This is one of those shows that makes me remind myself that SNL is a minor miracle and how remarkable it is that everyone can come together every week and make this show happen. Even when a particular show isn’t very good, it’s still amazing what everyone here pulls it off. And, yes, I wrote all of that because this was not a good show. Jonah Hill hosted for his fourth time with nothing in particular to promote (which is good!), but everything felt more slapdash and disorganized than normal: Lines were flubbed, Hill hammed it up a bit too much, an awful monologue set a bad tone for the night, etc. Anyway, let’s just get this over with. Here is today’s Scorecard:
Sketch of the Night
“Weekend Update” (Jost, Che, Strong, Bayer, McKinnon, Pharoah) “Update” has kind of quietly become good again. I’ve seen a lot of glad-handing when Jost and Che talk about how they discovered that taking a looser approach to the mannerisms between them makes “Update” better. Which, yes, is true – but it’s also something that most casual observers of SNL could have told them a long time ago. But, here we are! And it’s a good thing. (And every time Michael Che stares into the camera, I can just feel his face telling me, “I know what you’re thinking about Trump hosting and I’m with you 100 percent. What a joke.”)
I forgot how much I missed a good “Jay Pharoah does a bunch of impressions” segment. It was refreshing. If felt like a flashback to 2010. (My goodness, Jay Pharoah has been on SNL a long time now!) Bayer and McKinnon’s was one of those things that made me laugh more the longer it went on. And Cecily Strong’s (just going to abbreviate it) TGUWYHSACWAAP was good, but seemed to go on a bit too long. But, whatever: I’m just happy “Update” is consistently good again. (Even though no one is really noticing.)
“Voters For Trump Ad” (Killam, Bayer,Moynihan, Bennett) Even though I’m putting it in the “good,” this sketch made me actively angry. Oh, so, now Trump is a presidential candidate that attacks Nazis? But four months ago he was your host? I promise, I’ve tried my best to wipe Trump’s hosting appearance out of my mind. I’ve tried to pretend it’s not “canon.” But, I’m sorry, you don’t get it both ways. You don’t’ get to lecture us about Trump when you invited him in as your guest. Anyway!
“Cold Open: CNN Election Center” (Ensemble) This almost felt like an homage to the current election than any kind of real parody, which is maybe a good idea. When Darrell Hammond’s Donald Trump declared, “I have a big dick,” my immediate reaction was, “Oh, that’s pretty outlandish, good for SNL in finding something to skewer,” before remembering that Trump had pretty much said that. I feel I write this every week, but no parody of this election season can be more bizarre than the real thing, which puts SNL in a tough spot.
“Silver Star Catering” (Hill, Killam, Strong, Bennett, Thompson, Bryant) I think I physically forced myself to like this. As the “10 till 1” sketch, it had been such a dismal night, I wanted to feel some joy. And to Jonah Hill’s credit, he does try to sell the hell out of this sketch. I don’t know. I just don’t know. What was this show?
“Murder Mystery” (Ensemble) I like a good fart joke and all, I guess. This just seemed to have the potential to be an epic fart joke. The kind of fart joke we’d one day all tell our grandchildren about. But, alas, it’s just a normal fart joke.
“Fond Du Lac News” (Strong, Hill, Bryant, Bayer, Killam, Bennett) There was definitely something funny here somewhere, but it maybe needed to be delivered in a more “dry” way. It felt a bit too much like the cast thought it was really funny – Hill started laughing at one point – which sometimes works, but not this time.
“The Champ” (Hill, Thompson, Ensemble) This felt like it was going somewhere, but devolved into just Kenan Thompson doing a stereotypical Hispanic accent.
“School Auction” (Hill, Ensemble) I’m more interested how an idea like this comes up than ever talking about the actual sketch again.
“Inside So Cal Newer One” (Bennett, Mooney, Killam, Hill, Strong, Thompson, Davidson) There’s usually fun innocence here that’s at least sort of appealing. But even as a parody of the whole situation, making this entire thing about “a girl’s boobs” felt a little crass. This felt like something more from SNL circa 1994 than 2016.
“Jonah Hill Monologue” (Hill, Mooney, Pharoah, Future) This is one of the worst monologues in recent history. When “questions are taken from the audience,” it’s always a bad sign, and here they didn’t even have the heart to commit to that, instead letting it devolve into Jonah Hill rapping with Future. Even for the few seconds that this was actually happening, who on Earth was hoping to see that?
Average Score for this Show: 4.80
· 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.