This was a weird show in that even though Melissa McCarthy was the host, and Melissa McCarthy is a host who usually leaves an impact, for whatever reason she kind of felt like she disappeared a bit last night. Maybe this had something to do with Kanye West’s presence? (His sixth time as musical guest.) But even so, McCarthy wasn’t a part of three of the most notable moments from the show: the Beyoncé sketch, the Kanye West rap battle sketch, and “Weekend Update.” And I know McCarthy was promoting The Boss, but all the new Ghostbusters were there last night (at least from what I heard, Kristen Wiig had been seen in 8H this week) and we didn’t get something about that. (Maybe it’s too soon, but that would have been fun.) Anyway, something felt off about most of this show. Let’s get to the Scorecard…
Sketch of the Night
“The Day Beyoncé Turned Black” (Ensemble) What a well done piece of satire. (And I wish SNL could figure out a way to channel this kind of tone into their political coverage.) This is well written, it has a hint of truth, the production values are top notch. This is the reason SNL is smart to be doing prerecorded material.
“Weekend Update” (Jost, Che, Bayer, Miller, Jones, Thompson) “Weekend Update” is doing a great job of responding to up-to-the-minute news, which is a good thing. Look, that sounds like an easy thing to do, but it’s not – especially in a live show where everything is timed out down to the second.
Vanessa Bayer’s Jen Aniston is very, very good. I don’t know what else to add. The best part about Leslie Jones’ interactions with Colin Jost is that they make Jost uncomfortable. From what I understand, Leslie Jones started doing this kind of thing to Jost around the office for fun, and now we get to see it live.
“Whiskers R We” (McKinnon, McCarthy) Here’s Kate McKinnon, Melissa McCarthy and a bunch of cats all laughing and having fun. (Okay, so maybe some of the cats didn’t look like they were having fun. They will get over it.) It’s remarkable how happy Kate McKinnon’s cat sketches make me feel. I can’t help it.
“Kyle vs. Kanye” (Mooney, West) You know what? Why not?
“Test Screening” (McCarthy, Strong, Jones, Davidson) This isn’t a sketch that will make too many “year end” lists or probably even “Top Sketches of the Night” lists, but McCarthy is so good at sketch comedy, she single-handedly turns this into something funny.
“Movie Night” (McCarthy, Moynihan, Davidson) There’s almost nothing going on here, but, you know what? I laughed. I laughed because this is true. Over the holidays, I watched Trainwreck with my mom. Boy, you really don’t notice just how long those sex scenes last until you watch sex scenes with a parent.
“Melissa McCarthy Monologue” (McCarthy, Thompson, Ensemble) Okay, look, I was probably in the minority in that I knew for sure this was McCarthy’s fourth show as I was watching the monologue progress, because it’s my job to know this and I had even double checked — so I kind of was expecting the punchline. Regardless, I do admire that they really went for it.
“Pick-up Artist” (Ensemble) There’s a good idea in here – especially turning the tables on this whole dumb “be rude to women” pick-up artist shtick – but it just didn’t quite land. Maybe it was because the timing seemed a little off. Though, everything about McCarthy choking Kyle Mooney was pretty good stuff.
“Bus” (McCarthy, Jones, Killam, Bennett) This was a good premise, but just kind of fizzled out and became more about “this person is annoying” than where it seemed to be going at first. Though, this is one of those sketches where I’m at least glad they tried it.
“Cold Open: Hillary for President” (McKinnon, Bayer, Killam, Bryant, Mooney, Strong) What a contrast in watching the real GOP debate, then switching to SNL and a sketch about Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush singing a Bonnie Raitt song. (And both McKinnon and Bennett are obviously great. Everyone is great in this, but it’s just not working.) I still don’t have an answer. Watching the GOP debate, how does anyone top that lunacy? If these people weren’t running for president, it would be my favorite television show. But SNL is a live show and it somehow feels about a week behind. I understand the logistics of when these sketches are written and the amount of work that goes into each one and why they can’t immediately respond to every little thing, but with this election, it’s a problem. (Though, “Update” is doing a nice job lately of turning around jokes for events that just happened an hour before.) I still think everyone will figure this out, because that’s what SNL does, but it’s a problem.
Average Score for this Show: 5.79
· 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
· 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.