Comedian Amy Schumer made her return to the Saturday Night Live stage this week for the first time since her hosting debut in October 2015. Ah, remember October 2015? The Republican and Democratic debates were just kicking into gear, and the idea that Alec Baldwin could play Donald Trump hadn’t yet entered Tina Fey’s imagination. In fact, political jokes on Schumer’s first episode mostly revolved around who would replace House Speaker John Boehner.
Fast-forward two and a half years: Political jokes and impressions of now-President Trump that even Baldwin is sick of have become go-to fodder for the show. For those who aren’t fans of SNL’s politics, this week’s Mother’s Day episode offered a reprieve.
The result? A somewhat sluggish episode with enough laughs from Schumer and the cast to keep it chugging along, but lacking a “Lobster Dinner” or “A Kanye Place”-caliber sketch to set Twitter ablaze. Of course, the lack of politics as usual likely had nothing to do with the “just okay”-ness of this week’s show, though it was certainly noticeable, even from much of “Weekend Update,” which did land a few hits against Trump but didn’t quite know what to do on a week when he seemed quieter than usual.
Here are the highlights from this week’s mom-heavy show:
Cold Open: SNL moms call for a break from politics
In honor of Mother’s Day, SNL swapped Baldwin and other guest stars playing Trump associates to instead bring out 10 cast members’ real-life mothers to express their biggest gripes about the show: all the politics and Trump jokes. It was a fun premise of sweet moms delivering common complaints, albeit at times uncomfortable to watch non-actors struggle to land jokes while reading cue cards on live TV.
Monologue: Amy Schumer proves marriage hasn’t changed her
For her monologue, Schumer did more than eight minutes of stand-up, assuring fans that although she’ll have to lose her dating material now that she’s married, she is by no means cleaning up her act. The I Feel Pretty star covered everything from her new husband’s “worthless” marriage proposal and the struggle of being a bridesmaid in your late 30s to how asking for a tampon in a gym locker room leads to a group of strangers knowing way too much about her vagina. SNL often lets comics go longer in their monologues than an actor there to plug their latest blockbuster. If you’re a fan of Schumer’s comedy, this monologue will land for you. If not, eight minutes can feel like an eternity.
Blessed be the parody: “Handmaids in the City”
Praise be! Someone had the idea to combine A Handmaid’s Tale and Sex and the City, and the resulting mash-up is painfully funny. “As I waited for the girls in downtown Gilead, I was feeling like an uptown Gal-ead,” a red robe and bonnet-clad Schumer says in Carrie Bradshaw’s signature inner-monologue style. “And I couldn’t help but wonder, ‘Are women allowed to do anything anymore?’” This is also the kind of sketch that would have felt right at home on Inside Amy Schumer, and she plays it perfectly here.
Best sketch for Mother’s Day: “The Day You Were Born”
This filmed sketch offers an honest take on the “joys” of motherhood. Schumer plays a mom treated to a Mother’s Day breakfast in bed by her young son, who asks her about the day he was born. “It was amazing,” she tells him as a flashback shows her in the hospital, crying out in pain: “How much bigger can the hole get? My f—ing vagina hurts!”
“I had a big smile on my face the whole time,” present-day mom fibs as she’s shown in flashback screaming at the doctor and asking if she’s pooping during labor. The sketch continues to show the juxtaposition between the sweet story she tells her son — that “every day since then has been better than the day before” — while in reality she was getting peed on while changing a diaper or falling asleep on the toilet while nursing. The sketch ends with a title card that reads, “To all the moms in the world, thanks for pretending it was easy.”
Best sequel more than 3 years in the making: “James Madison High School Graduation”
“One hundred grads. 400 family members. All in direct sunlight for three-plus hours!” This high-octane, spot-on look at graduation tropes is a follow-up to an even more hilarious filmed sketch about Christmas Mass that aired when Martin Freeman hosted back in December 2014. I still remember that episode as one of the best of season 40, thanks in part to the church sketch (plus the perfect Hobbit-British Office mash-up), so I was on board for this new rendition the moment it started.
Best “Weekend Update” hits, plus a bonus celebrity cameo
Best Colin Jost joke of the night: “Hunter College has announced they will give an honorary degree to actor Vin Diesel. Diesel says he can’t wait to find out whether the degree is in Fahrenheit or Celsius.”
Best Michael Che joke of the night: “Police at Yale University interrogated a black graduate student after a white student reported her for sleeping in the common room. So if you’re black and you go to Yale: Stay woke.”
Melissa McCarthy also made a surprise appearance as Che’s very proud stepmom.
Musical moment: Kacey Musgraves
Country crooner Kacey Musgraves followed up a stiff first performance of “High Horse” with a slightly more captivating turn for the pretty “Slow Burn,” both off her new album Golden Hour, which I hear is “spectacular,” even if what we saw here fell short of that.
Cast MVP: Heidi Gardner
Gardner may not have been in many sketches this episode, but it’s quality over quantity this week. Gardner made her second appearance as teen movie critic Bailey Gismert on “Weekend Update,” an awkward YouTuber who may or may not “like” Thanos. Just please do not text Thanos to tell him because “It’s gonna be, like, so bad.”
This is still Gardner’s first season on the show, but she already feels like an SNL veteran. Her consistently pitch-perfect character work is the only thing making the inevitable departure of Kate McKinnon feel at all survivable.
SNL all-star Tina Fey returns as host with musical guest Nicki Minaj for next week’s season 43 closer. Make sure to recycle your Wednesday pink as Fey helps plug Mean Girls on Broadway, and keep an eye out for other former cast members to pop up.
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