Cold Opening – Hallelujah
- Hoo, boy. Here comes an infamous cold opening.
- As unfortunate as Trump’s election was, this cold open was an embarrassment to witness, as this is one of the earliest examples of SNL’s preachy & desperate pandering to the so-called “resist!” crowd, which will get even more and more desperate and pandering as the whole Mueller saga begins. Needless to say, this open, as well as SNL’s sassy, sure-to-win portrayal of Hillary Clinton aged horribly, and we will be sinking to new lows as this era continues to go on, and more of their desperate pandering begins to take over the show with the cameo orgies & ridiculous attention-seeking attempts with their opens and political pieces as the seasons go along. So, this open is just the beginning.
Rating: N/A (non-comedic segments are not rated)
- Very happy to review another Dave Chappelle monologue, as he happens to be amongst my very favorite stand-up comics of all-time.
- A very nice & extended ovation and applause for the comedy legend as he makes his entrance.
- As expected, Dave is coming off fantastic here and has such a warm, approachable, comforting presence that is so important after such an election like the one we’ve just had.
- Some pretty big yet cheap laughs from Dave’s whole bit about staying in a Trump hotel and sexually assaulting the workers there.
- I love Dave’s ad-lib to Lorne, it just adds more and more to the aforementioned comforting presence that Dave has.
- The whole set about the zoo is such classic Dave Chappelle, and is filled with very funny, clever and memorable bits and pieces that get even better upon a rewatch.
- Much like his standard stand-up sets, I love the long, serious stories that Dave tells in this monologue, such as the whole part about the enslavement of black people in America. These come off now as even more meaningful after what we witnessed of rising hatred during the Trump presidency, such as the infamous Charlottesville tragedy and Trump’s defense of the acts of the white supremacists that support him there.
- I can even overlook the poorly aged moment with Dave’s whole bit about giving Trump a chance, as this whole bit is well-meaning from Dave’s standpoint.
- A very lengthy monologue, yet important in every single way, not only as a time capsule to a crazy time for the nation, but as a comforting, funny, calming monologue that is filled with both brilliant insights and also moments that are worth stopping by and thinking of.
- John: Thank you again to Blood Meridian for asking me to write this review.
- This is a very famous sketch, so much so it later received a Vanity Fair article with comments from Dave Chappelle and Neal Brennan.
- The platitudes from the characters played by Beck, Aidy and Vanessa are hauntingly familiar, especially Beck’s character going on about how demographics mean we will never have another Republican President.
- Needless to say, Beck, Aidy and Vanessa (and Cecily, who pops in later) all do a great job with their roles – they are all basically just broad lampoons of the average white liberal, but they manage to give the caricatures enough dignity to keep the material afloat.
- There is some decent escalation as the night rolls on, but the problems in this sketch roll in with them, as we start to get commentary and jibes from Dave’s character earlier than the material warrants. That means as they go on (and they will keep going on), they lose effectiveness – to me anyway.
- There’s something about Dave’s delivery that makes rewatching the sketch somewhat of a slog for me when we get to the part of him repeatedly chiding the other characters. His very noticeable verbal stumble at one point doesn’t help.
- I like the part where Vanessa’s character goes to get Xanax and Aidy’s character asks for six.
- Chris Rock, making his first comedic appearance on SNL in two years.
- Aidy does a good job of waiting out and talking over the heavy applause to deliver her line.
- Chris’ arrival is the part where we officially move past any real social commentary, as the cast are just there to tee up what feels like bits he could have easily delivered in a standup set.
- Cecily does a good job with the outburst of “black people vote late!” and realizing America is racist. her character is also meant to be tipsy, which, again, Cecily plays well, with nice subtlety.
- By this point any momentum this sketch had has been fully devolved in a sea of material that basically amounts to “lol stupid white Democrats,” which isn’t undeserved, necessarily, but feels more hollow, and hypocritical, coming from the show that platformed Trump months before crucial primaries and a network that enabled him for over a decade.
- Chris Rock just…keeps yelling his lines, enough to where he gives me bad flashbacks of Seth Meyers era Update.
- This really falls apart for me at the end, with the cringey “gonna be all white” joke, Chris’ iffy delivery of the last (not that great) joke about them moping on Facebook tomorrow, and Beck’s character being reduced to complete buffoon to set up the ending.
- I appreciate the historical significance of this sketch – only a week after an emotionally fraught, devastating election, here is one of the most prominent comedy and commentary shows in the country sticking their neck out and telling much of their viewing audience to not excuse themselves for how out of touch they were. This is also the show itself acknowledging its naivete, albeit in the usual vaguely passive-aggressive manner.
- However, I have to separate this piece from this historical context as best I can, and more importantly, separate it from the massive ecosystem that SNL takes up, where you have to remind yourself that something which may seem massive for SNL is not particularly massive outside of that bubble.
- I’m sure some might say the discourse surrounding Dave Chappelle taints opinion on this sketch. That isn’t the case for me – I can still appreciate a number of pieces Chappelle did in both his episodes. This just is not one of those pieces.
- Am I saying this sketch is bad? No. Due to the premise, the support work, and the first half, I will give a decent enough grade. Otherwise, I will just say this is the epitome of a “you had to be there” sketch, and if you want a timely-yet-well-aged sketch from around this period, then rewatch Black Jeopardy from the Tom Hanks episode.
Walking Dead Chappelle’s Show
- I do enjoy how Dave is introducing the sketch from the homebase stage, much like how he used to do in his sketch show back in the day.
- A great parody of the very notorious season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead (remember that?), which gained infamy with fans, and could be used to pinpoint the beginning of a massive decline in both ratings and critical acclaim for the show.
- Excellent direction and editing in this short, as well as Dave reprising all of his great characters from his sketch show & performing them very seamlessly.
- Great reveal that Dave’s Clayton Bigsby character is a Trump supporter, as it feels fitting with that character’s history on the show.
- I love the subversion in this sketch with Tyrone Biggums being the one killed instead of Clayton Bigsby.
- Fantastic, memorable sequence with Tyrone Biggums’ severed head giving a mock-inspirational speech to us, and the photoshopping of his head over Hillary’s made me laugh out loud.
Musical Performance – “We The People…”
- Jesse Nathan: I love how Dave hypes up A Tribe Called Quest. You rarely see that on SNL these days, and I think I may have mentioned it earlier when I covered Prince’s performance in Season 40.
- Great opening to this performance, with Q-Tip telling everyone to stand up while making a powerful speech.
- That opening beat sounds awesome, and it’s impressive how this is being done live.
- Every time I hear Q-Tip’s voice, I’m always gonna think of “Groove Is in the Heart”, and I doubt I’m the only person who thinks that.
- I love Q-Tip and Jarobi White’s high-energy rapping, and they both have great flow.
- “VH1 has that show that you waste your time with.” Damn!
- I love the “All you ____, you must go” part.
- Now this performance gets more poignant, as we hear a posthumous vocal of Phife Dawg, who passed away earlier that year, while Q-Tip and Jarobi make way for something, which we’ll find out later on…
- Aaaaaaaannnnd there it is. This ends up being a poster of Phife himself.
- Even when he’s dead, Phife’s rapping is excellent.
- I love how Q-Tip “passes the mic” to the poster of Phife.
- A very poignant ending closeup of the Phife poster.
- That was epic!
- Some solid post-election breakdowns from both Colin & Michael, respectively.
- A very funny Leslie Jones mention from Colin in regards to America being addicted to white guys.
- Ah, here comes the classic flubbed “Che, I’m Mexican! / Che, I’m Puerto Rican!” joke from Michael, and we also get some excellent ad-libbing afterwards from Colin about it.
- I’m not sure that Kate’s RBG is an appropriate guest for this Update, as it is a whole bunch of yas kweening for my taste.
- An actual very funny & impressive vitamins bit from Kate’s RBG, with some great physical work from her.
- (*yawn*) And now get some “Ya just got Ginsburned!” moments complete with tired dance movements from Kate.
- Aside from Kate’s commentary (even though it still had its moments), this was by far the strongest Weekend Update edition of the entire season so far.
Jheri’s Place / Inside SNL
- A very solid performance from Leslie as she intentionally flubs and derails the Jheri’s Place sketch, almost making it feel like an actual gaffe.
- A good laugh from Kyle’s exaggerated, bad Italian accent, even when it’s bringing to me unwanted flashbacks to the wretched Wario Trial sketch.
- A terrific meta turn with a post-sketch press conference, similar to what SNL did with a post-sketch commentary in the Andy Roddick episode from season 29. Although, this sketch is more ambitious as it’s built around a sketch gone wrong, and its consequences.
- Man, Alex is sure looking damn good sitting next to Bobby here.
- By the way, Bobby is feeling more and more invisible in this season, and I think he wasn’t in the last episode at all. A real shame, as his presence always elevates sketches.
- Good mention of the legendary David S. Pumpkins sketch from Dave in regards to why he put on the jheri curl.
- Great ending with the slow-motion replay of Leslie’s flub in the botched sketch early on, much like how in sports they replay slow-motion wins or blunders in games pre-commercial break.
Kids Talk Politics
- A bit of a cutesy premise for me, but knowing Vanessa, I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.
- Good straight man performance from Vanessa here, and it is a good thing that she’s anchoring this short due to how slowly she’s being overshadowed in this final season of hers.
- Dave’s daughter is stealing this short with some funny lines, and her Trump comments are pretty good.
- A very cute ending with Dave & his daughter, and it is adorable to see how they look like each other.
- Ah, great to see this sketch back.
- As usual, so many solid lines from Kate, and Dave is perfectly matching Kate’s lines & characterization so far.
- Great “66” line from Dave, and his trademark delivery made it even better.
- They are really overdoing the reaction shots from Kenan here, yes even moreso than previous ones.
- I love the visual of the drink dispensers as Kate & Dave are making out, not only is it funny to me, but also quite memorable in some strange way.
- While not one of the best of these Sheila Sovage sketches, this one was still solid and with strong performances by Kate & Dave that carried it quite well.
Musical Performance – “The Space Program” ft. Busta Rhymes and Consequence
- Jesse Nathan: I love how the Phife poster is still there.
- Nice vocal sample at the start.
- Is it just me, or is the opening “make something happen” slightly off-sync with the beat?
- Just like last time, I’m loving Q-Tip’s rapping and flow.
- I was just about to complain that Q-Tip said the n-word, but then I remembered that this entire episode has the most usages of the n-word.
- The way Jarobi says “city” sounds like he’s saying “shitty”.
- I like how the song suddenly changes keys during the chorus.
- Surprisingly, Q-Tip’s singing of “move on to the stars” isn’t all that bad.
- Good chorus.
- Q-Tip telling everyone to clap their hands is really cool.
- I should’ve mentioned this earlier, but I’m really liking this beat, and I’m finding myself bumping along to it.
- Great speech from Q-Tip during the second chorus.
- Now Busta Rhymes and Consequence are revealed to be sitting in the audience right before they join in. And if Busta Rhymes is on your song, you know he’s gonna overshadow you. Just ask Chris Brown.
- Interestingly, Bobby can be seen in the audience after Busta and Consequence leave the shot.
- Sadly, Busta and Consequence’s vocals are being drowned out by the other vocals, thus rendering their presence in this song pointless.
- I like everyone’s hug at the end. I’d like to think that the reason why Busta and Consequence are hugging the other two is because of Phife’s aforementioned death.
Love and Leslie
- Our very first Leslie + Kyle piece, which I recall greatly enjoying at first before it began to start feeling repetitive near its end.
- A good semi-dramatic opening with Leslie, and I do love seeing some childhood photos of her.
- A pretty funny reveal that Kyle is Leslie’s newfound love, which surprisingly works in this short’s context.
- Lorne absolutely steals this entire short with his confession that it is important for Kyle to lose his virginity.
- Great buildup in this short with us now being introduced to the backstage rivalry between Colin & Kyle, and it is hilarious how they’re now showing us clips of Leslie flirting with Colin on Update.
- An excellent ending with Dave finding out that Leslie & Kyle had sex in his dressing room.
- Ok, what a premise…
- This sketch is so dumb to me that I’m liking it, even when I’m not enjoying this sketch as much as I did back when it aired. It is still a good piece to watch.
- The bit with milk spraying at the performers gave me an initial laugh, but not as big as I wanted. I see that this sketch is wearing thin to me as it goes along, even though Dave is committing really well to the material.
- A pretty funny gaffe with the milk bottle accidentally showing up that Leslie is using in the sketch.
- Poor, poor Sasheer as she makes her first & only appearance of the entire night at the very end of this sketch. She deserved honestly so much better than this. No wonder she leaves after this season, and her career starts to get better.
Cut For Time: Motel Painting
- This is a piece that is so hard to find online, as it was cut for time, then IIRC, posted on the SNL YouTube page before mysteriously being deleted.
- A pretty creative, unusual premise for a traditional SNL short.
- This one seems to be a variation of the excellent The Sink short from the Emily Blunt episode.
- Dave is perfectly cast as the smug, ostentatious swan.
- Good vocal performances from both Alex and Melissa as the two ducks, being annoyed by Dave’s Swan character’s laziness and pretentious attitude in regards to taking care of the pond.
- This short is SO Julio Torres that there are some details that I’m sure I’m missing in this rewatch for the review.
- Good laugh from the cut to the cleaning lady vacuuming the room.
- Some solid back-and-forth between the swan and the ducks in regards to the swan’s contributions to the pond & arts in general.
- Pretty good ending.
Segments Ranked From Best to Worst
Love and Leslie
Walking Dead Chappelle’s Show
Jheri’s Place / Inside SNL
CFT: Motel Painting
Kids Talk Politics
- A very strong episode, helped even more by the several phenomenal pieces sprinkled throughout it. Not only an important episode due to its timing, but a one that represented a turning point in how SNL will function through the next four years in their coverage of the Trump presidency and the direction of their writing structure. Obviously, we know the fatigue that will seep in starting really around the 2nd half of next season, and the lethargic, tired atmosphere that will plague SNL during the 2nd half of season 43 to the first of 44. But most of this episode, aside from the open and Election Night, aged mostly well and is still enjoyable to revisit.
- As highly anticipated, Dave Chappelle was a phenomenal host tonight, and ever since his fantastic monologue early on in the episode, you could feel the aforementioned comforting, approachable presence that he will bring to the rest of the night, as we got several excellent pieces such as Jheri’s Place/ Inside SNL, and the memorable Walking Dead Chappelle’s Show short, both clearly had sense of humor and brilliant comedic styling. Also, the important, emotional musical performances by A Tribe Called Quest contributed to this episode’s special feeling & comforting feel.
- I would also like to thank the great John for guest-reviewing the Election Night sketch, as I, for some weird reason, forgot to mention his terrific guest review in my Tom Hanks coverage, so thanks again John, not only for your usual great work, but for being such an early & kind supporter of this blog.
- SNL legend Kristen Wiig returns home to host the Thanksgiving episode.