Matthew McConaughey made his first return to Studio 8H since 2003 last night, and as he promised in his opening monologue, it went “okay, okay, okay.”
With nothing to plug or promote, the True Detective star gave all his energy to his hosting duties, and while he didn’t exactly go full Oscars-speech McConaughey, he did bring some much-needed weirdness to the episode. (“Welcome to the zoo. We are the monkeys.”)
Sometimes monologues with extensive musical numbers can work well (see Elizabeth Banks last Saturday), but they can start to feel tired when the show relies on them week after week after week. Instead of donning a top hat and turning to elaborate choreography, McConaughey told the history of his most famous catchphrase, recounting how he landed his first movie role in Dazed and Confused after befriending a producer in a bar. There weren’t a ton of laugh-out-loud jokes, but McConaughey got to show off his storytelling skills, and the result was a charming, unconventional monologue.
All in all, it was a solid episode, thanks to some original writing, a game McConaughey, and a few cameos (although, tragically, there was no Jim Carrey in a Lincoln). Here are the sketches (and knockout musical performances from Adele) to watch.
Adele to the rescue
SNL has tackled the emotional repercussions of listening to Adele before in a 2011 sketch about how it’s physically impossible to hear “Someone Like You” without melting into a puddle of tears. Tragically, that sketch has since been scrubbed from the Internet, presumably due to copyright issues, but it’s left us with some phenomenal GIFs of Emma Stone sobbing into a pint of ice cream. This time around, SNL once again acknowledged the unifying power of Adele’s voice and how it can silence even your most vitriolic relatives at Thanksgiving. Besides, everyone looks better with winged eyeliner, a spiky manicure, and long, sepia-toned hair blowing in the wind.
These aren’t the screen tests you’re looking for
J.J. Abrams himself stopped by to take us to a galaxy far, far away and share some never-before-seen screen tests from the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The resulting parade of cameos and impressions made for the funniest bit of the night, bolstered by appearances from actual cast members Daisy Ridley and John Boyega. (Boyega cracking up over the idea of a black stormtrooper was particularly great.)
The rest of the SNL cast brought out the impressions they don’t get to use on a regular basis (we need more Kate McKinnon as Maggie Smith immediately, and how has Bobby Moynihan never played George Lucas before?), and a parade of celebrities showed up to throw their hats into the ring, too, including Michael Buble and Emma Stone, who was eager to remind Abrams that she can “play a very convincing part-Asian woman.” And never mind the fact that Jon Hamm is older now that Harrison Ford was in the original Star Wars; somebody cast him in the young Han Solo prequel, quick.
Fox & Friends cold open
Steve Doocy, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and Brian Kilmeade returned to kick off the show with another Fox & Friends cold open, and while this episode didn’t feel as sharp as past iterations, there were a few decent jokes about the Syrian refugee crisis. McKinnon once again went full Debbie Wasserman Schutlz, baring her teeth and promising to welcome 19,000 Syrians into her own home, and Jay Pharoah brought back his mild-mannered Ben Carson, promising, “I’m like a koala bear. On the outside, I may seem nice, but on the inside, I’ve never held elected office.” This installment of Fox & Friends was missing the usual string of corrections, and I missed pausing my DVR to try to catch all of them, but instead, Leslie Jones popped up as the show’s definitely underpaid fact checker.
Should You Chime In On This?
After criticizing the Fox & Friends team for pontificating on topics they knew nothing about, SNL doubled down on the topic with a new game show: Should You Chime In On This? Kenan Thompson’s Allen Degeneres grilled contestants on a variety of news topics, challenging them to remain silent and not add their unnecessary opinion.
A real sunglasses guy
One of the show’s weirder sketches actually came fairly in the night, as McConaughey took center stage as a 3D printed man posing as human. Channeling his inner robot, he added some creepy details to his performance, from overexaggerated blinks to that unsettling stare. It’s always nice to see the rest of the cast play the straight man and let the host shine, especially as it’s usually the other way around, and McConaughey went all in.
Hello, it’s Adele
McConaughey may have been the host, but this was Adele’s night. Only 24 hours after the release of her highly anticipated album 25, Adele took to the stage to perform her smash hit “Hello,” as well a her powerful new song “When We Were Young,” triggering what sounded like some of the most thunderous applause Studio 8H has seen all season.