The Parks and Rec alum wasted no time mocking the new commander-in-chief, which more than made up for the absence of impersonator Alec Baldwin. The episode also featured an ode to outgoing prez Barack Obama, a message from Beck Bennett’s Vladimir Putin, and a sketch in which Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway channeled Chicago‘s Roxie Hart.
BEST: OPENING MONOLOGUE
Ansari cut deep with a razor-sharp stand-up set that not only referred to POTUS as the “Chris Brown of politics,” but alleged that a subset of Trump supporters — aka “The Lowercase KKK” — started a “casual” white supremacy movement. After pleading that those previously closeted racists go back to pretending they’re not bigots (“I know it’s been a rough couple of years — Obama, Empire, Hamilton… — but you gotta stop”), Ansari left the audience with a message of hope: “Change doesn’t come from presidents. Change comes from large groups of angry people,” he said. “And if Day 1 is any indication, you are part of the largest group of angry people I have ever seen.”
Melissa Villaseñor was an absolute riot here, playing a woman incapable of talking dirty to her boyfriend. Her ineptitude became more evident as the sketch went on, first referring to her lover as “Dad” instead of “daddy” and to herself as “the baddest girl in sixth grade,” then later launching into an impression of a certain Wedding Crasher.
BEST: LA LA LAND INTERROGATION
There are those who liked La La Land, the musical starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, and then there are those who really liked it. This hysterical interrogation saw Ansari’s character harangued by a pair of detectives who were unwilling to accept the idea that the Golden Globe-winning film dragged a little. Cecily Strong was especially good, generating the biggest laugh when she argued that “Ryan Gosling didn’t learn piano from scratch so some little prick could nitpick.”
BEST: KELLYANNE CONWAY
Conway’s latest interview with Jake Tapper is transformed into a song-and-dance number during which she reveals that her ultimate goal was never to help get Trump elected, but to make herself a star. McKinnon is fantastic, but what else is new?!
HONORABLE MENTION: BARACK OBAMA TRIBUTE
Cecily Strong and Sasheer Zamata’s musical ode to Obama wasn’t anywhere near as polished as McKinnon’s post-election tribute to Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, which is perhaps why it wasn’t chosen to open the show. Be that as it may, the sentiment was just as genuine, and it was nice to see SNL acknowledge the outgoing president in some way.
WORST: A PAID MESSAGE FROM THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION
Baldwin’s Trump may not be needed every week, but he was sorely missed in the post-inauguration show. Bennett’s Putin simply isn’t funny enough to carry an entire sketch, during which the Russian bigwig admitted that the man he helped get elected wasn’t off to a great start. Not even my beloved Olya could save this underwhelming cold open.
What were your favorite sketches of the night? And what missed the mark? Grade the episode via our poll, then hit the comments and make your picks.