By Nick Jordan
The midterm elections, the resignation of now former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and yet another disastrous presidential press conference; the team at S.N.L had plenty to work with this past weekend. And while they used this material well, what was shocking is they also used their host well and their nonpolitical sketches deserved just as much recognition which is not always the case these days.
Host Liev Schrieber, the star of Showtime’s Ray Donovan, himself admitted in his rather lowkey monologue that he was not known as a comedy star and told the same thing to the audience that he would sometimes tell girls on dates to get them more interested in him: “I am a very famous actor, with a great deal of money and a really nice apartment.” In reality, he was selling himself short. But that is part of what made this episode such a pleasant surprise.
Schrieber worked well with the rest of the cast, who themselves appeared more upbeat than usual, possibly due to the election results following the previous week’s episode that stressed the importance of voting. This allowed for some great physical comedy to be brought out. Kate McKinnon, who gave her perennially outside force-cursed Miss Rafferty another go, continued to described her nether regions in the most ridiculous ways possible. At one point she used the close-to-breaking Schreiber as a prop toilet in order to show how she was forced to perform what was referred to as “upper decking” in which the tank is used instead of the bowl. Kyle Mooney and Beck Bennett were bickering brothers in one of the later sketches of the night, complete with oversized Looney Tunes shirts barely covering their underwear as they broke plates on each other’s heads, flung through the living room wall and exposed the hard truth of which of the siblings were actually planned. This sketch especially felt very classic, bringing S.N.L. back to its roots.
To address the chaotic back-and-forth that resulted in CNN reporter Jim Acosta being suspended from the White House and accused of grabbing a White House press intern who in turn was trying to grab his microphone as he attempted to ask the president a question, the show had to do so sans Alec Baldwin who is in the midst of legal troubles following an arrest involving his own assault accusation with another man in a parking lot. They did just fine though, enlisting Cecily Strong to play that aforementioned intern in an appearance on Weekend Update. As anchor Colin Jost attempted to describe the events of said press conference, she stepped in to cut him off with a wide array of maneuvers to avoid the camera such as ducking for cover and doing a cartwheel behind the desk. She even presented her own doctored video of Jost assaulting her, which was as transparent as the video press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders put out supposedly portraying the real events that occurred. Strong appeared to have way more fun playing the intern than the real girl appeared while doing her job. But this part was overshadowed, along with possibly the rest of the show, by an appearance from the newly elected Representative Dan Crenshaw of Texas’ second congressional district. His cameo follows controversy generated by cast member Pete Davidson in which he mocked the then candidate’s eye patch during last week’s episode; Crenshaw fought in the War in Afghanistan where he lost an eye in combat. Crenshaw came for revenge, mocking Davidson’s resemblance to Martin Short’s turn as Jack Frost in The Santa Clause franchise while then claiming Short, a former cast member, was far superior on the show. This was after his ringtone was revealed as being “breathin” by Davidson’s ex-fiancé Ariana Grande. The interaction was playful and showed S.N.L. at its best by handling controversy with humor.
The House Hunters parody felt way too real, getting increasingly more ridiculous as time passed with one house featuring a bathroom filled with sporadic towel racks and literal drawn on windows. Schrieber and cast member Leslie Jones played the typical distressed-but-not-really couple perfectly. Meanwhile, the show’s final sketch of the night, has Schrieber playing Dan, a wannabe talk show host struggling to film a pilot while outside of the woman’s bathroom at a restaurant. This creepy yet oddly charming character was reminiscent of Christopher Walken’s recurring The Continental, yet another callback to sketches of S.N.L.’s past.
Following this year’s midterm election that saw record turnout and a democratic takeover of the House of Representatives, it appears as though the crew at Saturday Night Live was able to breathe a sigh of relief along with many others in the country and take a break from politics. The United States is still as divided as ever, but like it has for the past 44 years, this past weekend’s S.N.L. was able to generate laughs from people regardless of who they voted for and what they believe in.
Nick Jordan is the Opinion Editor for The Comment.