What a difference a week can make. Despite a strange amount of line flubs, SNL felt alive and fresh last night in ways it hasn’t been able to achieve lately, delivering an episode that, while never quite hilarious, stayed strong from beginning to end.
That beginning was, of course, the usual run-through of last week’s Donald Trump jokes. I normally don’t like these very much, but brevity, anger and a simple setup was on this Trump sketch’s side. And credit where credit is due, “I sit on every chair like it’s a toilet” is a great Trump zinger that I’ve never heard before.
This was followed by a super adorable monologue in which Melissa McCarthy picked a random mom from the audience and offered her a whirlwind tour behind the scenes of SNL. While obviously much smaller in scope, this felt more energetic and exciting than Jimmy Fallon’s recent backstage song and dance number. It wasn’t funny at all, but also wasn’t trying to be and the sweetness made up for it.
The show next jumped right into its prerequisite “Melissa McCarthy does something really gross” sketch, this one a game show that repeatedly slams pies in her face. There wasn’t much to it, but the torturous repetition (for McCarthy, not us) won me over after a while, particularly due to the Keenan “pie!” soundbite used every time McCarthy took one to the face.
This was followed by my favorite sketch of the night, a prerecorded commercial for a version of Amazon Echo specifically designed for elderly people. SNL often takes a funny premise like this and just lets it play out. At its best, however, it’ll seize the opportunity to explore an idea to its full potential. Such was the case here as the elderly folks not only need Alexa loud and willing to answer any variant on its name, but also fail to believe anything it tells them and ultimately is just there to listen to their long, boring stories.
Speaking of long stories, SNL’s Sean Spicer Saga appears to have come to an end. If so, it went out in a spectacular fashion. Not that Spicer’s return was ever in doubt, but they took it in some unexpected directions this time, making up for McCarthy’s unfortunate Easter entry and giving the character a strange form of pathos in the process. You get the idea that Spicer and Trump’s big kiss at the end was intended for an audience of one.
After a pretty good Weekend Update, the rest of the episode went weird with it, particularly the “Mom Animal” sketch which I appreciate for how bizarre it got despite not thinking it was all that funny. The same can be said of a melancholy short film about the marital strife between Kyle Mooney and Leslie Jones.
Not every episode is going to have a slam dunk incredible sketch, but there’s something to be said for ones that remain consistently good throughout. Melissa McCarthy’s fifth time hosting wasn’t exemplary necessarily, but it was definitely one of the better episodes we’ve had in a while and has me looking forward to what the show will do next week, as the Rock closes what’s been a very big, important season for the show.