Some of the best “Saturday Night Live” episodes occur when the host has nothing to promote. (Look no further than Ben Affleck 2008 for irrefutable evidence of this claim). Jonah Hill‘s fourth time as the host on Saturday was no exception. It took a little while for the episode to hit its stride, but that was okay. Hill had nothing to prove, but nevertheless he proved his next “SNL” hosting gig will make him a worthy addition to the proverbial five-timers club. Note: Melissa McCarthy should definitely be a five-timer too. We neglected to mention this in our last recap. Anyway, this is a recap, so let’s get to the recapping!
The cold open, as we’ve established in many of these recaps, has been a political dumping ground during this election year. Again, this episode was no exception. And also no exception, this sketch wasn’t that funny. Sure, we got a Jason Sudeikis cameo, but we need more than that at the top of the show for the real laughs! But let’s blame reality for this predicament.
It’s hard to make fun of something as ridiculous as Donald Trump’s campaign, when he’s talking about the size of his junk in real life. There’s just not much you can do with it! Beck Bennett began as CNN’s Jack Tapper, cutting to Trump at a press conference. And yes, it’s great to see Darrel Hammond in front of the camera again, but in a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction way, reality was funnier than comedy. Though it was kind of funny when he said, “I’ve even got this fat piece of crap behind me,” of Bobby Moynihan‘s Chris Christie.
Kate McKinnon‘s Hillary was awesome as always — of the diverse group behind her at a campaign rally, she said, “they’re strong, they’re beautiful and they’ve all been punched in the nose at a Trump ralley” — but the whole sketch felt more obligatory than exciting. Sudeikis had the only really memorable line. Reprising his Mitt Romney character, he spoke of how Trump is not quite GOP material, saying, “We do not say racist and sexist things. We imply them!”
Hill’s monologue began rooted in humility, talking about how he starred in the trailer for “Hail, Caesar!” but hasn’t been in much else lately. Then he and musical guest Future kicked into “Jumpman,” with Hill taking Drake‘s part, and began hinting that he wanted permission to say the n-word. He didn’t, obviously, but his mic skills were admirable.
And now we arrive at the sketch you’ll be seeing in your feed for the next week. Let’s call it the FeedFiller! (Spread the word! Get this trending! And give me credit for coining it! #SNLFeedFiller!) Anyway, sorry to distract from the best-produced moment of this episode: a short commercial parody of a Trump campaign ad that was extremely on-point. We see everyday Americans unable to explain their favorite candidate’s je ne sais quoi, and we soon learn why they all love him: They are all extreme racists!
Next up was Fond Du Lac Action News, a newscast parody heavy on Wisconsin accents and light on laughs. It wasn’t un-funny. It just wasn’t LOL funny. The main joke was that it’s small-town news. Bennett’s sports anchor character had a few great lines about being “kicked in the D” by his son.
The short film “The Champ” was easily the best sketch of the evening. It began with a bunch of high schoolers in letter jackets driving a red convertible, dropping off Hill’s character at home. McKinnon’s cheerleader character asks if he wants to join the gang for beers, but he declines, and goes inside to see his parents, proud of a victory of some sort. Then he turns on the news, only to learn that he is the biggest loser in school, and as an act of charity, the cool kids let him win the match. Keenan Thompson’s janitor character gets some of the best lines, and Eric McCormack from “Will and Grace” gets a hilarious unlikely shout-out.
Next up was another high school sketch. The set-up here was a community auction at Oak Ridge High that served as a great commentary on how teenagers can occasionally fail to consider the reach of the Internet. A student band called The Emojis has 300,000 hits on YouTube with a song called “I’ve Got a Crush on Kevin,” and parents are bidding on a private performance from the trio. The bids are modest until Hill’s character stands up. He is a Middle Eastern businessman, bidding for a king whose son is a huge fan of the band. The sketch escalated to great effect when Jay Pharoah and Pete Davidson played a duo of Vine heroes calling themselves Dem Boys do Dunx.
Future was up next. Performing “Low Life” with The Weeknd probably wasn’t the best idea, since The Weeknd pretty much stole the show. Actually, Future’s fur hood might have actually stolen the show. Seriously though, has The Weeknd been a musical guest in some capacity on every “SNL” this season? Feels like it. Dude could possibly be doing a sneak attack into the five-timers club!
“Weekend Update” was next, beginning with a double-shot of O.J. Simpson jokes, which has become something of a pastime for Colin Jost and Michael Che. The pair also spent several jokes talking about Trump’s penis size. But the segment’s best bits were short bursts: Che’s “fat Dracula” bit, Jost’s joke about Jared from Subway, and the “News from the Future” that featured Future. Cecily Strong brought back her Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party character, which is always welcome, and Vanessa Bayer and Kate McKinnon‘s had great rapport as an anchor and the world’s oldest woman. Also, Pharoah did amazing impersonations as part of The Black Comedians Meeting. His Chris Rock and Eddie Murphy in particular were uncanny!
In the next sketch, Killam played a detective in a Clue-type whodunit setup. Every character has an alibi for where they were when a murder took place, but Hill’s character is reluctant to disclose where he was. It turns out that he was busy taking a big smelly dump. Killam flubbed his lines and laughed a little, but it was all in good fun. The sketch was reminiscent of John Belushi‘s Incredible Hulk, stinking up the john at a superhero party sketch. So as history proves, potty humor almost always works on “SNL.” This wasn’t as hilarious as Beck Bennett’s “Mitchell’s Fake Cocaine” sketch, but there were a few yuks here and there.
“Insie SoCal” was next, done principally by Bennett and Kyle Mooney. The Good Neighbor bits typically provide irreverence. Here the pair played wannabe ballers with a garage-based talk show. Clad in Hurley gear, they criticized a classmate who is getting a breast reduction, and shined a dim light on Indian food. The sketch was okay, but not quite as good as Mooney’s “Chris for Class President” bit.
The final sketch of the evening involved Hill as a pissed-off employee of Silver Star Catering. If you find yourself in catered business meetings with any frequency, you will think of this sketch the next time you have to sit through one. Hill’s Toby character delivered reports to his boss that everything was “absolutely munched!” and proceeded to escalate his metaphors to increasingly violent sexual assaults. I know, it doesn’t sound funny on paper, but he made it work.
Finally, Future performed a blistering version of “March Madness.” Dude should have done that first, so that he could postpone The Weeknd stealing his thunder!