SNL Scorecard: Drake (May 14)

©2016/Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC

©2016/Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC

Overall Assessment 

This is Drake’s second time as host/musical guest, and for the second time, he proved that he was able to handle both roles with a lot of charisma and energy. Unlike some recent hosts, who appeared in a minimal number of sketches and even then only in the background (we’re thinking of you, Brie Larson and Russell Crowe), Drake was in every single sketch except for the cold open. He even popped up on Weekend Update!

While there wasn’t a single break-out sketch, the episode was overall very solid and we laughed a lot throughout. As this was the second-last episode of what has been an uneven season 41, we hope this means that they’re going out with a bang.

Cold Open

©2016/Dana Edelson/NBC

©2016/Dana Edelson/NBC

The whole “Donald Trump posed as his own spokesperson” thing this week sounded like an SNL sketch, so it was inevitable that it would kick off the cold open. Instead of spending the whole thing with “Joey Pepperoni”, however, Chris Christie (Bobby Moynihan) joined Trump to go over the list of potential Vice Presidential candidates. Bobby’s portrayal of Chris as a suck-uppy yes-man to Trump was perfect as he ran through the string of people who said no to being the VP (“He said not right now, but he will see you in hell”). Trump even rejected Chris Christie’s suggestion of The Boss (“He’s a Democrat.” “HE’S A GOD!”).

When Jay Pharoah’s Ben Carson made his return appearance, though, we may have cheered out loud. Jay was just getting a chance to really develop the extreme weirdness of Ben Carson when Ben dropped out of the race. While we can’t imagine it actually coming true, if Saturday Night Live wants to pretend that it’s going to be a Trump-Carson 2016 ticket, that would be fine by us.

Monologue

We’re just going to come right out and say it — the monologue was not good. We don’t have a problem with musical monologues when the host is a musician, but Drake’s “I’m more than a meme” song was just awkward. The cuts to the memes were too quick to read in some cases, and anyway the song just wasn’t good. Even Drake’s Rihanna impression (which involved him putting on a generic wig) had us cringing instead of laughing. Oh well, the episode ended up overcoming this rocky start.

Sketch List

  1. Premium Rent-A-Car
  2. American Ninja Warrior (pre-taped)
  3. Sexy Kinda Evening with Dennis Walls 
  4. Body of a Baby Guy as Third Party Candidate
  5. Black Jeopardy
  6. Drake’s Beef
  7. Professional Chaperone

Favorite Sketches

Pretty much the only sketches that didn’t work for us on some level were “Sexy Kinda Evening” and the Body of a Baby guy. The “Sexy Kinda Evening” just kind of spun its wheels without really solidifying into anything (although Cecily Strong and Kate McKinnon were funny as the backup singers). And, while we enjoy Beck Bennett in general, we’ve just never loved his body of a baby guy. We admire the physicality of it, but that’s about it.

The rest of the sketches were pretty solid. The American Ninja Warrior sketch relied on slo-motion replay of Bobby crashing spectacularly into one of the water obstacles (and, at one point, trying just to run on top of the water), but that was enough for us. The Professional Chaperone sketch was the last sketch of the night and as such was appropriately weird. His Hulk Hogan-esque character who kept talking about what he would do if he was 15 years younger (or if it was 15 years in the past) was disconcerting, especially since it ended up with him sharing drinks with Osama bin Laden, Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro, and O.J. Simpson.

The Premium Rent-A-Car sketch that kicked off the night worked for us mostly because of Jay Pharoah’s weird pronunciations (“I’m gonna go take an early lernch”) and phrasings (“This whole situation is unbeknownst to me”). He had an easy rapport with Drake, and the whole thing was appealingly absurd.

Black Jeopardy worked especially well for us tonight thanks to Drake’s black Canadian contestant’s use of some really funny Canadian references like Rick Moranis, Jaromir Jagr, and Kardinal Offishall. Bonus points for Kenan’s pointed response to Drake’s frustrated protest that “you can’t just put us all into one category”. Kenan replies: “I’m just gonna go ahead and let you tell that to our police”, which elicited a mixture of gasps and laughter from the crowd. We loved it.

And finally, Drake went against his usual sensitive rapper schtick in the pre-taped “Drake’s Beef” sketch. Maybe referencing his diss-track feud with Meek Mill, Drake was offended by seemingly innocuous things that the SNL cast members did. Getting pissed at Aidy for moving his hat or at Lorne for saying that he was only doing a “good” job was just great humor, as were his constant callbacks to his apparent favorite comedian, Josh Gad.

Here’s his Aidy Bryant diss in full:

Aidy: Hey, anybody using this chair?
Drake: Actually, I was, you bitch
It was for my hat
But you took it from me
Now we never going back
I can never trust you
‘Cause you were rude to my hat
If Josh Gad was here
He woulda made me laugh

Weekend Update 

Colin Jost and Michael Che continue to delight in the easy humor that can be found in the 2016 election season. As Jost excitedly put it at the beginning of Weekend Update: “It’s been a week into Donald Trump’s candidacy and so far, SO good”. And Michael Che figured out just what’s so surreal about Trump’s responses to issues: “It sounds like he’s on the speed round of Family Feud“.

Jost also talked about the absurdity of the bathroom bills, noting “If I’m at a Mexican restaurant, I choose the wrong door 50% of the time” and anyway, “‘Bathroom Bill’ sounds like the perfect name for a restaurant pervert”.

 

Update had three guests again. Kate McKinnon’s starving Russian lady character, Olya Povlatsky, stopped by to talk about Donald Trump’s affection for Vladmir Putin. She also talked about how Trump comes into her village every year in the middle of the night to take a new wife and that last time, she was in second place. She tells Jost that she’s jealous of Melania not because Melania is rich, but because: “I see in her eyes that she is really dead”.

Leslie Jones also came by to talk about how failure is a good thing that can help you grow. She also revealed that she tore her ACL during the ninja sketch from the Russell Crowe episode, which… well we hope she feels like it was worth it. Her appearance was pretty much just typical Leslie Jones fare at this point, but that’s fine with us. Bonus: Leslie’s favorite yoga pose is “Downward facing Colin”.

And finally, Jay Pharoah  reported on a secret rappers meeting about Jay-Z’s response to Beyonce’s Lemonade. As ever, his impressions of rappers like 50 Cent, TI, DMX, Lil Wayne, Will Smith (Jost’s favorite rapper), Nicki Minaj, and Drake were on point. In fact, Jay’s perfect Drake impression was confirmed when Drake came out to insist that he doesn’t sound like that, while, of course, he sounded exactly like that.

Other Funny Lines 

  • Drake: “No, you cannot move in with me if Trump wins”
  • It was almost as if there was absolutely no communication between the brain and his body
  • It’s almost as if his heart is in the right place but his body is absolute junk
  • You know how in America, you say “hey buddy, go to hell”? Well in Russia, we say, “hey buddy, stay put!”
  • “God bless you” “He never has and he never will”
  • My dad didn’t hydrate. He drank scotch. My dad didn’t exercise. He drank scotch.
  • “Wait, so you’re 15 years younger, or it’s 15 years ago?” “Yep!”

Next Week’s Host: Fred Armisen

Next Week’s Musical Guest: Courtney Barnett

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