Saturday Night Live recap: Succession star Kieran Culkin hosts with musical guest Ed Sheeran
Oh hey, it's you. Whether you're a fan of the show, a close relative/family friend, or an actual Saturday Night Live cast member seeking to read about yourself, welcome to the SNL in Review recap. You have a home here.
Tonight's episode is hosted by Succession's Kieran Culkin, one of the best actors on TV right now. He excels at doing all the really crazy outre stuff the HBO show's writers' room gives him while also making his character Roman seem like a real person.
Of course, when I first heard about Culkin hosting tonight, I immediately thought about his multiple appearances in his brother's episode nearly 30 years ago to the day. He appears in the "Bill Swerski's Super Fans" sketch, as Froggy in a "Richmeister" sketch, and in the "Medieval Scalders" sketch. I am joined tonight by former SNL cast member Siobhan Fallon Hogan, who was on the show when the Culkins first appeared. She says, "Macaulay Culkin was at the top of his career. We did a scene where I was a nun, it was a classroom scene [for the Richmeister character]. I remember he and Kieran were just such adorable little boys and had so much charisma, but were very respectful and polite and really sweet."
In fact, during the goodnights, you will note Fallon Hogan talking with Culkin and helping him get lifted up by Kevin Nealon. "Kevin is so very tall, so little Kieran looked like he was sitting on top of the Empire State Building. I think he was absolutely thrilled. I mean, for a little kid to be running around the halls, then on top of Kevin Nealon's shoulders, that's pretty good!"
Culkin's history of family fame is an excellent subliminal/meta layer for his performance on Succession. Siobhan is a huge fan of Culkin's work on the show. "He is brilliant. Avy Kaufman, who cast my movie Rushed, also cast Kieran in Succession — beyond genius."
Tonight's musical guest is Ed Sheeran — it is his third time performing on the show. Sheeran's announcement came with a bit of consternation; he announced he contracted COVID-19 just hours after the show promoted his appearance. But here we are, and we are all safe. Let's dance. (It will be curious to see Culkin attempt sketch comedy again, decades later...)
It's the Judge Jeanine Pirro Justice show! Pirro — the Fox News host — has been a recurring staple a the Update desk and an iconic character for Cecily Strong. She had an incredible performance at the end of last season. So it is curious to have her back — extremely hard to top.
Aaron Rodgers is her first guest, played by Pete Davidson. I find giving Pete the ball here (so to speak) a bit interesting. Impressions are not his strong suit. Next up: Glenn Youngkin (Alex Moffat), the governor-elect in Virginia. He is talking about critical race theory and brings along one of the so-called concerned parents, played by Heidi Gardner.
Oh boy, James Austin Johnson gets to bring out his spot-on, iconic President Trump. The Alec Baldwin era is officially, obviously, mercifully over, folks. For a few reasons. This is an immense treat — JAJ's Trump is perhaps one of the most definitive bits of political humor from the last few years. His stream-of-consciousness speeches are incredible, and JAJ runs away with the cold open. You forget about the Pirro framing device.
Kieran Culkin comes out, discussing the birth of his second child and his wife being nervous for him. And of course, he brings up his appearance on his brother Macaulay's episode. We get to see Siobhan Fallon Hogan and Kevin Nealon at the goodnights. (Fallon Hogan recalls: "Chris Farley was amazing with kids, and they laughed at every single thing he said.")
It is always fun when the show reflects on its own history. Sweet spot for me, guys.
Culkin is packing up boxes. Matias from Spectrum Cable (Mikey Day) calls — Culkin is moving; he's broken up with his girlfriend. Funny, relatable premise for people who have had to call these technicians before, especially the emphasis on landline installation. Day is joined by other Spectrum technicians (Heidi Gardner kills it, as does Ego Nwodim). Finally, Kenan Thompson answers the call as the ground tech to install the landline, then Andrew Dismukes picks up the transfer at Dominos. Bowen Yang is the floating head of SPECTRUM.
This sketch likely works better with fewer techs, not the entire cast. This era always seems to be searching for reasons to include everyone.
A security guard (Kenan Thompson) is apprehended by a gang of thieves, seeking to steal a Lamborghini. Kieran Culkin is the mastermind, and Chris Redd is "Ghost." He doesn't know how to drive stick. Funny spoof of that movie cliche.
The Dionne Warwick Talk Show
The return of the Dionne Warwick Talk Show! We saw this during the Timothée Chalamet episode last December - great to see it back. Her nemesis remains Wendy Williams, and her producer-niece Brittany (Punkie Johnson) is still here. Her first guest is Miley Cyrus (pitch-perfect Chloe Fineman — a worthy successor to Vanessa Bayer).
Culkin plays Jason Mraz. They met at Whole Foods. She won't ask him any questions about himself. Ed Sheeran appears next. "Are you nasty?" she asks him. Post Malone (argh, Pete Davidson) pops up before she dismisses him. She only wants to interview icons and brings out the actual 80-year-old Warwick. "I'm not perfect, just very, very good," she retorts. It is a bit tired or underwhelming that we're getting the winky face-off between character and subject; it's not like this was a recurring hit sketch like, say, The Joe Pesci Show was? And the pacing feels shoe-horned here. Still, Ego is great at this, and the real Warwick (Twitter or no) truly is a legend, so this remains very fun.
Bowen Yang and Chris Redd meet at a work urinal. They have an awkward exchange, which leads them to nervous introspection. Corny male ribbing and inane questions. This is spot-on. "Football is crazy!" cries Redd. I especially enjoy Alex Moffat's character, who killed a man in 2012 and loves bathrooms.
Tracy Morgan, of all people, emerges from a stall. A bit unnecessary — this was well-observed and had solid pacing up until his emergence.
We are moments from the start of the Kentucky Derby. Mikey Day's horse owner needs a last-minute replacement — Chris Redd recommends Toby Bird, a '90s-era skateboarder (Kieran Culkin). Hmm. Surreally, he rides horses like skateboards. Culkin can't sing at all, but the ska beat and '90s homage are cute. The race doesn't end well for him but he gets a video game out of it. Random, strange, but cute.
Ed Sheeran — "Shivers"
"Shivers" is the second single from his fifth studio album, =. A red-sweatered Sheeran leads a clap-driven, poppy chorus.
The top story: infrastructure. Colin Jost points out that the bill is intended to expand internet access across the country, which might not be the healthiest thing. Michael Che goes over last Tuesday's election results.
Ice Cube (Kenan Thompson) comes on to comment about the news he left a film production rather than receive the COVID-19 vaccine. He's going through a lumberjack phase. Kenan previously played Cube in a Jim Carrey-era Biden cold open. "Hey, bozo!"
Next up: the Supreme Court is discussing the controversial Texas law. Goober the Clown, who had an abortion when she was 23, comes on to discuss. I can't believe the show has Sarah Squirm in the cast, yet Cecily Strong is playing Goober. Still, she makes the most of this — despite the balloons distorting her and Jost's mics. And the horn doesn't work. "We will not go back to the alley," she squeaks after inhaling helium. This is pointed, dark, and political. I love it.
Kenan Thompson and Cecily Strong are local anchors in Rhode Island. (Shout out Ted Nesi and the good people at WPRI!) Beth Bennington (Punkie Johnson) is interviewing Andrew Dismukes and his group of Boy Scouts. They cut to: Riley Cole (Kieran Culkin) playing Turkey Tom, the local weatherman who wants to rap about the cold temperature. Suddenly, an alert: a severe storm is approaching the coast. Riley totally missed it. He's flustered, yet keeps the turkey hat on.
Ed Sheeran — "Overpass Graffiti"
This is the third single from Sheeran's latest album. Not my cup of tea.
Please Don't Destroy — Calling Angie
John is upset over a break-up… and acknowledges he was a jerk. The group decides to call Angie (Sarah Sherman), yet can't be vulnerable under any circumstances. Great stuff. I am really digging the show's satire about toxic masculinity this season.
- What did you think? Vote here or sound off below. Also trivia question: Kieran Culkin is not the first brother of a previous SNL host to get their own shot at hosting. Can you name the others?
- Thank you again to Siobhan Fallon Hogan for her thoughts! If you haven't, please check out Rushed on VOD. She is phenomenal in it.
- I recently had a fun experience visiting the SNL barricades after the show. It was great to see firsthand how thoughtful much of the cast connecting fans in-person! (Side note: JAJ was escorted by the rows of fans looking to get an autograph or picture with the new star, still in his first run of shows. To me he is one of the most exciting new cast members in years, a cross between Dana Carvey and Darrell Hammond. He's that kind of talent - so hopefully he will grow into the whole community and 'fan service' part of the gig too.)
- I love Culkin recreating his pose during the goodnights with Nealon — and thanking his brother Mac for sharing his stage. Fun!
- I had the pleasure this week of helping inaugurate the SNL Stories podcast over at the SNL Network, interviewing Judy Belushi Pisano. Take a look here!
- Jonathan Majors and Simu Liu to host SNL with musical guests Taylor Swift and Saweetie
- Ed Sheeran says he's cleared to perform on Saturday Night Live after quarantining for COVID-19
- Seth Meyers hilariously reacts to Colin Jost breaking his record as SNL's Weekend Update anchor
- Ooh Wee. Was that really Lindsey Buckingham in a Cousin Greg costume on Saturday Night Live?
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