Following in the footsteps of fellow comedians like Dave Chappelle and Aziz Ansari, Nanjiani turned his monologue into a stand-up routine, remarking on the rise of Islamophobia (“It never went away, but it’s really having a moment right now”) and misguided racism. Unfortunately, his inspired commentary was followed by a string of mostly uninspired sketches, few of which gave him a chance to shine. The episode will likely be remembered, if at all, for how it handled the Harvey Weinstein scandal, for better (see Weekend Update) and worse (see below).
This IT parody was essentially a sequel to last season’s Fatal Attraction spoof, only instead of Jake Tapper it was Anderson Cooper living out his worst nightmare. Kate McKinnon as Kellyanne Conway as Pennywise was a clever idea. Equally humorous was having Hillary Clinton turn up in the sewer. (“Where did you think I’d be? Michigan or Wisconsin?”)
BEST: BANK BREAKERS
This run-of-the-mill game show sketch was elevated by Nanjiani’s performance. He was perfect as the initially smug contestant who realized just how important it was for his competitor to win. But as hard as he tried, the odds just weren’t in her favor.
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HONORABLE MENTION: CUSTOMER SERVICE
After portraying President Donald Trump’s first wife Ivana during Weekend Update, Cecily Strong turned up in this 12:55 am short as third/current wife Melania. Here, FLOTUS built a connection with Nanjiani’s customer service rep, who soon became her one and only confidant outside the White House.
WORST: TRUCKER RALLY COLD OPEN
Perhaps Baldwin should have taken another week off, as the basis of this cold open was a week-old news story about VP Mike Pence walking out of the Colts game. Even more dated was the “Double Corinthians” joke, based on a flub made by then-candidate Trump nearly two full years ago. There were more current references to POTUS’ ongoing feud with Sen. Bob Corker and Eminem’s viral takedown, but even those fell flat.
WORST: FILM PANEL
Update was smart enough not to joke about sexual harassment when addressing the Weinstein scandal; this off-putting sketch was not. Using McKinnon’s octogenarian film star character Debette Goldry to indicate a systemic problem in Hollywood wasn’t necessarily a bad idea. It was however in poor taste to have Leslie Jones and Cecily Strong portray real actresses (Viola Davis and Marion Cotillard) and have them allege that they where harassed by other high-powered executives for the sake of reaching a punchline.
WORST: OFFICE HALLOWEEN PARTY
Boss man Greg wound up ruining a holiday party by calling in to inform everyone that he was diagnosed with Hepatitis A. The gag that followed was entirely predictable and not at all funny. Then again, the sketch didn’t really have a chance to build up to anything before it just sort of… ended. (Something tells me this one was longer at dress rehearsal and ultimately cut down for time. Either way, it probably shouldn’t have made the live show.)
What were your favorite sketches of the night? And what missed the mark? Grade the episode via the following poll, then hit the comments to flesh out your thoughts.