Drake Hosts Saturday Night Live: Watch Video of the Best and Worst Sketches!

drake-saturday-night-live-snl-host-recapYou’d think it would be a privilege to host the first installment of Saturday Night Live in 2014. But thanks to a baffling array of setups — a square dad fending off a “teenage” girl’s slumber-party come-ons (yuck); the unwelcome return of “Mornin’ Miami” promos; Nasim Pedrad aimlessly stumbling around a Disneyland set saying “I am Rahat” — rapper/actor Drake might’ve wondered if he was instead suffering some cosmic punishment in his hosting debut.

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Not to say the erstwhile Degrassi High star didn’t try gamely — his impressions of Kat Williams, Jay Z and a horny high-school student were fairly amusing — but this was yet another instance of the show’s writers not giving the host a lot with which to work.

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Below, my picks for the week’s Best and Worst:

Taran Killam, Drake and Jay Pharoah — with backing support from cast newcomer Sasheer Zamata — rapped about the frailty of new year’s resolutions in the face of temptation. Killam’s donut frenzy and Drake’s drunk-guy antics, though, were merely appetizers for Pharoah’s raucous sex with a blowup doll. And for dessert? Cosplay, of course! Good stuff.

While barely uttering a word, Vanessa Bayer — marooned in the balcony seats — hilariously skewerd the Golden Globe winner for Best Supporting Actress in a TV Series, Miniseries or Movie, gasping, mauling audience members and even combing her hair to guffaw-inducing effect.

Beck Bennett and Kyle Mooney starred in an oddly meditative piece as a long-suffering friend and his know-it-all buddy. A few of Mooney’s retorts were mumbled to the point of inaudibility, but the whole thing was nevertheless bizarrely compelling. I’m still not sure why I laughed at this urinal exchange — “Mine’s a little bit bigger than yours.” “I know — ’cause I actually like mine a little bit smaller.” — but laugh I did.

An inconsistent segment at best (Kenan Thompson pretending a cat lives in Sway’s trademark hat was as lame as it gets), but Rick Ross as the original red Teletubby and Eminem shouting his way through a whispery episode of Felicity were pretty tasty bits.

Nasim Pedrad played a foreign-born girl named Rahat chosen to play the role of Indiana Jones in a theme-park adventure show. Maybe this would’ve scored some laughs had Pedrad developed the character beyond blank stares and a catchphrase? As Drake’s theme-park employee barked, “I’d love to know what’s going on in Rahat’s head!” I wondered the same — about Pedrad and the show’s writing staff.

I love Taran Killam, but his twist on the CNN host is nothing more than a high-pitched British accent, and rarely results in a joke that doesn’t wind up getting shaper-eyed treatment on Weekend Update. Yeah, Kate McKinnon’s Bieber posturing was pretty spot-on, but that should’ve been spun off as a separate/funnier entity.

Your turn! What did you think of Drake as SNL host? Grade the episode in the poll below, then sound off in the comments!

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. Brandy says:

    Oddly enough, Slezak, I thought tonight’s episode was great and happened to really enjoy everything you hated.

  2. DavidSask says:

    Drake did great with what he was given and I am new fan of his acting! The Indiana skit was the bad one agreed, as much as Piers needs to be retired Drake still killed in sketch!

    • Patrick says:

      I agree about Drake. He was a pleasant surprise as an actor. He should be getting some acting jobs as the next Will Smith maybe. As for Rahat, I did love the youtube comment. And the horny “teen” bit.

      • Flygrrl40 says:

        Ya, I’m with all of the above. Drake WAS a pleasant surprise! He held his own in every sketch he was in – WAY better than I anticipated. Way to go, Drake. I’m a bigger fan after last night.

        (btw. Sleazak, whom I do love, is always grumpy about SNL lately.)

    • Me34 says:

      I think people forgets he was an actor before he was a musician. I don’t know any of his music, but I’ve seen him in Degrassi.

  3. Damian says:

    He sure does use a lot of hand gestures. It was very distracting.

  4. vanessa says:

    Cannot believe you rated the best one New Years Resolution. That was the worst one to me, and I thought Drake’s A-rod and Kate’s Justin Bieber bits were hilarious.

  5. Ryan says:

    anyone ever wonder what makes slezak qualified to judge …well…anything. Except a couch sitting competition…he’d be good at that.

  6. neums says:

    Jay Pharoah was the one doing the 2 Chainz bit, not Drake.

  7. neums says:

    Killan’s clearly a nerd, yet he (or more likely the writer of the bit) still couldn’t make the distinction between cosplay and LARPing.

  8. Tony says:

    No Degrassi based skits for Aubrey?

  9. David P. Graf says:

    I haven’t watched or recorded SNL in years. Can someone who regularly watches it tell me if it’s still any good?

    • Kathy Cook says:

      Yes. No.

    • Wen says:

      No – for the most part. The ONLY way to watch SNL is to tape it – so you can speed through the lame, repetitive, shock-value stuff they’ve been doing for years. Occasionally a good writer manages to get his or her stuff through – but it just makes me long for SCTV…

    • Flygrrl40 says:

      I watch it every week, David. Here’s the deal: if there’s ever a time to get back on board, it’s now.

      SNL is like SNL has always been – some weeks are funnier than others. Overall – imo – it was a pretty good “year” compared to other years past. Fallon was AWEsome. Paul Rudd, Gaga, I know there were more…. also worthwhile.

      But given the (overall) strong group of “veteran” cast members, the exciting, latest addition of the black female castmate Shasheer Zamata the black writers, the recent additions of Beck Bennett, Kyle Mooney, Brooks Wheelan, Mike O’Brien, Seth Meyers moving-on….. I think it could be a good time for SNL.

      • Flygrrl40 says:

        Ok. The whole tone of my post was lost, not to mention it looks like I can’t edit: I wrote the word “PLUS” in between two symbols the computer obviously took as programming commands, between each of the major new additions, above. (i.e. PLUS the black writers, PLUS Seth Meyers moving on… etc.)


    • Marc says:

      I’ve been watching for 30+ years and find it pretty much the same. Some cast members are better than others. The writing and sketch selection is inconsistent at best. There are recurring characters I never want to see that show up over and over while others aren’t on enough. I figure it has to be Lorne, and I accept it and deal with it by recording it, as I have for 20+ years, and fastforwarding through the bad parts. There are always bemoaning the show’s decline: when Chevy left; when the original cast was gone, when Eddie Murphy left. Myers and Carvey, Hartman, Sandler, Fallon. Wiig and Samberg are no different. As long as they can put together a half dozen passable sketches, with a gem or two each month, and a decent Weekend Update, the show will go on.

  10. anomy says:

    Exactly what Neums said.

  11. Tran 2.0 says:

    What a way to kick off the first SNL of 2014 but for Drake, he totally rocked as host and musical guest. As for its newest cast member Sasheer Zamata, kudos to her as she makes her debut on SNL and it’s been a long time coming to cast a black female player since Maya Rudolph left the show in 2007. Don’t know what Sasheer has in store for her next week when Jonah Hill makes his third appearance as SNL host. My best sketch of the night: the girls’ slumber party. They also brought back the Morning Miami sketch which was better than the Miley Cyrus episode back on October of 2013. Overall, I give the Drake episode of SNL an A.

  12. Jenn says:

    I rarely agree with your SNL reviews and this week is no different. This one was one if the funniest episodes I’ve seen in a loooong time.
    I thought every skit was great and loved the monologue. I thought Drake was great in every sketch and was a natural on live TV. I went in to this episode not a Drake fan and left a Drake fan.
    If you couldn’t enjoy near perfect impressions and creative sketches, I’m not sure WHAT you’re ever going to enjoy.

  13. Joy Styk says:

    If you didn’t think this was one of the funniest episodes all season you clearly didn’t watch the same show. There were a few low points, but that happens every episode. How the monologue wasn’t mention is also beyond me. It struck a nice balance and prepared you for what Drake had in store. Drake definately needs to be a repeat host.

  14. I loved Drake’s barmitzvah bit they did as part of the monologue.

  15. CK says:

    Drake was in Degrassi: The Next Generation, not Degrassi High. I know that’s kinda nitpicky, but I just wanted to clarify that since they are separate shows.

  16. Scarlett says:

    Didn’t know much about Drake and not a fan of his music, but he has comedic chops for sure, and seems to be a decent guy. Loved that he put in the time to learn his lines, which were many espec in the Disney skit and also in the A-Rod bit. Even seasoned regulars, like the teacher in the classroom skit – who didn’t have much to say to begin with and probably WROTE the sketch – were reading heavily off of cue cards. So distracting. Good job, Drake.

  17. Brendan says:

    Bennett and Mooney’s shorts are always so terrible… I have no idea why they keep making them.

  18. dan says:

    Donuts … that was so funny. They get me, too.

  19. leigh says:

    Michael, I love reading your recaps and 99% of the time agree with you, but that Indiana Jones skit was hilarious! Everytime we go to WDW and see the Indiana Jones show, this is what we see and we laugh every time. If you haven’t been to see the show at Hollywood Studios, it is worth it just to see this. Other than this, this review is great!

  20. Allison P says:

    I loved seeing Drake act again, and seeing that he’s still good at it too. He did the best with the material he was given.

  21. dude says:

    I have to disagree about the cold open. Drake as A-Rod and Kate as Bieber made that sketch hilarious even if Tarran’s Piers isn’t very good.

  22. Paul Cox says:

    Michael, why is SNL even your assignment? Every week is a miss for you, always hating the funniest material and loving the worst. All your reviews just come out of the gate with a cloud of disappointment, really setting the wrong mood for a live sketch comedy show. Comedy is subjective more than objective, sure, but TV Line would do better handing this assignment over to someone who isn’t so square.

  23. cjeffery7 says:

    this was a fine start to 2014! drake was really good! the ‘I Know’ digital short was TERRIBLE. the new years resolution short was ALMOST good. jacqueline basset was EPIC. what show were you watching, michael?

  24. B says:

    TV Line: I adore Slezak in all things Idol (especially Idology), but he ALWAYS gets these SNL recaps wrong. Please consider a new recapper, as he is clearly becoming grumpy at having to stay in on Saturday nights.

  25. Dee says:

    Yea Drake killed it as host and musical guest! I was laughing and he really showed his acting and comedic chops! It was very distracting when some of them were reading off of the cue cards but not Drake he was on point!

  26. Davy Arper says:

    This episode was absolutely hilarious! I have no idea wtf you are talking about Michael Slezak!
    If you don’t know how to write an article send me an email, I’ll do for you; because the analysis you did here is ridiculous!

  27. David P. Graf says:

    Thanks to all of you who gave me your opinion of SNL. I’ll record the show and see if I enjoy it. Thanks again!

  28. Toia says:

    I was iffy about Drake as a host. He was possibly the best thing about the episode. He was committed even when the writing wasn’t so great. I forget he was in Degrassi. He really should do more acting, most people who are acting and rapping should not do both. Oh and if we didn’t notice they have a black lady in the cast now. They put her in like all the skits. I wonder how long that’s going to last. I wonder how that must feel to the other new cast members. It’s just silliness.

  29. Babybop says:

    Much better episode than usual. The only sketches I didn’t laugh at were the Morning Miami thing (which I didn’t think was funny the first time either), the Indiana Jones sketch (which was waaay too long and only had one joke…) and the weirdly oversexual sleepover sketch. Loved the Resolution song. Drake is such a good sport. He really impressed me!

  30. Soopah Soopah Soopah says:

    They should ask Drake to give up music and just join the cast.

  31. M says:

    Just chiming in to say I regularly disagree with Slezak’s opinion. This week was no exception. Can’t someone with a discerning sense of humor write this column? Thought the new SNL writers showed promise and Drake was a revelation. His bubbly but desperate WDW host was hilarious.

  32. tvguy420 says:

    once again i disagree with almost literally everything you have ever picked as best and/worst. however, the “rahat” sketch might have been one of the lamest attempts in recent history. drake tried his best but what were they thinking?

    best: slumber party girl hits on dad, piers/beiber thing, drake as kat williams, resolution revolution
    worst: i know short, rahat at disney, jaquline bisset & most of weekend update

  33. Tracie says:

    To be honest, I don’t watch SNL on a regular basis. I did, however see the Indiana Jones skit and the monologue. Both of which I found to be great. Although, I work at Disney World (and yes that’s where the skit supposedly took place, not Disneyland. Two different resorts on totally opposite sides of America) and while it wouldn’t go exactly like that, one thing they nailed was trying to communicate with foreign guests. That’s exactly how you feel. When someone approaches you and you say “Hi, how are you?” and they say “yes.” And all you’re doing is desperately looking for someone who speaks the same language that they do, but continuing to smile, and play charades to find out out what they need.

  34. Jon says:

    Resolution Revolution was terrible, and that song was repetitive and annoying. The I am Rahat skit and Morning Miami were both the best. Why would they develop a character who’s sole purpose was to not understand english, thus only being able to say a couple sentences. Did you totally miss the point of that sketch dummy? You have awful taste in comedy, something tells me you’re a huge big bang theory fan. Stick to shows like American Idol, I think that’s more your speed.