managed to still sound as they did when they first emerged, more or less in a good way.

The final sketch before the “Goodnights” portion of the show is another round of John Mulaney being flummoxed by image macro Memes (Grade: A Sex Cult Minus the Sex), and these bits are funny, because Mulaney is skilled at plainly explaining the kooky and/or embarrassing thing that is happening to him.

For the first episode of November 2020, Dave Chappelle will be hosting (the musical guest has not yet been announced), which is interesting, because he also hosted the last SNL episode that immediately followed a presidential election. Should this upcoming show be an exact recreation of that one, just partly desaturated? Probably not, since that would require re-hiring some former cast members and firing some current ones, but only for one episode, which sounds like a hassle.