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Barely more than 24 hours before making his hosting debut on Saturday Night Live, Jerrod Carmichael released his third HBO comedy special, which contained a number of revelations about the stand-up comedian and actor’s personal life. Would you have needed to see Jerrod Carmichael: Rothaniel before seeing him host SNL, though? No. But it would help if you paid attention to the one thing in the popular culture zeitgeist that everybody seemingly had an opinion on…
What’s The Deal For The SNL Cold Open For Last Night (04/02/22)?
After a two-week break, and then this past week full of talk about the Oscars slap heard round the world, what’s left to mock in the cold open?
There’s always FOX & Friends. Although the show long-ago stopped the recurring corrections crawl for this parody segment, this new crew of Alex Moffat, Heidi Gardner and Mikey Day as Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt and Brian Kilmeade still can dunk on the morning show trio since they provide such low-hanging fruit baskets. Mikey’s Kilmeade obviously joined Trump’s new Truth Social alt-Twitter app, only to have his phone burn up immediately. They invite Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (Kenan Thompson) and his wife Ginni (Kate McKinnon) on to disavow their participation in the Jan. 6 plot to overthrow the 2020 election, with Kate’s spin on Ginni as “the Yoko Ono of the Supreme Court.” But they quickly ditch all of that for two extra swings at a cold open. Strike two: Cecily Strong’s always-strong Jeanine Pirro teasing The Five episode for the afternoon. Strike three: James Austin Johnson calling into FOX & Friends as Trump, still in pajamas in bed perhaps, and definitely admitting not only to a coup, but also to “quite an arm on Hitch” vis-a-vis the slap, and he even tries mentioning his “hole-in-one” playing golf this past week? All in all, a lot of swings and while not a complete strike-out, this eight-minute live sketch didn’t quite score, either.
How Did The SNL Guest Host Jerrod Carmichael Do?
Carmichael emerged in a white suit with no shirt (a reverse Timothee Chalamet from the Oscars?), but the comedian, who previously starred on NBC in his own sitcom, The Carmichael Show, vowed “I’m not going to talk about it.” Is “it” The Slap or His Coming Out? Neither, because he did mention both. Of the Oscars kerfuffle, Carmichael noted that for just six days ago, that whole thing felt like it happened way back when, “between Jamiroquai and 9/11.” He didn’t want to talk about it. “Then Lorne came into my dressing room,” Carmichael said. “He said the nation needs to heal.” But the comedian would rather have Barack Obama come back to politics for the nation-healing part. As for Carmichael coming out as gay in his HBO special? Ta-da! The comedian joked that being gay in NYC is only a big deal because you get perks, like hosting SNL. “This is the gayest thing you could possibly do.”
(Sidebar: Eight years ago, before Carmichael had filmed his first HBO special, and before Pete Davidson had joined the cast of SNL, they were good friends who even sat and posed for me at The Comedy Cellar before my first interview with Carmichael. Look at their baby faces! So so young they were!)
So I personally was looking forward to see them perform in sketches together tonight. Alas. Alack. Twas not to be?!? Not that Pete was still on his own hiatus from the show or hiding out from Kanye West.
Jerrod was game to compete on this post-COVID game show “Is My Brain Okay?” as a former IBM marketing director now mostly on mushrooms. As much as Sarah Sherman brightens up the mood whenever she’s onscreen, and as much as I remain a fan of both Kate and Bowen Yang, this whole game show felt like a retread of last month’s “Word Crunch” game show, perpetuating the premise that the contestants have lost their minds. I have anecdotal evidence of New Yorkers becoming more awkward in real-life after two years of virtual communications, but I’m not sure how much this sketch translates to places in America where people had, um, yards?
No such worries with the home-shopping Shop TV parody, hosted by Dot and Rhett (Cecily and Mikey) with featured doll designer Kevin Lickitt (Jerrod) showing off his latest creation: Rhylee Rainbowlocks. Only one problem: Her hair extensions are so long, they also come out through her pelvis? A costume change for the doll into a bathing suit only complicates the matter. A second doll requiring adjustments of a different nature ensure that more hijinks ensue.
In the second half-hour of the show, we do get SNL’s take on The Oscars, from the perspective of a seat-filler (Jerrod) who’s a big fan of Will Smith and overjoyed to find himself behind Smith, only to be horrified by what happens. SNL used the actual audio from Chris Rock, and then bleeped Chris Redd as he uttered Smith’s profane shouting back at Rock. This didn’t add much to the already overcooked topic, and most certainly did not heal the nation.
Kicking off the final half-hour of the show, Jerrod joined Andrew Dismukes as mortuary men carrying out the last wishes of a family (JAJ, Heidi and Kyle Mooney) “Pop Pop” has died by scattering his remains into the sea. Except they forgot to cremate the body first! Which makes for a wild visual and cue the sound effects as the body tumbles down a cliff into the water below. The family gets even more heated watching Jerrod break out an urn, which he claims is really just a Thermos for his soup. Andrew offers to fetch the body to make things right, only to have the whole sketch kinda careen. This all might’ve gone over better with a wilder energy had they saved it for the last sketch of the night, perhaps?
The restaurant “Story” sketch in which Jerrod is introduced by Heidi and Ego Nwodim as a great storyteller gets twisted no thanks to Kyle’s out-of-towner aloof character, who becomes overly excited at all the wrong details of Jerrod’s pretty banal story. Not sure how this passed the table read, much less the dress rehearsal.
I mean, they had another Please Don’t Destroy video “Three Normal Goths” they could’ve aired and chose not to.
How Relevant Was The Musical Guest Gunna?
Gunna, 28, grew up outside of Atlanta and got signed as a rapper to Young Thug’s record label. He released his third album “DS4Ever” in January, and it became his second consecutive album to top the Billboard charts. So Lorne gives the kids at home what they want. They want Gunna!
For his first song, Gunna performed “Banking On Me,” which he’d released as a standalone single on Valentine’s Day.
Future dropped by for song two, Gunna’s hit “pushin P,” which somehow didn’t feel like much of a hit live in the room or onscreen?!? Am I pushin P by noticing how perfunctory this performance was?
Which Sketch Will We Be Sharing: “Short-Ass Movie”
There’s Pete! He didn’t show up in any of the live sketches, but his music video about wanting to watch short-ass movies featured Gunna, Chris Redd, and also Dirt Nasty (aka Simon Rex), as they cited the running times of various films both old and new. They laughed and cried about the animated shorts that precede Pixar flicks. Pete went spoken word to describe his amazement at how Sex and the City 2 could be longer than Jurassic Park, only to have him reminded that so, too, was his movie, The King of Staten Island. Does this make up for Rex getting snubbed for his star turn in Red Rocket? You tell us.
Who Stopped By Weekend Update?
Colin Jost and Michael Che had tons of Oscar Slap jokes, with Colin getting the most meta by mentioning how it sets too high of a bar for guys defending their wives at award shows (since his wife is ScarJo, after all).
Cecily stopped by first as U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) to go into even greater detail about her question in the Supreme Court confirmation hearings, which was, in case you missed it: “Define woman.” Cecily is great at elevating the ridiculousness, naturally, but it only made me pause to wonder, why didn’t they make her demonstrations a centerpiece of the cold open instead. This would’ve given a nice slot to Ego, and also to Aidy Bryant as idiot-box Ted Cruz, although since Aidy didn’t make it on the show at all, perhaps that wasn’t an option this night? As for Blackburn’s excuse for asking for the definition, Cecily quipped: “If you don’t know what a woman is, how are you gonna take her rights away?”
Kenan did the most with the least tonight? First he leaned into Clarence Thomas’ infamous reputation for not saying much. Then he gets to ham it up as O.J. Simpson offering up his opinions on The Slap all while reminding us all what we think of O.J. now. “Always good to hear applause for O.J.” Kenan wryly noted as he began his bit.
The update segment closed with a silent tribute card for Taylor Hawkins, the drummer for Foo Fighters who died suddenly at the age of 50 while on tour with the band this past week.
What Sketch Filled The “10-to-1” Slot?
At 12:57 a.m. Eastern, they snuck in one last pre-taped bit, in which three couples admire their respective newborns in their cute little onesies, saying very heteronormative things about them, then catching themselves because one of the couples is Bowen and Jerrod. Cue Cecily’s voiceover for an ad for LGBTQ+-themed onesies. “Oh relax, it’s not like they can read,” she says at the end.
Who Was The Episode’s MVP?
What a weirdly underwhelming episode. The night could’ve even gone so very differently with the changes I recommended above. But it’s Lorne’s show. So with what we got, the MVP for the night had to have been Cecily Strong, bringing as much gusto as she could muster with her two impersonations (Jeanine Pirro and Marsha Blackburn), plus her home-shopping TV anchor’s squeals both at the doll hair and the “Squeal Deals,” and for voicing the final sketch of the night.
Next week: Jake Gyllenhaal hosts, with musical guest Camilla Cabello.
Sean L. McCarthy works the comedy beat for his own digital newspaper, The Comic’s Comic; before that, for actual newspapers. Based in NYC but will travel anywhere for the scoop: Ice cream or news. He also tweets @thecomicscomic and podcasts half-hour episodes with comedians revealing origin stories: The Comic’s Comic Presents Last Things First.