‘Saturday Night Live’ Review: The Best and Worst of Oscar Isaac’s Hosting Debut

This week saw Oscar Isaac — promoting his upcoming MCU series, “Moon Knight” — make his “SNL” hosting debut.
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- “Oscar Isaac, Charli XCX” Episode 1819 -- Pictured: Host Oscar Isaac during the monologue on Saturday, March 5, 2022 -- (Photo by: Will Heath/NBC)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- “Oscar Isaac, Charli XCX” Episode 1819 -- Pictured: Host Oscar Isaac during the monologue on Saturday, March 5, 2022 -- (Photo by: Will Heath/NBC)
Will Heath/NBC

Another week, another first-time host in “Saturday Night Live’s” rather fresh 47th season. After focusing on the Five Timers Club with John Mulaney’s hosting return last week, this week saw Oscar Isaac — promoting his upcoming MCU series, “Moon Knight” — make his “SNL” hosting debut.

Host: Oscar Isaac

Isaac’s opening monologue honestly provided the ethos for the entire episode: “It’s important to encourage kids to be weirdos.” As the episode went on, it was clear that it was equally important to encourage adults to be weirdos, and Isaac (as well as the “SNL” cast) was more than up for the task. The earnestness of host monologues has been a highlight of the predominantly first-timers nature of this season, and Isaac’s monologue featuring his home movie footage really set the tone for this episode. Isaac essentially approached every sketch this week with the commitment that he did “The Avenger” at age 10.

The “Paw Patrol” sketch allowed the audience to know right away just how much commitment Isaac would put into every sketch, from accent work to character tics. It was also a very specific sketch — especially to start off with — that managed to work even without the knowledge of the actual “Paw Patrol” series. The sketch managed to take characters who would typically be the joke — the outraged councilman (Isaac) and the concerned citizens (Kate McKinnon’s character would typically be a “Karen”) — and portray them as the sane people in a crazy, crazy world with a mayor (Ego Nwodim) who needed to be stopped immediately. The twist that Isaac’s councilman was also the mayor’s husband made it even funnier, as the sketch worked on its own already with its premise and execution.

As Aidy Bryant once did with Cardi B (and then Lizzo), Chloe Fineman managed to gain inspiration to become a “boss ass bitch” by watching Netflix’s “Inventing Anna.” It’s hard to fail with pre-tapes set behind-the-scenes at 30 Rock. “Inventing Chloe” was a nice reminder of Fineman’s exceptional impression work, as well as a much more streamlined version of “Inventing Anna.” (Not a journalist in sight!)

The only missed opportunity to come from this sketch was that Fineman didn’t take Michael Che’s place on this week’s Weekend Update for even a second.

“He didn’t mean THAT ‘n-word.’ He meant ‘nice.’”

“Workplace Harassment Seminar” is a sketch that pretty much collapses into itself the more you think about its conclusion — from the “It Could Be Worse” reveal to the “Kevin!” twist — but there’s a reason why it’s the sketch where everyone was the closest to breaking. It’s a shame the duo of Isaac and Cecily Strong weren’t all over this episode, because their back and forth in this sketch really worked, especially with everyone else as the straight men to these weirdos who kept saying “raw intercourse.”

Best Sketches of The Night: “Meatballs” & “Aidy’s Dream”

“Meatballs” is a sketch that people most likely either loved or hated — or had nightmares based off. That the sketch started as a bait and switch, suggesting that it was going to be an homage to “The Girl with the Green Ribbon,” only to be… this? It’s hard not to appreciate the truly bizarre swing. This is exactly the type of weirdness people expected when Sarah Sherman (aka Sarah Squirm) got cast on “SNL” — or at least the type of weirdness people expected “SNL” to stifle with her — and this season has consistently shown that she’s doing just fine here.

But again, it’s totally understandable if anyone actually considered it the worst sketch of the night. The woman had contagious singing meatballs all over her body. That’s weird.

“Hey you, get your fat ass on my lap, bitch.”

The combination of pre-tape and live really worked for this sketch, especially when the former was only expected for the introduction. The bit of Bryant getting to write her own sketch as a reward for playing her 150th “sweet, nurturing woman” — a role she then played again in “Fiction Workshop” — is a solid one, but the best bit is just how transparent the sketch itself is. And the thing about the sketch is, one can only hope that “The Sexual Woman” does become a recurring character Bryant plays.

Worst Sketch of The Night: “Home Repair Show” & “Fiction Workshop”

Neither “Home Repair Show” nor “Fiction Workshop” were bad sketches — they were just the weaker ones of the episode. “Home Repair Show” had an interesting weirdness to it, but it was never that funny. It couldn’t really maintain the awkwardness that it started with, with Kyle Mooney’s character; then it tried something else with the introduction of Nwodim as Thompson’s wife. It was difficult to pin down what Thompson’s deal was in the sketch, from his “tools” to his hot dogs on ice to his refusal to believe his son (Chris Redd) was really allergic to peanuts. (By the way, the reveal that Thompson’s tools were just chocolate bars that looked like tools had major “It’s Cooking with Randy & Mandy” vibes.)

“Fiction Workshop,” on the other hand, was a 10-to-1 sketch, so it was also going to be really hit or miss. Once the realization that “The Apogee of Midnight” would be self-insert fanfiction came, the sketch was on a pretty straight and narrow course — the exact opposite of a sketch like “Meatballs.”

Best Male Performer: Kenan Thompson

“Home Repair Show” actually was rather important in one way: It marked Thompson’s 1,500th “SNL” sketch. Thompson has consistently been a star and MVP of “SNL,” and this episode was no different.

Best Female Performer: Aidy Bryant

Bryant is also possibly the smartest performer, after “Aidy’s Dream.”

Final Thoughts

A strong episode with a strong host — with a solid bit of weird sketches — this week’s “SNL” only really faltered when it came to the cold open (unsurprisingly) and Weekend Update (a little more surprisingly). With the former, at this point, it kind of “is what it is” with “SNL” and their long-winded political cold opens. That’s why the monologues should be considered the true start of the episodes more than the cold opens should — otherwise, “SNL” would almost always start off on a bad foot at this point.

For the latter, while last week’s episode ended up being “Oops, All Jokes,” this week’s brought back features… and both were kind of underwhelming. Kate McKinnon as herself, talking about Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, honestly lacked the expected bite. (Compare it to Strong’s “clown” feature.) And Nwodim’s “Weary Mother in Her Darkest Hour” had an angle in the pregnant Rihanna stuff but not exactly a strong angle. Neither feature felt as interested in the topic as one would expect. And in an episode where Oscar Isaac truly committed to everything, it really stuck out.

Grade: B+

Daily Headlines
Daily Headlines covering Film, TV and more.

By subscribing, I agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

PMC Logo
IndieWire is a part of Penske Media Corporation. © 2023 IndieWire Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved.