The fan favorite’s return to Studio 8H marked his second hosting stint since departing the sketch comedy series in 2013 — though he did return last summer to play Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci during Weekend Update: Summer Edition. He reprised that role during Saturday’s cold open, which also featured John Goodman and Fred Armisen. It was one of a handful of characters he brought back, including Weekend Update city correspondent Stefon.
Lo and behold, my picks for the best and worst sketches…
BEST: THE CALIFORNIANS
After a unique quick-change mid-monologue, Hader delved right back into the role of Devon on the fictitious SOAPnet drama, opposite Armisen’s Stuart and a picture of former cast member Vanessa Bayer’s housemaid Rose. The sketch didn’t have quite the same energy without Kristen Wiig, but the introduction of Rose’s long-lost son from Encino was an amusing twist.
BEST: JURASSIC PARK AUDITIONS
This latest round of screen tests introduced a whole bunch of new impressions, including Heidi Gardner’s Drew Barrymore, Pete Davidson’s Adam Sandler, Leslie Jones’ Whoopi Goldberg and Mikey Day’s Pee-wee Herman. It also gave Hader the chance to play Alan Alda, Clint Eastwood and Al Pacino again. Not quite sure what Melissa Villaseñor’s Gwen Stefani was doing in a circa 1992 sketch singing No Doubt’s 1995 release “Just a Girl,” but that too was delightful.
BEST: WEEKEND UPDATE
There’s no denying that Stefon’s return was the highlight of the night, but I’d also like to take a moment to praise Kate McKinnon’s turn as Betsy DeVos. It was a stroke of genius installing the show’s MVP as the clueless Secretary of Education following last weekend’s mind-numbing 60 Minutes interview.
BEST: IRISH DATING SHOW
Hader played eligible bachelor Niall, whose search for love took an incestuous turn (yeah, they went there!) when not one, but two of the women vying for his heart turned out to be his own flesh and blood.
BEST: GIRLFRIENDS GAME NIGHT
Hader and Cecily Strong could barely hold it together during this one, portraying the elderly Horace and his much younger wife Jeanie. The marrieds’ decision to share a rather intimate moment during a friendly game of Uno was as hilarious as it was ridiculous. By the end, nearly everyone was in tears.
HONORABLE MENTION: ANDERSON COOPER 360
McKinnon’s Jeff Sessions, Armisen’s Michael Wolff and Hader’s Scaramucci all paled in comparison to Goodman’s return as Rex Tillerson. Here, the recently ousted Secretary of State was on the verge of a nervous breakdown after being fired by President Donald Trump — or rather, “a man who used to sell steaks in the mail.”
WORST: SACRED ROCK
The first (and only) flop of the night immediately followed Update. This sci-fi skit featured Kyle Mooney and Hader as a pair of disturbed mountain lodge employees warning guests about the potential of an extraterrestrial encounter.
What were your favorite sketches this week? And what missed the mark? Grade the episode via the following poll, then share more thoughts in Comments.