Saturday Night Live: Regina King shines, cast mines Trump impeachment

Alex Moffat’s Tucker Carlson was weaselly the best thing in a lame cold open. Maybe the show should just move on

We open on Tucker Carlson Tonight. After rolling through “a loose collection of scare-mongering non-sequiturs”, the weaselly Carlson (Alex Moffat, a bang-on impression) moves on to cover Donald Trump’s acquittal in the Senate.

He welcomes Trump “teacher’s pet” Lindsey Graham (Kate McKinnon), who wants the country to focus on the really important issues: “Locking up Hillary and freeing beautiful Britney Spears.” He’s joined by fellow Republican senator Ted Cruz (Aidy Bryant), who has to swallow his pride and carry water for Trump even though Trump called Cruz’s wife ugly in 2016.

Bad impressions of Trump’s defense team follow, before things wrap up with a short visit from Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (Beck Bennett), who “pretzels out” his logic for voting to acquit despite thinking Trump is “guilty as hell, and the worst person I ever met, and I hope every city, county and state locks his ass up!”

While the cold opens of the past few weeks haven’t been any great shakes, this lazy, laughless excuse for political commentary is a reminder of the show at its worst.

Tonight's first guest is... pic.twitter.com/85Ydqmm7Q9

— Saturday Night Live - SNL (@nbcsnl) February 14, 2021

Regina King hosts. The Oscar-winning actor and new director notes that “if you’re black, you probably know me from being in some of your favorite movies, and if you’re white you probably know me from Watchmen – or this monologue right now.” She’s joined by Kenan Thompson, dressed like a member of Run DMC, as her hype man, berating some of the audience for “NOT CLAPPING LOUD ENOUGH”.

What’s Your Type is a dating show on MTV. King plays the “sexy single” looking for a “cringy white dude in his early 40s”. The three contestants include a guy trying way too hard to show his feminist bona fides, a musician who bursts into song at the drop of a hat (in his case, a lame fedora), and an awkward dweeb who can’t keep from doing high-pitched joke voices. Somehow, they all get King’s motor running. She picks the dweeb.

Peletaunt is the cynic’s answer to Peleton. Instead of relying on standard corny inspiration, the machine’s virtual coaches “pull from emotional manipulation techniques”, such as insults, pranks, “avoidant attachment style” and withering judgment, to gaslight users into giving their all.

Next, King and Thompson play married lawyers who help get settlements for people who used Gorilla Glue as a hair product. “It’s a mistake that could happen to anybody,” they explain, “like brushing your teeth with Preparation H”. Ego Nwodim, Chris Redd, Cecily Strong and Punkie Johnson play the “NOT stupid people” they represent.

A group of friends gather over wine. The suburbanite women all give the birthday girl kitschy decorative signs which start off innocently – “Wine gets better with age, I get better with wine” – but quickly turn dark: “Hey barkeep, I want to die tonight” , “I drink too much”, “My sponsor thinks I’m in bed”, “I am sexually promiscuous and my house is dirty”. Then, King plays a police negotiator dealing with a hostage situation after unknowingly eating a bag of weed gummies. Both sketches start promisingly but neither goes as crazy or as dark as it could.

The night’s musical guest is Nathaniel Rateliff, who performs Redemption. On Weekend Update, Colin Jost laments the outcome of impeachment, the “dumbest trial ever”. Speaking from a black perspective, Michael Che isn’t surprised Trump was acquitted, explaining, “Just because there’s video evidence, doesn’t mean you’re going to get a conviction.”

Their first guest is QAnon member Stephanie Green (McKinnon), a witch – as in, green skin, long nose with boil, pointed hat – who only joined the group to learn more about that secret cabal of child-eaters. It’s impressive anyone thought this idea could bear a minute’s worth of jokes, let alone three or four.

…are you ladies trying to tell her something? pic.twitter.com/FlIoVafFG2

— Saturday Night Live - SNL (@nbcsnl) February 14, 2021

A little later, Drunk Tom Brady (Bennett) shows up to celebrate his Super Bowl victory. He angrily chastises former coach Bill Belichick (“You’re not my dad anymore!”), uses his beat-up trophy to pop the top off a beer bottle and spirals into depression over how nobody likes him. “Thought they would talk about the wins … but all they talk about is how I kiss my sons.”

Disco diva Fliona gets ready to perform a concert in Chicago, only to find none of her demands have been met. Everyone is having fun playing 70s caricatures and rolling through tricky tongue twisters, but the sketch ends far too abruptly, apparently cut for time. Still, the cast, King and Bowen Yang particularly, acquit themselves with screwball aplomb.

In the final sketch, a grade school assembly welcomes a feminist theater group who perform a “child-friendly version” of their Vagina Monologues-esque show. They swap out the title body part for elbows but it’s clear what they’re talking about. Credit to King and the show for slipping a “See You Next Tuesday” joke past the censors. Then Ratliff and his band, The Night Sweats, close the show with A Little Honey.

This was a decent enough episode, with low-key laughs throughout. King has always been an excellent comedic actor, so it’s no surprise she felt at home. It’s only too bad she wasn’t given that one great, memorable sketch to showcase her powers to the full. Hopefully she returns soon.

Contributor

Zach Vasquez

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Saturday Night Live: Emma Thompson shines but audience mostly keeps mum
The Late Night star brought out Tina Fey and Amy Poehler but most of the Mothers Day jokes fell flat

Zach Vasquez

12, May, 2019 @11:01 AM

Article image
Saturday Night Live: Regé-Jean Page hosts, cast use Cruz news for boos
The Cancún-fleeing Texas senator took it in the neck and deservedly so. The rest was uneven but, hallelujah – funny

Zach Vasquez

21, Feb, 2021 @12:12 PM

Article image
Saturday Night Live: Timothée Chalamet hosts as vaccine jokes reign
The Oscar-nominated actor makes a solid impression as a comedian while Kate McKinnon tries her hand at Fauci with mixed results

Zach Vasquez

13, Dec, 2020 @4:09 PM

Article image
Saturday Night Live: Elon Musk stumbles, cast bumbles in brutally awkward episode
This will go down as one of SNL’s worst episodes ever, although it would be wrong to lay the blame entirely at Musk’s feet

Zach Vasquez

09, May, 2021 @4:54 PM

Article image
Saturday Night Live: Adele hosts as cast pulls off the Jeffrey Toobin gags
The singer did well and Maya Rudolph shone but here’s hoping the election puts Jim Carrey’s Biden out of his and our misery

Zach Vasquez

25, Oct, 2020 @11:07 AM

Article image
Saturday Night Live: Baldwin’s Trump as inescapable as the man himself
The 45th season began with a poor cold open and a rambling Woody Harrelson. The best of the rest aimed below the belt

Zach Vasquez

29, Sep, 2019 @11:36 AM

Article image
Saturday Night Live: Biden v Trump as Bob Ross v WrestleMania
The show is struggling to hit high notes. More Maya Rudolph as Kamala and more Aidy in America – whatever that was – please

Zach Vasquez

18, Oct, 2020 @11:24 AM

Article image
Saturday Night Live finale: Baldwin-Trump sings Queen and panics Pence
The finale fitted the season: some good ideas, Kate McKinnon shining, an impassioned message let down by a previous misstep

Zach Vasquez

19, May, 2019 @2:55 PM

Article image
Saturday Night Live: Simu Liu and a returning Trump celebrate Thanksgiving
The Shang-Chi star made his SNL debut in a hit-and-miss episode that saw James Austin Johnson as the former president

Zach Vasquez

21, Nov, 2021 @2:55 PM

Article image
Saturday Night Live: Don Cheadle shines while Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump whines
A grating impression of the president was perfectly apt and a few SNL sketches nearly broke loose – but not quite

Zach Vasquez

17, Feb, 2019 @10:41 PM