Our host for tonight is Jonah Hill, appearing in his fourth hosting gig in just twice as many years. When it comes to hosting, Hill is like one of those basketball players who”s around for forever, and is consistently good, but not necessarily an MVP (This is the time where I would mention an actual basketball player if I knew anything about sports, but one doesn”t become a TV recapper by knowing things about sports). Basically, I was a little surprised to see that Hill is only one hosting gig away from joining the elusive five-timer”s club, but as I watched his past episodes in preparation for tonight, I could see why– he”s a good character actor and thus can bring range to the brief roles he gets in sketches, he breaks approximately once an episode but never more, and he always seems genuinely grateful and excited to be there. All in all, he”s a fun presence, and I”m excited to see what he brings to the show tonight.
Cold Open: A CNN recap of the last week in election news includes clips from Trump”s and Clinton”s stump speeches, and interviews with Ted Cruz and Mitt Romney. The Presidential election is moving more and more rapidly (and, depending on who you ask, more and more frighteningly) with each passing week, and sensibly, the writers chose to address several of the past week”s stories, rather than focusing on just one, in a CNN roundup for tonight”s cold open. Acknowledging that things are much less trainwreck-level interesting on the Democrat side these days, the sketch only included a brief cut to Hillary, discussing how she can bring America together, just like she brought “ten black people and one Muslim person together behind me tonight for this speech!” (No Bernie representation in the sketch, though. Could that be because SNL is a tool of the Democratic elite who are choosing to suppress Bernie? More on that coming tomorrow, from my Facebook friends I met at liberal arts college!).
On the Republican side, the focus went to Donald Trump (“everyone loves me: racists, ugly racists, people who didn”t know they were racists”), Ted Cruz (“When I beat someone it hurts because I still wear my big ugly class ring; That”s right– I”m one of those guys”), and finally, a welcome return from Jason Sudeikis as Mitt Romney, with the best line of the sketch: “For the last nine months, I”ve sat down and watched Donald Trump say something every day that was either racist or sexist. And we in the GOP, the party of the great Ronald Reagan, do not say racist and sexist things. We imply them, subtly, over decades and decades of policy.”
It was a cold open that made sense at this point in the election cycle– more of a catch up on recent happenings than any specific plot idea– and with a few stand out lines and Sudeikis”s return, it provided an entertaining opening to the night. A-
Monologue: After a brief sparring with Kyle Mooney, Jonah Hill brings Future onstage, then joins him in a performance of Jumpman in which Hill happily takes over the Drake parts. If you were wondering why exactly Jonah Hill is the host this week, he came prepared to explain: “It”s been a big year for me. I had a starring role in the Hail Caesar trailer. I saw Deadpool opening day.” Yeah, he”s probably just here because the staff seems to like him. But he showed why they keep asking him back with a fun and breezy monologue, starting with a tiff with Kyle Mooney (Mooney: “What”s it like being a movie star? I mean, can you ask one of your friends?” Hill: “That”s really funny, Kyle. I love your videos that you make. They remind me of how much I miss Andy Samberg”), and ending with an impromptu but very voluntary performance by Hill of Drake”s verse on a Future track (“No, you can”t say any of the n words,” Future explained. “No, of course, not, I never say them,” Hill responded. “Even when you”re alone,” Future clairifed. Cue uncomfortable pause from Hill.). Yes, it ended with a musical number, but one that worked a lot more smoothly than anything involving the cast coming out in some sort of ensemble involving a top hat, so I”m not complaining. B+
Racists For Trump: An advertisement for Donald Trump begins like any other campaign ad, showing Americans hard at work discussing why they find Trump the best candidate. But slowly, the people are revealed to be taking part in obscenely racist activities, from the woman at the ironing board lifting up her KKK robes, to the woman printing a page at work pinning it to a board covered in photos labeled “Muslim.” DAMN; right out the gate, SNL. Any takedowns of Trump on the show this season have had a bit of a hypocritical air to them in light of his earlier hosting gig (#neverforget #jkforgetifyoucan #deargodpleaseforget), but tonight was the most viscerally cruel yet. In fact, this season of SNL thus far could serve as a pretty good capsule example of liberal America”s reaction to Trump (namely: “WHAT?!” “This is funny” “This is funny but also pretty scary” “This is terrifying” “ONLY GOD OR HILLARY CAN SAVE US NOW”). Should SNL have been calling out Trump”s racism much earlier– say, before they gave him a hosting gig? Sure. We all should have. But better late and scathing than never at all. A
Fond du Lac Action News: A news report from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin includes information on the potential of the latest snowstorm to cancel the Winter Carnival, the weather woman”s newest purchase of a Lincoln Navigator, and the sports reporter”s inability to watch more than one game this week as he was dealing with his troublemaking son. There was nothing very special about this sketch, and I can see how it might not go down as a favorite, but it worked for me anyway. In the same way I couldn”t help but laugh whenever the recorded phone conversations on Making a Murderer involved Brendan and his mother just repeating the word “Yeah?” up to ten times before saying anything else (I”m sorry, I know it”s a tragic story, but I”m only human, and Wisconsin accents are funny!), this sketch got me in the way that it nailed down the weird repetitive speech patterns of the Midwest. Also, shoutout to Cecily Strong who is a consistently solid performer and held her own in a pretty basic sketch, particularly with her recounting of Wisconsin conversations: “My friend Janet works at Labatt goes to me, ‘There”s gotta be a solution,” I go, ‘Well, what is it?” she goes, ‘I don”t know,” I go, ‘Okay.”” B+
The Champ: A high school wrestler who just beat an undefeated opponent arrives home with his fellow jocks and cheerleaders after what appears to be the perfect day. But when he sits down with his parents to watch the evening news, he finds that the top story is about how the community came together to convince his opponent to let him win, as they all felt bad about what a loser he was. This was one of those sketches that just got bigger and bigger as it went on, which worked really well in some ways and not so great in others. On the more negative side of things, the interviews with the school janitor about how Hill”s character consistently threw away his poop-covered pants and kept a pumpkin with a hole in it in his locker as a girlfriend felt like grossness for grossness” sake. But I will admit to laughing out loud at Vanessa Bayer as Hill”s mom responding to his shock that he was the lead news story: “I know! And that”s nuts, because the neighbors were murdered tonight. . . And a celebrity did it.” “Who?” “Eric McCormack from Will and Grace.” It was all so very specific, which tends to at least elicit laughter from shock, if nothing more. All in all, it was a weird but funny entry into this season”s digital shorts. B