Sometimes “Saturday Night Live” mocks the news, and sometimes it makes the news.
Under normal circumstances, the biggest question heading into this weekend’s episode of “S.N.L.” — its first new broadcast in three weeks — might be how it would address the fraught final days of the 2018 midterm campaign. But this was no normal week, and these current events were overshadowed by some very visible developments in the off-camera lives of one of the show’s cast members, and a frequent guest.
There’s the ongoing fallout from the breakup of Pete Davidson and his pop star ex-fiancée, Ariana Grande, which Davidson poked fun at in a recent “S.N.L.” commercial. (Looking past Jonah Hill, this week’s host, Davidson turned to Maggie Rogers, the musical guest, and asked, “You want to get married?” She answered, “No.”) That seemed to prompt some scathing tweets from Grande, who wrote to an unnamed subject: “for somebody who claims to hate relevancy u sure love clinging to it huh.” (Shortly before the broadcast, she also released a new song called “thank u, next.”)
There was also Friday’s arrest of Alec Baldwin, the show’s longtime special guest and resident impersonator of President Trump, after a dispute over a parking space near his Manhattan residence. Police officers responded to a 911 call following an altercation between Baldwin and another driver. The other driver, who was not identified, was taken to a hospital and treated for an injury to his jaw, and Baldwin was given a summons for misdemeanor assault and harassment. (“The assertion that I punched anyone over a parking spot is false,” Baldwin later wrote on one of his Twitter accounts.)
Would “S.N.L” address these incidents on the show? Well, sort of.
Baldwin did not appear in this episode, but his arrest was briefly acknowledged in the show’s cold open, which parodied Laura Ingraham’s Fox News program, “The Ingraham Angle.”
Kate McKinnon, as Ingraham, said she was appearing “live from the Arizona border where a vicious caravan of dozens, maybe millions, of illegal immigrants is headed straight for you and your grandchildren.” She added: “Of course the liberal media is trying to label President Trump a racist. But except for his words and his actions throughout his life, how is he racist?”
Cecily Strong appeared as Jeanine Pirro, who said that the caravan contained “Guatemalans, Mexicans, ISIS, the Menendez brothers, the 1990 Detroit Pistons, Thanos and several Babadooks.”
Kenan Thompson, as David A. Clarke, the former Milwaukee County sheriff, warned, “The caravan is only 800 miles from our border. If these immigrants walk at a normal pace of 300 miles a day, they could be here in time to vote on Election Day.”
Finally, McKinnon advised her viewers: “When we come back, an update from disgraced former actor Alec Baldwin, seen here molesting a young Boy Scout.” The screen showed an image of Baldwin and Adam Sandler playing his “Canteen Boy” character in an “S.N.L.” sketch from 1994.
In other memorable moments from the show:
Opening Monologue of the Week
Hill, who was hosting “S.N.L.” for his fifth time, marked the occasion in his opening monologue by having Tina Fey induct him into the show’s mythical Five Timers Club. There, Hill was introduced to other longstanding hosts Drew Barrymore and Candice Bergen. (“Welcome to the Five Timers Club, Seth,” Bergen told him. “Oh no,” he answered. “I’m not Seth Rogen — I’m actually Jonah Hill.” Bergen, “And that’s not the same guy?”)
But when Hill wondered why there were no other men in attendance, Fey told him, “Oh, the guys? Yeah, no, they’re not allowed in right now because it turns out they’re all a bunch of horny perverts. Time’s up on that.”
As Fey explained, “Steve Martin was always like, ‘Mind if I play the banjo?’ And then he’d just start playing. Like, no consent.”
Bergen added, “Justin Timberlake ripped a lady’s top off at the Super Bowl. I mean, did anybody else see that?”
When Bergen asked for a refresher on her drink, which she called a “Pete Davidson,” she couldn’t quite identify its contents. “All I know is, it’s got a lot going on but it gets the job done,” she said.
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Political Advertisement of the Week
A filmed segment opened on Heidi Gardner, playing a seemingly typical Democratic voter. “There’s a blue wave on the horizon, and I’ve never felt more confident,” she announced, her voice cracking and her hand trembling as she struggled to give a thumb’s up.
Cut to another voter played by Beck Bennett, who declared, “The Democrats are taking back the House. It’s a win we need, and a win we’re going to get, I’m sure of it.” So saying, he squeezed his coffee cup until it burst.
Yet another voter, played by McKinnon, said assuredly, “This one’s in the bag.” Then she drank a healthy swig of bourbon from a flower vase.
Weekend Update Jokes of the Week
From the “Weekend Update” desk, co-anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che continued to riff on the topic of the migrant caravan.
President Trump announced that he will deploy more than 15,000 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to stop a migrant caravan from entering the country. Meanwhile, a second migrant caravan just pulled up to landscape Mar-a-Lago. They’re calling this mission to the border Operation Faithful Patriot, which sounds like a company that sells reverse mortgages and catheters.
You know who’s getting off way too easy in all of this, is Canada. There’s two borders on this country, but they’re only stopping Mexicans. Meanwhile, do you know how easy it is to get to this country from white-ass Canada? I bet Drake just uses a Tim Horton’s card. Old white people have the strangest fears. I mean, of all the things that should scare them — salt, stairs, bathtubs, Joel Osteen — why are you freaking out about Mexicans? If anything, you need to send the troops to stop your grandkids from stealing all your pain pills.
Che also joked about voter apathy in the midterm elections:
The midterms are Tuesday and this election will probably come down to people who never vote. Like me. Personally, I’m saving myself for someone special. I just don’t think everybody’s vote should count the same. There’s no way my vote should count as much as Obama’s. If two doctors disagree on a diagnosis, they don’t turn to the janitor and say, “Do you want to break this tie, Carl?” I am going to vote this time, though, because people tell me this is the most important one. Then again, they said that the last time. It’s like getting a bill that says final notice. It’s never the final notice. If it were, you’d be like, “Good, I guess I just went to college for free, then, [expletive].”
[Catch up on the week in pop culture here.]
Pete Davidson Bit of the Week
Invariably, Davidson returned to the “Weekend Update” desk, where he started by saying, “So the midterm elections are obviously a huge deal, and after I had to move back in with my mom, I started paying attention to them. And I realized there are some really gross people running for office this year.”
He made fun of various political hopefuls like the Republican congressman Peter King (He looks like “if a cigar came to life”) and Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic governor of New York (“He looks like a guy that’s sleeping with your mom, but stays overnight and eats breakfast with you in his boxers”).
Davidson added, “I shouldn’t be making fun of how anyone looks. I look like I make vape juice in a bathtub. I look like a Dr. Seuss character went to prison.”
Another candidate that Davidson singled out was Dan Crenshaw, a Texas Republican running for Congress. He is a former Navy SEAL who was injured by an I.E.D. in Afghanistan and lost his right eye. Davidson said, “You may be surprised to hear he’s a congressional candidate from Texas and not a hit man in a porno movie. I’m sorry, I know he lost his eye in war or whatever.”
On Sunday, Davidson’s remarks about Crenshaw were widely criticized. The National Republican Congressional Committee said in a statement, “Getting dumped by your pop star girlfriend is no excuse for lashing out at a decorated war hero who lost his eye serving his country. Pete Davidson and NBC should immediately apologize to Dan, and to the millions of veterans and military families who tune in every weekend — because they’re not laughing.”
On “Weekend Update,” Davidson ended by addressing the elephant in the room:
The last thing I will say, is: I know some of you are curious about the breakup. But the truth is, it’s nobody’s business. And sometimes things just don’t work out, and that’s O.K. She’s a wonderful, strong person and I genuinely wish her all the happiness in the world. Now please, go vote on Tuesday.
Sleep Aid of the Week
In what began like a typical pharmaceutical ad, a narrator said, “When the workday you’ve had threatens to ruin the night’s sleep you want, you need something that works. There’s only one over-the-counter sleep aid that answers the question, how do you sleep at night?”
The answer? “It’s HuckaPM, the only sleep medication strong enough for Sarah Huckabee Sanders.”
Aidy Bryant, playing the White House press secretary, explained, “People are always asking me, how do you sleep at night? In fact, they scream it at me all day long.” She sampled the medication on a couple of occasions, crashing to the ground each time.
The narrator returned to say that the drug contained “melatonin, extra strength quaaludes and what Michael Jackson’s doctor called ‘One-and-dones.’”
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