SNL: Nathaniel Rateliff, Regina King, Beck Bennett (CREDIT: YouTube Screenshot)

For the third episode in a row, SNL has two guests making their Studio 8H debuts, and for the third review in a row, I’m making mention of that fact. The host is Regina King, who’s probably better known for her dramatic work nowadays, but she’s sitcom royalty to a lot of people thanks to her time on 227. That’s a show I’ve never seen an episode of, though I have seen all 6 of her guest appearances on The Big Bang Theory. And as for musical guest Nathaniel Rateliff, I’m more familiar with him when he’s credited with his backing band the Night Sweats, but it seems like his music is pretty dang similar even when he’s flying solo.

This episode aired in the midst of the Australian Open, which is something I also enjoy watching.

I’ll start with the cold opening (a very cold place to start), which was Tucker Carlson Tonight (Grade: 1 Coup out of 2 Coos), which, indeed, featured a Tucker Carlson, and indeed, aired during the night.

Regina King walked out and delivered her Monologue (Grade: I Liked Her Neon Dress), as SNL hosts are wont to do, but most SNL monologists are NOT usually accompanied by Kenan Thompson as a hype man, which Regina WAS accompanied by. That was the difference here. It felt like the 90s. (Or the 80s, depending on your measurements.)

There are a lot of game show parodies on SNL, and What’s Your Type? (Grade: More or Less Top-Shelf Cringe) is now one of them. The non-Regina King characters were confused by her total embrace of dorky white guys, but she was unapologetic. Good for her!

If you want to make passive aggression funny, you’ve got to commit, as demonstrated by the ad for Peloton-parody Pelotaunt (Grade: 3.5/5 Avoidant Attachment Styles).

The Gorilla Glue legal infomercial (Grade: 4/5 Big Gorillas) was built around a very specific, very silly idea. That is a reliable formula for memorable comedy!

Next up, it is time to talk about a sketch that takes place at a Birthday Party (Grade: 3.5/5 Pained Smiles), in which Aidy Bryant plays a character who really is the butt of a joke. You see, her friends give her gifts that seem to imply that she’s an irresponsible, drunken mess, but it’s all done in a cheery way to indicate that they’re oblivious about their cruelty. This would be disturbing if it were real life, but luckily we can say, “It’s just a show, I should really just relax.”

What do I have to say about the pre-filmed selection The Negotiator (Grade: 3.5/5 Weed Gummies)? Here is what I have to say: The world is a better place now that it has witnessed Melissa Villaseñor as a devil version of Marge Simpson.

As expected, Nathaniel Rateliff sang a couple of songs. The first was “Redemption” (Grade: 3.5/5 Beards), and it was especially notable because the commercial break that immediately followed kicked off with an ad for the Apple TV+ movie Palmer, which was soundtracked by “Redemption.” I would like to compliment Rateliff’s yell that he let out during the climax.

Get ready, because I’m about to mention some of the jokes that I enjoyed during Weekend Update: the one about video evidence not necessarily leading to conviction, the one with Colin as Ice-T, and the one about the white lady who owned Aunt Jemima.

Now is the part in the review when I talk about the Weekend Update correspondents. First up is Kate McKinnon as “Stephanie Green” (Grade: 4/5 Beyond Beef Houses), ostensibly an adherent of the QAnon conspiracy, but actually a witch who wants to eat children. Hilarious sideways approach!

Next up was Lauren Holt as romantic advice-giver Mackenzie Taylor-Joy (Grade: Ack!). Spoiler alert: it didn’t go so well.

And finally (as far as Weekend Update correspondents go) we had Beck Bennett as Drunk Tom Brady (Grade: More Drunk Than Funk). I was amused when he referred to Bill Belichick as his dad.

In the sketch in which Regina King played fictional disco diva Fliona (Grade: Too Many Strikes), everything was going wrong. I couldn’t handle it!

There’s one more sketch to talk about. It takes place at a school assembly with a performance from a Women’s Theater group (Grade: Every Pillow in Poughkeepsie) talking about their elbows, but they’re not really talking about their elbows. They’re talking about … some other body part. You probably know what I’m talking about. You may have already watched the sketch and come in knowing what I was talking about! But if you’re coming into this review cold, I bet you’ve figured it out by now… Yeah, they went there.

Well, I just mentioned that that was the last sketch I was going to talk about, but I’m not quite done with this review, because there’s also one more musical performance to talk about, and for “A Little Honey” (Grade: 3.5/5 Beards), both Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats were introduced. It’s heartening to know that they could be together on the SNL stage, even if only for one song.

Next week, I’ll be discussing the episode with musical guest Bad Bunny (a Puerto Rican rapper I’ve heard of) and host Regé-Jean Page (a star of Bridgerton I’ve never heard of until now*).

(*-It’s possible I’ve heard of him in passing by seeing his name while reading a review of Bridgerton.)