SNL: Jack Antonoff, Ariana DeBose, Bowen Yang (CREDIT: NBC/Screenshot)

Good morning, I’m coming to you live from January 2022! It’s the first new Saturday Night Live episode of the year, that’s what I’m going to be talking about here. Speaking of firsts, it’s the first time that singing actress Ariana DeBose is the host and also the first time that Jack Antonoff’s band Bleachers is the musical guest, but not the first time that Jack’s been here, as he also performed with fun.) Hopefully that’s not too confusing!

In case this is your first time reading one of my reviews, you should know that this season, I’ve been ordering the sketches in a variety of ways, like alphabetical and reverse airing order. This time, I’m doing it in order of the number of speaking/singing roles per sketch. A few notes on this: narrators are counted, except for Darrell Hammond during the monologue (since that’s more a part of the opening credits). The person introducing the musical guest IS counted for the musical performances, while backup singers are NOT counted if they only sing backup. And for Weekend Update, the parts with guests are counted separately from the parts that are just Michael and Colin telling jokes.

Okay, here we go!

Urkel (9 Speaking Parts): A gritty reboot of Family Matters riffing on the upcoming nu-Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: did SNL doooo that? They sure did!

NBA on TNT (8 Speaking Parts): Kenan Thompson’s Charles Barkley impression was great, even though we’ve already seen it a bunch of times. Bowen Yang’s inaugural impression of Yang Mao was also great, and not just because it was fresh and new. Anyway, this whole sketch was pretty funny, though some of the stats were a little suspect. (I’m pretty sure you can’t shoot 0/3 while being blocked 183 times.)

New Governess (8 Speaking/Singing Parts): Wow, in the very episode that I’ve been counting speaking parts, there’s a sketch in which everyone is surprised that one character finally starts speaking! Anyway, a lot of love for Queen Latifah here, and honestly, I get it.

A Message from the President (7 Speaking Parts): Aw man, even after they’ve won a World Series, those Cubbies still can’t escape being joked upon!

Ron and Donna Lacatza’s Formal Emporium (6 Speaking Parts): Parents can be a little overly familiar when talking about their kids’ bodily functions and hygiene, but in some ways, that’s actually healthy.

Eric Adams Press Conference (5 Speaking Parts): A surprising amount of applause for the C train in this sketch. Honestly, I get it, though!

Sappho Lecture (5 Speaking Parts): Lesbian stereotypes make for good comedy in Kate McKinnon’s hands. I was amused by the image of a toga with suspenders.

Longhorn Steakhouse (5 Speaking Parts): I spent most of this sketch wondering how to spell that weird word Heidi Gardner’s manager character kept saying. The closed captioning went with “Ler,” but I wasn’t so sure. And as the final freeze frame made clear, I was right to be skeptical.

Ariana DeBose’s Monologue (2 Speaking/Singing Parts): With Kate McKinnon joining Ariana for a medley of West Side Story tunes, I guess this monologue is basically just an ad for the WSS reboot that Ariana’s starring in, which could certainly use a box office boost!

Bleachers, “How Dare You Want More” (2 Speaking/Singing Parts): Jack Antonoff was dressed like a young Bruce Springsteen, and this song also sounds like vintage Springsteen. Works for me!

Weekend Update: The Jokes (2 Speaking Parts): There were a few zingers that went hard on the social commentary, but I gotta be honest: my favorite moment was Michael Che saying “You had me at ‘royal duties.'”

Weekend Update: Elmo (2 Speaking Parts): In case anyone was wondering, I’m pretty sure Elmo’s thoughtful Instagram post was a reference to Patton Oswalt.

Bleachers, “Chinatown” (2 Speaking/Singing Parts): Some really significant 80s influences on this number, and I was doing my best to pinpoint it. The Cars? U2? Depeche Mode? All those, I suppose, and also … Bruce!

Next week continues the trend of a host promoting something that premiered in December that could really use more eyeballs, as Peacock’s MacGruber star Will Forte swings over to 30 Rock. He’ll be joined by Danish-named Italian band Måneskin, which is punningly appropriate because Forte has shown A LOT of manskin over the course of his career.