SNL Scorecard: Brie Larson, Alicia Keys (May 7)

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©2016/Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC

Overall Assessment

Brie Larson has had quite the year, culminating in her Best Actress Oscar win for her work in the fantastic movie Room. While we have no doubt that she has the acting chops to pull off just about anything, we weren’t so sure how she’d do in the world of sketch comedy. Sure, she’s appeared in comedies before (she had roles in Trainwreck, The LeagueKroll Show, and Community, to name a few), but SNL is a whole other animal.

Turns out, Brie Larson was great! She looked totally at ease and had a kind of natural vibe that made it seem like she was just another cast member, rather than the host. She shone when she was able to be front and center in sketches (like The Cut or Quiz Whiz 2018), although they often gave her more minor roles (like her one line in President Barbie or as the straightwoman to Kate McKinnon in the angel sketch).

This was the third last episode of season 41 and we think that it pretty much encapsulated the mixture of highs and lows that have characterized this season.

Cold Open

Our initial excitement at seeing Dana Carvey reprise his role as the Church Lady was short-lived, as the jokes about the Met Gala attendees failed to land (maybe it was too little too late? Or maybe nobody cares about Madonna’s ass anymore). It was still a nostalgic delight to see Dana Carvey, but they could’ve done so much more.

Church Lady’s first guest on Church Chat was Lucifer in the flesh himself, Ted Cruz. Taran Killam is still far too handsome to play Ted Cruz, but he did his best to project the former presidential candidate’s slimy, superior attitude. Anyway, we expected an epic showdown between Church Lady and Lucifer, but the whole thing was tragically anti-climactic. Church Lady asked Ted Cruz whether it was God’s plan for him to get humiliated by an orange mannequin, and Ted decided to take everyone’s advice and just go to hell.

Then, of course, Darrell Hammond came out as Donald Trump (aka the Tangerine Tornado), along with Melania, Ivanka, and a random model. None of these women did much of anything though, and Darrell’s Trump impression seemed really half-hearted too. Or maybe we’ve just been watching too much of Anthony Atamanuik’s incredible Donald Trump impression that everything else just pales in comparison.

Also, it wasn’t the first time Donald Trump met the Church Lady. Would’ve been fun to reference this somehow:

Monologue 

Well, what the monologue lacked in laughs, it made up for in sentimentality, we guess? In yet another short monologue, Brie Larson announced that she was going to talk about Mother’s Day since she played a mother in Room and her real-life mother was in the front row. We were hoping for a cameo from the utterly adorable Jacob Tremblay (her co-star in Room), but instead we had a string of cameos from the cast’s mothers, including Pete Davidson and Kate McKinnon’s moms.

Unfortunately, this approach was a little bit underwhelming, especially considering they did the same thing last year, but on a much bigger scale, when everybody brought out their mothers to apologize to them for the awful things they did as kids, and which was capped with a video of them as children. Compared to that one, this monologue couldn’t help but be underwhelming and disappointing, no matter how great Kate McKinnon’s mom’s joke was (“Who doesn’t like a good Brie?”) or how adorable Brie Larson’s mother was. Definitely not an auspicious start.

Sketch List 

  1. President Barbie (pre-taped)
  2. Angel/Near-Death Experience
  3. The Cut (Baby Shower)
  4. Game of Thrones – Jon Snow is Super Dead
  5. Quiz Whiz 2018
  6. Discreet Annihilation (pre-taped)
  7. Dead Bopz

Favorite Sketches

There were two stand-out sketches for us tonight. The first was, of course, The Cut. What looked like a fairly standard baby shower sketch quickly morphed into a surreal and terrifying world where mothers are powerless to resist The Cut. You know, the mom cut that looks like a “soft waterfall in the front, but knives in the back”? You don’t choose The Cut, The Cut chooses you, but you can sometimes see it coming. Signs include thinking that bathrooms are oceans, but kitchens are farms and saving gift bags (“There are only 7 bags in this entire county because of women like us. Women with good taste and the foresight to save”). The whole thing escalated to a perfectly predictable but nevertheless hilarious conclusion as Brie Larson shed her long locks and wound up with curtains in the front, Iron Throne in the back.

Much lower key was Quiz Whiz 2018, which, they emphasized repeatedly, took place in 2018. The final question of who came in second in the 2016 Republican candidate race stumped them both. The twist at the end, that Brie Larson’s “Heidi” contestant was actually Heidi Cruz, was a fun way to wrap it up and remind us just how fleeting this whole election season is.

Honorable mention to Jay Pharoah’s Tupac impression in Dead Bopz, which would’ve gone over better if the hologrammed singers were people from the 50s and 60s that the audience at least recognized, and to the President Barbie sketch, which actually had a lot of layers for a commercial parody.

Weekend Update 

Colin Jost and Michael Che had a lot to say about Donald Trump’s status as the presumptive Republican nominee, but somehow it still felt fresh. Jost had most of the good lines tonight, noting that Trump’s nomination “sounds less like a headline and more like the ominous beginning of a Star Wars movie” and that “a taco bowl sounds like what Trump would call a group of Mexicans in a hot tub”. Jost also talked about the fact that he thinks Trump will actually win, in part because people don’t like Hillary Clinton either: “It’s like if you’re in the mood for soup, but the only options are pumpkin corn chowder or Hillary Clinton.”

Vanessa Bayer reprised her role as kid reporter Laura Parsons, who just can’t help but report on adult topics. We always love Vanessa’s theater-kid enthusaiasm, and tonight was no different. When Michael asked her if she knew what the KKK was when she mentioned them in a story, she replied: “My mom says they always wear their sheets so they’re always ready for bed. And they want everyone dead except whites!” And her youthful innocence about STDs was (sorry, we can’t help ourselves) infectious: “Studies have shown that apps like Tindr and Grindr have led to increased cases of STDs… I think STD stands for Seriously Terrible Dates… Because everyone has herpes!”

Sasheer Zamata also stopped by Weekend Update to comment on the reaction to Larry Wilmore calling President Obama the n-word at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner. While her set was occasionally funny (we liked the idea of replacing the n-word with “McGriddle”, especially when Colin asked if he could at least still say McGridda), she just didn’t push it the whole way. She backed off from her metaphor immediately after telling a story about how a guy once yelled at her and her group of friends to “go back to McDonalds”, and never picked it up again and ended up just kind of shrugging off the “controversy” without really making a clear point. If you want to address the controversy about a comedian saying the n-word, and then you say the n-word yourself at the end of your bit, you probably then shouldn’t immediately apologize and ask people to not be mad at you, you know?

And finally, Pete Davidson once again appeared on Update to do one of his rambling sets. He was there to talk about Mother’s Day and actually stuck to the topic this time, excitedly revealing how great his mom was because she was the school nurse and got him out of the scoliosis check and the hearing check, and “when I was 15, she bought be my first pack of condoms and then 5 years later when those expired, she bought me more”. He then talked about how his mom joined Twitter just to fight with people who troll him, and he read out a couple of tweets that his mom allegedly sent. She appeared on camera once again at the end, but it felt a little bit pointless and the whole thing just kind of fizzled out. It wasn’t Pete’s mom’s fault though! She was adorable and said her lines perfectly, we just wish she’d had more of a purpose. As it was, his appearance (and Update) just kind of ended.

Other Funny Lines 

  • Pete Davidson’s mom comes to every show: “I’m his ride”
  • Books of the Bible, according to Donald Trump: Corinthians Part Deux, 2 Genesis 2 Furious
  • Keith would ratchet us into the air in quick 5 foot spurts followed by sudden stops
  • I don’t think I was rolling with the employee of the month
  • I’m full Donald Duckin’ it
  • My angel jammed my soul into my body like it was cramming a carry-on into a crowded overhead bin
  • Trump is “giving the type of weird thumps up that you normally see from a brain damaged boxer”
  • Caitlyn Jenner posing nude on Sports Illustrated makes Colin think “I shouldn’t have gotten my grandpa that subscription”
  • Hillary’s new dog’s name is related to her politics. His name is “Redacted Due to Ongoing Congressional Investigation”
  • A baby in China was born with 31 fingers and toes , “so it’s safe to say, he’s going to be pretty good at math”
  • A man who claimed to be Jesus was arrested for trespassing, but he “plead not guilty to trespassing and also forgave those who trespassed against them”
  • C Trax coming at you, ready to attack you. Kevin.
  • Not my joke guys, I’m just laser beams
  • You can’t mention singing holograms without Tupac showing up

Next Week’s Host and Musical Guest: Drake

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