Scarlett Johansson Hosted Saturday Night Live

Weekend Update

Michael Che and Colin Jost didn’t particularly do anything special with Weekend Update this week, though there are plenty of solid one-liners when kicking things off with the political headline-skewering part of this segment. There is one issue that seems to be plaguing Weekend Update though, not unlike the sketches with Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump. It feels like Jost and Che are going hard enough when it comes to these jokes. SNL is supposed to be subversive, but at times it feels like they don’t quite dig as deep as they need to. That might just be a result of them going more for comedy than making a larger statement. After all, it can be difficult to do both effectively, but SNL has proven it’s not impossible. Still, I think Jost and Che need to stop pulling punches comedically and unleash some fury.

Al Franken and Jeff Sessions – I’ll never get sick of Kate McKinnon’s impersonation of Jeff Sessions, and the subtlety of Alex Moffatt’s impression of SNL veteran Al Franken is a great one to pair with it. This was one section where SNL did take some more bold jabs at the Trump administration, but still not completely in the way that the formerly rebellious show needs to. Even so, this was a fantastic and funny segment.

Pete Davidson’s First Impressions of the Trump Administration – In case you didn’t hear, we haven’t heard much from Pete Davidson this season because he’s been dealing with getting sober. So it was nice to see him make a comeback for his recurring “First Impressions” bit at the Weekend Update desk, taking some solid swings at the Trump Administration. This along with the Sessions & Franken sketch were both more unforgiving of the insanity in Washington DC happening now, so maybe that’s why Jost and Che didn’t go as hard.

The Host

When you have a host who is coming back for their fifth time, you know that you’re dealing with someone that the writers and cast of SNL love to work with. In the case of Scarlett Johansson, it’s because she has no problem having fun and eases into the live comedy environment surprisingly seamlessly. She has no problem reading cue cards, goes back and forth between hamming it up as the butt of the joke and being the anchor of a sketch, and she’s just charismatic as hell.

My only complaint, which really isn’t about Scarlett Johansson, is that her induction into the Five Timers Club didn’t seem to be met with as much pomp and circumstance as it should have been. Sure, the entire monologue was about honoring her entry, but it was done in a rather typical monologue fashion without any of the usual big name recurring hosts, like Tom Hanks or Justin Timberlake, popping up. It was somewhat disappointing, even though Kate McKinnon and Kenan Thompson’s bits were still funny.

The MVP

Saturday Night Live - Beck Bennett

Beck Bennett – Between the Sketch for Women and his role in Oliver Garden, I think the standout this episode was Beck Bennett. Having said that though, it was tough to ignore Mikey Day this time. He was all over this episode (about as much as Beck Bennet was too), and while he’s not always the one doing the punchlines, he’s become a fantastic straight-man in the same way that Taran Killam was when he was still on the show. Even so, Beck Bennett I think had the best track record for his big contributions in two of the aforementioned sketches that were among the best of the night.

The Final Word

This was a solid episode of SNL, though not quite among its best. It helped to have a seasoned host like Scarlett Johansson who has no problems fitting in with the live comedy environment, unlike Octavia Spencer last week who seemed a bit nervous and shaken by the proceedings. What helped this time was having political satire that wasn’t just a mockery of press conferences and news casts, and that’s how SNL can keep nailing that integral part of the show.

On an unrelated note, it feels like Bobby Moynihan is already on his way out the door after being reported as likely leaving the show this season. I’m not sure if that stubble he has on his face is for some outside role he’s doing away from SNL, but it was a bit distracting in the Zoo Pornographer sketch, and it feels almost rebellious in a way. I hope that he still gets a good send-off when/if the time comes for him to leave.

There’s a big break between now and the next episode with Louis C.K. returning as host on April 8, but we’ll have our usual recap the following morning.

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