This is why it’s almost impossible to prognosticate SNL hosts: Who would have ever guessed Jonah Hill’s fourth time as host would be such a dud and Ariana Grande would turn out to be the next Rich Little? (Okay, maybe we can still prognosticate if the host is either an athlete or Justin Bieber, because one is usually bad and the other is always bad.) Also, is Larry David a cast member now? At this point, why not just add him to the cast for the rest of the season? Anyway, what a hoot. Here’s today’s Scorecard:
Sketch of the Night
“Kids’ Choice Awards” (Grande, Killam, Bayer, Moynihan) After watching months of recent award shows along with the pre-award show shows – and seeing this very type of intro over and over and over – I am convinced this sketch is brilliant. And all the hosts do it! That cheeky, “and it starts … right … nooooooooow!” I have always wondered what it would look like if the show didn’t start … right … noooooooooow. And now I have my answer.
“Mermaids” (McKinnon, Grande, Killam, Bennett, Moynihan, Strong) I hope Kate McKinnon’s 35 percent woman, 65 percent blob fish gets her own weekly television series.
“Sound of Music” (Ensemble) This is one of those sketches that just hits that sweet spot I enjoy so much: A great example of sketch comedy that would have worked 30 years ago as well as it worked today. When you think of just how many sketches have been performed on SNL over the last 41 years, it’s still remarkable that something this good and this non-dependent on a current cultural reference can still be written.
“Cold Open: Carson Endorsement” (Hammond, Pharoah, Bennett, David) This was SNL’s best political sketch of the season, mainly because they came up with a way to have Hammond’s Trump do something that the real Trump has yet to do: scold his crowd for attacking Ben Carson by saying “not this one.” It’s unsettling because we know just how close to the truth it actually is. Anyway, SNL might have finally cracked how to portray Trump. Also: I love that Larry David made an entire episode of Seinfeld surrounding the 10 cent deposit rate for Michigan bottles, then brings the joke back 20 years later.
“Hillary Campaign Ad” (McKinnon) SNL’s political game was really on last night, taking aim at both sides of the aisle. And here, as Clinton slowly transforms into Bernie Sanders, McKinnon does a nice job of hitting at one of Clinton’s biggest weakness: Her (at least perceived) willingness to be anything you want her to be.
“Weekend Update” (Jost, Che, Strong, Moynihan) I will admit, I laughed way too hard at Jost’s “Mitt Romney is turning 69, it’s a sin” joke. His delivery was just so innocently sincere. This is why Jost is doing better: He’s dropped the “try to sound like Seth Meyers” and and has found his own voice. I don’t watch The Bachelor, so I will just assume Strong’s segment was accurate? It seems like it’s accurate? And Moynihan’s multiple Riblets was kind of a dream come true for me, so there’s that.
“This Is Not a Feminist Song” (McKinnon, Bryant, Zamata, Grande, Jones, Bayer, Bennett) This is clever. It’s maybe not as “rollicking” as some of the similar collaborations on a pure guffaw level, but again, this is very clever.
“Tidal” (Thompson, Grande, Moynihan, Pharoah, Zamata) Sure, this was just an excuse to show off the fact Ariana Grande can do a few mean musical impressions – Bruno Mars was basically in the exact same sketch – but she really can pull off some mean musical impressions.
“Ariana Grande Monologue” (Grande, Thompson, Strong, Davidson) I think the goal of this monologue was just for Grande to win the crowd over in a “I will be better at this than most pop stars” kind of way and she succeeded.
“Family Feud” (Ensemble) This was way too hit or miss: I’m not sure the world needed another Martin Scorsese or Woody Allen impression. Though, Taran Killam’s Tarantino was pretty wonderful. Also, Ariana Grande’s Jennifer Lawrence was great and Jay Pharoah’s Idris Elba was pretty much perfect and I wished we had gotten more of McKinnon’s Tilda Swinton.
Average Score for this Show: 7.21
· Ariana Grande 7.21
· Tracy Morgan 7.12
· Larry David 7.08
· Elizabeth Banks 6.98
· Amy Schumer 6.53
· Chris Hemsworth 6.35
· Ryan Gosling 6.07
· Adam Driver 5.98
· Tina Fey and Amy Poehler 5.90
· Melissa McCarthy 5.79
· Matthew McConaughey 5.78
· Miley Cyrus 5.41
· Ronda Rousey 5.09
· Jonah Hill 4.80
· Donald Trump 4.48
Mike Ryan lives in New York City and has written for The Huffington Post, Wired, Vanity Fair and New York magazine. He is senior entertainment writer at Uproxx. You can contact him directly on Twitter.