Jeff’s Wacky SNL Review: David Harbour/Camila Cabello

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CREDIT: Rosalind O’Connor/NBC

Oh wow, we’ve already reached the third episode of this season of Saturday Night Live. Mr. Host is David Harbour, one of the stars of Netflix hit series Stranger Things, Season 3 of which arrived way back on July 4. But I hope that some people are still making their way through it because TV is so much better when you spread it out. Musical guest is Camila Cabello, who is tall enough to ride this ride. I was attending a wedding as this episode was actually airing, which means I was up way past my bedtime. The matrimonial celebrating was quite intense, but it didn’t rob me of my ability to laugh.

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Jeff’s Wacky SNL Review: Phoebe Waller-Bridge/Taylor Swift

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CREDIT: Rosalind O’Connor/NBC

For episode number dos of Season 45, we’ve got host Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who’s here to promote the fact that she’s a funny person, and musical guest Taylor Swift, who’s here to promote the news that she would like to have a long, decades-spanning career, thank you very much. I watched a couple of episodes of Fleabag this week, because it just felt right. Let’s get into the sketches!

For the cold opening, I made myself a plate of pancakes. I was finished with them before the end of the monologue! Anyway, as is so often the case, the opening sketch took place in Washington D.C., that kooky town. It’s in the Office of the Vice President (Grade: 2.5/5 Cabinet Members), and I guess the headline is that Matthew Broderick stopped by to play Mike Pompeo, but I’m most intrigued to know that Ben Carson is still employed by the White House. Then as promised, Phoebe Waller-Bridge strutted on stage to recite her Monologue (Grade: 3/5 Psychopaths), and it’s one of those “a lot of of you probably don’t know me, so here’s who I am” monologues, but based on the level of applause she received, I think a lot of people do know her. And on we go to the first of several recurring bits this episode that very, very closely repeat their original formula. Goofy game show What’s Wrong With This Picture (Grade: Infinity IGetTheJokes!) starts ridiculous, and remains ridiculous, then keeps being ridiculous! Sidenote: Kenan’s host character name, Elliott Pants, sounds like something that would have been right at home on All That.

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Jeff’s Wacky SNL Review: Woody Harrelson/Billie Eilish

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CREDIT: Rosalind O’Connor/NBC

This is my tenth season reviewing SNL episodes, and it feels like a good time to mix up the format. So that’s what I’m doing for Season 45! Here’s how it will work: I’ll provide my thoughts on all the sketches, while also kind of painting the story of me watching the show.

We kick off Season 45 with a couple of new featured cast members (it was almost three, but getting into that is a whole ‘nother thing), Mr. Woody Harrelson hosting for the fourth time, and young’un Billie Eilish making her musical guest debut. I ran a 10-mile race early on Sunday, so this was one of those times where I went to sleep early on Saturday, watched a couple of sketches early in the morning, and then caught the rest after my race. It’s actually a formula for plenty of laughs!

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The Best of SNL Season 44

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CREDIT: Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC

Saturday Night Live Season 44 is over, and somehow we survived! I’ve got my rundown below of what I thought was the best in various categories. As for the top sketches, my in-depth ranking can be found here. If you have your own rankings or other SNL-related thoughts and concerns, please let me know!

Most Valuable Cast Member
The longest-tenured cast member of all time felt perhaps the most essential he ever has, and a trio of ladies consistently delivered lived-in character work.
Kenan Thompson
Runners-Up:
Cecily Strong
Heidi Gardner
Kate McKinnon

Best Hosts
What took so long for the Sandman to return? And for Dame Emma to debut for that matter?
1. Adam Sandler
2. Liev Schreiber
3. John Mulaney
4. Kit Harington
5. Emma Thompson

Best Monologues
SNL has almost completely given up on the monologue, so thank the comedy gods that stand-ups still sometimes stop by.
1. John Mulaney
2. Paul Rudd
3. Seth Meyers
4. Jonah Hill

Best Musical Guests
Guitar skills go a long way.
1. Gary Clark Jr.
2. Tame Impala
3. Paul Simon
4. Maggie Rogers

Best Weekend Update Segments
Drug culture never went away at SNL, it just got weirder.
1. Terry Fink
2. Colin and Michael Swap Jokes
3. Elizabeth Warren

Best Episodes
Early May is often a sweet spot.
1. Adam Sandler/Shawn Mendes
2. Kit Harington/Sara Bareilles
3. Liev Schreiber/Lil Wayne
4. John Mulaney/Thomas Rhett

Best Quotes
Both courtesy of Heidi Gardner.
1. “Pikachu can get it.”
2. “I’m so horny I could cry.”

Best Sketches of SNL Season 44

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CREDIT (Clockwise from Top Left): Rosalind O’Connor/NBC; Will Heath/NBC; Steve Molina Contreras/NBC; Rosalind O’Connor/NBC)

Was 2018-19 a great, or even good, SNL season? I’m inclined to say “not particularly,” but there’s almost always at least one moment per episode that really tickles my funny bone. Thus, it’s not hard to curate a list of the ten, or even twenty, best sketches of the season. So that’s what I’ve done below, with thoughts included on the top ten. (Note: sketches that were cut after dress rehearsal and then posted online were eligible, since they’re posted so frequently and quickly nowadays.)

20. Weezer Argument
19. Frank Sinatra Impersonator
18. A Frightening Tale
17. Colorectal Exam
16. Discover Card
15. Teacher Fell Down
14. Wedding Reception
13. What’s Wrong With This Picture?
12. The Unknown Caller
11. Retirement Party

10. Toilet Death Ejector

Passing away on the commode really speeds up the “Tragedy + Time = Comedy” equation.

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SNL Love It/Keep It/Leave It: Paul Rudd/DJ Khaled

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CREDIT: Steven Molina Contreras/NBC

Jeffrey Malone watches every new episode of Saturday Night Live and then organizes the sketches into the following categories: “Love It” (potentially Best of the Season-worthy), “Keep It” (perfectly adequate), or “Leave It” (in need of a rewrite, to say the least). Then he concludes with assessments of the host and musical guest.

Love It

Colin and Michael Switch Jokes – Michael and Colin’s semi-annual tradition of writing compromising jokes for each other is now the best part of their Weekend Update era. There’s a potential pitfall that just repeating the formula could lead to diminishing returns, but this edition proves that there’s still room to up the ante. As usual, Che has written the sneakiest punchline (MLK running his mouth), but Colin implying bestiality for Michael is also a fox-like triumph.

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SNL Love It/Keep It/Leave It: Emma Thompson/Jonas Brothers

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CREDIT: Will Heath/NBC

Jeffrey Malone watches every new episode of Saturday Night Live and then organizes the sketches into the following categories: “Love It” (potentially Best of the Season-worthy), “Keep It” (perfectly adequate), or “Leave It” (in need of a rewrite, to say the least). Then he concludes with assessments of the host and musical guest.

Love It

Meet the Press – Oh wow, a political cold open that’s not only funny, but quite possibly the best sketch of the episode! This is basically the inverse of the How’s He Doing? sketches from the Obama era, but here it’s even more extreme and patently nonsensical. Certain Republicans have knotted themselves into a Trump-supporting bind that is dangerous for everybody and just plain stunning in its blind loyalty. Honestly, Kate McKinnon’s version of Lindsey Graham saying, “Harder, Daddy” isn’t that far off from the real thing.

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