Jim Parsons is delightful. He’s cute, charming, good with a punchline, and unfailingly humble, even when being nominated for (and winning) yet another Best Actor trophy for his work on The Big Bang Theory.
That said, Parsons faces one major roadblock as an actor: He’s so closely associated with theoretical physicist/brilliant jerk Sheldon Cooper, whom he’s been playing for seven seasons on CBS, that it’s a little jarring to see him inhabit another role. And maybe more importantly, Sheldon Cooper is so beloved that a lot of people might not want to watch Parsons experiment with a different character.
Think of Parsons’ debut episode of SNL, then, as a sort of fresh start — an easy way for him to quickly play a bunch of different sorts of people, proving his range and getting folks used to the idea that he and Sheldon are, in fact, different people. (SNL itself didn’t exactly seem to get that message when Jimmy Fallon hosted the show last December.) Dip a toe into Parsons on Saturday Night Live, and you won’t be as shocked when you dive into HBO’s The Normal Heart, in which Parsons plays a gay activist, or Zach Braff’s Wish I Was Here, which costars Parsons as a sexy pool boy. Maybe this is actually the single best way for a frequently boxed-in actor to prove he’s more than his signature role. (Take note, Nick Offerman — you could be next.)
With a nimble comic performer like Parsons at the helm, SNL‘s main sketches should be in good hands. There is, however, another wild card in the mix: SNL head writer Colin Jost, who will officially take over Seth Meyers’s place at the Weekend Update desk tonight. Jost isn’t an untested performer by any means; he’s done plenty of standup, and he’s also appeared in the background of a handful of sketches over the years. But even though Jost has been a member of Saturday Night Live‘s family for nearly a decade, most laypeople couldn’t pick him out of a lineup — which means he’s facing the same sort of pressure that an unknown would. Will Jost adequately fill Meyers’s formidable shoes? What kind of chemistry will he have with Cecily Strong — another relative Weekend Update newbie? It’s questions like these that will keep SNL fans up at night — or at least until, say, 12:15.
Also: Beck’s going to be on on the show. Hey, Beck! How’s things? Feels like it’s been awhile. (It has — though this is Beck’s seventh time as SNL musical guest, he hasn’t appeared on the show since 2006). Given the awesomeness of Morning Phase, there should be some good stuff here; bonus points if he and Beck Bennett join forces in a sketch to form some sort of ginormous Super Beck.
What are you hoping to see from Parsons — and Jost, and Beck — on tonight’s episode? Are you pumped for Sochi jokes, or do the Olympics already feel like they were a million years ago? And what do you think is the likelihood of Meyers stopping by the show at some point, just to say hi? Discuss below, and check back in the morning for a full recap.