April 14, 2018 – John Mulaney / Jack White (S43 E18)

Cold Opening – Mueller & Cohen

  • You probably already know my reaction to seeing YET ANOTHER Jeff Sessions appearance…
  • This impression is getting more and more irritating & “cute”, such as his whole bit here about wanting to finally be “a real boy”. This is reaching the bottom of the gutter with such toothless, unfunny, and cringeworthy attempts at laughs.
  • Ugh at the pickles line given to poor Beck Bennett. These homophobic jibes surrounding this impression are reaching season 30-level of hackiness.
  • Hey, it’s Ben Stiller as Michael Cohen! Clap audience & shriek as well!
  • And now, after a seemingly endless cavalcade of puns, elf, and gay jokes, the cold open reveals its main conceit: a Meet the Parents spoof. How original & up-to-date…
  • It’s Robert De Niro, the ultimate black hole of comedic antimatter! Oh, joy…
  • With the audience’s shrieks over Robert De Niro’s cameo continuing for TEN FUCKING MINUTES, you could feel the hardening nipples of Lorne’s cocktail party friends.
  • Right out of the gate, De Niro fucks up several lines, is glued to the cue cards, and stumbling over his “witty” & poorly-written lines like an amateur & not a supposed acting legend. Oh, this is going to be LONG cold open.
  • Oh, so we’re starting this “epic” moment between De Niro & Stiller with cheap & desperate attempts at laughs by talking about Trump’s “pepe tape,”?
  • Between naming Trump “Putin’s little bitch,” & “Stormy’s little bitch,” and calling Ivanka “girlfriend,” and Jared “other girlfriend,”these cold opens are reaching new lows in their unfunniness, toothlessness, and downright utter & pathetic desperation for clicks & laughs. Not the final time in this era that the show will sink to the bottom of the gutter for just the sake of one click or article.
  • I’m sitting here nearing the end of this cold open wondering where the hell is the joke supposed to be in this? Where are the laughs supposedly coming from? Where is the satirical angle? Why in the WORLD are we doing a reference to a dull movie from about 20 years? Is THAT the joke? Then, why isn’t it funny? So many questions, so little laughs.
  • The tradition of De Niro not knowing how to say LFNY continues.
  • Overall, not a single laugh from me through this entire cold open.

Rating: * (and that’s far too generous)

Monologue

  • Great to review another stand-up monologue this season, because after that cold open, I want to rediscover how to actually LAUGH.
  • Already, some solid lines from Mulaney early on, and his comfortable AND comforting deliveries are working both the studio audience and the audience at home to his side.
  • I’m enjoying John’s talk about his days working on the show before hosting, and this bit highlights how much John can make anything funny & fun with his reliable, effortless delivery. The whole Patrick Stewart impression in particular is hilarious.
  • A pretty silly, yet funny bit about building gazebos during the Civil War.
  • Not going to comment much about the drugs-related & wife-related material here, as it comes off very awkward & poorly-aged, even though it is still quite funny.
  • Now here comes the robot test bit, which such a classic Mulaney bit that I can’t help myself but to laugh through it. One of my personal favorite Mulaney bits.
  • Overall, as expected, a very strong & hilarious stand-up monologue from John, even though I happen to enjoy his two upcoming stand-up monologues a little more, as well as season 47 monologue too.

Rating: ****1/2

Drag Brunch

  • A James Anderson & Julio Torres collaboration, two names I never thought that I would write in the same sentence.
  • Very funny & accurate drag queen performance by John, and this sketch is doing such a great job in showcasing queer humor & culture in a way that doesn’t pander to straights.
  • Fantastic sudden dark turn with John’s whole unsettling monologue that’s directed toward Alex’s character.
  • The tone shifts here are very well-done, as well as the realization from Alex’s character, he’s doing a truly great job here, which feels a bit rare for him to showcase this side of his talent.
  • I have mixed feelings in regards to that ending, but it fit with the sketch’s off-kilter, dark atmosphere, and not to mention that what came before it was strong enough for me to keep my rating for the overall sketch quite high.

Rating: ****

National School Walkout Day

  • It’s so funny how this is the same school set that SNL uses for all of the school-related sketches, the Shallon ones, as well as the legendary Career Day sketch from next season uses this exact set.
  • Good to see both a coming-of-age & ensemble sketch so early into the episode. The realistic & relatable premise as well is executed subtly.
  • I really appreciate the subtle reveal of John’s character’s bisexuality & him discovering something new about himself. I truly appreciate the sketch not going for the cheap laughs over this reveal, which is a thing that previous SNL eras sadly did many times over.
  • Some good turns from the cast to support John’s character, the parts with Aidy & Kyle especially are solid.
  • I love Alex, but I can’t buy him as a student in this sketch, even when he looks very youthful for someone who’s about to be 40 years-old.
  • I would’ve chosen a better ending, but this was still a solid sketch that executed its concept adequately.

Rating: ***1/2

Wild Wild Country

  • The latest installment of this season’s documentary-esque pretapes.
  • I’m assuming this is an Australian accent that Kate’s doing, if so, it’s quite solid.
  • Nasim Pedrad!!! It feels so great to see such a committed & underrated performer returning to the show. It feels fitting to see her in a John Mulaney-hosted episode, considering she left SNL to join his D.O.A sitcom.
  • Good Indian accent from Nasim.
  • Ok, I’m not really caring for the parts with Kenan’s character talking about “ass,” for what feels like ten minutes.
  • I’m not caring for large portions of this pretape so far, and the Kenan scenes are pretty unnecessary. And yes, I *get* the joke with his cult member character, but I’m more interested in Nasim’s powerful & intimidating impression here, you don’t have Nasim Pedrad in a very rare cameo and waste her like this.
  • I do recall another documentary-esque short with Kenan that takes a similar route as this one, airing in the Phoebe-Waller Bridge episode in season 45. I’m looking forward to revisiting it and I hope it’s not as weak as this piece.
  • Very poor utilization of Nasim’s talents, overall.

Rating: **

Diner Lobster

  • Now, here comes an absolutely iconic & legendary SNL sketch. And the first of many musical epics that are featured in John Mulaney’s episodes.
  • As we all know by now, this sketch was written by John & Colin Jost for the season 35 Zach Galifianakis episode originally. As much as I love Zach, I can’t picture him in the role that Kenan’s playing here, maybe because of how damn mesmerizing Kenan is in this sketch & how damn strong he is this season (which I never noticed till frequent commenter Shacke9 pointed it out in one of my previous reviews).
  • Fantastic sudden epic musical turn as Pete decides on eating the lobster. I remember being so taken aback by this shift, which is also what I felt watching a certain legendary sketch in the post-Update half.
  • Ugh at Pete losing it and laughing after the epic musical turn of the sketch begins. This is the first of MANY incidents of Pete (and Leslie to an extent) pretty much corpsing on air and distracting the audience from the actual material with their sloppiness & unprofessionalism.
  • Kenan is immediately fantastic as he enters the scene as the elderly lobster about to be sentenced to death. The music as he speaks of himself & why’s he’s here is excellent & really adds to the epic feel of the whole sketch.
  • I love Cecily’s monologue at Pete, she’s always in a good form in these musical epics, and is used much better than those turgid lounge singer sketches later in her tenure.
  • Ah, we get a display of Kate’s fantastic & underrated singing voice as her emotional scene with her father, as played by Kenan, is wonderful & the visual of their claws as they sing is iconic.
  • I absolutely love the epic finale number with most of the cast joining together and singing, with lyrics flashing on the screen. The triumphant conclusion of the epic musical only makes it even better than it already is. From the shock reveal to the settling of the emotional weight of the incident with Kenan’s musical number to his daughter, as played by Kate, pleading for his life, to the epic finale with the lobster freed. When I always think of how damn high the highs of this era are usually, this sketch, and our first post-Update sketch are amongst the very first to pop up to my mind. This sketch, simply, is an all time SNL masterpiece.

Rating: *****

Musical Performance – “Over and Over and Over”

  • Jesse Nathan: Well, looks like I got my wish. I should make it clear that I’m a fan of Jack White’s work, and I think he’s awesome.
  • There goes John Mulaney with his tribute to Patrick Stewart. As everyone else will tell you, he made it sound more exciting than it actually was.
  • Boy, the fuzzy guitar was very heavily distorted.
  • This is a very strong guitar riff. Unfortunately, it’s losing its power, especially when it’s mixed with the organ.
  • The backing vocalists sound great on the first “over and over”.
  • The drummer is killing it.
  • I’m having a bit of a hard time understanding what Jack is saying. Then again, I can kinda expect that from Jack.
  • Boy, this performance is starting to feel a bit messy the more it goes on, as the instruments can’t hold themselves together. Not to mention the inconsistent sound mixing.
  • Okay, I do like this one part with the guitar solo (?).
  • Boy, Jack’s vocals when he goes high are waaaaaaaay too off.
  • Ooh, I like how one of the microphones has effects on it. I like that, as these fuzzy vocals are what I normally associate Jack with.
  • Unfortunately, the fuzzy vocals are sure to cause an earrape.
  • I like the long note held by one of the backing vocalists.
  • Ah, now we get an actual guitar solo. Unfortunately, this one doesn’t sound too great. In fact, it almost sounds like it’s being played by someone with no experience with the guitar.
  • I like the organ near the end.
  • This overall performance was a bit of a mess, but it had plenty of good things going for it to keep it from getting a rating lower than the one I’m gonna give it.

Rating: ***

Weekend Update

  • Boy, the whole Trump/Cohen talk here is the definition of a time capsule. Also, I certainly don’t need to hear the names of both after sitting through that hellscape cold open earlier…
  • The debut of Kate’s Laura Ingraham impression.
  • As expected, Kate is doing a solid vocal impression of Ingraham.
  • Ok, this whole fake sponsors direction feels like a bit of a waste of Kate’s solid impression, and let’s be honest, none of these fake sponsors will get close to “Dog Cocaine” which gave me one of the biggest laughs (if not THE biggest) that I’ve EVER gotten from SNL.
  • Alright, the “YourPillow” fake sponsor was pretty funny, elevated more with Kate’s sharp delivery.
  • The moment where Kate’s Laura Ingraham is imploring us to watch her show while it’s still airing aged pretty poorly.
  • Ugh, Colin’s whole bit about Facebook is an awful precursor to his infamous pro-Amazon rants next season, and also feels like a harbinger to that freakin’ wretched Jeff Bezos puff piece in the dreadful Steve Carell episode from, you guessed it, next season.
  • Ah, Colin wins me (and the audience) back with his funny reaction to realizing that he’s on-camera now; a perfect display of the natural warmth & likability that Colin possesses as an Update anchor.
  • The return of Kenan’s LaVar Ball impression, which is pretty much a less-funny variation of his Big Papi impression.
  • Yeah, I’m not really caring for this commentary as a whole, Kenan is as fun & likable as always here, but the writing it so lacking & it’s mostly resting on Kenan’s charisma and sketch-saving abilities.
  • An overall fairly average, but not weak Update edition. With some cringey moments (the whole Facebook bit & Kate’s Laura’s poorly-aged line about her show), and the two commentaries overall didn’t work for me.

Rating: ***

Switcheroo

  • Ah, HERE WE GO folks! The centerpiece of tonight’s episode & my favorite sketch from this entire SNL era & one of my absolute favorites in SNL history!!
  • Right out of the gate, John is terrific as this character, and you could sense a deep, unsettling vibe from the way he acts & interacts with Cecily’s character, which will only serve as a perfect foreshadowing to the sketch’s main conceit.
  • I’m loving the very accurate & catchy theme song, as sung by Mikey & Kate, until we reach the reveal of the whole sketch…
  • Aaaand here we get the reveal of the son, inhabiting Beck’s body, having to have sex with his mom. Beck’s terrified look into the zooming camera is fantastic & a moment that both gave me a huge guilty laugh and stuck with me over the years.
  • Cecily’s strong dramatic skills are used wonderfully here, as her slow realization that something is wrong is very well-done and subtly revealed.
  • Another great & incredibly dark moment with the whole scene with Heidi & Beck, as she’s taking him by his hand to have sex again, Beck’s delivery of “Oh my god” and him being practically frozen in terror is a brilliant moment.
  • John is fantastic here, so much so that he’s even barely looking at the cue cards for his lines.
  • The whole bit with John’s character stating “Dr Gross says it’s important for me to be there so they can confront me” is wonderfully & disturbingly dark. This sitcom, which from what we’ve seen from it, is incredibly dark, so much so that it ruined these people’s lives for decades, and John’s creator character’s gleeful deliveries about how he ruined them makes him even more terrifying than he already is.
  • As a HUGE MAD magazine fan (and satirical magazines in general) I love the reference that John’s character is making of it.
  • Some very dark lines here, as the whole Jonestown bit is very well-done.
  • Love the ending of this sketch, the darkness, the pace, and the reveals, one after another make this sketch easily my personal favorite not only from this season, era, and decade, but also one of my personal favorites from SNL’s entire history. What a wonderfully dark, dark masterpiece.

Rating: *****

Horns

  • Already, I’m loving this creative & absurdist sketch concept. It feels like a late 90s/early 00s SNL sketch, if not a full-on Monty Python sketch.
  • I love the look of Heidi’s character in this, and her rapport with Luke is very solid. It’s a shame that this is the only piece of theirs that made it on the air, as some of their collaborations were either cut after dress or never even made it there.
  • John’s natural delivery & personality is so perfectly utilized in his role as the doctor.
  • While this sketch doesn’t have an escalation to it, it’s working fine for me, as it’s dialogue-driven & performance-driven as well, and in both aspects, the sketch is working fine.
  • Solid sketch overall, and yet another piece that makes me wish that Luke was given an actual chance on the show and that he and Heidi collaborated more.

Rating: ***1/2

Musical Performance – “Connected By Love“

  • Jesse Nathan: This electronic sound isn’t what I expect from a Jack White song, though I do recall this performance getting better.
  • Jack’s vocals actually sound great here.
  • Now we get to the chorus, which actually has a rock sound that I expect from Jack.
  • I really like the guitar riff during the chorus.
  • Speaking of the chorus, it’s mostly just statements with long pauses in between, but this actually works.
  • I like the way Jack sings “you chose me”.
  • I like how the backing vocalists suddenly join in during the second chorus, and they actually sound amazing here.
  • That organ solo is AMAZING, and it fits perfectly with the rock sound.
  • Now this gets even better, as Jack’s guitar solo is a great accompaniment with the organ, and it’s actually a strong guitar solo, unlike the first performance.
  • And now we hear a piano during the third verse, and it also works great.
  • Great ending.
  • This overall performance was better than the first, and is exactly the type of thing I love hearing from Jack White. That being said, these aren’t my favorite musical performances to come from a Mulaney episode. (*coughDavidByrne*).

Rating: ****

The Real Intros of Reality Hills

  • Interesting to see yet another reality show parody this season.
  • Yeah, IIRC, this is going to be one of those blackout gag pieces where the opener is most of the short, but I hope it works.
  • Kate & Beck look priceless in both their getup and makeup here.
  • It’s so obvious that Leslie’s style was based on that reality show lady that her name escapes me at the moment (I never watched these channels, sorry).
  • John is immediately stealing this short with his own intro, and his lines are fantastic in general, with some of my favorites being about finishing each other… off, and having a skincare routine that’s HUGE in Iraq.
  • Great visual with all the people on the show standing next to each other at the end of the intro.
  • The whole fight sequence is such a DEAD-ON recreation of the typical drama that these shows have.
  • Excellent ending that was pulled off flawlessly.

Rating: ***1/2

Cut For Time: Wedding Toast

  • Luke Null’s third & FINAL showcase of his entire tenure; a showcase that was sadly cut at the very last minute.
  • This is sadly Luke’s only time throughout his notoriously short-lived tenure that he’ll get to display his musical talents, which is what he specialized in during his improv days and what he auditioned to get into the show with.
  • I’m loving the escalation of the sketch with Luke’s reveals about his relationship with John’s newly-wed wife, as played by Cecily.
  • John’s comments are funny throughout the sketch, made even better by his trademark delivery. I can’t imagine them working as good with another host, perhaps only Christopher Walken & John Malkovich, as they both also have their trademark deliveries as well.
  • Fun involvement from Jack White, which make it even more surprising that this sketch was cut (yes, I know it was cut for time, but it could’ve been placed before a Jack White musical performance).
  • A wonderful sketch overall, and another solid Luke Null showcase, making him 3-for-3 in terms of solid pieces. A damn shame how his talents & natural likability were completely wasted in favor of either cameos or cast members that’ve shown us everything in their tool kit.

Rating: ****

Cut For Time: Fish Dreams

  • I’ve never seen this short for some odd reason, so it will be interesting to view it for the very first time for this review.
  • Yet another Good Neighbor short getting cut this season. Geez. This season has to be tied with season 41 when it comes to Beck & Kyle getting screwed.
  • John looks uncanny to Ben Stiller in that fish makeup, especially his nose & mouth. I honestly would’ve thought it was him if I didn’t know that this is a John Mulaney-hosted episode.
  • Fantastic makeup job on Kyle & John, by the way. The detail with the colors is especially impressive.
  • Holy hell! Adam Freakin’ Driver!!! In his first & ONLY SNL cameo so far, and it gets cut?! Knowing the highly-regarded SNL hosting legend that Adam will go on to be (especially after his S45 hosting stint), and how popular he is, it’s absolutely surreal that his cameo in this piece was never even aired.
  • I’m enjoying the semi-dramatic pace of this short, and the whole conflict between Kyle & John, and the tonal shifts towards the end between them. I only wish this short had more of a sense of pathos to it, as it would’ve made it more compelling, and thus, stronger.
  • Overall, a solid piece that should’ve replaced Wild Wild West, which sadly squandered a cameo by one of the show’s more underrated performers.

Rating: ***1/2

Segments Ranked From Best to Worst

Switcheroo

Diner Lobster

Monologue

Drag Brunch

CFT: Wedding Toast

National School Walkout Day

Horns

The Real Intros of Reality Hills

CFT: Fish Dreams

Weekend Update

Wild Wild West

Mueller & Cohen

Final Thoughts:-

  • The strongest episode in this half of the season, and the finest since Sam Rockwell’s. Some very memorable & unique sketches in tonight’s episode, including two bonafide all-time SNL masterpieces (Diner Lobster & Switcheroo), and many other solid sketches all night long. Aside from a particularly wretched cold opening and a weak pretape, this was a great show, with its highs being OUTSTANDING and some of the absolute best of the entire decade, with “Switcheroo” being, in my view, one of the finest sketches in SNL history.
  • John Mulaney was a fantastic host who had a comfortable presence & provided plenty of laughs with his unique, sardonic delivery & performances. I’m looking forward to cover his next two hosting stints, especially his season 44 hosting stint which is one of my personal favorite SNL episodes of all-time.

Up Next:-

  • Donald Glover pulls double duty.

3 Replies to “April 14, 2018 – John Mulaney / Jack White (S43 E18)”

  1. Cold Open *½
    This was nothing.

    Monologue *****
    An excellent monologue from Mulaney.

    Drag Brunch ***
    This was fine, the reveal of him being Alex’s friend was pretty funny.

    National Walkout ****
    A great sketch Love how everyone who played a student got to have at least one line, the ending, however, could’ve been better.

    Wild Wild Country **½
    Uh yeah not sure what to say about this one but not terrible.

    Diner Lobster *****
    An absolute classic sketch.

    Weekend Update ***½
    A pretty good Update.

    Hollywood Update *****
    Love the theme song and Beck’s “oh my god” cracked me up and I love the more this went on, the darker it got.

    Horns **½
    Happy seeing Luke in a lead role but this was another sketch I’m not sure what to say but didn’t necessarily hate.

    Reality Hills ***
    Like John with his constant “jealous” kept me chuckling but this was just decent in the end.

    Wedding Toast *****
    A classic and got more hilarious the more it went on.

  2. Plenty of people will tell you that Mulaney made Patrick Stewart’s intro more exciting than it actually is, but it’s still a good introduction. Besides, stand-up can often be exaggerated for comedic effect, so there’s that.

    That monologue is a personal favorite in my family, as my little sister and I pretty much have his material burned in our memories. I enjoy that Wedding Toast sketch more than you do, but your rating is still good enough. I also agree that Diner Lobster and Switcheroo are masterpieces.

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