SNL recap: Paul Rudd toasts Saturday Night Live in season 44 finale with musical guest DJ Khaled
Saturday Night Live’s 44th season is in the endgame now, so they called on Ant-Man himself, Paul Rudd, to host the season finale. While there were no emotional cast member farewells and surprisingly few celebrity cameos in the low-key season-ender, the show brought a few hilarious moments and one affecting Weekend Update appearance. DJ Khaled was also on hand as musical guest, bringing with him a star-studded guest list.
The Bohemian Rhapsody-inspired Queenaissance is apparently still in full swing. The cold open featured Alec Baldwin’s POTUS with the rest of the SNL White House singing a Trump-ified version of “Don’t Stop Me Now.”
“I’m on cruise control to a second term, and there’s nothing the Democrats in Congress can do about it,” a smarmy Baldwin told the audience. “So sit back and enjoy the ride, America, because tonight — well, tonight…”
He’s gonna have himself a real good time, as Cecily Strong’s Melania Trump, Beck Bennett’s Mike Pence, Aidy Bryant’s Sarah Huckabee Sanders joined him to sing. (Sample lyrics: “He’s throwing stones and he lives in a big glass house / He’s cheated on every spouse!” Melania belted before Pence chimed in, “I wanna make a Chik-Fil-A man outta you!”)
Also joining in were Kate McKinnon’s crypt-keeping Wilbur Ross, Chris Redd’s MAGA hat-wearing Kanye, and Kenan Thompson’s Clarence Thomas (“We got the votes now / Women are screwed!”). Their singalong was interrupted by Robert De Niro’s Robert Mueller, who had a very important message for the American people — but no time for that! The gang finished up their song with the first Game of Thrones joke (of many) of the night, a tease to keep watching to see who stays alive. “Spoiler: I live,” McKinnon said creepily. “For another 150 years. And the iron throne will be mine.”
Rudd stepped up to his fourth turn as host knowing how the gig worked. “What I’ve learned is that these monologues — they should be a little funny, but they should also be heartfelt. Sort of like a best man’s speech at a wedding,” he explained. “And tonight, I’d like to be your best man.”
After getting a glass of champagne, Rudd launched into a speech celebrating his old pal, Saturday Night Live. “I first officially met SNL in 2008. I was like, this guy’s crazy! You were doing sketches about some guy named Barack, and I hadn’t done a Marvel movie yet, so I was still treating people pretty well.”
After reminiscing that “you and I used to kind of make out” (with photographic evidence), he shared a totally very real memory of meeting Lorne Michaels on the day of the very first episode of SNL. “I said, ‘Sir, one day, I’ll be hosting your show.’ And he said, ‘Guards, do your worst,’” Rudd recalled fondly. “After all these years, I knew we’d be there for each other. Whenever you needed a host and I needed to promote a movie.”
Sketch of the Night
GoT Tribute (aka a Grace and Frankie rap): Pete Davidson did his best to deliver a rap about Game of Thrones, which we can confirm does in fact feature “lotsa wine and a big-ass wall,” but when Kenan Thompson and Thrones’ own Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) stepped in to tell Davidson that he didn’t have to pretend to be a fan of the show just to rap about it for the SNL finale, he delivered a song about something he actually loves: “My favorite show is mother—ing Grace and Frankie!” he rapped.
“They’re both like 80-something / riding hot air balloons like it’s nothing,” he sang. DJ Khaled joined in, hilariously contributing: “Grace and Frankie! They’re different but they’re friends!” When Rudd showed up and was told he could sing about his favorite show, he joined right in on the G&F love. The clip concluded with footage of the show’s stars themselves, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, wearing “Pete can get it” T-shirts and smizing for the camera. Eat your heart out, Game of Thrones.
The Weekend Update began like usual, with some zingers from Colin Jost and Michael Che about Trump giving vague and meaningless quotes to the press and Jared Kushner’s “resting evil face,” among other things. Cecily Strong popped in as a boozy Jeanine Pirro, who has now gifted us all with the effective drinking game of taking a swig “every time President Trump ignores a congressional subpoena.”
After Strong made her exit, Jost and Che gave each other their end-of-season presents, in which they each had to deliver jokes from the teleprompter neither of them had seen before. “The idea isn’t to sabotage each other, Michael, it’s just to give each other fun jokes,” Jost clarified before they were both forced to deliver a series of self-owns, mostly sexual in nature.
But the best moment came at the end of the Weekend Update, when Leslie Jones joined them in full Handmaid’s Tale dress to talk about the extreme anti-abortion legislation passed in multiple states this week. “Basically we’re all handmaids now,” she explained her outfit before tearing off the red robe to reveal a T-shirt that said MINE above an arrow pointing downward.
“What made me so mad was seeing the 25 Alabama senators who voted for the abortion ban,” she said as the now-viral image appeared onscreen. “Look at them. All men. This looks like the casting call for a Lipitor commercial. This looks like the mugshots of everyone arrested at a massage parlor. If any of them had lips I would tell them to kiss my entire ass.”
Jones concluded on an empowering note. “If you’re a woman out there and you feel scared and confused, just know that you’re not alone,” she said, encouraging the women watching that we’ve all got each other’s backs. “Especially me, Leslie Dracarys That Bitch Jones… You can’t tell me what to do with my body.”
If fans expecting lots of cameos for the finale were disappointed in the sketches’ few new faces, they got their fix in the musical performances from DJ Khaled, whose album Father of Asahd dropped the day before SNL. For his first turn onstage, he brought out Lil Wayne and Big Sean, but he didn’t stop there. Next came Meek Mill, Jeremih, Lil Baby, and J Balvin packing the stage with stars.
For his second appearance, DJ Khaled brought out SZA and John Legend — and also one more star, calling out twice during the performance, “Long live Nipsey Hussle!” and wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with the late rapper’s image.