Each week, Nick Phillips (@Nicckulus) will be reviewing the latest episode of Saturday Night Live! You may recognize the last name… Nick is our very own podcast co-host’s cousin! Check back each week for the latest.
Season 48, Episode 5 – November 5, 2022: Amy Schumer
Amy Schumer is back to host SNL and delivered an excellent episode infused with her boundary-pushing comic sensibilities.
Cold Open (Wait, has the show started!?)
Google “Joe Biden” and start a bubble bath
This week’s cold open featured James Austin Johnson (JAJ) trotting out his superb Joe Biden impression. This was a set-up for an impression carousel that churned out half a dozen rushed appearances. JAJ’s Biden impression and Kenan Thompson’s hilarious take on Tracy Morgan (rub my belly!) saved this otherwise lackluster cold open. Also noteworthy: Marcello Hernandez and Molly Kearney got to deliver their first “Live from New York!” Grade: B-
And Your Host…Amy Schumer
Amy Schumer is comedy royalty with pedigree in sketch work via her own starring vehicle “Inside Amy Schumer” which is back with new episodes via Paramount+. It’s always nice to see a reliably funny host back in Studio 8H. I love when standups host SNL because we get a quick glimpse into some of the material that might make their next special. Here, Schumer was sharp as ever, showing why she’s still one of the biggest names in comedy. She took a second to munch on some low hanging fruit with jokes about the “midterm abortions (elections)” and another about how “Dr. Asperger has Nazi ties (Kanye).” Ultimately, this cold open revealed a “settled down” Amy Schumer. Her strongest material came lovingly at her husband’s expense with equally insightful and hilarious observations about autism and family. Outside of the monologue, Amy was Amy—making great material better and helping elevate lesser sketches. Grade: A
Musical Guest…Steve Lacy
I’m beginning to get the impression that I’m a musical curmudgeon. I went into this episode knowing absolutely nothing about Steven Lacy but being excited that he hoisted a guitar in all his promo photos. I remember thinking to myself, “surely, he will rock out,” only for Lacy to set aside his guitar about a minute into the first song. I’d characterize his music as a mix of soft pop-rock and unsmooth R&B. As a counterbalance to my killjoy opinions on Lacy, I’ll offer my wife’s real-time word-for-word review: “Oh it’s this guy! I know this song! I like this song.” Grade: D
It’s Weekend Update with Colin Jost & Michael Che
Cecily Strong is an absolute treasure. This weekend, we were treated to Cecily’s “Tammy the Trucker” persona as a spiritual sequel to her previous fourth wall breaking “Goober the Clown” guest spot. The basic premise is that Strong uses the guise of a broad caricature to make overt analogies on the topic of abortions and a woman’s right to choose. This time, inflation and the price at the pump smartly served as her angle of entry into the topic. She’s brilliant here as always.
I’m really loving that Weekend Update has pared back guest spots to one in the last couple of episodes. This gives more weight to the sole guest appearance and makes more time for Che and Jost to go off on the headlines.
In this episode, Che served up another pair of groaners that made the audience squirm with his bit about launching Chinese children into space to work on a satellite and another bit about how if the sun can smile, so can you, ladies. His off-color jokes have become his calling card and he continues to find a way to make audiences squirm every week. Jost meanwhile continues to make himself the butt of the joke to great effect. The top update joke this week goes to “What happened to you” as Che wonders how Colin has fallen so far from grace. The gradual evolution of their team dynamic and individual personas has kept the segment fresh during the longest tenure of any host duo.
Weekend Update Grade: A
I enjoyed the “Twitter Content Moderation Council” with JAJ bringing back is spectacular Trump impression that perfectly captures the man’s remarkable ability to spew word salad (or rather his inability to put together a coherent thought). I’m glad to see SNL foregoing splashy cameos and giving these high-profile impressions to the proper cast.
In the funny because it’s true category, the pre-recorded “Ask Your Doctor About COVID” sketch was a solid entry into canon of SNL Commercials.
The top sketch of the night was a toss-up between the previously mentioned COVID sketch and “The Looker”—a spoof on Netflix’s “The Watcher”—in which Amy Schubert’s unhinged mess of a mom is exposed by a peeping tom’s creepily specific messages about a family’s daily activities. I’m going to give top sketch honors to “The Looker” because it marked Shubert’s best work of the night (in an overall strong night).
Other good Sketches included “Jets Tailgate” and “Big Penis Therapy” alongside a slew of middle of the road fare. There weren’t any rancid stinkers tonight, but “Big Dumb Hats” was just OK in my book and “Matza Ball Soup” was fine, but a weak first sketch out of the gate.
SNL has found its groove in season 48. The cast is gelling, featured players are finding their footing, and the massive cast overhaul has largely worked out well for the show. Rumors of SNL’s death are largely exaggerated (aren’t they always).
Overall Episode Grade: Episode MVP: Two weeks in a row, our host shines the brightest—as it should be. That said, Heidi Gardner was everywhere in this episode showcasing her incredible range. She can play it straight and she can pull off wacky character work and everything in between. She’s a pillar of the cast and deserves the MVP honors for this episode.