During her monologue, Amy Schumer, this season’s first returning host to Saturday Night Live, recounted how busy she has been with her Hulu series Life & Beth and the revival of her sketch show Inside Amy Schumer. Though not mentioned, she also hosted the Oscars last year and has an upcoming stand-up tour. As a comedian, writer, and actress, expectations where higher than normal, which led to an underwhelming return to hosting. As one of the best known contemporary comedians working today, the material on this episode felt stale. While updating her act to include her new role as a wife and mother, a lot of the episode felt like recycled material from her upcoming stand-up tour, sketches that were left on the cutting room floor of Inside Amy Schumer in 2016, or, worse yet, she might be saving her best material for her own show.
A spoof on Ryan Murphy’s latest, incomprehensible series The Watcher on Netflix, “The Looker” was technically precise and complimented Schumer’s particular brand of comedy. The oppressively neutral costuming and the invasive suburban stalker premise ruining the concept of a dream home allowed Schumer to shine. As the matriarch, a stand in for Naomi Watts in the original series, Schumer endures embarrassing revelations about her behavior when she thinks no one is watching. It was tailor-made for Schumer’s humor: secret binge eating, toilet humor, and sad, sad sexual fantasies. It paralleled Schumer’s comedic take on white womanhood also seen in the less compelling “Big Dumb Hat.”
The ‘Cold Open’ set a bad tone from the start that the episode never really overcame. Featuring Biden, played by James Austin Johnson, discussing the midterms, the sketch continued on the work of last weeks “Horror Movie Trailer” premise. Concerning the lack of star politicians in the democratic party ahead of the midterm elections, Biden introduced a rather random collection of new celebrity candidates. It resulted in a series of half-assed and unimpressive impersonations that seemed desperate to appeal to the widest audience possible, while managing to please no one. It suggested that what is wrong with SNL and American politics might be the same thing: no substance.
A sort of sequel to “Goober the Clown on Abortion,” Cecily Strong returned to “Weekend Update” as Tammy the Trucker to discuss turnout motivation at this year’s midterm elections. Contrasting economic concerns with the denial of healthcare, Strong gave another impassioned plea the importance of abortion rights. It wasn’t the funniest thing of the night, but it was a perfect blend of comedy and political commentary. It was honest and provocative. SNL should be trying to strike this kind of balance more often.
Elon Musk, who hosted in 2021 and purchased twitter recently, has regularly featured on “Weekend Update” this season. This week finally put the Twitter fiasco into a sketch. Focused on the possible return of banned accounts, the sketch tackled Covid conspiracy theories, “posting hole,” doxxing, and all the things that have always made Twitter in Musk’s words “a free-for-all hellscape.” Schumer’s sex bot character had potential, but most of the figures “testifying” lacked a good punchline, even James Austin Johnson’s solid Trump impression had nowhere to go. The sketch never really got at the heart of the issue concerning freedom of speech coupled with had speech and the dangers of misinformation. Most unforgivably, the sketch sidelined the easiest target: Musk. It just demonstrated that the funniest and most insightful Twitter commentaries are still on Twitter instead of SNL.
The expectation was to have this be Schumer, but it felt better split between James Austin Johnson and Sarah Sherman. As featured players in their second season, they both felt settled in this episode. Nothing was exactly spectacular, but their presence made the show better. Johnson continues to play both Biden and Trump particularly well, so much so that you can’t help but wonder what might happen fi there is a 2024 rematch between the two presidents. Sherman, on the other hand, has had some difficulties adapting her brand of surreal body horror comedy to the more mainstream SNL. It has worked in sketches past sketches like ‘Meatballs’ and failed in ‘Eyes,’ but her she worked well in three sketches this week like ‘Covid Commercial’ and the less impressive ‘Jurors’ and ‘Big Penis Therapy.’ Both performers gave solid, necessary performances that should be a lesson to this year’s newest cast members that “it gets better.”
- Eek... they have Dave Chappelle hosting next week???
- The sketches felt very short this week, which I would normally applaud because they normally go too long. But they also felt like the quit before they got to a good joke.
- Why did they put “Soup” in the front of the episode? It felt so labored. And you could tell they were really trying desperately to make it funny.
- “Covid Commercial” was both funny, relatable, and incredibly sad.
- It felt like the “Jets Fans” sketch was a missed opportunity to provide some commentary about violent tribalism in American society.
- The Pinx commercial really did feel like it was recycled or cut from a 2014 episode of Inside Amy Schumer.
- This made me a big Steve Lacey fan now.
- There was something about Schumer’s jokes about a certain type of woman combined with some of Michael Che’s jokes that were making me sort of uncomfortable.
- The best part of the episode were the wigs, especially Kenan Thompson’s in “Soup” and Bowen Yang’s in the otherwise forgettable “WKTVN News.”
- A running thought this season is that maybe the cast is too dominated by stand-ups instead of more improv-trained performers.