The Chaos President Cold Open
SNL returns for its 443rd season fresh off of winning nine Emmy awards including those for Alec Baldwin, Kate McKinnon and Outstanding Variety Sketch Series thanks in part to the stellar season the show had thanks to Donald Trump becoming president and Alec Baldwin assuming the role after it was taken from Darrell Hammond. And with all of the latest news from Trumpland on an hourly basis, the SNL writers must wait till the last minute to even write a Trump sketch. This week’s season premiere opener was timely in that it focused on Trump’s reaction to the crisis in Puerto Rico and his less than delicate remarks about the mayor of San Juan. Baldwin, as usual, was on his game, but the sketch thrived thanks to Aidy Bryant’s Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Kate McKinnon’s Jeff Sessions. Alex Moffat even came in at the last minute as Chuck Schumer. There were two hilarious lines when Sanders says she’s outlasted so many before her because she’s “no nonsense but all nonsense” and a line in reference to her reaction to the NFL players explaining she should have said it was a “black versus white issue.” Zing! McKinnon was hilarious as usual and it got the night off to a good start.
Ryan Gosling Jazz Monologue
Gosling is hosting for the second time, and while he has the new Blade Runner 2049 opening Friday, his monologue focused on his last big film, La La Land, the one where he “saved jazz.” Gosling went on to explain the origins of jazz in “Nerlins” and went through a musical interlude explaining the music and how he saved jazz. Kenan tried to stop him but it was a surprise guest who really put a pin in it. A pretty funny monologue even if the reference is a bit dated at this point.
Another Close Encounter
We’ve certainly seen this sketch before, the one with the three people, two of which are played by Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong, giving McKinnon the opportunity to cut loose and try to make everyone on stage break character. And in fact, we have seen this exact sketch once before: the last time Gosling hosted. This one was a sequel to the previous alien abduction sketch, and once again McKinnon completely broke Gosling when she started demonstrating what the aliens did to her by using his butt, squeezing, pulling, kneading and punching it causing him to completely tremble from laughter. Aidy Bryant and Mikey Day nearly lost it too. It’s a tired bit at this point, but it’s still always fun to see how far Kate can go before someone cracks.
A pre-taped ad for the new Levi’s non-gender conforming jeans Woke! What style are they? No style! With a 180 degree gender non-conforming fly. Made in the USA … by white kids. What color are they? #Greb. Available exclusively at Ross. (And hilariously enough, the local NBC channel in Baltimore aired a real Ross commercial later in the show.)
The new HGTV show similar to Property Brothers but this time with triplets. Unfortunately, Tristan was the one who decided to live with their father after the divorce, and he hasn’t turned out as well making the other brothers’ attempts at shooting a house flipping show a little more difficult than expected. Gosling was pretty good with his family angst dialog, so overall not a bad effort.
Colin Jost and Michael Che are back after a four week summer run of Weekend Update on Thursdays, and they had a lot of material to sink their teeth into from Trump’s Puerto Rico disaster, the resignation of Tom Price, the kneeling controversy, health care and more. Baltimore’s fatberg was removed and Hostess has a new flavor snack cake, White Fudge Ding Dongs which is what Weekend Update is called in China (Che thought that was just a bit racist on several fronts). Angela Merkel paid a visit, and it was all going well until A Guy Who Just Bought a Boat paid a return visit along with Guy Who Just Joined Soho House. It was a lame bit the first time and Gosling’s addition didn’t elevate it at all, ending WU on a downer and almost dragging the back end of the show down with it.
Henrietta & the Fugitive
A black and white film noir spoof with Gosling as a fugitive promising to take his girlfriend to Barcelona. Except his girlfriend is a hen, played hilariously by Aidy Bryant (perhaps she’ll get some Emmy notice next year). Gosling again had a hard time holding it together, almost forgetting his lines, but the sight of Bryant as a giant hen made the whole thing watchable, especially during the “20 years later” epilogue.
A couple joins two other couples at their favorite Italian restaurant to sample the new menu only to find out they’ve been tricked into tasting the new Italian menu from pizza hut. It send the girlfriend (played by Cecily) into a tailspin (cracking Gosling up yet again), even though this Italian restaurant that is their favorite doesn’t actually exist and they knew full well they were on a TV commercial. Odd, but a little funny too thanks to Strong’s performance.
Another filmed bit, this one about a man who is completely distraught over the decision of a graphic artist to use the Papyrus font for the Avatar logo. Is hating on Papyrus a thing now like the hate for Comic Sans? It was a pretty brilliant piece of comedy and Gosling’s performance was pitch perfect.
And then we get to the final, bizarro sketch of the night with Kenan Thompson (yep, he’s still here), Kyle Mooney and Gosling as a band playing in a bar before a football game. Kenan is the over-the-top singer who is very interested in Gosling’s rock and roll flutist, trying to dig into his personal life during the act. By this point everyone was getting a little punchy and they barely made it through the sketch before completely losing it. A funny trainwreck.
Jay-Z was the musical guest this week performing “Bam”, with Damian Marley, and “4:44”, wearing a Colin K jersey during the first performance. I’m not really a fan so neither number resonated with me. I did like “4:44” better because of the backing music and vocals more than his rapping, but it’s certainly an interesting song, an apology to Beyoncé apparently (and we all remember how speculation grew about his infidelities when her “Lemonade” album dropped). I suppose if you’re a Jay-Z fan, you’d appreciate these performances more than I did.
Season 43 of Saturday Night Live gets off to a fair start with the pre-taped bits probably being the best of the sketches and a pretty great “Weekend Update” … until the end of the segment. Gosling makes for a fun host simply because you’re waiting for him to crack up in every sketch (kind of like Jimmy Fallon or Horatio Sanz). The three newcomers got a little screen time and did fine although Heidi Gardner seemed to be the one to hit the jackpot this week with Chris Redd getting more face time than the other new guy, Luke Null … whom I don’t even remember seeing in the episode. Better luck next week, Luke.
What did you think of the season premiere? Tell us in the comments below!