Jerrod Carmichael, cast member Heidi Gardner, and musical guest Gunna preview this week’s episode of SNL in a teaser that’s barely comedy, and certainly not standard English, but frankly… who cares? (Although it’s nice to see you, Heidi—where ya been?) All we want to know is—who’s going to be Will? Who’s Chris? Will they dare to take on Jada?
That’s not to slight Carmichael, a deft, talented standup (he’s plugging the new, Bo Burnham-directed HBO special Rothaniel) and star of the sharply topical 2015-17 sitcom The Carmichael Show. The sitcom had the potential to be an eight-year, 9 p.m. All in the Family-style tentpole for NBC—if it actually knew how or cared to schedule and grow comedies anymore—but instead it was shafted by the network after three irregularly scheduled short summer seasons.
But NBC has done Carmichael a solid by enabling this hosting slot, and the fates have stepped in to provide potentially classic material. How they doth smile upon SNL that Jake Gyllenhaal is next week, and Carmichael could probably do a good Chris Rock!
This kind of Friday morning pre-quarterbacking is going on in all parts of the internet, and it’s an indication that SNL still serves an important place in the culture. Watch it on time delay or in a la carte YouTube snackies if you like, but when crazy shit happens, we still look to the show for satirical catharsis at the end of the week, to help clear our mental decks for another seven days of what will surely be a shitload more. Especially when something borderline-glitching-the-matrix occurs, something like The Slap, which Chris Rock himself said, as of two days ago, he’s “still processing.”
Of course, SNL could avoid the Oscars controversy altogether, which hardly seems possible given the extent of cultural preoccupation, the strangeness of the incident, and its beyond-weird PR evolution. But it’s happened before: SNL punted way too many times during the Trump administration, which is why the show was so unsatisfying in its last few seasons. But SNL’s renovated writing staff has shown a sharper tooth and a squarer punch this season, so our hopes are high that they’ll say what needs to be said about this cultural moment. It’s the show’s job—nay, its obligation.