Amazon got a big boost Saturday when Rachel Brosnahan — the star of the streaming service’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel — took over as host for the first original episode of the new year. Oh, and Pete Davidson broke character and got a little awkward again at the Update Desk. Let’s roll!
In a timely riff on the current government shutdown, Kenan Thompson brought out his Steve Harvey impression in a Deal or No Deal sketch featuring Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump, again. “Earlier in the day you went on TV and told the American people you want to make a deal,” Thompson’s Harvey said. “We decided to do this in the only format you can understand. A TV game show with women holding briefcases.” After offering to release “the kids from cages so they can be free-range kids,” Baldwin’s Trump shouted out the number five — not to select a briefcase, but to rate the women currently holding all those briefcases. “On the day of the Women’s March,” Thompson quipped. Good stuff, especially when Kate McKinnon took over as Nancy Pelosi and Alex Moffat played that “older Jewish woman” Chuck Schumer.
Brosnahan opened the show by reminding folks that her comedy is on Amazon — the same service that provides meat thermometers and D batteries. She didn’t get too much time on her own, though: cast members such as Cecily Strong and Thompson joined her on stage to sing a New Year’s resolution song called “Let’s Have Fun” — even though the government shutdown, Brexit, and the teacher’s strike is sucking the confetti out of their party poppers. Meh.
Best sketch: Action 9 News at Five
McKinnon played a pun-loving news anchor named Carol Kumdungeon covering an earthquake in downtown Sacramento, where people were in the process of changing their very awkward names in the social security office. Brosnahan portrayed a straight-faced doctor who helped to reveal the whereabouts of missing persons in the quake’s aftermath, such as Bill Kosbie, Ty Neadik, Morgan Mindy, Todd Kobell, Ivan Jerganov, and Pete Ophelia. Pete Davidson, as a fireman, had a hard time holding back the laughs.
Best short: Leave Me Alurn
To help ward off icky men who try to pick up women flying solo, Brosnahan and McKinnon shilled the Leave Me Alurn — a “portable urn for women travelers to make men think you are about to scatter your dad or grandpa’s ashes in a meaningful place so they back the hell up off.” It also triples as a phone charger and a portable cup!
Colin Jost started it off with more of a reality check than a joke: “We were off for a month, but conveniently so was the government.” He then yukked it up about BuzzFeed’s Michael Cohen scoop, Trump’s “burger orgy” for the Clemson Tigers, and not trusting R. Kelly in a Claire’s boutique before inviting Sen. Elizabeth Warren (McKinnon) to the update desk. “I’m fighting for the middle class, I’m fighting for Medicare for all,” she said. “I’m like if Monday Night Raw was hosted by NPR’s Terry Gross.”
Jost then riffed on the night’s musical guest — Greta Van Fleet — by reporting how a Super Blood Wolf Moon will appear in the sky Sunday night, “which is a rare lunar eclipse and not as I had assumed, the name of the band that just performed on our show.” Davidson returned to the update desk to talk about the Clint Eastwood movie The Mule and invited former SNL scribe John Mulaney to join in on the discussion. But first, they felt a need to discuss Davidson’s real-life battles with mental health.
“I’ve been spending time with Pete to show him you can have a life in comedy that is not insane,” explained Mulaney. “A sober, domestic life.”
“Yeah, and after observing John’s life, I publicly threatened suicide,” Davidson said, before adding, “I’m sorry I shouldn’t make that joke. But it is funny.”
Mulaney then put his arms around Davidson said, “You are loved by many, and we are glad you are okay. Now back to The Mule.” Oh boy.
James McAvoy and musical guest Meek Mill will take over on the Jan. 26 episode of SNL.