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‘SNL’ Scorecard: Kumail Nanjiani Wants To Teach Racists Some Lessons

Kumail Nanjiani is the perfect kind of SNL host: He really wants to be there. On a night when maybe some of the material wasn’t what it could have been, Nanjiani went out and sold the hell out of it. A good example is the “Hotel Check-In” sketch. The premise is fine, but without a host just going for it, this thing probably feels very, very long. There was something just so optimistic about Nanjiani as host that it made me happy, even as I sat there watching, in bed, with something I can only guess is the flu (which is also why this SNL Scorecard is so late).

I’m starting to have some doubts about Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump. There’s something missing from what made this interesting last season. It’s starting to feel like Baldwin’s Trump really doesn’t have much to say anymore except, “Look at me, I’m Trump! I’m an idiot! Ahhhh!” And I guess that’s fine and all, but that’s certainly not interesting. I get that there’s so much chaos it’s hard to focus in on one thing and it’s easier to just go up there and say, “I’m an idiot! What a mess!” – but there’s starting to feel like a hint of laziness going on here.

And SNL addressed the Harvey Weinstein situation with a full “Film Panel” sketch and numerous “Weekend Update” jokes (there was another indirect sketch that was cut after dress) after getting criticized last week for not mentioning the numerous allegations. During last week’s Gal Gadot show, a Weinstein-themed joke about emojis featured in the “Update” dress rehearsal was cut before the live show. It came back this week. When SNL aired last week, The New York Times story was a day old and, for whatever reason, SNL didn’t feel comfortable addressing it. These stories from courageous women are absolutely horrifying and I think I have to give the benefit of the doubt to comedy writers who want more than one day to come up with something nuanced about such an ugly situation. Michael Che even addressed this during “Update”; it’s a tough topic for a comedy show. (Though, I do think they should have left in the emoji joke last week and I suspect they do, too, because it wound up airing anyway.) And we all saw what happened Sunday night with Al Michaels when a joke isn’t thought through properly.

Here is your late Scorecard:

Sketch of the Night

“Kumail Nanjiani Monologue”: For me, comedians with prepackaged stand-up routines are second only to huge dance productions when it comes to monologues. (Mike Myers’ “I’m hosting” monologue is still my favorite of all time, maybe just for the moment when Myers realizes Tim Meadows is still a cast member before Meadows breaks into song: “Why did I sign a 30-year contract? That’s such a long time. I realize that now.”) But sometimes the stand-up routine will seem out of place. (“I can’t believe I’m hosting SNL! This is so great! I’ve been thinking, what’s the deal with potatoes?”) But Nanjiani’s routine felt right. He’s always had a knack for telling jokes that seem both important and hilarious (this is not an easy combination), but everything about the monologue felt timely as well.

Score: 8.5

Runner Up

“Kellywise”: This was interesting. It almost felt like a do-over of last season’s Kellyanne sketch that used Fatal Attraction, to mixed results. Judging from the reception to that one, I got the sense a lot of people don’t really remember Fatal Attraction that well, so instead of coming off like a parody of a 30-year-old movie, it just came off as “Kellyanne is crazy,” which wasn’t really the point and isn’t an accurate portrayal. But by using It, this hits much closer to the mark of Kellyanne Conway being a manipulative tool used by the Trump administration, one that haunts Anderson Cooper. SNL should have just waited a year for the right movie reference. It’s good they went ahead and just did it over anyway.

Score: 7.9

The Bronze

“Bank Breakers”: Sometimes it’s been a long week and all a person wants in the world is an old-fashioned, well-done game show sketch. I never thought I’d be so in the mood for a game show sketch, but for a few minutes, all I wanted was a game show sketch. And it had some bite, too! And this was also a great example of how Nanjiani’s energy and just wanting to be there can sell a sketch. By the end he seemed legitimately upset he was stealing Cecily Strong’s money bags.

Score: 7.0

Werido of the Night

N/A: There wasn’t anything that weird on this show.

***

Average Overall Score for this Show: 6.56

· Kumail Nanjiani 6.56
· Ryan Gosling 6.45
· Gal Gadot 5.87

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