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January 23, 2017
By Ellen O’Brien, Glenbard West
Okay, everyone, I’m sorry if I get sappy, but “Saturday Night Live” this week gave me all the feels. This is thanks to host Aziz Ansari, who helped deliver some of the most thoughtful statements “SNL” has ever made. Saturday’s episode was a perfect mix of both these brave messages and sketches that were plain funny – nothing more, nothing less. This made for the ideal combination of insight and laughs, and you guessed it, one of my favorite episodes of the season.
Free at last – and by that, I mean free of Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump impression, for this episode at least! While I appreciate his spot-on impersonation, it has grown a bit tiresome after being the spotlight of most of this season’s “Cold Opens”. This one featured Beck Bennett’s Vladimir Putin, essentially thanking Americans for electing his puppet – er, Trump. Hilarious Russian jokes were a given, complete with Kate McKinnon’s Olya, a secret supporter of the recent Women’s Marches. Now, this was the kind of opener I enjoy – something different.
This was the monologue to end all monologues. Personally, I’m a fan of everything Aziz Ansari does – his stand-up comedy, “Parks & Rec”, “Master of None” – but especially this monologue. Ansari addressed the obvious, the inauguration, and I’ve never heard such a mature, insightful view on the condition of our nation right now. He talked about everything, from to Trump to women to the religion of Islam. And wow…these nine minutes alone are worthy of an Emmy.
“LA LA LAND INTERROGATION”
It’s true – people are aggressive about La La Land. Don’t get me wrong, it was an excellent film, but in my opinion, it was far from the best of the year. In this sketch, a man, played by Ansari, was interrogated by two police officers for not loving the movie, a good reflection of conversation on the Oscar buzz this year. This was a well thought-out sketch, because it truly feels like an interrogation every time I say La La Land isn’t perfect. Nevertheless, I was content with the shoutouts to Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea.
“SNL” has officially called Kellyanne Conway on her B.S. in the best way possible – yes, through a musical number. In a “Chicago”-esque song, Conway, depicted by McKinnon, confirmed the fact that she only joined Trump’s campaign for the publicity and fame. This was an intelligent way to point out a major flaw in politics, and I applaud “SNL” for its bold, but much needed, statement.
This sketch consisted of the common “SNL” formula I’ve mentioned plenty of times before – normal, normal, funny. Specifically, it was an advertisement for a law firm specializing in injuries. Most of the clients were extremely pleased with the law work, but Ansari’s character was gipped, with a terrible lawyer and a very small amount of settlement money. This was no groundbreaking sketch, but it was ridiculous enough to pass the time with some laughs.
This week’s “Update” had one of the best Trump jabs to date, calling his inauguration concert in front of the Lincoln Memorial the second worst performance Lincoln had ever experienced. Yeah, you know the first worst one. Co-anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che had some awesome takes on feminism, after covering the Women’s Marches. Leslie Jones, God bless her, came on to talk about the movie Hidden Figures, and how Black History Month should be every month. Agreed. An outstanding installment of “Update” wrapped up with Mikey Day’s Jake Rocheck reporting live from the friend zone, which was exactly what it sounds like.
In this sketch, Melissa Villasenor’s character had a tough time talking dirty to and role playing with her boyfriend, Ansari, in bed. This was a simple concept, but still made for tons of laughs. Villasenor always found a way to accidentally kill the mood while trying to be sexy, showing us viewers where exactly everyone should draw the line.
I’m a sucker for anything pre-taped on “SNL” – it is consistently smarter and funnier. This was no exception. In it, Ansari’s character was unsatisfied with his rating of 3.9 stars on Uber, as was his Uber driver, played by Bobby Moynihan. Thus, they both resolved in their separate internal monologues to secure a 5 star rating on their ride together. And they tried way to hard, from eager small talk to enthusiastic massages. Yes, you read that right. This perfectly characterized the often awkward nature of Uber rides – and not to give anything away, but the ending was a hit.
“TO SIR WITH LOVE”
Frankly, I wasn’t surprised to see “SNL” give Barack Obama such a heartfelt goodbye, with beautiful singing from Cecily Strong and Sasheer Zamata. He will be very, very missed, especially by the cast of the undeniably liberal-leaning show. This was tasteful, capturing many people’s thoughts, namely with the plea of “please don’t go” at the end. Ugh.
“BEAT THE BOOKWORM”
Now, this wasn’t bad; it just could’ve been better. Ansari depicted an intelligent bookworm on a gameshow with an incredibly annoying voice. The contestant, Vanessa Bayer, attempted to outsmart him. And she did, by choosing the topic of 90s Pop Culture, aka the bookworm’s kryptonite. I don’t say this often, but it was almost like this sketch was too short. Either way, watch this for the hilarious introduction of the fake gameshow, at the very least.
The trend with the worst sketches of this week seems to be sketches where Ansari used an obnoxious voice. Hmm… Anyway, the gist of this was that some cops and a criminal were having an intense standoff in a children’s pizza place, but the restaurant’s robotic band (yeah, that’s a thing) kept interrupting them. It was all a little cheesy for my taste, dare I say it.
“Saturday Night Live”
10:30 p.m., Saturday, NBC
4 out of 4 stars
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