Maya Rudolph warned during her opening monologue that she would be wearing lots of wigs and doing impressions on Saturday Night Live, and thankfully for us that meant bringing back her Beyonce impression. The former cast member had hosting duties in its latest episode, and thankfully for us that meant a throwback-feeling segment about a very modern concept: Beyonce appearing on the web show Hot Ones to eat some very spicy chicken wings.
The sketch is a throwback to the era in which Rudolph thrived. It’s an absurd concept to begin with: the most famous musician in the world showing up on a show where you eat spicy wings and promote something while answering softball questions. But it’s a sketch that actually critiques not just the thing it’s parodying — an incredibly popular YouTube show — but Beyonce’s notorious attempts to control her image in the media.
Seeing Beyonce struggle with absurdly-named hot wing sauces and curse out the host, played by Mikey Day, is a departure from anything we’ve seen from the actual singer in years. At one point, Rudolph’s Beyonce is so overcome by the heat of the wings that she asked her stylist to take her wig off, put ice cubes in it and put it back on. Her “publicist” then stepped in to refuse to let that happen on camera.
The joke here is, after years of carefully cultivating her image in the public eye, Beyonce would never do anything like this. Or at least we’d never find out about it. Later, realizing just how many more wings she still needs to endure, she has her manager step in to call the whole thing off, with non-disclosure agreements all around to make sure no evidence of it ever happening.
It was great to see Rudolph play a character that’s not Kamala Harris and be free of the political news cycle that brought her back to the SNL stage at various points over the last year. And it was a strong start to an episode that reminded many viewers of the kind of sketch that was more common when Rudolph was a more permanent member of the show’s cast.