Saturday Night Live recap: Lizzo and Lizzo anchor Easter show
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You unlock this Saturday Night Live recap with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension — a dimension of sketch comedy, a dimension of music, a dimension of live TV. You're moving into a land of both streaming and network broadcasting, of things and ideas. You've just crossed over into SNL in Review.
We have Lizzo pulling double duty as host and musical guest tonight, Conehead nation. But first: a brief acknowledgement about the passing of former SNL cast member, and comedy legend, Gilbert Gottfried.
I want to commemorate Gottfried — who joined the cast during the turbulent sixth season - and introduce Matthew Laurance, who was also in the cast. Laurance first met Gottfried in the SNL offices. He shares: "The amazing thing about Gilbert was always, from the first time you saw, so unique. So different from anybody. He was very shy. You've got to remember there were a lot of very funny, creative people around and Gilbert was always kind of in the background. It was almost like he was deferring. Eddie [Murphy] was there, and [Joe] Piscopo, who had this big personality. It was hard to get a read on what exactly they saw on him sometimes. Then all of a sudden he'd do something or say something and I would think, 'Nobody else would've thought of that.' It gave you a glimpse of what they saw, when I don't think it was readily apparent all the time."
This anecdote from Laurance is a wonderful snapshot of who Gottfried was as a comedian and person: "I was in the restroom. I was standing there washing my hands and Gilbert came in. We were the only two in there. I said hi to him, and he kind of nodded to me. Then he went to the sink next to me, turned the water on and started washing his hands. Like, he just came in to wash his hands. Then, out of nowhere — I remember the line 40 years later — in that Gilbert voice: 'So there was an elephant, on a desert island.' That's how it started, a stream of consciousness for probably three minutes. I was laughing so hard. One thing led to another, you know how he was. That's how I always thought of him, that moment."Comedy has lost a lot of icons this year. I hope/expect tonight's show notes Gilbert's passing, in some way. And now, let's see what the SNL Easter Bunny has in store for us… All systems ready for take off, please stand by...
Oh yes, speaking of the Easter Bunny! Bowen Yang delivers a message as the "freakiest" holiday character. He welcomes several guests on their wishes on Easter. Ugh, first off is Kate McKinnon's bad impression as Dr. Fauci. Cecily Strong is Marjorie Taylor Greene holding a chocolate rifle. "God bless Russia, I mean America," she accidentally says. Chris Redd is New York Mayor Eric Adams – I love this impression. "Sexy back, violent crime way up!" he proudly proclaims.
Next up: Former SNL host Elon Musk (Mikey Day) comes on to "joke" about buying Easter. He's in Bond villain form — remember we let him host? Huh. Chloe Fineman returns as her spot on Britney Spears. Kyle Mooney is not Jesus Christ, he's Jared Leto. Last but not least: James Austin Johnson returns as Donald Trump. This is spot on as always, but do we need Trump here? Always Trump. Five years on, folks.
Y'all know me. Know how I earn a livin'. I am not a fan of these Mad Lib cold opens – box checking, formless, lazy. Matthew Laurance thinks "it's so funny with the show now. There are certain times where I think it's absolutely brilliant. Laugh out loud at stuff. Then there's moments where I go: 'What are you doing?'" He says it's hard for him to keep up with the new cast members this season; he would be really happy if the show was just "Cecily and Kate McKinnon and Kenan [Thompson]."
Lizzo says we're going to break a record for saying "bitch" on live TV. Her mom is in the audience. She mentions a TED Talk she gave on the history of twerking (yet, she doesn't namedrop "Dutty Wine." Too bad!) The crowd is game here. They recite her lyrics back to her. Big energy vibes.
Lizzo is in great company tonight; previous double-duty hosts include Justin Timberlake, Paul Simon, Ludacris, Lady Gaga, and Halsey. Here is some fun context. When Matthew Laurance was on SNL, Debbie Harry pulled double duty as host and musical guest. "That was one of the best weeks of my life," he shares. Harry and he ended up hanging out much of the week together, alongside Blondie guitarist Chris Stein. "That show was great because of how good she was and how committed. When they've done that other times (had the musical guests also host) they're just trying to get through the non-music part of it. They could be really terrific but you can tell. She totally, even in rehearsals, was 100% in."
Ah, our obligatory game show. Tracy (Ego Nwodim), Nicole (Lizzo), and Kenny (Chris Redd) are playing. Nicole misstates the name of Kennedy Airport. She doubles down on the wrong answer and begins antagonizing the host, Clint (Kenan Thompson). It's silly – they fight over who the mayor of Gametown is.
Fun fact on Kenan: All That premiered on Nickelodeon 28 years ago today. That's how long he's been in the sketch comedy game. (I watched this pilot premiere live, folks, so cool to note what I was doing nearly three decades ago. This Day in History!)
This is the kind of spoof I'd like to see the show try more often. It's modern, and manic, and weird. Lots of references to different TikTok templates and viral videos. Granted, it's tough to do this without seeming incoherent. Unlike a perfunctory game show spoof that feels like it could've existed in any era, this sketch is very specific to how many, many people get entertained and engage with the world today. In this case, a 27-year-old is bored, scrolling through his phone while avoiding studying for the LSATs.
Interscope Studios - Black Eyed Peas
It's 2008. Lizzo and Aidy Bryant are music producers working with the Black Eyed Peas. Thompson is playing Will.I.Am. They are debating and brainstorming the dumb, mind-numbing lyrics behind their hit "Boom Boom Pow" and "I Gotta Feeling." Cecily Strong gets to sing in this sketch again. This time she is playing Fergie: "The People in the Place."
Lizzo brings a date (Mikey Day) home and things are going well. Then a secret is revealed: She lives with her grandfather, and turns out he's the guy from the Six Flags commercials. It is hilarious seeing Sarah Sherman and Ego Nwodim as the grandparents.
A community of Six Flags guys show up – a strange twist that sort of works. As always, Day is shocked and confused by this development. "We like to party!" Lizzo cries, asserting herself. Like TikTok and the Black Eyed Peas sketch, these are precise pop culture moments. Hopefully people get it! Lizzo seems to be enjoying herself. These commercials were ubiquitous back in the day!
Please Don't Destroy
Lizzo is stressed about performing two new songs on the show. She admits she doesn't have any new music ready, and demands our heroes come up with the next "Black Woman Anthem." Andrew Dismukes threatens to kill her if her songs aren't good and they panic. She vomits until they pitch her a sketch concept: about a horny zookeeper. That becomes the basis for her new song.
Matthew Laurance says the recent Pete Davidson-Please Don't Destroy music video a few weeks back is one of his favorites this season: "I was crying I was laughing so hard… so brilliant."
Lizzo - "About Damn Time"
"Ladies and gentlemen, me!" Lizzo introduces her own musical performance. That SNL Hosts Introducing the Musical Guest Twitter account is going to lose itself over this. "About Damn Time" is the funky, feel-good lead single from Lizzo's upcoming studio album Special. It was previewed on James Corden's show. I love the flute playing on display here.
Colin Jost and Michael Che take savage digs at President Joe Biden. (There really was a Corn Pop, by the way – not sure why critics keep pretending there wasn't?) Lots of jeering from the audience during this segment tonight.
Jost says lots of people have asked to appear on Update over the years, but he's always said no. However, after getting drunk he agreed to let his driver Cesar Perez (Melissa Villaseñor) get a shot at trying stand-up on the segment, and takes a dig at his nephew Carlitos. He feels bad and apologizes immediately. So this is the hook. He returns: "I'm so proud of you." Even when impersonating his grandmother, he mocks the poor kid. This is a nice bit of work by Villaseñor, nice to see to let her have a shot at it.
The segment ends with a card dedicated to Gilbert Gottfried.
Throne Room Orgy
It's the rehearsal for an ancient Egyptian god-king's doomed sex party. Cecily Strong and Bowen Yang are the party planners, who go over all the details with each one of the tropes present at these historical orgies: flame throwers, eunuchs, fanners. Kate McKinnon shows up with a goat – she is wondering whether she should worship it or make out with it, giving him a carrot. Kyle Mooney appears as an imp, giggling and stealing. Turns out the god-king is an actual child. This seemed pretty elaborate – good production design and costumes. So why did the actual storyline here feel so meh? Just another check- list structure.
Lizzo - "Special"
Lizzo's mom introduces this performance of "Special." Bouncy track with a very earnest message. ("Special" serves as the anthem for Logitech's "Defy Logic" campaign.)
The Flutist (or Flautist)
A conductor (Mikey Day) of a symphony orchestra is in need of a flutist – their performance is in three hours. Lizzo appears alongside her handler (Chris Redd). She's able to play - but only if she's twerking. Day is a traditionalist and insists she sit while performing, which deprives her of her ability. The rest of the orchestra resolves itself to also twerk – Aidy Bryant, Kate McKinnon, the whole gang. I like the body positive message here, but pretty dreadful work. (Kenan Thompson's hair is straight out of Kenan & Kel.)
Steve (Andrew Dismukes) has quit his job. He's going to rely on his investments: his collection of Beanie Babies. Mikey Day and Bowen Yang challenge him: Beanie Babies are essentially worthless. Steve and Annette (Lizzo) fight — well, Lizzo laughs — over his Mario drawing. She's pregnant. I love these strange Dismukes sketches – shades of I Think You Should Leave energy.
-Thanks again to Matthew Laurance for sharing his memories on working with Gilbert Gottfried. RIP to Gilbert. On Gottfried being a cast member: "He always seemed out-of-place to me up there because he was so wonderful. And there was a lot of infighting." And with social media, Laurance notes: "It's so sad - and it happens in every walk of life - it takes someone passing away for, all of a sudden, these videos of Gilbert were all over that I had never seen. Like his Andrew Dice Clay impression."
-Speaking of season six, take a look at this conversation I had with former writer Mitchell Kriegman. He pulls no punches on his experiences working on the show.
-What did you think of Lizzo's appearance as host and musician guest? Weigh in below or vote here!
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The original late-night comedy sketch show from the one and only Lorne Michaels.