Megan Thee Stallion gets emotional rapping about her mom on “Anxiety,” can’t keep from laughing during some of the season’s funniest sketches yet as she shows off comedy chops.
It was a rocky start for Megan Thee Stallion, but things settled down quickly and we got the funniest and smartest “Saturday Night Live” of the young season so far.
Not only did Megan really deliver in sketches — with only two of them proving too much for her to keep her composure — but she brought out the best in so many other players on the show, and particularly the minority cast members. Yes, they got more screen-time with her hosting, which is problematic in that it shouldn’t take a Black host, but they also owned their opportunities.
The third new cast member got a chance to introduce themselves, so to speak, to the audience with a “Weekend Update” segment, but this one was a bit of a disaster. The audience was not feeling it and, if we’re honest, neither were we.
Luckily, the rest of the night was much stronger, with “Update” delivering some of its strongest, sharpest and darkest jokes in a long time, some hilarious absurdist moments and a rock-solid and relatable original song.
We know we don’t usually talk about the musical performances, but Megan Thee Stallion really delivered in this respect, as well. Her performance of “Anxiety” is powerful and emotional, with even Megan visible and audibly getting choked up as she raps about her mother. It’s a powerful song already, but this performance created a really special moment that we won’t soon forget.
As usual, we’re ranking all the sketches from worst to first, including the Monologue, Cold Open, “Weekend Update” and any sketches that were cut for time but made their way online. We wrap up with a look at the cast-member who had the strongest week.
As usual, we’re ranking all the sketches from worst to first, including the Monologue, Cold Open, “Weekend Update” and any sketches that were cut for time but made their way online. We’ll skip the musical guests, because they’re not usually funny — unless Ashlee Simpson shows up. We wrap up with a look at the cast-member who had the strongest week.
Monologue: Megan Thee Stallion
Megan basically boasted on herself throughout this monologue, which reminds us of what many rappers do in their music. She’s definitely built an impressive career and life for herself thus far, but we can’t say it made for the most compelling monologue. The few jokes sprinkled throughout, like her British accent, were okay, and we do give her credit for the very real BadBitchesHaveBadDaysToo.com website , inspired by that stunning “Anxiety” track. The site targets mental health in a positive way and we love that, but as a monologue, this fell very, very flat.
It was nice to see that Megan really could deliver with characterization in her first sketch of the night. Unfortunately, this vignette of hospital show scenes where she, Ego Nwodim and Punkie Johnson were disinterested and petty went on a little too long — based on the fact that not all of the vignettes were even remotely funny. Marcello Hernandez missed his cue toward the end, which was a little jarring, but newcomers get a pass for a bit. As for the rest, it was one-note, which made it start to feel predictable and repetitive. We knew how each bit was going to go before it got there, so there were no fun surprises. Even the big reveal at the end was inevitable.
Cold Open: Jan. 6th Final Hearing
“One person is responsible for this insurrection, Donald Trump. And one person will suffer the consequences, me,” says Heidi Thompson’s Liz Cheney. Of course, the conclusion of this committee was that the whole thing was a waste of time, Trump would never come testify and Liz had “some regrets” about her involvement. The best parts of this Cold Open, which did drag on too long, were Chloe Fineman’s Nancy Pelosi and Sarah Sherman’s Chuck Schumer hiding out in the bunker. Both nailed their impressions, with Chuck hilariously inept and focused on food. As for the rest, most of the committee members were useless as they didn’t even come up with distinct personalities for them. At least, James Austin Johnson’s Trump is always good for a laugh with his nonsensical babbling.
We’re genuinely impressed that Heidi Gardner and Chloe Bennett were able to so effectively represent the flat-butt girls with whatever garments and/or techniques they were using to create that unexpected look. It created a fun contrast in the piece to Megan’s obvious assets in this workout sketch. But between Megan cracking and the worst camera work at the top, this did not get off to a great start. It did settle down, and we have to applaud the commitment of Heidi and Chloe. Some of the poses they hit were fascinatingly bizarre, and definitely funny. Wait, should we feel bad for laughing at this one?
A short, sweet and silly PSA about cold single girls who just need some guy’s sweatshirt to wear because it’s only 74 degrees in their apartments. Won’t you do what you can to help them? We’re glad it didn’t go any longer because the premise was very, very thin. This was just perfect, with the little moment between Heidi Gardner and her ex, Devon Walker, confronting her about stealing his sweatshirt. It could have taken the premise a little more absurd, but as a short piece played pretty straight, it was funny enough.
Please Don’t Destroy: Wellness
Mental health and wellness are so important, so please don’t do any of the things the Please Don’t Destroy guys are talking about in this video. What starts as them talking about how great they’re doing and what they’re doing to feel that way quickly exposes it all as fakery and really they’re sliding into the abyss of despair and misery. As always, the camaraderie between the three makes the back-and-forth segments so smooth with such conviction even with the most absurd dialogues. It’s nice to see them back to the simplicity of a conversation in their shared office, as this is where they seem to shine the brightest.
Colin Jost and Michael Che were on fire taking down everyone involved with the January 6 hearing from Trump’s overly aggressive opening line in his 14-page letter to Nancy Pelosi saying she’d be happy to go to prison for punching the former president. They took on Herschel Walker, Mitch McConnell (with one of the funniest “seen here…” jokes they’ve ever done, and Elon Musk solving the Kanye West situation so we can all rest easy now.
Doing a bit about the Texas woman who worried “Hocus Pocus 2” would actually conjure up demons is a no-brainer, but this sketch really didn’t deliver on how obviously funny that could be. The only part that worked was the totally random demon possession that happened halfway through, and its subsequent exorcism. In other words, the straight joke deliveries weren’t working at all, but when we got to nonsense — dare we say it was magic?
Che came out swinging on this segment with a great joke about the candidate who released his own sex tape (“We share a lot of the same positions”) and National No Bra Day (“which I celebrated by not supporting women”). They got in another dig at Spirit Airlines, and some very dark jokes about the “bike bus” concept and the world’s oldest dog passing and Colin’s hair’s “amazing volume.” This is their strongest jokes segment in a long time.
For the third week in a row, a newbie to the cast got a chance to shine, but it didn’t go nearly so well for Devon as it did for Michael and Marcello. His delivery was awkward and he came at a New York crowd with anti-New York content and awkward commentary about how straight guys need to start being more gay to improve their public image. Honestly, none of the material really worked, which was evidenced by the hesitant audience response to him. These segments can be so important to help new cast members connect with audiences, but this one may have backfired.
This one was all in the delivery, and the ladies worked it out. Without spoiling the main conceit of the sketch, because it’s better enjoyed organically, we’ll say that performance was everything on this one. The subtitle section was definitely a highlight, but the best moment was when Andrew Dismukes waded into this show completely out of his depth, still got what he needed, but still managed to blow it in the end by saying the wrong thing. Methan Thee Stallion, Ego Nwodim and Punkie Johnson have shared the stage a lot tonight and it’s clear the three formed a fast bond this week, generating great live chemistry.
Another totally relatable song about being plus ones for a group of friends who are then left alone together. Bowen Yang was on fire as the most awkward of the group, but really he, Ego Nwodim and Megan Thee Stallion were all doing a great job of selling the uncomfortable small talk, misunderstandings and general misery of being left with a couple of strangers. The “that’s crazy” breakdown pretty much summed up how one survives conversations with people you don’t know. There were so many clever little moments, like Megan shutting Ego down when she wanted to join her in the bathroom ahead of her big escape, this one screams instant classic.
Kenan Thompson carried this sketch on his back, though we did appreciate all the way Megan Thee Stallion tried to get him to follow the point of her finger to see the deer. It was all very silly but as it kept going and he kept not seeing it, even as it came right up to the window, the earnestness of his delivery really kept things funny. We even appreciated the injections of normal life talk like him wanting his daughter to have children and worry about her living out in the country. It was a mixture of slice-of-life and absurdist humor by the end, and gave us our first out-loud laughs of the night.
Even though we saw the twist coming the moment Ego Nwodim’s teacher character started lifting up her minority students about their potential in this world, it was still funny watching her learn these were honors students at a Stem school. Suddenly, her comments came across as insulting and even racist. This was probably one of Ego’s strongest performances, playing beautifully off of her students and clearly out of her depth. It’s sketches like this that show us the value of cycling cast members out so those behind them can have the chance to reach their full potential.
It’s still always a little uncomfortable that it seems like it takes a Black host for Black cast members to really step up and lead a show, but it happened again with Punkie Johnson and Devon Walker, and Ego Nwodim getting way more screen-time than they usually do. Even Kenan Thompson seemed more involved.
That said, it was a breakout night for Ego as a lead, and Punkie finally showed up as a supporting player, which is generally where she’s at in her “SNL” career. As for Devon, while his “Update” piece fell completely flat, he proved a great sketch performer over and over on the night, so he’s lucky he was given so many other opportunities to prove himself.
This week was a toss-up between Ego, who really did have her strongest night yet on this show, and Heidi Gardner, who (along with Chloe) is really stepping up as one of the female (and overall) comedic leads of this cast. Heidi brought some strong character work on the night, but we have to give it to Ego.
She killed us as the teacher in the night’s final sketch — which was inexplicably also one of its strongest (we’d have swapped it with “Hot Girl Hospital”) — but she was also strong in the aforementioned Hospital piece and played awkward opposite Bowen Yang to perfection in one of the best musical pieces of this young season.
Add to that her ability to get through to us with a “girl!” and we’re all in! This episode was her Emmy reel for sure. Here’s hoping she continues to get these kinds of opportunities now that everyone has seen just how good she is, as she just about carried this episode on her back.
“Saturday Night Live” returns live October 29 with host and musical guest Jack Harlow.