Saturday Night Live kicked off this week’s episode by forgoing a cold open in favor of a solemn statement from Cecily Strong addressing the recent tragedies in Paris: “Paris is the city of light, and here in New York City, we know that light will never go out,” she said. “Our love and support is with everyone there tonight.”
The NBC show tends to react to tragedies, national or otherwise, with respect and thoughtfulness, and this simple but heartfelt message was no exception. After Sept. 11, members of the FDNY appeared alongside Rudy Giuliani onstage. After the Sandy Hook shootings, SNL began its episode with a children’s choir singing “Silent Night” in honor of the victims. Just because it’s a comedy doesn’t mean it can’t memorably acknowledge relevant sadness, something it proves again and again.
The show went on as usual after Strong’s introduction with Elizabeth Banks showing off her directing and performing skills at the same time: The Pitch Perfect 2 director performed a lively rendition of “What a Feeling” as she shouted out instructions to bring out a treadmill, change the green screen to images of multiple locations, and add plenty of star wipes. The result? A monologue that should make her a shoe-in for the director position on any movie.
Here’s a rundown of what else you need to know if you want to carry on a conversation about the episode:
The world gets a new start-up — that no one really wanted
We’ve all heard of Angie’s List. Now, there’s Aron’s List. But Aron isn’t a person: It’s an acronym for American Registry of Nonviolent Sexual Offenders, a.k.a. people (in this case, men) who’ve been arrested for offenses like streaking and “penis pranks.” The highlight of the faux ad comes when Bobby Moynihan’s character reveals that his offense was peeing in all the file cabinets marked “P” at work, a perfectly ridiculous “prank” that adds just the right amount of absurdity to this already-absurd commercial.
The ladies reveal who they “first got horny 2” in a boy band-style music video
Carson Daly, Taylor Hanson, “the cool teen son from Dinosaurs” — all these guys kickstarted some young girls’ sexual awakenings, according to this song that features Banks, Strong, Kate McKinnon, Vanessa Bayer, and Aidy Bryant showing off their very best Nick Carter impressions. Come for the choreography; stay for Bryant’s eventual meet cute (er, ugly?) with Robbie Sinclair.
Pete Davidson tears apart opponents to the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance
Texas voters recently rejected the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, which sought to “[prohibit] discrimination on the basis of characteristics” like race and gender. Pete Davidson used this as an opportunity to do some stand-up during “Weekend Update” mocking the opposition: “So apparently, this anti-discrimination law was voted down because some people claim it’s just an excuse to allow guys into womens’ restrooms,” Davidson started. “The theory is that men, in their relentless quest to watch women go to the bathroom, are going through years of hormones, surgery, changing their name, their wardrobe, coming out to their family, all for that big pay-off of peeing in a room without urinals.” Davidson demonstrated how ludicrously irrational the opponents to the ordinance are with everyday observations that anyone who’s ever used a women’s bathroom knows to be true, proving that the most everyday topics often make the best — and most biting — jokes.
Jay Pharoah is Ben Carson
This sketch recreated the story Carson’s been fond of telling recently of the time he allegedly lunged at a friend with a knife only to be stopped by said friend’s belt buckle. “Blocked by a belt buckle, this happens all the time,” Pharoah’s Carson says after the failed stabbing, reacting with as much energy as a stoned sloth — in other words, nailing his Carson impression.
Lorde and Sam Smith add an extra bit of magic to Disclosure’s performances
Listening to Lorde sing is a great experience. Listening to Lorde sing and watching her dance in her signature strange-but-captivating way is the greatest experience. The “Royals” singer provided vocals for “Magnets,” and Sam Smith joined the band for an equally amazing performance of “Omen,” the first single off the English duo’s recently released Caracal.