On the cusp of his directorial debut for Creed III, Saturday Night Live welcomed Michael B. Jordan as a first-time host. Jordan stands as one of the most talented actors of his generation and a modern movie star that he channeled into sketch comedy success. Following last week with a comedic host like Aubrey Plaza might have been difficult for some, but Jordan handled the pressure with aplomb. From sketch to sketch, Jordan exuded ‘it’ factor even when it was clear that he was not working with the best material.
The best sketch of the night
Humor and fear go hand-in-hand in some of SNL’s best sketches. This season’s “Horror Movie Trailer” about the upcoming Presidential Election or the decade-old “Wes Anderson Horror Trailer” utilized horror movie tropes for laughs. This week “Jake from State Farm” twisted the idea with a commercial parody about the dark side of corporate spokespeople. It was a hilarious take on the home invasion theme by having an insurance representative become an external threat to the home. Jordan transformed from charming to sinister with ease and Mikey Day captured the paranoia of a man fearful of being replaced superbly. Rooted in psychological thrillers like The Hand that Rocks the Cradle or Poison Ivy, “Jake from State Farm,” could become a recurring series or introduce more threatening spokespeople like the Verizon Guy or Flo from Progressive.
The worst sketch of the night
“Towel Guys” was a sketch that suffers from purpose and specificity. It could have aired tonight or 15 years ago. In addition to being unspecific, it was unfocused and unstructured. The entire sketch rested on out-of-date references and cultural confusion between the titular Towel Guys and American tourists at a Dominican resort. Relying on language barriers and accents, the jokes were stale from the start, and while the sketch employed multiple performers no one’s presence felt essential. Jordan was wasted in the scene. It felt like a sketch that had been floating around for weeks and normally cut for time. Tonight, it made it on air, unfortunately.
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Most unexpected chemistry of the night
Sometimes the chemistry between a cast member and a host shines through on SNL. While Heidi Gardner and Jordan paired well together and Punkie Johnson earned a few laughs touching Jordan, a fascinating and funny partnership developed between Jordan and Andrew Dismukes. The contrasts between the two created comedy. Their first pairing, “Men’s Confidence Seminar,” found Dismukes’ confidence intentionally undermined by Jordan. The sketch was wonderfully reversed in “Falling Down” which reversed the dynamic with Jordan rattled by constantly falling in Dismukes’ presence. The oddball pairing was further enhanced by both sketches’ commentary on masculine fragility.Best comedic direction of the night
Best comedic direction of the night
This week featured a strong string of jokes on “Weekend Update.” A lot of its success stemmed from merging political commentary with popular culture and vice versa. Comparing Trump’s potential return to Facebook with Jurassic Park, connecting Swifties protesting at Congress with their insurrectionist fathers, or crafting a joke connecting TikTok with reproductive rights in the state of Texas, “Weekend Update” demonstrated a path to relevancy for SNL again. Now, if they could just adapt these political-pop culture moments into a sketch from time to time.
MVP of the night: Michael B. Jordan
The MVP of the episode was the host once again. In what felt like a standard, even maybe subpar, episode Jordan stood out. He radiated charisma and commitment throughout the show. From the monologue until the end, he felt at ease as a first-time host. Prepared and professional, he took comedy seriously despite not having much of a background in humor. His monologue set the tone perfectly. He made talking in the third person charming and was equally sexy and self-deprecating. Jordan proved he is a movie star.
- They need to deviate from press conference recreations as Cold Opens.
- The ostrich was impressive in “Jake from State Farm.”
- A lot of commercials again: State Farm, Southwest Airlines, and Toyota.
- It was funny that both Punkie Johnson’s appearances involved rubbing all over Michael B. Jordan.
- The camera coming into frame during “Party in Palm Springs” was a rare mistake on the technical side.
- It will be interesting to see who the union negotiations with the post production workers who passed an authorization for a potential strike. It would impact the work on pretapped segments, which SNL increasingly relies on and take an impressive amount of work to produce in a very limited amount of time.