Saturday Night Live‘s 44th season premiere is, one week later, best remembered for how it began and how it ended. Matt Damon’s inspired performance as then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was apparently enough to make general audiences laugh at the otherwise taxing situation, despite Damon’s problematic public comments about the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements. As for musical guest Kanye West’s pro-Donald Trump speech, which didn’t make it to air since host Adam Driver had already signed the program off, even SNL is still talking about it now.
No, seriously. Both host Awkwafina’s opening monologue and Pete Davidson’s “Weekend Update” segment featured digs at the rapper, who deactivated his Twitter and Instagram accounts on Saturday. West’s notoriety notwithstanding, however, his words and actions may have dominated much of the SNL-driven news this past week, but co-head writers Michael Che, Colin Jost and Kent Sublette apparently tried to steer their writer’s room away from the more obvious jokes and sketches in order to produce something that was wholly new.
It worked, for the most part, as the aforementioned jokes at West’s expense were quickly crowded out by the fact that Awkwafina became only the second Asian woman ever to host SNL in its storied history. Lucy Liu became the first-ever Asian woman to host the program back in 2000, so 18 years later, Awkwafina made sure to highlight this feat in her monologue, which was one of the more memorable sketches and moments from this week’s show.
Awkwafina gives a shout-out to Lucy Liu
While Donald Glover’s monologue five months go came in at nearly five minutes, both Adam Driver and Awkwafina’s opening bits this season have been kept at least a minute shorter. Whether or not this is simply a coincidence or a new effort by the writers to make time for more (or longer) sketches remains to be seen, though it doesn’t detract from the impact of Awkwafina’s monologue this weekend. Aside from taking the first of the night’s many shots at Kanye West, the host also used her moment to thank Lucy Liu, the only other Asian woman to ever host SNL in its 43-year history. “I remember how important that episode was for me,” she said, “and how it totally changed what I thought was possible for an Asian-American woman.”