SNL Review September 29, 2018: Adam Driver/Kanye West

Leave a comment

CREDIT: Rosalind O’Connor/NBC

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

Love It

Kyle’s New Look – Considering who was in the building, it looked like we were about to get a sequel to the landmark Kyle vs. Kanye as the latest short from Mr. Mooney began. But while the behind-the-scenes saga takes a different route this time, it is no less welcome. In an episode all about Pete Davidson’s summer, the high point comes via Kyle’s copycat tactic. Wendy Williams as his choice of celebrity boo is inspired, and small details like the way Heidi Gardner eats a banana fill in the scenery nicely. But I am left to wonder how this sketch might have been different if original musical guest choice Ariana Grande had been around to provide her reaction.

Domenico’s Coffee – Burger King disguising its cup of joe as the upscale “Domenico’s” to fool unsuspecting customers obviously calls to mind the classic Colombian coffee crystals filmed piece in which Chris Farley completely loses his mind. But this time around it’s a somewhat different tack, instead targeting faux-upscale coffee snob arrogance. It’s right up Cecily Strong’s grotesque character alley, and Adam Driver’s intensity matches up quite well. Their threats once they realize the ruse are awfully silly, but also scary in their sincerity.

In an Update dominated up top by the Kavanaugh hearings, Michael and Colin are more straightforward than they have ever been, and we are the better for it…Kate McKinnon’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg is enough to brighten up any day.

Keep It

Kavanaugh Senate Hearing – The typical SNL cold open tackles the major political news of the week, which can grow tiresome, so I always enjoy when the show switches up the routine. But there was no avoiding the major development this time, but luckily (for comedy’s sake), the alarming Brett Kavanaugh hearings allow for a somewhat different cast of characters than the usual recent political insanity we’ve had to endure. It doesn’t necessarily make for a great sketch, but it’s a decent one, and I’ll take the “Lindsey Graham auditioning for regional production of The Crucible” joke to the bank.

Adam Driver’s Monologue is a small idea about small talk, but Driver is amusing when he’s angry. And also Pete Davidson had an interesting summer…The “adults don’t know how to play video games” shtick is as old as video games, but at least the Fortnite sketch adds some backstory involving a real dad/stepdad rivalry…I would guess Rad Times at Frat U was inspired by Brett Kavanaugh’s schooltime secrets, although the focus is a bit wayward. But it still works as a solid takedown of blowout party movies…Leslie Jones’ “impression” of Serena Williams is actually sort of impressive in a verbatim sort of way, and Colin’s insistence that it won’t work actually fits as a dramatic counterpoint…I hope that Pete Davidson talked to his fiancee before he discussed how his summer was (he probably did)…Once we meet old school oil baron Abraham H. Parnassus, the Career Day sketch hits exactly the beats we expect, but it’s committed character work from Driver…The League of the South Meeting‘s premise that Vermont is some kind of white people paradise is kind of clever, but I’m most amused by the ruling that they CAN pick black players for their fantasy football teams.

Leave It

No Leave It sketches in a solid premiere episode.

Adam Driver

On a scale of “omnipresent host” to “host getting lost in the background,” Adam Driver is not really either extreme. He has some lead characters, and he wholly commits in a way that justifies his booking despite not being an obvious choice for a season premiere. But it kind of feels like the actual host of this episode was Pete Davidson’s birthday.

Kanye West

On a scale of Kanye the Visionary to Kanye the Inexplicable, we definitely leaned toward the latter this episode. Seriously, does anyone understand why he and Lil Pump chose to dress as Perrier and Fiji, respectively? Although, hey, I can’t say I wasn’t amused. But besides the wacky artistic choices, there’s also the MAGA of it all, which I don’t think there will ever be a satisfying answer for, so we might as well seek serenity for something that’s beyond our control.

Letter Grades:

Kavanaugh Senate Hearing – B-

Adam Driver’s Monologue – B-

Fortnite – B-

Kyle’s New Look – B+

Domenico’s Coffee (BEST OF THE NIGHT) – A-

Rad Times at Frat U – B

Kanye West ft. Lil Pump performs “I Love It” – B

Weekend Update
The Jokes – B+
Ruth Bader Ginsburg – B
Leslie Jones as “Serena Williams” – B-
Pete Davidson – B-

Career Day – B-

Kanye West ft. Teyana Taylor performs “We Got Love” – B

League of the South Meeting – B-

Kanye West ft. Kid Cudi and 070 Shake performs “Ghost Town” – ???


Best Songs of 2016

1 Comment


All songs on this list were released as singles in 2016, or 2015 but didn’t make an impact until 2016.

1. Kiiara – “Gold” – An ingenious production trick wins the top spot. The best music in the world rewires your brain.
2. Beyoncé ft. Kendrick Lamar – “Freedom” – Beyoncé BUSTS out every emotion of the year.
3. Phantogram – “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore” – I can feel myself dissolving in the despair.
4. Lady GaGa – “Perfect Illusion” – GaGa’s crying out in beautiful pain.
5. Kanye West – “Fade” – From another dimension.
6. Rag‘n’Bone Man – “Human” – The blues are alive and kicking.
7. Sia – “The Greatest” – Sia’s career is the soundtrack for perseverance.
8. Alessia Cara – “Scars to Your Beautiful” – What could have been an anodyne message piece instead infuses an influx of attitude.
9. Flume ft. Tove Lo – “Say It” – An airy, effervescent blast from 2016’s top DJ.
10. Childish Gambino – “Me and Your Mama” – Where did this burst of neo-P-Funk come from?!
11. Rae Sremmurd ft. Gucci Mane – “Black Beatles” – This sounds like nostalgia and the future.
12. Glass Animals – “Life Itself” – Alternative quirk’s top spot of the year.
13. Bishop Briggs – “River” – I need at least one lady rocker belting it out like this per annum.
14. Beyoncé – “Formation” – The production is so much more adventurous and more mature from Queen Bey than ever before.
15. BANKS – “Gemini Feed” – Icy and boopy, with attitude to spare.
16. Leonard Cohen – “You Want It Darker” – I’m vociferously nodding along to every declaration Mr. Cohen makes.
17. Kaleo – “Way Down We Go” – That title is sort of like musical onomatopoeia.
18. Highly Suspect – “My Name is Human” – These guys from Cape Cod ought to be rocking stadiums to their core.
19. Beck – “Wow” – Beck’s gonna keep uncovering these strange corners in the aural landscape.
20. Kongos – “Take It From Me” – These South African rockers are totally in control.
21. Tove Lo – “Cool Girl” – Tove keeps freaking up the airwaves.
22. A Tribe Called Quest – “We the People” – A necessary anthem.
23. Sia ft. Sean Paul – “Cheap Thrills” – Bounce along when you’re looking for fun.
24. Ariana Grande – “Into You” – Features the year’s most killer opening line
25. Rihanna ft. Drake – “Work” – One of those great songs that defy natural analysis.

SNL Recap February 13, 2016: Melissa McCarthy/Kanye West

Leave a comment

My full review can be found on Starpulse:

I Can’t Make You Love Me – B

Melissa McCarthy’s Monologue – B-

The Day Beyoncé Turned Black – C+

The Cul-De-Sac Test Screening – B-

Movie Night – B

Kanye West featuring Young Thug, The-Dream, Kelly Price, and El Debarge – “High Lights” – B

Weekend Update
The Jokes – B
Rachel from Friends – B-
Von Miller – C
Leslie Jones – C+

The Art of the Pickup – B

Rap Battle (BEST OF THE NIGHT) – A-

Bus Ride – B-

Kanye West featuring The-Dream, Kelly Price, Chance the Rapper, and Kirk Franklin – “Ultra Light Beams” – B

Whiskers R We – B-