In a season of SNL that’s been dominated by talk of the past—and, granted, there’s a lot of history there—it’s been difficult for the show’s current-day cast to have any real breakout moments, even when given a platform on a silver platter. (SNL: Just let Pete Davidson happen naturally! If he’s gonna happen, he’ll happen!) In fact, thinking back on SNL 40, the moments that seem to stand out most are those that highlighted this season’s hosts: that Black Widow movie parody starring a winning Scarlett Johansson, Jim Carrey (and Kate McKinnon) doing Sia’s “Chandelier,” Martin Freeman combining Bilbo Baggins with Tim from The Office in this excellent mashup, Michael Keaton bizarrely rifling through his Easter basket.
I can see that trend continuing on tonight’s show, which welcomes Louis C.K. back for his third hosting gig. The standup’s first SNL outing was a genuinely great show, especially considering that it was slapped together in the wake of Hurricane Sandy; his second, which aired last March, was more uneven, though there were still plenty of highs (“Dyke and Fats,” “Black Jeopardy”) among the mehs. Perhaps uncoincidentally, C.K. was also less front-and-center in that second episode, at least after his monologue (which, like his first episode’s, took the form of an extended standup routine). So let’s hope for a Louis-heavy 90 minutes this time around.
One interesting potential wrinkle: This is the first time that C.K. has helmed SNL at the same time that a new season of his FX series, Louie, has actually been on the air. His first hosting stint came months after his eponymous show—it almost feels strange to call it a “comedy” at this point, doesn’t it?—wrapped up its third season; his second came months before season 4 of Louie premiered. I wonder if that’ll have any appreciable effect on his performance, or on the type of material he performs. Will C.K. stay away from a standup monologue this time, since Louie gives him the perfect platform to showcase bits and pieces of his stage act? Will we not get any weird, high-concept stuff a la “Mountain Pass” (remember that monstrosity?) because Louie lets him delve into the strangest corners of his psyche? (See, for example, the jaunty song that closed out the show’s most recent episode: “I dream of little monsters crawling up my leg/I fear they’ll come again if I go to bed.” The delightfully demented lyrics were written by C.K. himself, naturally.)
Maybe; maybe not. A few things we can certainly count on, though: a sketch or two (or more!) where C.K. plays a clueless middle-aged white dude (art imitates life!), some shout-outs to Sunday’s big Mad Men finale, a political cold open that’s maybe focused on Jeb Bush, something featuring the scatalogical humor C.K. can’t seem to get enough of, and a few big-name cameos, since this is SNL‘s 40th season finale we’re talking about. There aren’t any huge names associated with C.K. that immediately come to mind as potential cameo-ees, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see SNL pal Jon Hamm or Elisabeth Moss appear for a Mad Men goodbye—and musical guest Rihanna’s presence could mean a visit from Andy Samberg and/or The Lonely Island, on hand to premiere a highly-anticipated third installment of the “Shy Ronnie” saga. “Ronnie Darko,” anyone? Only in my dreams?
What are you hoping to see from C.K. and Rihanna tonight—and generally speaking, what have you thought of SNL‘s 40th season as a whole? Discuss below, and prepare to talk even more when my full recap is posted in the morning.