By Dana Schwartz
March 09, 2019 at 11:33 PM EST
Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
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Sexiest Man Alive, Marvel star, and the people’s James Bond, Idris Elba made his Saturday Night Live hosting debut, with musical guest Khalid. Read on for a running recap of the show, as it happened.

Cold Open

Leslie Jones began the night as Gayle King, in a cold open lampooning the interview she did with R. Kelly (“individual who number ones”) about his sexual abuse. When pressed in questioning, R. Kelly (Kenan Thompson) asked she refer to him as “victim” and broke out into song, parodying “Trapped in the Closet.”

Thompson was the sketch’s standout, mastering R. Kelly’s scattered mannerisms and landing one of the sketchiest funniest lines (Can’t think of anything nice to say about the devil? He can: “Nice horns, gives good advice.”) But it’s also possible that alleged sexual abuse of minors isn’t quite as ripe for comedy as other news stories.


Sexiest Man Alive Idris Elba (no, I will not get tired of typing that) began his monologue by proving he is maybe the only man alive who can look that good in a full green suit. The actor took us back through his résumé, pre-fame when he worked as a bouncer at Caroline’s Comedy Club. “It was a decent job, I made some great contacts. By which I mean I sold weed.” But eventually, the right audition came along: a small pilot for a show called The Wire. And then came the glorious series of events that led to this beautiful suit on our television screens. Thank you, Idris Elba.

The Obligatory Game Show Sketch

We begin the show with a game show segment that is unfortunately not featuring a Bill Hader cameo. The sketch, poking fun at online “Cancel culture,” features a panel of actors being asked the question: Can you play that role? The answer: probably not. Want to play a blind person? Uh oh. “God took their sight, and now you want to take their job.”

The show is produced by Twitter. “Twitter: one mistake, and we’ll kill you.”

And we got our James Bond joke! Idris’s character is asked who can play James Bond. “Hey, I know the answer to that one!” And Kenan Thompson’s host grimaces. “Do you though?” Gold.


MOMO IS COMING FOR YOUR CHICKEN FRANCHISES. Kate McKinnon as a chicken-internet nightmare hybrid is going to haunt me for the rest of my life.


Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant are a dream team. Last week we got them reacting in real time to a basket full of actual meet, and this week we get them as “fun receptionists” who can’t make PowerPoints and weep with the slightest bit of criticism. “This is not my world!” Bryant’s character wailed at the technology, in an imitation of everybody’s mom. I would follow these two to the ends of the earth, even a sketch that doesn’t really go anywhere.

The Impossible Hulk

You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry. Because when he’s angry, he becomes an impossible white lady! Don’t dare tell him that the shirt from the half-off section isn’t actually half-off. The Impossible Hulk WILL call the cops on you. Let it be declared: I would never want to be on Cecily Strong’s bad side.

Gold Diggers

Guess what? WNBA players aren’t paid as much as NBA players so their gold diggers are correspondingly less luxe! This night has all been about sketches that could be funny but aren’t really going anywhere.

Weekend Update

Baskin Johns, Goop staffer, came back to the update desk, glossy and well-accessorized as ever. But this time, we got a celeb cameo, QUEEN GWEE HERSELF, Gwyneth Paltrow as “Fifer James,” a nervous goop employee who’s willing to prove GP can make fun of herself. “She doesn’t believe in firing. It’s called conscious unemploying.” Say what you will about Gwyneth, but I’ll say I LIKE HER. SHE IS CHARMING AND HER OUT-OF-TOUCH RIDICULOUS WEALTH is fun and aspirational. Team GP!

Here are some of the funniest jokes of Weekend Update, but the most important takeaway is that Pete Davidson‘s hair is still brown, and I like it.

“Here’s how bad Trump’s presidency is going: His campaign manager was sentenced to four years in prison, and to Trump, that’s good news.”

“President Trump visited tornado victims in Alabama and signed Bibles for them. I’m not a very religious person, but I feel like when you’re getting your Bibles signed by a guy who raw dogs porn stars, you’re probably not a very religious person either.”

On Queen Elizabeth II joining Instagram: “Finally, a chance for commoners to directly tell the queen, ‘Show feet.’”

Don’t ask Pete Davidson about the age gap between him and Kate Beckinsale. Got it.

And try to get invited to Leslie Jones’s funeral somehow. Check.

Footballer Commentators

Welcome to the sketch, “Which of the cast members can do a good British accent?” It turns out the answer is “kind of Mikey Day and Alex Moffat, more or less”! Beck Bennett’s haircut does half the work for him. We just get a still shot of him, but it’s somehow the most British haircut I’ve ever seen? Idris Elba joins in as a dumb footballer who answers monosyllabically when he’s not making obscene comments.

(It seems like Day and Moffat have been getting a lot of the sketch time that used to go to Kyle Mooney and Beck Bennett. I miss those weird, very low-fi-style pre-recorded sketches they would do.)

The Great Rudolpho

Idris Elba donned a terrible wig and sideburns to mask as a magician who’s stuck with an overly enthusiastic Leslie Jones character as his assistant. It’s a one-joke sketch, but it just goes to show how far you can get when a great actor is fully committed to a mediocre bit. Whatever this sketch was, it was absolutely not worth Leslie Jones having to submerge her entire body in water.

He got the part!

Aidy Bryant, Beck Bennett, Alex Moffat, and Cecily Strong join Idris Elba in a sketch about young actors auditioning in Los Angeles. Bennett nails the “overly supportive, but is he actually supportive? He’s kind of acting crazy!” type of friend. Beck Bennett shouting “SOMEBODY LOVE ME” is, as the kids say, a Big Mood, and it applies to every arena of my life.

Quick question: where is Kyle Mooney? Was he in the show at all this week?

Yes, Beck is a great physical comedian, but where the hell is Kyle Mooney!

Final Verdict

Even with a GP cameo, Idris Elba hosting never managed to coalesce into something memorable. I miss John Mulaney.

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