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Every comedian knows the advice of W.C. Fields: never work with children, or animals. It’s a good rule of thumb. They’re both unpredictable, and there’s every danger that they’ll steal the scene from you. Fortunately, Saturday Night Live does not care one bit, so… bring on the dogs!

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The Dog Acting School Commercial features guest host Ana de Armas and Chloe Fineman as a pair of cartoonish acting coaches that, honestly, wouldn’t stand out in a crowd of the real thing. Their pitch is they can train your dogs to act but, intentionally or otherwise, almost none of the canines on hand do what they’re told.

The great thing about animal sketches is that, if they go well, everybody laughs, and if they go horribly, everybody laughs. A human forgetting their lines is dire, but a puppy doing the same is gold.

You do hope that the first couple of animals, at least, will behave to set up the premise. But right off the bat, the first dog – an enormous golden retriever – ventures off-script, burying his head behind the table (presumably going for snacks hidden there). He’s almost the size of poor Fineman who’s trying to get him in front of the camera, and that goes about as well as you’d expect. “Henry’s doing a little improv!” she says as he noses his way past her.

They cut to a close-up as de Armas asks him to look shocked. Someone’s down below to emote with a pair of fake paws, but they don’t get them up in time. The paws get in there for the next gag, but who cares? Henry is adorable!

After a sexually charged (or possibly exploitative, or maybe just silly) segment with Coco the pug, Romeo is out. Fineman tries to get him to do their “patented Lady and the Tramp technique,” which presumably involves the dog taking a bite from the mouthful of noodles hanging out of her mouth. But unlike Henry, Romeo has zero desire for pasta, forcing Fineman to chase him around the stage as he tries to escape. The failure of the bit arguably works better than if it went as scripted.

Watch the sketch above, then grade this weekend’s episode!

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