Our host for tonight is Matthew McConaughey, who said “All right, all right, all right” in his first movie and now we”ll never let him forget it. You may know McConaughey as the young Texan stoner from Dazed and Confused, as the constantly shirtless heartthrob from various romantic comedies, as a very skinny and very serious actor pushing for an EGOT any way he knows how, or as that guy who tried to sell you a Lincoln once in a fever dream (Wait, what? THAT WAS ACTUALLY A COMMERCIAL I WATCHED IN REAL LIFE?).
Cold Open: The gang at Fox and Friends interviews Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Ben Carson, and discusses the Syrian refugee situation. Ugh. This was not a great start to the night. Normally I consider Fox and Friends a decent opener to the show– just a utilitarian way to recap the news with the kind of recurring jokes you can count on– but not so much tonight. The jokes to kick it off were cringe-inducing, from Killam as Steve Doocy confusing a video of Walmart shoppers the day after Thanksgiving for a video of Syrian refugees, to Bayer as Elizabeth Hasselbeck”s statement, in response to Black Friday, that “All Fridays matter” (Yup. Actually). The bright spot was Jay Pharaoh as Ben Carson. This impersonation is a bit sillier and more exaggerated than his others– more Chevy as Ford than Tina as Palin– but he certainly seems to be having a blast with it, and his energy helped bring up this bummer of a sketch. But choosing to end without the standard quick roll of corrections, generally the funniest part of Fox and Friends sketches, was an odd and disappointing choice. C-
Monologue: Matthew McConaughey recounts the origin story of his most famous catchphrase, “All right, all right, all right.” This was the opposite of an overblown musical monologue, and for that I am thankful. McConaughey”s story might not have been all that interesting, but it was sweet to have a non-stand up comedian host get to just stand onstage and tell a story rather than jump through showbiz hoops. There was a hint of smugness to his delivery, but if anyone is allowed to be smug it”s McConaughey– seller of Lincolns, seller of dreams. Overall, a pretty charming start to the episode A-
Hello: A little girl gets her family to avoid controversial conversation topics on Thanksgiving by playing Adele”s Hello, getting the family members to dramatically sing along until they”re transformed into their own Adele video.
A dartboard sits in the SNL offices. Above it sits a sign reading “TOPICS RELEVANT TO THIS WEEK.” The dartboard is littered with Post Its. It is 4:00am, and they are all so tired.
Aidy Bryant throws the first dart. “THANKSGIVING,” reads the Post It. Next up is Jay Pharaoh. His dart lands right on “SYRIAN REFUGEES.” Kate McKinnon has the last dart. It lands right in the middle; way to go, Kate. “ADELE”S HELLO,” the Post It reads. And so it shall be.
This one was fine and cute and I expect a lot of people will share it online tomorrow and generally find it funnier than I did. I just felt like it was sort of a jumble of ideas in search of going viral. I dropped out around the time Matthew McConaughey simultaneously wore an old man costume and Adele drag, but I”m not necessarily mad it happened; I just didn”t love it. B
The Blues: A blues band is joined by a new member, who counts his daily annoyances to be as worthy of singing about as his band members” true hardships. The ending was odd, but the build up worked quite well. The introductions to the members were great (“What”s up Joe?” “My life is a living hell, Otis”), and although McConaughey seemed a bit nervous to kick off the show, his mediocre blues lyrics worked really well (“I took a cab down to the airport/ The driver said have a good flight/ I said “You too”/ and it”s been buggin” me all night”). When Kenan”s character suggested he sing more like him and he tried out “Well, I”m an old black guy/ I”m wearin” a hat” I figured we were reaching a good note to end on, but then McConaughey”s character suddenly “got it” and sang about how he quit his job at Facebook and sold his shares and now all of his old friends are super rich, which apparently satisfied his fellow band members. Perhaps this sketch was written early in the night, then put on hold to figure out the ending, then it was 5:00am and they”d just finished their Relevant Topics dartboard game and were like, “Eh, screw it, we”ll just say he sold his Facebook shares. That”s bluesy!” Overall a decent sketch, just one that was worthy of a better ending. B
Bio Print: Matthew McConaughey is the first ever 3D-printed human. He is set up on stage next to two real human men to see if the audience can guess which one of the three is 3D-printed. I don”t know what happens after that because my television completely froze, then skipped ahead to the end of the sketch. This really happened, and when I tried to rewatch it on my DVR to see if I could see the sketch that way, it just kept skipping but worse. I saw Matthew McConaughey dancing for a second at the end? That was maybe funny? Sorry y”all, but you know what they say– modern technology has its perks, but sometimes it keeps you from seeing Matthew McConaughey play a dancing 3D-printed man.
Star Wars Screen Tests: J.J. Abrams reveals a series of screen tests for the new Star Wars movie featuring stars Daisy Ridley and John Boyega as well as the actors that didn”t make it, from Sofia Vergara to Jon Hamm. I”ve really liked these screen test sketches in the past. I know they”re a bit of a cheap way to shoehorn in celebrity impressions, but if that means I get to see Bill Hader as Alan Alda as Biff from Back to the Future, I”m not going to complain. This one sort of fell short for me, though. Daisy Ridley and John Boyega weren”t given very much to do, which was disappointing, and the celebrity impressions felt particularly shoehorned in; why is John Mayer playing guitar at a Star Wars audition, other than to finally give new guy Jon Rudnitsky something to do? Two bright spots: Emma Stone saying she can add diversity to the film because, as seen in Aloha, she “can play a very convincing part-Asian woman,” and Jon Hamm pitching his script idea: “So you”re like, ‘What”s up, Hamm solo?” and I”m like, ‘How”s it goin” guys?”” HAMM FOR PRESIDENT. B
Weekend Update: Something to note: Michael Che and Colin Jost have been doing these little back and forths on a chosen topic every week, and I feel like they never quite work. It”s like Amy and Seth”s “Really?” but without a catchy little opening title or a catchphrase or a specific matched line delivery, all of which is kind of what made “Really?” work. Their chemistry is improving as hosts, but I feel like if they want to cement it they need to figure out a way to establish their back and forths.
Meanwhile, we had two guests on Update tonight– Vanessa Bayer as Laura Parsons, winner of the Newscasters of Tomorrow contest, and Kenan Thompson as David Ortiz. David Ortiz was silly and erratic as always. I laughed at “Iguananox,” his gym with lizards, and his new dating website “Go Outside” (“You want to meet new people? Go outside”).
As for Laura Parsons, we”ve seen this character before in the Spotlightz Acting Camp sketches, but this was her first Update appearance. Bayer really nails the overemphasizing child actor voice, and there is something inherently funny about seeing that kind of performance paired with serious topics. It does seem like a smart idea to move this character to the Update desk, though I”m not totally sure the format works just right yet. But the audience seemed to laugh extra hard at this bit, so I”ll be interested to see if Laura Parsons: Newscaster of Tomorrow sticks around; I think she has potential. B
Should You Chime In On This?: A gameshow in which three idiots are presented with topics and asked whether they should chime in on them. Their answers should always be no, but that doesn”t stop them from jumping in anyway. Between this and the Hello sketch, it seemed clear that the writers really wanted to emphasize the whole “No one knows what they”re talking about when it comes to Syrian refugees” point– which is valid, considering the insanity people have been spewing this week. Between the two sketches, this one did a little more with the topic. It wasn”t perfect and it perhaps went on a little long, but I liked the detail of things like McConaughey”s braid (On whether he should comment on a high school girl joining a football team: “I”m not connected with that school in any way, but I do have this big long braid”) and the contestants” bios (Kyle Mooney”s character: “I”m Tristan, I go to NYU, and I may be white but I”m proud to say I have a friend that”s one of each, except Asian”). A-
Right Side of the Bed: An Atlanta morning talk show host and her clearly closeted husband continually cut to their guest, a Southern chef who prepares a Thanksgiving turkey while high on oven cleaner fumes. Cecily Strong and Taran Killam, as usual, really gave it their all with this one. McConaughey tried, but ultimately the high Duck Dynasty chef didn”t really work, and his energy was a little low for such a manic character. Also, we”ve established that Kate McKinnon is the new Jimmy Fallon of interpreting male musicians (nothing and no one will ever beat her Justin Bieber), but I”m not sure what the point of her impersonating Ed Sheeran saying/singing two lines and then fainting was. Also, why was inexplicable music superstar Ed Sheeran a guest on an Atlanta morning show? And why am I looking for verisimilitude in an SNL sketch that includes the line “It”s not a girdle; it”s a boy-dle”? (I will fully admit that I laughed out loud at that line, either in spite or because of myself). B-
Amtrak Meeting: A town”s city council presents plans for a new Amtrak train track. The entire town seems on board, except for one local man who increasingly reveals insane stories from his life that lead him to resent everyone else in the room. I feel like the 10-to-1:00 sketches have been pretty strong so far this season, and this one definitely ranks among them. McConaughey”s energy was a little low for this one as well, but the writing was solid and the cast”s reactions (To McConaughey”s “Oh you think because you can read and turn those little squiggles on a page into words in your brain that you”re better than me, is that it?,” Aidy Bryant replies, “I mean… I want to say yes”) brought some zest back to the sketch. I loved that it ended with McConaughey simply asking to get a picture with the train, so excited by his small victory. A-
Quotes, Extras, and Final Thoughts:
- “I actually saw an ISIS in the A&P today when I was picking up the yams.” “No you didn”t, Aunt Kathy– that was an Asian woman.”
- Man, this show really has it out for Ben Carson; after Pharaoh”s impersonation of him on Fox and Friends, Aunt Kathy bringing up that she wants to vote for him proves the most anger-inducing moment in the Hello sketch
- Important observation: There was a moment in the Blues sketch when I looked at Matthew McConaughey with his buzz cut and thought, “Oh my God, am I seeing an image of a middle-aged Matt Saracen from Friday Night Lights?!” IS THIS JUST ME? (Probably).
- Update: Earlier I somehow missed that Buble was singing “Making Wookie,” not “Making Whoopie.” So sorry for my terrible sense of hearing/lack of understanding of OBVIOUS PUNS. I take it back; that was very funny!
- Thoughts on the Musical Guest: HELLO FROM THE OTHER SIIIIIIIIIIIDE/I MUST HAVE CALLED A THOUSAND TIIIIIIIIIIIIIIMES/ TO TELL YOU I”M SORRY FOR EVERYTHING THAT I”VE DONE/ BUT WHEN I CALL YOU NEVER SEEM TO BE HOOOOME. This has been Thoughts on the Musical Guest
- “This week Donald Trump said that if elected, he would definitely implement a system to track Muslims in the United States, which is absolutely ridiculous because there is no way that we, as Americans, don”t already have that.”
- Michael Che on Republicans” suggestion that America only let in Christian refugees: “You know, personally, I don”t trust any religion that requires a hat. I don”t mind the small hats; it just seems like the bigger the hat, the weirder the rules. I”ve never been listening to a dude in a big ass hat and thought ‘Man this dude seems reasonable.””
- Laura Parsons on HIV: “It”s when your whole body goes, ‘Oh boy!” Speaking of boys, Jared Vogel!”
- Thoughts on the Musical Guest: HELLO FROM THE OUTSIIIIIIIIIIDE/ AT LEAST I CAN SAY THAT I”VE TRIIIIIIIIED/ TO TELL YOU I”M SORRY FOR BREAKING YOUR HEART/BUT IT DON”T MATTER IT CLEARLY DOESN”T TEAR YOU APART/ ANYMOOOORE Okay, NOW this has been thoughts on the Musical Guest. Sorry, I just get so overwhelmed by that voice of an angel.
- McConaughey”s townie character”s nicknames for the people who think they”re better than him include College, Brooks Brothers, Real Hand, and Never Got Bit By a Bat.
- Matthew McConaughey opens with “Welcome to the zoo, we are the monkeys” and ends with a signature “Just keep livin”.” LONG LIVE MCCONAUGHEY
Next week”s a Thanksgiving hiatus, then we”re back December 5th with America”s sweetheart Ryan Gosling!