It’s time to celebrate the moms in this week’s “Saturday Night Live”; always a charming tradition, albeit one that burns screen time that could have been used for, y’know, full-on comedy. Still, it’s more fun to watch the cast’s mothers demonstrate relative comfort with reading cue cards than get another awkward Alec Baldwin-as-Trump political cold open. But how did the rest of the night go? Below, check out our full breakdown of this week’s episode.
Host: Amy Schumer
Like all the best “SNL” hosts, Schumer makes quality moments of comedy because of how game she is; rather than be trapped in a persona, she gleefully throws herself into characters and commits to outrageous concepts. She was even able to take on the role of straight man game show host (Kenan Thompson’s bread and butter for years now) with relative ease; it was a whirlwind night of wigs and weird accents, and she was consistently funny every time.
All that, plus she was given a true vote of confidence by the show in the opening monologue where she utilized her stand-up comedy experience instead of leaning on any sort of gimmick like a musical number (which is often what happens when “SNL” isn’t sure about the talent leading the show that week. So often, in analyzing hosts we end up leaning on whether or not they would fit well into the existing cast, but it doesn’t feel like an exaggeration to say that we almost at times forgot she wasn’t a full-time member.
Best Sketch of The Night: “L’il Rent”
Deriving no shortage of its comedy from how poorly suited the musical “Rent” is for young audiences, this was still a sketch that made great use of the characters, including the use of actual kids mixed with adults playing kids (which somehow really worked). The odd political shift towards the end was actually pretty fun; maybe it’s just easier to hear someone chant “lock her up” when she’s playing a delusional kid?
Worst Sketch of The Night: “New Hulu Show”
There are good ways to do parodies around “The Handmaid’s Tale.” We know this because “SNL” has done it before! But the secret to executing a good parody of such dark material is by acknowledging the underlying issues while not making light of them; lazily mashing up “Sex and the City” with the Emmy-winning Hulu drama is not the right approach. It’s another striking showcase for the women in the cast (who in general all got their chance to shine) but the writing is so cheap and obvious that it’s the worst-case scenario for these sorts of parodies. Also, the costumes were terrible in comparison to last season’s parody. Doesn’t “SNL” have a storage facility to keep those things handy?
Best Female Performer: Kate McKinnon
Let’s be honest: This category is McKinnon’s to lose, every week, as long as she gets the material to wow us. Saturday night she was central to several of the night’s best sketches, from playing a weird cult mom to delving into her signature “Last Call” weirdo. Other members of the cast had good moments, no lying (Heidi Gardner continues to prove her ability to commit to characters with her Weekend Update bit as teen YouTube film critic Bailey Gismert) but McKinnon remains a delight, especially when she sinks into a character like Ebisaleth.
Honorable Mention: Melissa McCarthy as Michael Che’s stepmom — always great to see this all-time great sneak into an episode, and hopefully her proud parenthood remains a part of show canon.
Best Male Performer: Chris Redd
Redd is getting this designation pretty much entirely due to the look on his face as he sweeps an atheist chef off the set of “Gospel Brunch”; Redd has proven his ability to steal scenes in a subtle way since joining the cast of the show, and this week was no exception.
Honorable Mention: Mikey Day really nailed the necessary weirdness of his character in “Mother Knows Best”; it’s not necessarily hard to make Leslie Jones break, but the fact that pairing him with McKinnon accomplished the job easily speaks to their power as a comedy duo. (He also demonstrated fantastic commitment during the “L’il Rent” sketch, as the director who knows how to use find and replace.)
Best Impression: Amy Schumer as a Mom
Given her well-established comedic persona, seeing her lean into the character of “real life mom” so devoutly was fascinating… and also strangely touching. Happy Mother’s Day everyone.