LIVE FROM NEW YORK IT’S… Just a Dracula Born and Raised in South Detroit

A.J. Tierney ‘20/ TV Section Contributor

Quote of the Night

“I’m the one who’s got all the heavy hitters supporting me… I’ve got Sarah Palin, I’ve got Chachi, and get this – I’ve even got the best Baldwin brother: Stephen Baldwin”

– Donald Trump (Alec Baldwin)

Political Sketch

At this point, Saturday Night Live is basically just recreating the actual debates. It’s more political comedy than political satire. While the cold open sketches are humorous, this election writes itself. The writers’ approach is one-dimensional and fails to branch out from their typical, safe routine. It would be great to see them embrace the bolder approach we’ve seen from Che and Jost in Weekend Update.

Highlights of the Political Cold Open

“Tonight is going to be a lot like the third Lord of the Rings movie. You don’t really wanna watch but hey, you’ve come this far.” –Chris Wallace (Tom Hanks)

“What two people would be better to talk about women’s issues?  Me, a woman who has had a child and taken birth control and him, a man who is a child and whose face is birth control. ” –Hillary Clinton (Kate Mckinnon)

“Let me just make sure I’ve said everything I wanted to say, ” (Holds up a notecard that says, ‘Nasty Woman’ and ‘Bad Hombre’) “ Yeah. I’m good. ” –Donald Trump (Alec Baldwin)

Host/ Tom Hanks

This was Hank’s 9th time hosting SNL, so, naturally, he is a seasoned pro at the opening monologue. A magazine cover recently called him, “America’s Dad” so naturally, he gives the country a fatherly pep talk. The monologue was clever and left the audience psyched for what followed.

Monologue Highlights

“You have noticed your complexion is changing. You’re getting a little darker and you’re freaking out about it. But that’s natural for a nation of immigrants like yourself.”

“Also, you’re a lot gayer than you used to be. And that is cool. That is trill. It’s fleek.”

“People don’t understand how hard it is to be you. I mean, you’ve got a summer birthday. That’s always tough.”

Lady Gaga. Photo Credit: Will Heath/NBC
Lady Gaga. Photo Credit: Will Heath/NBC

Musical Guest/ Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga commanded the SNL stage with the songs “A-Yo” and “ Million Reasons” from her new album “Joanne.” Her voice was raw, powerful and consistently on key, which is more than you can say for many live performances. This season’s musical guests seem to have a higher caliber of performance than those of seasons past. Lady Gaga followed Bruno Mars’ lead by using technical spectacle and high-energy to captivate the audience. Her fierce performance was a complete success.

Weekend Update

Once again, Jost and Che began the parody news by addressing “American Horror Story: Debate.” Jost compared the finale debate to a Connecticut Thanksgiving: “Everyone was dressed up nice, they were polite for about thirty minutes, then your uncle had a drink, your aunt mentioned abortion, and your uncle threatened to burn the house down. “ Che followed by commenting that many would like Hillary more if she didn’t “get rid of 33,000 emails like she was Lorraine Bracco flushing coke at the end of Goodfellas.” They went on to compare the media to the one sober girl at a party who has to stop America from going home with the “scuzzy orange dude.” The segment also features fan-favorites Leslie Jones and That Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party (Cecily Strong).

Best quote of the Segment:

“He (Trump) is like Kramer. He’s high-energy, his plans are insane, and it’s only a matter of time before he shouts the “N-word” on stage.” –Colin Jost

Best Sketch of the Night: Black Jeopardy

SNL has done every parody of jeopardy imaginable. At this point, the idea seems a bit overdone. However, the writers surpassed expectations by revamping Black Jeopardy with Tom Hanks as a Trump supporter named Doug. Doug competes against Keeley ( Sasheer Zamata) and Shanice (Leslie Jones) while Kenan Thompson acts as host, Darnell Hayes. Everyone believes Doug will lose horribly, however it turns out Trump supporters have more in common with black people than you’d think.

Some of Doug’s answers include:

(They out here saying the new iPhone wants your thumbprint for your protection.)

“What is: I don’t think so. That’s how they get you.”

(They out here saying that every vote matters. )

“What is: Come on, they already decided who wins even before it happens.”

(Big Girls for 200. Skinny women can do this for you.)

“What is: Not a damn thing.”

The chummy atmosphere disperses once the final category is announced: Lives That Matter. Thompson’s host says, “Well, that was fun while it lasted.” This sketch was hilarious and interesting. Finding the similarities between black people and Trump supporters is such an original, thought-provoking idea. In addition, Tom Hanks nails the character of the southern, Trump supporter. He wisely refrains from stealing the show with what could have been a larger-than-life character, proving that less is definitely more in this case. Hank’s portrayal was freakishly accurate and hilarious, making this sketch one for the books.

Honorable Mention: Broken

This week’s video sketch is a CBS commercial for the new comedy that fans are calling, “This is a drama.” The show, Broken, is about a family of professors who are “all diagnosed with depression on the same day.” But because it’s 30 minutes, it’s a comedy. The skit is a clever satire of shows that are nominated for awards in the “Comedy” category. (ie: Orange is the New Black and Transparent)

Tom Hanks hosts Saturday Night Live. Photo Credit: Will Heath/NBC
Tom Hanks hosts Saturday Night Live. Photo Credit: Will Heath/NBC

Worst Sketch of the Night: American Airlines

This sketch is about Captain Sully (Tom Hanks), the man who is responsible for the Miracle on the Hudson. In it, Alec Baldwin plays the head pilot while Sully is his second in command. The basic concept: Sully is arrogant and has to always be in charge. The sketch is mildly funny but only plays off one joke. It also lasts way too long. It simply can’t compete with the high caliber sketches in this week’s episode.

MVP of the Night: Leslie Jones

Host Tom hanks was a close second, however, Leslie Jones was this week’s MVP. Jones mesmerized audiences on Weekend Update from the moment she began flirting with Colin (calling him “Honey bunches of Jost”) to ending with a beautiful message. She spoke about being hacked and having her nude photos released. She says this is nothing because, “I don’t know if ya’ll know this about me, but I ain’t shy.” She goes on to say she’s an open book:

“I keep my porn in a folder labeled ‘Porn.’ If you wanna see Leslie Jones naked, just ask.”

In order to embarrass her, you have to try harder. Finally, she leaves viewers with poignant advice: “The only person that can hack me is me.”  Jones’ Update segments are always funny but this one was particularly hilarious. It also had a touching message that resonated with many viewers.


Saturday Night Live clearly struggled last week. Many of their sketch concepts didn’t land. However, this week was a complete about-face. The show kept a consistent stride from the cold open to the final sketch. Even the silly ideas like Tom Hanks as a goofy man named David S. Pumpkin or a family that creates a Halloween song to the tune of “Don’t Stop Believing”, were executed perfectly. Another highlight of the night was the video sketch, “A Girl’s Halloween.” The skit flashes back and forth between three girls getting ready for Halloween festivities, and the girls drunk on the street at 4am the next morning. Was it the funniest SNL has ever been? No. But it also didn’t give the viewers second-hand embarrassment, which is an improvement from last week. Tom Hanks and Lady Gaga definitely helped SNL bounce back from their rough episode last week. Hopefully the November 5th episode with host Benedict Cumberbatch and musical guest Solange will be just as well-executed.

Episode Grade: B+


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