Kerry Washington Hosts Saturday Night Live: Watch Video of the Best and Worst Sketches

This week’s Saturday Night Live got off to a clumsy start — with a cold open that used first-time host Kerry Washington‘s appearance to poke fun at the show’s long-standing dearth of black female cast members, and its subsequent inability to mine headline-grabbers like Michelle Obama, Oprah and Beyoncé for laughs.

The good news, however, was that while Washington never really got a chance to sink her comedic teeth into an impression of the First Lady (or the first lady of the struggling OWN network), she still managed to score a few laughs from the meta setup. And the Scandal star continued to utilize her gameness and versatility to help create one of the better SNL installments in recent memory (even if the second half lagged a little).

RELATED | Scandal‘s Kerry Washington Pregnant: How Past Shows ‘Handled’ It, Which Ways Work for Olivia

Below, my picks for Best and Worst Sketches:

Jay Pharoah and especially Washington showed flawless timing as African-American talk-show guests pledging unwavering support of President Obama. Washington’s burst of laughter after host Kenan Thompson asked if she’d wished she’d voted for Mitt Romney was absolutely priceless — as were her responses to scenarios in which Obama might abandon Christianity for a different religion (“Mazel Tov, Baruch!”). The riff on white people’s mail — “pre-approved credit cards and Pottery Barn catalogs,” fantasized Pharoah’s Ebony magazine writer — was terrific, too.

Kate McKinnon’s impression of the German Chancellor should serve as a template for all of SNL‘s political sketches. By imagining Merkel as a lonely, insecure woman whose true horror about an NSA wiretap was fear that the world would learn of her embarrassing Google searches (“Jason Segel no shirt”) and sad texts  used current headlines as a launching pad into something far more fantastical and goofy, rather than the recent SNL norm of being shackled to reality.

Aidy Bryant’s Miss Greenland fell flat, but McKinnon, Washington and Vanessa Bayer were all pretty spectacular as pageant contestants from Moldova, Uganda and Bolivia. Bayer’s Eastern European loon yelling to her children that it was 2 a.m. in their home country — “go to factory!” — was my favorite zinger, though co-host Nasim Pedrad being intro’d as “someone from the E! network” was hilarious, too.

Unfortunate evidence that Pharoah’s Principal Frye is a character of diminishing returns — and that his catchphrase (“attention teachers and students”) is already threadbare. Washington, though, did make me chuckle as a first-year teacher raging against her students for a dunking-booth experience turned ugly: “You turned your hose on a black lady! Know your history!”

OK, if I’m being entirely honest, Pedrad’s new motivational speaker, Heshy Farahat, was actually less funny. But the fact that SNL dressed Washington as Michelle Obama and Oprah without actually bothering to build a topical, funny sketch around either one of these cultural powerhouses exposes the general laziness and lack of edge among the show’s writing staff.

What did you think of Washington as host? Take our poll below, then hit the comments to expand on your thoughts!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Leigh says:

    This episode was ok. I had some hopes and thought that this could have been a good ep. The “What Does My Girl Say” video was funny and I actually enjoyed the music video. But it would have been better.

    • Sly says:

      Yes, as I said over at EW, she was pretty good, but the writing was not good. Most of the sketches never left the premise stage.

  2. Amanda says:

    Really?! No mention of “What Does My Girl Say”?!

    • MamaLis says:

      Word. That was a great piece!

    • David4 says:

      The only good parts of the show are the ones that aren’t live.

    • Tenney says:

      I too was wondering why there’s no mention of “What does my girl say?” That was one of the best things on SNL in a while. Kerry Washington was great. I don’t watch Scandal so I don’t know how well she does drama but she really nails comedy.

    • Juan says:

      That skit made this episode the best of the season.
      Considering, the last good episode was Tina Fey’s; in which Win Butler of Arcade Fire did a better DeNiro impression than a new cast member, yikes.

    • Carrie says:

      Yeah, that was the funniest part of the entire show. I thought Kerry Washington did a really good job. I was pretty impressed. I also thought it was smart that they used this episode to poke fun at what the media has been saying about the diversity on SNL.

    • Mary says:

      Agreed. To me, that was the funniest segment of the show.

  3. Josh says:

    The episode was good but not great, but Kerry Washington was amazing, lifting some pretty bad sketches(like the one with the lady who kept thrusting) out of the dregs.

    “What Does My Girl Say” was hilarious.

    That Ice Cream one was just…weird. It felt, ironically enough, like a student film trying to be a Wes Anderson filming trying to parody SNL. It was so hipster it hurt. I haven’t liked anything that skinny guy has done yet(and I loved him on his short appearance in Parks and Rec a few years back).

  4. Fernando says:

    She was amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Most cast were not funny and they did the scenes not funny but Kerru saved this show and made it funny. All her characters were funny. She did great from start to end.
    What does my girl say was the funniest thing ever

  5. Matt says:

    B there was no Scandal spoof. That would have been hilarious!

  6. Ashbash says:

    That miss universe skit was horrible but I lived Keri Washington in that episode. I can’t believe there was no sleepy hallow or scandal spoof though but Keri was hilarious. I loved her all her characters.

  7. Amber says:

    Where is What Does My Girl Say?? That was the absolute best part!

  8. Brandy says:

    Favorite episode of the season so far. I actually found every sketch and every part if W.U. funny, and I can hardly ever say that. Kerry was fantastic. And I’m glad they’re finding ways to use all of the females pretty equally. They deserve it!

    • MamaLis says:

      I thought – all in all – it was a good episode, too. What Does My Girl Say? – was perfect! And no mention of Nadra’s skit, which I also thought was really funny! She never gets to do things so out-of-character like that and she nailed that weird, thrusting motivational speaker!

  9. JLK says:

    “Aidy Bryant’s Miss Greenland fell flat” Really? My husband and I cracked up when she declared, “There are 3 people in north Greenland. I’m the woman.” My husband said he made himself light-headed laughing at that one (and I had to rewind the DVR a bit because we totally missed what happened after that line). It seems the writer and I have different senses of humor though because I rarely agree with his best/worst.

    • tara17 says:

      I thought that line was hilarious as well.

    • Faster says:

      I agree that this best/worst article often does not highlights the bright spots for me. I though that the cold open was by far the best sketch of the night – I appreciated the show’s ability to poke fun of itself for not having a black female comedian. After that sketch I was expecting to see something we don’t normally see on the show with Kerry, but most everything after the cold open (with the exception of a few minor chuckles during What Does My Girl Say?) fell flat. But I do agree that Aidy Bryant’s line was hilarious – I tend to think that her bits and one-liners are bright spots in an otherwise mediocre show that for some reason I still watch!

  10. BamaEd says:

    The Scandal semi-spoof was during the monologue when the cast members came to her with problems. It wasn’t very well thought out.

    I thought Kerry did a very solid job with some bad writing. I thought the cold open made Lorne and Seth seem like d-bags more than really addressing the lack of African-American women on SNL.

    What Does My Girl Say was great and I loved How’s He Doing. Pedrad’s motivational sketch was ok with Kerry trying to out-NeNe NeNe.

    Kate as Merkel was quite funny though. Cecily didn’t have much screen time outside of WU (except for the Miss Universe female all-skate). I guess they are afraid to put too many females in one sketch. How dare girls be funny!

    The writing overall was pretty lame though. Seth can’t leave soon enough for me.

    • Josh says:

      Did you not see the Miss Universe sketch? Or the cartoon sketch(with only two guys), or the MTV dating show sketch(three girls, one guy, plus the female narrator), or SNL in the 90’s, or in the early 2000’s.

      I’m not saying SNL doesn’t have it’s problems with women(five white dudes and just one female?) but I think when they have female comedians, they embrace them.

      • BamaEd says:

        Mentioned the Miss Uni sketch. I meant, but didn’t adequately clarify, that I meant the current. Cartoon sketch was awful sadly lol. Turned it off after that. In the past, they have embraced them more. These days, female centric sketches are more rare is all. Thanks for allowing me to clarify :)

  11. She was a good host, but a bit of overcompensating for these world’s smallest violin internet pundits. Yes, it would be great if they had a black female cast member who could do talented impressions of Beyonce, Michelle Obama and Oprah, but really, when are those three “headline-grabbers”? The only place where comedy was effectively mined from Michelle Obama was on Key and Peele (unless you’re one of t h o s e people who watch Fox News). Even when SNL had Maya, Tim and Ellen for Oprah gags, it was more about what they did skit to skit than what Oprah did lately (and even then, it was mostly gags about her weight issues). Also, more Kenan does not help. He is the least versatile performer on the show and I feel like they only keep him around because the scouts can’t find a good replacement.

    • Sideny Morris says:

      Kerri washington is great performer…did well wit what they put in front of her…SNL USED TO BE MY FAVORITE NOW THEY RESEMBLE WHAT AMERICA THINKS OF IT AFRICAN

  12. Tran 2.0 says:

    I give it a B. Kerry Washington did her part as first time host on SNL. Worst sketch: MTV’s Date or Diss. Best sketch: How’s He Doing? MVPs of the night: Kenan Thompson and Jay Pharoah.

  13. bigdede says:

    No mention of the super funny Shaq/Charles Barkley sketch? Jay’s imitation of Shaq was the funniest thing of the night. The Weekend Update was really good this week.

  14. cjeffery7 says:

    the physical humor of Heshy Farahat was enough for me. i thought it was funny. totally unrelated, i’m SO glad SNL started a youtube channel, i just wish they’d put every clip on there. the NBC video player is awful.

  15. Toia says:

    What was interesting about last nights episode was they made the cold open joke about no black ladies. Then they have Jay and Keenan on the show do what was arguably the most painfully bad and long ‘impressions’ of Shaq and Charles Barkley. Only proving that maybe the show runners have no idea what they are doing when they hire people. How good a judge of talent are they? Cuz that wasn’t funny. It’s not that hard to find funny black people I seem them everyday. (I’m just saying) Kerry Washington proved there are funny black women. Didn’t Keenan say that was a rare thing?

    The show was better than most this season. Mainly because of the host. Ms Washington brought a lot of talent and charm. Also the skits wheren’t all the same shade blah that they usually are. The writing staff stepped out of the box a little. Some where not so good the motivational speaker skit was not good, it seemed like a after Weekend Update skit at got reshuffled. It was so bizzarly unfunny and one note. Unlike other posters I didn’t thing the What Does the Fox Say parody, it didn’t work for me. The delivery was off and it just wasn’t funny.

  16. dude says:

    My favourite episode this season. Kerry was a superstar and I hope she’s invited back soon! She killed every sketch. Even the Heshy sketch which was pretty lame was elevated by Kerry. “Respect my ability to assess a bucket”

  17. Linda F says:

    I wasn’t sure how Kerry Washington would do with comedy, but I was very pleasantly surprised with how good she was! The motivational speaker skit wasn’t all that funny, but I thought Kerry did a great job. And I’m with everyone else–I can’t believe you didn’t even mention the “What Does My Girl Say” parody. That was the funniest thing I’ve seen on SNL in ages!

  18. M3rc Nate says:

    “Meh” “It was okay” “Only the digital/pre-recorded sketches are funny” are exactly what you get when you are watching a show that comes up with sketches in a week (technically like four days, SNL cast mates have said the first few days they just brain storm not actually think hardcore about sketches) and they are staying up all night to think of things. The pre-recorded and digital sketches can be though of much longer in advance…especially when the weeks guest host is not in them.

    Tons of stuff sounds funny to a group of friends at 4am on a Thursday morning cause you are hopped up on Red Bull and havent slept in 20 hrs. Thats my issue..if it was aa episode every 2 weeks the shows quality would jump and i bet episodes would be jam-packed with hilarious skits.

    Its why SNL is at its funniest when theirs something topical going on they can use (aka their material is basically written for them). Think Tina Fey/Amy P/SNL having Sarah Palin dropped in their lap. During the presidential race SNL is so funny cause again, their material is basically written for them and everything is topical. Right now with nothing going on…we have a woman humping to sound effects and crap.

    • A competent writing staff goes a long, long, long long long way. There’s hilarious stuff going on in the news and for the past few years, they haven’t really taken advantage of it. Kind of doing the writers of the past a disservice by saying their past funny stuff had more to do with current events. Does anyone remember a funny Palin impression that doesn’t involve Tina Fey? It’s been done, I assure you.

  19. Juan says:

    Kerry Washington was amazing and I’m really surprised you didn’t mention the what my girl says. Also I liked the heshy sketch and cold open a lot and I thought the weekend update wasn’t very good.

  20. Ewa says:

    Some of the sketches were good, but, wow, the ignorance they showed about anything not-American was astounding! The Miss Universe sketch was purely offensive, and basing the Angela Merkel sketch on all of the stereotypes about single middle-aged women made no sense, I guess the writers were too lazy to even check her wikipedia page and see that she’s a married woman… and then the quip on WU that Cecily made about using whole sentences in google – why would anyone do it? Are you trying to have a conversation with a search engine? (yeah, I gues the last one irked me because I was still annoyed with their Merkel, but still…).

    Nothing bad to say about Kerry Washington, though, she was cool;)

  21. David4 says:

    Kerry Washington did a great job. However the show continues to fail on the writing level. When is Seth Myers leaving?

  22. powerturtle90sdudemon says:

    Not only is “What Does My Girl Say” missing, but I absolutely loved Cartoon Catchphrase! Both were soooooo much better than “How’s He Doing?”. TVLine, you disappoint

  23. Ryan says:

    it’s like slezak continuously has the opposite opinion of the general public. is he the best person to do recaps? let him stick to working for the Alison Irihita Defence Fund.

  24. tp says:

    The cold open was pretty funny.

    • Paul Cox says:

      Agree. In fact, it was the funniest sketch of the whole night…which is a bad thing. When it’s all downhill after the cold open, it’s a bad night. Kerry Washington was really committed to all of her characters, though. It was the writing staff who took the week off.

  25. Scott says:

    I thought it was the strongest episode so far this season. Kerry did a fantastic job and made even the unfunny sketches enjoyable, I hope she’s invited back again soon.

    I disagree about Bryant though, I thought her Miss Greenland was hilarious.

  26. Jo says:

    Kate McKinnon is too good for this show — but I’m sure glad she’s there.

  27. cyclone says:

    the motivational speaker was horrible and seemed to go on FOR-EVER! The bits that Kerry did as that Bon Qui Qui type character were the only saving point, why didn’t they build the sketch on that character.
    I liked the cold open, but it would have been better if she did run out as Beyonce in a robe and cut the stupid part of the 5 Matthew McConahays and Al Sharpton popping up.
    And seriously I don’t think Jay and Kenan have worked this much all season…heck I don’t think Jay has worked in that many sketches his whole career with the show. I have a feeling that they might bring in a black woman comedian if not by mid-season then they will definitely make the effort to search for someone next season.

  28. Juan says:

    I thought the “How’s He Doing” skit felt more like In Living Color or good MadTV, it was a good shift for the show.

  29. Lisa says:

    How was Em? Worth catching on demand?

  30. Babybop says:

    I was so impressed by her, I’m this close to risking my grades and binge watching Scandal…

  31. DavidSask says:

    The intro was good but as said wasted in not using Oprah Michelle more and further in show. The Girls say skit was best and of course sad for show as usual as only funny thing they can do on show weekly is pre-taped!!! The MTV sketch was funny as well. The rest can pretty much go bye!!! Bring back Mad TV, someone start the petition asap!!!

  32. Brenda says:

    What does my girl say? was absolutely hilarious. A lot of fun. Nice to see Pharoah kicking it. Enjoyed the cold opening 6/10, but yes it could have been so much better with a Michelle skit and an Oprah skit “Chicagooooooooooooooooooooooooo!”. How’s he doin? – Funeee. Weekend UPdate…. very good…. not gonna miss what’s-his-name at all when he goes to night time. :-P I’d never seen Kerry doing comedy before and she was great. 2nd half was definitely slower. Too bad. Al Sharpton’s line at the end…. too funny (and too ironic).

  33. Callie says:

    I have to be honest-the biggest disappointment was the lack of a “Scandal”-esque skit. :-) Kerry (as usual) was beyond fabulous.

  34. LaLa says:

    I can’t believe they didn’t use Eminem in any of the skits. I thought that was a glaring missed opportunity. Also, I was totally offended by the Miss Universe sketch. My opinion is that the writers suck. I’m sure the comedians are talented – but they have no way showcase it. Best sketch: What Does My Girl Say, Worst sketch: Cartoon Catchphrase – that was HORRIBLE.

    • Saabgirlatx says:

      I agree about the Miss Universe skit- it made me uncomfortable so I fast forwarded past it. What Does My Girl Say was hilarious-best of the night.

  35. Blue Kirty says:

    What were you smoking? The cold open was the only thing funny she did. Everything else she was staring at the cue cards too much. And the Angela Merkel thing was hideous.

  36. tara17 says:

    I’m pretty sure that Kate McKinnon’s line (as the German Chancellor) was “Justin Bieber no shirt” ending with “Jason Segel fully clothed”, because the latter cracked me up.

  37. Carlos Lopez says:

    I was so disappointed when I saw the Miss Universe sketch last Saturday, just an awful, ridicule portrait of my country Bolivia, what a tasteless humor of whoever produce this show, shame on NBC.

  38. tom hansen says:

    kerry should have had more time as michelle obama

  39. Bob says:

    “…the fact that SNL dressed Washington as Michelle Obama and Oprah without actually bothering to build a topical, funny sketch around either one of these cultural powerhouses exposes the general laziness and lack of edge among the show’s writing staff.”

    Are you blind? And deaf? The topical part was the fact that SNL does not have a black female cast member. Michelle Obama and Oprah were just the tools in the sketch to get that point across.

  40. Brusika says:

    I enjoyed watching the versatility of Kerry Washington throughout this episode. She was able to morph quite adeptly into characters that were a far cry from her signature Olivia Pope. I liked the cold opening, however, I did seem to notice an added layer of tension present, possibly because of the controversial subject matter contained in the skit. What Does My Girl Say” was the most hysterically memorable event of the evening. (I nominate this video for a You Tube award for next year) On the other hand, I had been deeply hoping for at least for one, meaty, juicy Scandal spoof– any combination of elements from the series (of which there are many) could have been brought in for a comedic touchdown!

  41. AUDREY says:

    Unless you are dead, and did not find Kerry Washington in the Miss Universe skit funny, you are a fuzz. That was the funniest I’ve ever seen her.

  42. courtneylagene says:

    Why did NO ONE like the ICE CREAM GUY SKIT!? iI thought it was hilarious. Maybe I have a weird sense of humor but I really wnjoyed it and rewound it a few times :D