Saturday Night Live: James Corden as a Mean Girls Boris – and J-Lo as herself, repeatedly

We get it: Jennifer Lopez is hot. It’s more controversial, though no funnier, to show Trump in a weirdly sympathetic light

We open in the Nato cafeteria, where the “cool kids” – Justin Trudeau (Jimmy Fallon), Emmanuel Macron (Paul Rudd) and dumpy hanger-on Boris Johnson (James Corden) – tease and ostracize Donald Trump (Alec Baldwin).

The president is desperate for their approval but the only thing his efforts buy him is a note taped to his back that says “Impeach Me”. The sketch wraps up with a half-clever dig at Melania Trump’s hypocritical anti-bullying initiative and a groan-worthy Peloton reference, the first of two for the night.

It’s hard to see what the writers are going for. When the real-life leaders mocked Trump they had every reason for doing so, but here they’re portrayed as bratty high school bullies and Trump is the sympathetic one. The show seems to want to twist the knife in Trump’s wounded ego but it ends up bolstering his anti-Nato stance by presenting its members as smarmy elitist punks. It’s not the worst cold open of the season, but it may be the most misguided.

Jennifer Lopez hosts for a third time. Dressed in a tuxedo, she celebrates her “unbelievable year” – which saw her star in the biggest movie of her career, sell out a concert tour, land next year’s Super Bowl half-time show, get engaged to a former Yankee and turn 50 – by leading the Rockettes in a rendition of Santa Claus is Coming to Town. She concludes by shedding her tux to reveal the iconic green Versace dress she wore to the 2000 Grammys.

Not to begrudge Lopez her success, but the whole thing comes off as a bit too self-congratulatory. She and the writers might have at least tried to add some jokes to the mix other than the single one about how even at 50 she’s still hot enough make men’s heads explode.

Fast Times at the NATO cafeteria. #SNL

— Saturday Night Live - SNL (@nbcsnl) December 8, 2019

In the first sketch, a married couple (Lopez and Mikey Day) win a surprise home makeover, but their disparate levels of attractiveness – she’s a “bronze goddess”, he’s “an unemployed Smurf man” with an average package – cause the host to have a stroke. Its five minutes of the same joke, over and over again. Much the same can be said of Chad & J-Lo, in which Lopez meets and falls for Pete Davidson’s slacker chick-magnet, much to chagrin of her fiance, Alex Rodriguez. If you’ve seen one Chad sketch you have seen them all.

The Corporal is a black-and-white drama about two sisters (Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon) competing for the affection of a rich suitor. Their attempts to sabotage each other are thwarted by the intrusion of a gorgeous third sister, who they have kept hidden all their lives. There’s some enjoyably cartoonish slapstick and a solid final punchline but it’s yet another piece revolving almost entirely around how attractive Lopez is. That wasn’t a strong enough hook to carry one sketch, let alone three in a row plus the monologue.

DaBaby is the night’s musical guest. Joined by masked dance crew the Jabbawockeez, he performs Bop.

On Weekend Update, Colin Jost covers House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s claim, upon being asked if she hates Trump, that her Catholic faith prevents her from hating anyone. A Catholic himself, Jost declares: “The Catholic approach wouldn’t be to impeach Trump, it would be to quietly transfer him to a different presidency.” Pelosi (Kate McKinnon) joins him to speak for herself, defending her decision to move along with impeachment proceedings by noting: “It’s not the lifeguard’s fault for evacuating the pool, it’s the rich kid who took a dook in the deep end.”

After the second news rundown, in which Michael Che’s joke about Post Malone being the most streamed musical artist of 2019 – “He’s replacing last year’s winner, Pre Malone” – recalls the classic Norm McDonald bit about “Better than Ezra”, the hosts welcome Jules, Who Sees Things a Little Differently (Beck Bennett) to give his take on the holidays. Fresh off a “cocaine misunderstanding”, the pretentious trust-fund kid describes his perfect holiday meal: “A table with one person of every ethnicity – white, gay, wheelchair – all seated together, eating nothing but conversation.”

Come on down to Hoops. Located next to the bagel store that caught on fire. #SNL

— Saturday Night Live - SNL (@nbcsnl) December 8, 2019

After an awkward Christmas sketch in which hip-hop carolers perform some unfunny rap carols about Home Alone to a white family who they then rob with the help of DaBaby, we get a commercial for Hoops, a jewelry store that specializes in selling “earrings that say I fight other women”.

“One hundred per cent metal”, Hoops are good for every occasion, including birthday dinners, ex-boyfriend’s weddings, women-on-the-street interviews about subway problems, confronting/accusing/crawling back to Barbara and, of course, Sunday mass. One thing SNL remains good at is poking loving fun at east coast trashiness, and although this isn’t one of their more memorable examples, it is the funniest sketch of the night.

An informercial for Potty PM offers a detachable hose that connects directly from privates to toilet. The pitchman (Kyle Mooney) claims it’s perfect for anyone who hates having to get up in the middle of the night, but when asked “How does it work for women?” he can’t provide an answer. Mooney’s embarrassed pronunciation of “clitoris” earns a chuckle but it’s yet another sketch that drags out way too long.

It’s still better than the following sketch, about a couple of yuppies window shopping in a bizarre Wisconsin hardware store. Credit to the writers and cast for trying to get weird but it just doesn’t work. I can’t remember the last time the studio audience was this dead.

DaBaby returns and performs Suge, then Barry’s Bootcamp – a muggy, less funny retread of a SoulCycle sketch from earlier this year – closes out the night. This is the most forgettable episode of the season, neither J-Lo’s star power nor the big-name guests elevating the one-note sketches.


Zach Vasquez

The GuardianTramp

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