Saturday Night Live recap: Shang Chi star Simu Liu jumps into action as host
Hey now! Welcome, dearest Coneheads, to the latest SNL in Review recap! We are days away from Thanksgiving and what better way to take stock of everything we're grateful for than tonight's episode, hosted by Simu Liu with musical guest Saweetie!
In perhaps a sign of times, Liu is the second straight MCU cast member to host — and third Marvel alumnus overall — this season. (Besides Liu, Owen Wilson and Jonathan Majors will be joined by Ant-Man himself, Paul Rudd, in a few weeks.) Liu appeared in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, the highest-grossing movie of the year thus far, and is also known for his role in the CBC sitcom Kim's Convenience.
To be sure, season 47 has been full of pleasant surprises, from live(-lier) cold opens to fresh contributions from the new featured players.
I am joined tonight by former SNL cast member Patrick Weathers. He is a fan of James Austin Johnson's Trump, having been sent videos of the impression during the pandemic by none other than Peter Aykroyd, who died recently. R.I.P. to a former show cast member, brother (of Dan), and co-writer of Nothing But Trouble.
Well, it was an eventful week, so let's dive right in.
It's the return of Justice With Judge Jeanine! We saw this several weeks ago. She's a great avatar for these cold opens, after years of thriving at the Update desk.
Kyle Rittenhouse is the subject. Up first is the trial judge (Mikey Day). He's a hack. Two liberal talking heads (Chloe Fineman, Chris Redd) come on the program, in the interest of fairness. Redd is not surprised by the verdict, while Fineman — the white academic — is outraged.
Next up: Alex Moffat is Kevin McCarthy, as part of his lame filibuster. On McCarthy's recent "stemwinder," Weathers says: "If you triple the length of the speech and multiple that total by 365, then again by 70, it would have lasted about as long as the U.S.S.R."
Jeanine brings on Donald Trump (James Austin Johnson) to discuss the "terrible" infrastructure bill. He gets 60 seconds on the clock, à la Pardon the Interruption. Then it's a word search. He lands it. As always, this is uncanny. Weathers says: "The Alec Baldwin thing was so over-the-top, [but] I thought it was very funny. He's a very funny guy, anyway."
This felt a little off. It's tough to satirize this Rittenhouse stuff. We live in dark times.
Simu Liu's Monologue
Liu is the first Chinese-Canadian host on SNL, and the first Asian Marvel superhero. He used to play Spider-Man at kids' birthday parties. He's very nice.
Shang-Chi is a "very, very big film, with a huge audience. The perception of [Liu] in China, how the government watches" and monitors films is very interesting, to Weathers. He notes "the Chinese have always had a subgenre of superheroes, going back to Bruce Lee. Taking on 15 guys at a time."
Chloe Fineman and Kenan Thompson are hosting a public access show in Wilmington, N.C. It's a highlight reel from that week's karaoke performances. Bowen Yang can't hit the high notes. An overserved Ego Nwodim gets her Buckwheat on.
Neal, the quiet guy in the hoodie (Pete Davidson) sings the song from Donnie Darko. He gives Fineman "Columbine vibes." Ouch. The Cringe All-Stars are Melissa Villasenor and James Austin Johnson, dueting as the Simpsons. "Not really music, not really comedy," says Kenan. "You can't unsee that," he says about the gross father-daughter song.
Cecily is 100% the girl who pretends her friends signed her up to sing Whitney Houston.
Target Thanksgiving Ad
Hosting Thanksgiving with family can be a challenge. Target has some great deals, including "more wine."
Liu is unveiling a new weapon to Cecily Strong and James Austin Johnson. "Imagine a soldier with undying loyalty…" and an enhanced smelling system. The reveal? It's a dog (well, his head and neck). Silly pet humor. He's waving a knife, and eating a sandwich. That's a no from me, dawg.
Republican or Not
Kenan Thompson is hosting a game show where contestants guess who is a Republican. This feels like it could've been a cold open. Simu Liu and Ego Nwodim are guessing — she is from Ohio. Kyle Mooney thinks Facebook is evil, and respects athletes who stand up for their beliefs. He hates cops. Ego guesses he isn't a Republican — wrong! He hates January 6 cops.
Cecily Strong is Liz Cheney. She says she is Republican, but the Wyoming party kicked her out. So no.
Walking in Staten
This is a well-executed and loving tribute from The King of Staten Island. I love Method Man popping up here too. From C.R.E.A.M to drinking White Claws. This is cute, and surprisingly long/intricate.
The Marc Cohen cameo takes this to Lonely Island level — the bar they always are striving for. Kudos.
Saweetie — "Tap In"/"Best Friend"
"Tap In" is the lead single off of Saweetie's upcoming album, Pretty Bitch Music. This strip club anthem/ode samples fellow Bay Area native Too $hort's "Blow The Whistle."
Weathers was a fan of Saweetie's uncle MC Hammer and his classic jam "U Can't Touch This." "Interesting cat, certainly burned through a lot of money quickly. Classic rock & roll thing."
Colin Jost kicks things off talking about President Biden's weird Friday — the passage of the social spending bill in the House, the Rittenhouse verdict, and Kamala Harris briefly serving as president while Biden was briefly under anesthesia. Weathers thinks Biden and Harris would be an excellent coupling for a cop TV show, a "May/December relationship… pretty charismatic couple. I think they should have a sitcom actually."
He also discusses Paul Gosar's censure in the House, after he shared a tweet depicting violence against fellow representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Weathers says: "Grossly distasteful. You don't make jokes about killing people. No matter what your politics are. It's beyond parody."
Oh god, they bring back Baby Yoda. Again. He's going to be a parade balloon this week. I am happy for Kyle, but this is grating and strange. No, thank you!
The UN Climate Change Conference just wrapped and Mother Earth (Aidy Bryant) shows up to comment. She's "hot and pissed." She jokes about burning her ass rocks (a.k.a. coal), and implores people to stop throwing iPhones in the ocean. "Mama gonna kill you dead."
Michael Che lands some dark barbs about the Queen of England and Mel Gibson.
Thanksgiving Baking Championship
Ah, this. It's fun to see Sarah Sherman here. She lied about having a daughter and doesn't know how to bake. We have seen a few iterations of this before, including during Eddie Murphy's episode. Don Cheadle also did it.
Mike (Liu) attempts to rap and fails. His cake is so bad it opened a portal to Hell. This is vaguely like South Park's hilarious "Start the reactor" moment, lifted from Total Recall.
Sandy (Heidi Gardner) returns.
I like Pete Davidson's performance as one of the judges here.
Bowen Yang medals
This is hilarious. Bowen and Simu congratulate one another on their historic statuses, which devolves. Liu receives recognitions like "Mr. Asian Panera" (and EW even gets a shoutout with an alt version of the Aug. 2021 issue featuring Liu). It is getting embarrassing. "I'll always be gay" warns Yang at the conclusion. Liu cries out. They're rivals. Silly/good-natured but pointed. Bravo.
Between this and PDD, I am digging the fun behind-the-scenes sketches this season. These were always a steady feature of early iterations of SNL, so glad to see them tapping them again now.
Saweetie — "Icy Chain"
This Dr. Luke-produced track just dropped. Not bad, though Luke's deeply controversial given the allegations against him made by Kesha, which he denies.
A man (Mikey Day) claims to be dead. A few professors are smoking a joint at a Friendsgiving. Ego Nwodim is the 9-1-1 dispatcher fielding the calls. Boomers flip-up, they can't handle their weed.
Some messed-up camera work throws off the pacing here.
- Once again, R.I.P. to Peter Aykroyd. My favorite story about Peter is when Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis was growing up and her mother invited over Peter, an actual paranormal ghostbuster, to check out the levels of their house. Back then, Lewis was hanging out with fellow child actors Sara Gilbert, Tobey Maguire, and Leonardo DiCaprio, who came over to see Aykroyd's investigation up close. Huge condolences to his family. He made unsung contributions to the show and the world of comedy.
- What did you think? Comment below or vote here.
- Thank you to Patrick Weathers, who recently sold an original painting by Françoise Gilot (who had two children with Picasso) for a near-record amount — $1,160,000. Wow. Weathers was a fan of Aidy Bryant's "gender bender" impression of Ted Cruz last week. "It creates an element of comedy to begin with, that's kind of unexpected…and it's as old as the hills and it works! You go back to Uncle Miltie. He was in drag constantly. Or Some Like It Hot. Monty Python, or back on the old Saturday Night Live when Garrett Morris played that maid frequently. The season I was there, Denny Dillon used to do something, not sure if she ever did it on-air, but she had this character she did who was this old guy with a moustache — like, 'Hey partner!' as an old cowboy."
The original late-night comedy sketch show from the one and only Lorne Michaels.