November 11, 2017 – Tiffany Haddish / Taylor Swift (S43 E5)

Cold Opening – Vice President’s Office

  • Hoo, boy. This open is giving me flashbacks to the whole Ray Moore fiasco that I thankfully forgot about till now.
  • Good makeup job on Mikey, even when he’s still too youthful-looking to play Moore, he’s still doing a decent job.
  • Beck’s lines are doing nothing to me here. At least they are not as filled with homophobic jibes and cheap, desperate attempts at laughs as they will be later in the season.
  • Did we really need Kate’s “adorable” Jeff Sessions to suddenly take over this entire open? And what’s with the wild applause? Is this a 90s sitcom?
  • I know this is a comedic impression that is exaggerated for laughs, but why is Kate’s Sessions speaking like a 19th century plantation owner? I recall Beck’s (far better) Mitch McConnell impression also sounding like that as well, but at least, in that case, it worked and sounded a lot like the real person, unlike this impression.
  • We now get a “cute” monologue with Kate’s Sessions talking to an opossum. Please, just end this cold open already SNL, I’ve had enough.

Rating: **

Monologue

  • Already, Tiffany is coming off like the perfect host, with so much infectious energy right out of the gate and a fun presence. I absolutely love her energetic entrance & demeanor right from the start.
  • I love the whole bit about Tiffany defending SNL and preferring it over In Living Color which the other foster kids preferred to watch instead. The charm & warmth in this bit is so real & is damn infectious.
  • Solid quick jokes about Trump that Tiffany went through like a pro, no clapter bait needed here.
  • Interesting to see Tiffany talking about sexual harassment, which again shows how big the whole #MeToo movement was around the time of this episode, and the great focus that this SNL season will be giving it throughout its run.
  • I’m getting some guilty laughs here from Tiffany’s talk about sexual harassment, she’s doing an excellent job in tackling such a subject, even when some parts of it feel like they were said before, she adds certain freshness with her delivery that makes her jokes avoid being stale.
  • I love the whole rant about her dress, which she looks breathtaking wearing it, by the way, and her whole bit about still wanting to wear it is very funny & memorable.
  • Love the silly & energetic dancing near the end of the monologue.
  • A very funny monologue overall, with so much fun & infectious energy. I was honestly laughing all the way through.

Rating: ****1/2

Tournament Fighter

  • Needless to say, a very popular sketch from this season that would go on to become iconic.
  • This is yet another one of those Mikey Day & Streeter Seidell-written inexplicable character sketches, such as Space Pants, FBI Simulator, and David S. Pumpkins. The only other example after this sketch that I could think of is the great Shannon Delgado sketch with Kate in season 46.
  • Why the fuck is Kenan cast in this role?? Where’s Luke Null when you need him?
  • Great look on Mikey’s character, making him feel like a character straight out of Mortal Kombat, which his look is obviously based on.
  • Great physical movement from Mikey, as he’s eerily dead-on with his video game character movements here.
  • Tiffany is already coming off great as Boo Boo Jeffries.
  • I absolutely love the “Rihanna! Rihanna!” and “Beyoncé! Beyoncé!” fight movements from Tiffany’s Boo Boo Jeffries.
  • Tiffany is killing it with the studio audience.
  • Alex is hilarious in his scene, and nearly steals the entire sketch.
  • An overall very strong & memorable sketch, even when I don’t think of it as strong as some of the others. It still provided many great laughs and featured a hilarious performance by Tiffany Haddish.

Rating: ****1/2

Lion King Screen Tests

  • One of the many impressions wheel/celebrity auditions pieces that SNL started to regularly do with the turn of the 10s.
  • Funny seeing Cecily as Lin-Manuel Miranda, which reminds of when I reviewed the season 42 premiere where she first debuted the impression.
  • Tiffany is fitting nicely with the cast in this pretape, and her Cardi B impression is funny.
  • An absolutely fantastic Kristen Schaal impression from Heidi, she even looks identical to her to an eerie degree.
  • I did get a quick laugh from Aidy as James Corden, even though I know that it’s only the beginning of the pandering dragfest from her & Kate in the coming few seasons.
  • An overall ok auditions/impression showcase piece.

Rating: ***

Democratic National Committee

  • A good, clever way of spoofing the Dems.
  • Cecily’s Dianne Feinstein impression makes its debut, and it’s already pretty funny.
  • The debut of Kate’s Nancy Pelosi impression, which I’ve always found to be spot-on and funny. And, as much as I love Kristen Wiig as an impressionist, I find Kate’s version of Pelosi to be better than hers, especially her facial expressions. The impression will develop even more as it goes along, especially when Kate nails the voice.
  • Ah, Jason is hilarious as ever as Joe Biden. Although, I did read that his scenes here were from unused footage from several years ago.
  • Great to see Larry back so soon as Bernie Sanders.
  • Mikey is stealing this short with his Tim Kaine impression, and his Spanish pronunciations here are cracking me up.
  • An overall sharp, funny, and solid piece that got to the point and delivered both laughs & a solid satirical take.

Rating: ****

Beck and Kyle

  • Great to see another Beck & Kyle backstage piece.
  • The old Good Neighbor footage is both fun & quite endearing. It really tells you of the long friendship between Beck & Kyle throughout all these years.
  • Love the continuity of the Leslie + Kyle storyline with their already grown-up kid which is a nice touch of absurdity.
  • Good world building with SNL having a lavish masquerade ball.
  • Lorne is stealing this short with his brief interview about the masquerade ball. I sometimes forget how naturally funny Lorne is.
  • This whole plan is so silly & fun to me, especially how Kyle is having a hard time telling people apart in their costumes. The way he couldn’t tell Beck & Leslie apart was hilarious.
  • Love the whole punching sequence with Colin, he’s such a great sport in general in these pieces.
  • A very random Tiffany Haddish appearance here. Couldn’t they have given more to do in this short?
  • Love that Lorne is now joining in with the whole punching sequence.
  • Another very fun & strong backstage piece from this era.

Rating: ****1/2

Musical Performance – “…Ready For It?”

  • Jesse Nathan: Well, this is a shocker! I initially was planning on avoiding continuing these reviews from here, as Blue’s ratings for all these performances are still lodged in my brain. But in the end, I decided to continue from here for the sake of completion. The real challenge is writing this without letting Blue’s ratings clout my judgment. I’ll try.
  • Cool staging, and I dig the heavy beat.
  • Taylor’s mic could stand to be turned up a bit more. Or maybe this has something to do with the fact that I’m not reviewing the live version of this performance.
  • Taylor’s selling this well with her facial expressions.
  • I love the choreography from Taylor and co.
  • I like Taylor’s facial expression during the chorus.
  • Taylor’s really letting loose during this second verse. I love that.
  • The backup dancers are slaying this.
  • I like how the audience goes crazy during the “are you ready for it” portions.
  • Is it just me or are they using a vocoder during the final prechorus?

Rating: ****

Weekend Update

  • My goodness at that Donald Trump/Kim Jong-Un tweet.
  • It feels a bit surreal hearing the discussion regarding Louis C.K. here considering that he hosted several times & was on his way to be an eventual five-timer before the #MeToo movement started & he got exposed.
  • Pretty funny audience reaction regarding the Louis C.K. joke.
  • Oh, I recall really liking this one-off Cecily commentary.
  • Very solid & sharp line deliveries from Cecily here, and she’s so perfect in selling her character’s attitude.
  • Colin is doing a fine job in his reactions towards Cecily’s questions.
  • Very funny bit with the doll.
  • An overall pretty solid commentary from Cecily, even when that strange ending felt like it was designed for claps from the audience, but we thankfully didn’t go there & instead got some sharp commentary.
  • What’s with Chris’ (in his very first Update appearance, by the way) Coming to America outfit? I assume the homage here was intentional.
  • I love the monologue callback with Tiffany returning with the white dress dancing all over the Update desk, so much energy from Tiffany tonight in general.
  • The official debut of Kenan’s LaVar Ball impression, which debuted earlier in the year during a summer edition of Update.
  • This impression’s main conceit isn’t that different from Kenan’s Big Papi impression, with the whole plugging of random products.
  • What’s with Kenan’s rare break during his whole shoes bit? I’m laughing though due to how pretty genuine his quick laughs were.

Rating: ****

The Last Black Unicorn

  • A fairly silly sketch concept.
  • Hoo, boy. The setting of the sketch is giving me unwanted flashbacks to that fucking horrible Magic Bridge sketch. Mercifully, Cathy Anne is not around here to dive-bomb this sketch and cause me to go through an acid-spewing rant.
  • All the unicorn sounds that Tiffany is making are giving me some good laughs, even when she’s going all in with them.
  • The sketch, while not bad at all so far, is somewhat slow in its pacing, and some of the reveals aren’t providing as many laughs as they could’ve. The performances here are really helping the sketch.
  • I’m not sure that I needed Leslie in this sketch, as her role feels a bit tacked-on.

Rating: **1/2

Get Woke With Tamika

  • Leslie is already flubbing her lines left and right in a sketch where she is the anchor, meaning that she has to do most of the talking. She always was several days of rehearsal behind everybody else on the show.
  • Yet another sketch that tackles woke culture from this era.
  • I’m getting some good laughs here and there, but Leslie’s constant flubs & awkward pauses are ruining the potential of this sketch and is making me lower my initial rating by a substantial margin. I love Leslie, but she was always a pretty sloppy & unrehearsed performer, and this sketch is possibly the nadir of that throughout her tenure, aside from the disastrous The Couple sketch with Chris Rock.
  • The audience is pretty dead & quiet in many parts of this sketch, despite it having some really solid bits sprinkled throughout it. I would blame how much Leslie fucked up the material for their silence.
  • Yeah, this sketch’s potential is being completely wasted due to Leslie’s aforementioned unprofessionalism & various line flubs, and it could’ve been saved if Tiffany played her role instead. A real shame, as this sketch had the potential of being a solid highlight in tonight’s episode.

Rating: **1/2

The Dolphin Who Learned To Speak

  • Our first of many documentary-esque shorts this season, like Rap History & Wild Wild Country.
  • Fantastic direction, color grading, and presentation to this short. Making it come off like an actual documentary.
  • Like always, Kate & Aidy are coming off convincing as elderly people in this short. Kate, in particular, has to be amongst SNL’s best when it comes to acting old.
  • A very big, cheap laugh from the turn that the short takes with the whole yanking of the dolphin bit.
  • I absolutely love the quick cutaway to the dolphin while Kate is yanking it.
  • Great delivery from Aidy of her line “We would work awhile, yank awhile, work awhile, yank awhile…”
  • Tiffany is also coming off quite believable in her role as an elderly woman here.
  • Solid laughs from Tiffany’s field notes about the yanking of the dolphin.
  • I absolutely love how this short is reminding me more and more of the terrific American Inventors piece from season 47, one of my favorites from that season. I’m positive that Aidy had a huge part in writing this short as well.
  • I love the how the dolphin is now “regressing” and only demanding “Hand!” instead of learning how to speak.
  • Now the dolphin has developed a shame kink, this short is becoming more and more priceless as it goes along.
  • A great ending.
  • I’m actually quite surprised that this short is even better than I remember, between the solid, creative premise, and the flawless execution, to the way it handled its subject & took it so seriously that it didn’t fall a victim of a low-brow premise. Most definitely a new favorite of mine.

Rating: *****

Musical Performance – “Call It What You Want”

  • Jesse Nathan: Tiffany’s intros to Taylor have been very energetic tonight.
  • (*sigh*) Another instance of a musical guest resorting to a ballad after doing something similar to “…Ready for It?”. But seeing as how this is Taylor Swift we’re talking about, I’m sure she can make this work.
  • At first glance, I find myself asking why we’re seeing backup singers for an acoustic song. However, I’m certain that they’ll have a purpose later on.
  • I like Taylor’s facial expressions throughout this performance.
  • Ah, now we’re getting the addition of a violin.
  • Okay, now the backup singers are joining in. They sound good, but not as good as I wish they did.
  • I didn’t have too much to say here. I mean, it’s…nice. That’s the best I can say regarding this performance. It’s nothing great, it’s nothing bad, it’s just…nice. That’s it.

Rating: ***

Whiskers R’ We

  • This turns out to be our last regular installment of this recurring sketch, as Kate resurrects it only one more time during an At Home episode in season 45.
  • Tifanny is really good here, impressing me even more with how easily she can blend into the show’s format.
  • Man, the kittens here are even cuter than usual. I hope that this isn’t all that this sketch has, though.
  • Chris steals the sketch with his random walk-on as Katt Williams.
  • An overall ok temporary final installment for this sketch, even when certain elements feel a bit old hat, the harmless feel & the energy make the whole sketch work just fine.

Rating: ***

In Memoriam – A photo of SNL audio engineer George Corrado marks his passing

Segments Ranked From Best to Worst

The Dolphin Who Learned To Speak

Tournament Fighter

Monologue

Beck and Kyle

Democratic National Committee

Weekend Update

Whiskers R’ We

Lion King Screen Tests

The Last Black Unicorn

Get Woke With Tamika

Vice President’s Office

Final Thoughts:-

  • A great episode, with lots of highly-rated sketches throughout the night. The first half in particular was very strong, once we moved past that cold open, and the weaker segments for the rest of the night were nothing terrible at all. Tiffany Haddish contributed to this episode’s quality as she was a very fun & energetic host, who came off as someone who was born to be on SNL.

Up Next:-

  • Chance the Rapper makes his hosting debut with musical guest Eminem.

2 Replies to “November 11, 2017 – Tiffany Haddish / Taylor Swift (S43 E5)”

  1. Ah, I do recall really enjoying this one. There are so many segments here that represent how solid the first half of this season was. Boo Boo Jeffries always stuck with me throughout the years. And Tiffany Haddish did an impressive job for someone who I had never heard of at the time. Though I’m not entirely sure what she’s been up to since then.

    And as always, the averages:
    Gosling – 6.8
    Gadot – 6.3
    Nanjiani – 7.0
    David – 7.0
    Haddish – 7.2

  2. Cold Open **
    Nothing much here liked Mikey and Beck but that is about it.

    Monologue ***½
    Nothing in this monologue but her energy was still worth a lot.

    Boo Boo Jeffries ***
    This was more cute than funny for me. LOVED Alex’s scene in this.

    Lion King Auditions ****
    A lot if fun celebrity impressions everyone but my favorite was mainly Melissa at the end.

    The Dems ***
    Some pretty good stuff in here but I mostly found this fine.

    Kyle and Beck ****½
    This was fun loved the multiple people who were punching Colin.

    Weekend Update ****
    Some really great jokes love the commentaries we got especially Kenan’s.

    The Last Black Unicorn **½
    Not much I can say but this sketch was fine.

    Get Woke **½
    What I said for the previous sketch this was decent liked the credits part of this.

    The Dolphin Who Learned to Speak ****
    A nice short Aidy and Kate did great in this and overall really great.

    Whiskers R We **
    A pretty blah 10 to 1 sketch.

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