Saturday Night Live recap: Kim Kardashian pokes fun at famous family in hosting debut
Greetings! It is I, your friendly neighborhood SNL in Review, here to live recap what will quite possibly be a fascinating continuation of season 47. Tonight's host is Kim Kardashian West. It is her first appearance on Saturday Night Live; however, references to the Kardashian-Jenner family started way back in the '70s, when Martin Sheen portrayed Caitlyn — then Bruce — Jenner in season 5. Since then, much has happened with Kim's father being namedropped during the show's O.J. Simpson coverage in the '90s, and Keeping Up With the Kardashians becoming one of the most iconic reality TV shows in history. So, like the Trumps, the Kardashians are one of those American families you can trace reflected and refracted in SNL's coverage over the years. So tonight is a culmination of sorts.
Still, Kim is a savvy, self-aware operator, so I am interested to see how far she goes at poking fun at herself. The big question: Does her estranged (?) husband Kanye West — a favorite at Studio 8H — make an appearance? (I'm guessing we'll get a high-profile cameo, or two, or three...)
I am joined tonight by former SNL cast member Jeff Richards, who joined the show as Kim was getting her start on The Simple Life. He is open to the idea of reality TV stars being successful at live sketch comedy. When I ask him how he, personally, keeps up with the Kardashians, he says: "with heavy perfume and foundation."
The story coming out of last week's season premiere was James Austin Johnson's strong debut. Jeff singles out the new featured player for his "refreshing take on Biden" while also saying he "can't wait to see more from the inventive minds" of Sarah Sherman and Aristotle Athari.
Tonight is musical guest Halsey's fourth appearance on the show; they previously hosted in 2019. Let's get this thing started.
*cracks knuckles* Alright!
"C-Span on a Saturday night… wow." For fans of the show's political cold opens in the late '80s and early '90s, this is a familiar template. Today, it's the Facebook whistleblower hearing. Frances Haugen (portrayed by Heidi Gardner) is in the hot heat.
Cecily Strong brings back her solid take on Senator Feinstein, while Kyle Mooney is Senator Kennedy. They're both deeply out of touch and concerned with confusing posts they've found on a live-action Space Jam cosplay and Animorphs. "Should we do a Squid Jam?" And Aidy Bryant is again Ted Cruz — we have seen this before. He is concerned with toxicity online and groups like "Ted Cruz is the real Zodiac killer" proliferating.
Instead of Kate McKinnon as Lindsey Graham, James Austin Johnson gets to play the South Carolina Senator. He and Cory Booker (Chris Redd) are perhaps closeted. They all wonder about memes they're finding in their feed. This feels like Mikey Day's work, the cast reciting silly things off the Internet. That's kind of all we get here.
When it's noted there is a video response coming in from the founder of a very important social media site, we think the cold open is set to end with Alex Moffat's unsettling, unblinking Mark Zuckerberg — but then Pete Davidson appears as the OG social media king, Myspace's Tom. A more benign social media mogul from a simpler time. The crowd screams when Pete appears.
This was another good showcase for James Austin Johnson, folks. Especially stepping in for Kate's grotesque take. Jeff Richards thinks Johnson is great: He's a "well-oiled, highly functioning machine. Can't wait to see all that is in his future."
Kim comes out on stage draped in pink velvet from head-to-toe. "I know, I'm surprised to see me here too." She notes that she's "excited to be here tonight to show you guys I'm so much more than a pretty face," before rattling off a list of all of her beautiful features.
Shifting gears, she discusses her passion for getting wrongly accused people out of jail, and goes on to credit her late father for her interest in criminal justice. "I credit with him for really opening my eyes to racial injustice. It's because of him that I met my first Black person. Want to take a stab in the dark at who it was?" Oof. Some savage puns about O.J. Simpson here, who was her dad's client (and also hosted the show in the '70s). "I know it's sort of weird to remember the first Black person you met, but O.J. does leave a mark or several or none at all. I still don't know."
She also asserts, "I'm a Kim, not a Karen," before going on to take a brutal shot at her mom, Kris Jenner, and former stepfather Caitlyn Jenner. "Honestly, with all of the 'K' names, it's really impressive that my mom didn't pick Karen. I mean, somehow she just knew. I don't know how she saw that one coming and not Caitlyn."
She also pretends to announce a political campaign, before joking there can't be three failed candidates in the family (referencing Kanye's run for president, and Caitlyn's run for Governor of California). Ouch.
I love the mean blows here. Very fun. Her timing is solid, for the most part. Props.
Jasmine and Aladdin
Kim is playing Jasmine opposite Pete Davidson's white-yet-Middle Eastern Aladdin. They are flying together on the magic carpet when Aladdin says he needs to tell her something. "What's the matter?" she asks "Do you feel self-conscious because I'm the daughter of a sultan and you're just a lowly street rat?" Davidson notes that Jasmine isn't being very nice. "I think street rat might be a slur."
Actually, Aladdin is concerned that, physically, he won't be able to handle her. "If we go all the way, you might break me," he says.
He then asks about her previous boyfriends, and she reveals she's dated a few athletes, some rappers, and the king of Uganda. Soon after, they bump into Jasmine's sister Jourtney (Cecily Strong) — they all have "J" names — and her beau (played by Kenan Thompson).
Finally, Genie (Bowen Yang) is summoned, and Aladdin's wish is for a bigger penis. His wish is granted. "That is better," smirks Jasmine. "Even though it's the wrong color,"
Ladies Night Song
Kim, Cecily Strong, Ego Nwodim, and Punkie Johnson are entering a club. They're out for themselves — a night without their men or kids. Of course, they immediately fall asleep. They're too old for this stuff! This sketch is fun. I like Ego paying Aristotle Anthari for his shoes. (Jeff Richards adds that Anthari "has a great ear. Really funny guy.")
Kim is not much of a rapper, ha.
The Dream Guy
One eligible lady (Kim) is choosing some of her potential reality TV suitors. They include John Cena, Blake Griffin, Chace Crawford (shout-out Gossip Girl), and Chris Rock. Lots of celeb cameos here — Amy Schumer rolls in too. Always nice to see Rock.
Zeke (Kyle Mooney) is in the final two along with Cena. She has one token left. This is like the Chippendales sketch — Chris Farley versus Patrick Swayze. "This is CWAP!" cries Zeke when he is passed over, falling into a pit of flames. Silly!
Aidy Bryant is hanging out with Kim, when she begins to cry. The reality star wants Aidy's "normal, boring day." They decide to switch places via a dark magic clock: "Tick tock one, tick tock two, you are me and I am you for one day." Aidy and Kim get to impersonate each other. Some fun cameos here, including Kris Jenner and Kim's sister Khloé Kardashian.
Pretty funny payoff at the end — when Aidy and Kris trade places.
Jim (Kenan Thompson) and Wendy (Aidy Bryant) are hosting the local news: "News, it's what happened recently!" They throw to Shonda (Kim) who draws the Powerball Lotto winning numbers: 379... J! "Shonda, I don't think there are supposed to be letters in the Lotto drawing," says Jim.
They then turn to Cecily Strong's Ronda for the double play jackpot numbers: 3.... 4000… blank… Milwaukee Bucks. Huh? They cut back to Shonda, who pulls up a "3," a meatball, another meatball, and bread — the ingredients of a meatball hero. The anchors are understandably confused.
Fortunately, a repairman (Aristotle Athari) shows up to fix the lottery tubes. Lots of silent appearances by Aristotle tonight.
Halsey performs 'I Am Not Woman, I'm A God'
"I Am Not Woman, I'm A God" is off Halsey's new album If I Can't Have Love, I Want Power. It's a pretty powerful jam — produced by Nine Inch Nails members Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. You can hear their industrial sound off the bat.
Colin Jost begins with Mark Zuckerberg, with who he went to college — Jost was around for the beginning of Facebook and regrets not joining the company. Michael Che jokes Jost's grandma is a Nazi. So it's a standard Update.
Terry Fink (Alex Moffat) returns to discuss this season's crop of movies. He's microdosing LSD to see every movie out there. His face melts watching things like Paw Patrol. This might be my favorite Update film critic correspondent since Bill Murray. I like his uneasy tension with Jost, something interesting there. He gives the Venom sequel "22 toothless Terrys."
Heidi Gardner is Kelly Party, a life coach. Gardner always kills it on Update — this character is reminiscent of some classic Cheri Oteri. Her favorite song/anthem is Icona Pop's "I Love It" (feat. Charli XCX). She plays it repeatedly. When Che says he wants advice on peace and positivity without her resorting to a pop song, she begins rambling about Spiderman shooting webs.
Reflecting on the segment, and the recent death of Norm Macdonald, Richards offers: "Norm was my favorite Update anchor, absolutely fearless. And a truly nice person off camera."
The People's Kourt
Kim is portraying her sister, Judge Kourtney Kardashian. Her sister and mom return for this sketch, while Melissa Villaseñor plays Kylie. Lots of shade being thrown. Chris Redd comes on as Kanye, while Heidi Gardner gets to impersonate Kim (under a face mask).
Mikey Day is Kourtney's boyfriend Travis Barker, and Pete Davidson is his friend MGK. So cast members pop up for one-off impressions. No through-line. Sigh.
JCPenney Hard Seltzer
This is excellent. Everything has a hard seltzer brand now, including the desks at SNL.
Halsey performs 'Darling' featuring Lindsey Buckingham
The actual Lindsey Buckingham joins Halsey! Excellent. We all recall Bill Hader's famed impression of him on "What Up With That?" But Buckingham also performed on the show back in 1982, and made a cameo in 2011.
Anyway, I am loving this poignant acoustic ode to Halsey's baby. Bravo.
Kim is peddling Skims for thick dogs — no more plastic surgery for your pets. Lots of dogs here. Oh man, animal humor. Heidi Gardner gets a lick. Sarah Sherman pops up, a little too normie for my taste. No thanks!
—Color me impressed. Kim is a bit bland, but she handled herself well for the most part! Not sure all the cameos were needed.
—What did you think! Sound off below or vote here.
—Interested in SNL fan content on Twitter that isn't administered by me? Huge recommendation for SNL Hosts Introducing the Musical Guest account, which posts excerpts from SNL hosts of old introducing the episode musical guest. Essential history.