May 19, 2018 – Tina Fey / Nicki Minaj (S43 E21)

Cold Opening – Holsten’s Restaurant

  • Ugh at the HPV/HIV joke from Trumpwin.
  • So sad that Journey’s wonderful “Don’t Stop Believing” is being butchered for a very weak & desperate attempt at supposed “satire”.
  • By the way, why are we doing a Sopranos parody? Don’t get me wrong, The Sopranos is my personal favorite television series of all time, but why do a parody of a show from over a decade ago? And a one that none of the performers here have any connection to whatsoever? I guess this is another example of how creatively bankrupt this writing staff is at parodying the Trump administration.
  • Why is the audience clapping & cheering at each person entering, and I’m not talking about just cameos here, but as well as cast members, such as Kate. Is this a 90s sitcom I am watching??
  • Ugh at the going to jail line from Stiller’s Cohen.
  • Yikes at the string of jokes after that moment. Just… how in the world did stuff like that make it on the air?!
  • Holy hell at Kate’s mugging as Giuliani. How in the world is this Nickelodeon-level mugging supposed to be funny?!
  • Poor Mikey Day barely gets a response as he walks in, with the audience giving him hesitant applause after a while.
  • I can barely hear what the performers are saying as the music at times blurring their dialogue, but I guess I should be happy about that…
  • Mercifully, De Niro is not given any lines to butcher.
  • And the tradition with De Niro not knowing how to say LFNY continues.
  • They should’ve done the blackout ending after the LFNY, for it to work better, and not before it. Not that it would’ve made this cold open any better, but it only lasted for just above four minutes, which is half the time of the other hellscape cold opens, too bad it was still as insufferable as always.

Rating: *


  • Let me get this right out of the gate, I never cared for Tina Fey nor her SNL tenure. While she’s certainly reliable at times for good laughs, almost all of them were outside of 8H. And not to mention how shitty, hacky, lazy, and filled with wall-to-wall mockery of queer people her tenure on SNL was. So, to see the narrative of her being presented as the feminist & progressive warrior who wanted to change the “sexist” and “backwards” SNL that some in the press are trying to push is complete BULLSHIT, plain and simple.
  • Moving past that, and now this monologue, after a self-satisfied “joke” or two at the beginning has now turned into the traditional Q & A monologue, but instead of cast members/writers as the ones asking the question, a parade of cameos are the ones asking here.
  • Clearly, this monologue is response to the press & fan complaints about the excessive amount of cameos that this season, as well as the last one had, as they take more time & roles from the actual cast in favor of celebrity cameos for clicks & YouTube profit (which will get even worse as this era moves along, and even during a fucking worldwide pandemic we still got freakin’ Brad Pitt to cameo). Obviously, these complaints would lead to nothing changing, and reaching a new low during the cold opening of the season 45 Jennifer Lopez episode where cameo orgy kicked a cast member because he’s not “cool” enough to sit with them. Time and time again, SNL’s response to the fan complaints regarding cameos taking time from cast members always remains a blunt “fuck you”.
  • Beck getting shut down here is basically another way from the show to say “fuck you” to fans, and belittle its cast, beside few select “stars” of course.
  • The range of cameos here are between “wow, are they still around?” with us having Chris Rock, Anne Hathaway, and, of course, Robert De Niro coming fresh off from his “badass” performance in the cold open. Between two wretched, completely unwatchable hosts (Rock, De Niro), and a wonderful one (Hathaway), it makes me sad to see the latter being grouped with those two, but I couldn’t help myself there…
  • Also, we have the “oh why are you here?!” with Donald Glover & Benedict Cumberbatch being dragged into this dreck. Glover & Cumberbatch make sense due to hosting fairly recently in SNL’s timeline, with the former just two weeks ago. Yet, why the fuck is Jerry Seinfeld here?? And, as a person that never got a SINGLE laugh from him my entire life, seeing him here, and basically saying “fuck you” to SNL fans & the cast is making me despise him even more than I do, if that’s even possible.
  • Of course we get cameo #273772 from Fred this season.
  • Fred is unwatchable to me here, and the audience’s loud laughs as he’s droning on and on and on about the pulp in the juice is freakin’ TORTURE. At least he’s not as glued to the cue cards as some others, but still…
  • And now we get Tracy Morgan randomly being thrown in at the end, as if we didn’t have enough cameos. I love Tracy, but I didn’t need him here rambling on and on, especially given this monologue’s conceit. He’s much better to me than this.
  • Not a single laugh from me throughout this entire monologue. Quite possibly amongst the absolute worst in SNL history, and the new low that the show sank to with this one should not be ignored.

Rating: *

Royal Wedding Reception

  • Really SNL? THIS is our post-monologue sketch?
  • As usual, a weak English accent from Mikey, but he somehow makes it work for me.
  • No laughs from me so far into this sketch.
  • Ok, I do like the whole interplay between Mikey & Alex, which is as fun as ever. Also, considering the dreary atmosphere of the episode so far, these two are giving me much-needed laughs.
  • Funny Prince Charles & Queen Elizabeth impressions by Beck & Kate, respectively.
  • I did get a good laugh from Kate’s Queen Elizabeth’s stern look of disapproval at Alex’s twerking.
  • Tina’s British characterization & accent are cracking me up, but they feel too cliched & tired, even with her commitment.
  • Some parts here are not working for me, especially the ones where we get random cast members as celebrities. These sadly will drag down my overall rating for this sketch.
  • A bit of a flat ending.

Rating: **1/2

Morning Joe

  • Geez, didn’t we get ENOUGH political material from this episode? What is this sketch doing here?
  • These feel SO by-the-numbers with occasional shots of REACTING by others around the table. You could use these two impressions & the underrated chemistry between Alex & Kate in a much better setting than this one.
  • The debut of Aidy’s Meghan McCain impression, and it already feels pretty defined, yet not funny in the slightest.
  • Just got a laugh (my first of the sketch) from the quick laugh from Tina’s Natalia Veselnitskaya after talking about taking bribes from the Trumps.
  • Wow this is now over? Aside from that aforementioned quick laugh, this was just a huge waste of time, with tedious banter, REACTING, and quick “witty” lines instead of an actual structure or comedic through line.

Rating: *1/2

Mean Girls Musical

  • As if the monologue wasn’t enough with the Tina Fey smugfest, we now get a full-on ad for her Mean Girls musical that was nominated for many Tonys during the year of this episode.
  • Where are the jokes so far here? I’m not miserable watching this, but maybe because I never cared for this movie in the very first place, and Tina Fey’s supposed “legacy” in comedy, but where are the jokes? The comedy? The entertainment?
  • Random pretaped Lin-Manuel Miranda cameo.
  • I love Lin, and he was a pretty fantastic host last season, but his whole bit here didn’t work for me much.
  • Overall, a snorefest of a piece, with nothing here making me laugh, yet nothing being horrible. And as expected, this was just an ad for Tina’s play. Do you know the funniest thing about this piece? Well, the Mean Girls musical lost ALL of its 12 Tony nominations. Probably the biggest laugh that I’ll get tonight from anything involving Tina Fey.

Rating: **

Musical Performance – “Chun-Li”

  • Jesse Nathan: Cool staging.
  • Solid mad-fire rapping from Nicki, but again…#notsurprising.
  • Okay, despite that, I feel that this particular song is a better use of her rapping skills than what she was going for in her S40 performances.
  • I’m digging the choreography from the backup dancers, and it’s getting more and more wild as it goes on.
  • Good chorus.
  • Why are we hearing a pretaped vocal of Nicki while she disrobes?
  • This dress that Nicki’s wearing now is actually quite good, and I like the audience reaction to it.
  • I like the whole “they need rappers like me” part. I do have to ask, though: why is she lip-syncing this part?
  • Wow, a cool fakeout with it seeming like it’s over, only for it to not be.
  • Nicki’s singing at the end is surprisingly not bad.
  • Cool ending pose from Nicki and co.

Rating: ****

Weekend Update

  • I’m not caring for any of the Trump/Mueller material in this Update. I’m so burnt out of politics reviewing this season in general.
  • Good to see the return of the Trump brothers, as they for me, as well with many other fans, amongst the very few tolerable political impressions from this era.
  • As always, great chemistry & back-and-forth between Alex & Mikey, and the moment where Alex is kissing Mikey’s palm instead of high-fiving him is both hilarious & strangely endearing.
  • Overall, easily my favorite Update commentary in a while, which sadly shows how rough at times Update has been this half of the season.
  • I have no memory of this Kenan commentary as Bishop Michael Curry.
  • I always love it when Kenan & Michael interact with each other, and there’s lots of fun interplay between them here.
  • Funny line from Kenan’s Bishop Curry about being the only black man among a large white audience.
  • These cut jokes that are supposedly offensive are nowhere near as offensive as I thought they would be, even though I’m laughing at them.
  • Good change of pace in ending this season of Update with an appearance of Aidy as the infamous BBQ Becky, who went viral for calling the cops to report black people who were just innocently preparing food at a public park.

Rating: ***

Pervert Hunters

  • Ah, God bless Beck Bennett, whose oddball & fun energy has come to save me from the string of laughless sketches from this dire finale.
  • Great twist to the sketch’s format with reshoots being done in order to get the best take to be used for the final show. This piece is ALREADY miles better than the creatively bankrupt first half of this episode.
  • Beck’s paranoia & fear are quite believable here, and his performance is keeping the piece afloat.
  • So sad that Kyle has a useless walk-on as the makeup artist here; yet another example of how invisible & shut-out Kyle was throughout this season. Thankfully, his airtime will return to normal in the next two seasons.
  • I like that Beck is now laughing during the reshoots, this is escalating very well.
  • Overall, leave it to Beck Bennett to give me the first solid piece in this entire episode.

Rating: ***1/2

What I did For Trump

  • We now get our second “epic” Trump-related musical piece for the second finale in a row, establishing by that the tradition of having a grand musical piece to conclude the season’s Trumpwin arc.
  • The first appearance of Tina’s Sarah Palin in two seasons, and so far her final appearance. If this indeed turns out to be her final appearance ever, then it feels a bit sad if not surprisingly appropriate. To have the impression that started the pathetic stunt device of having celebs play random politicians dying a miserable death in the midst of other newer, younger, and more relevant stunt castings makes its death even more miserable, yet absolutely well-deserved.
  • I remember feeling, back when this episode originally aired, that this piece was SNL’s way of being “done” with Trump, and this grand musical “epic”, filled with wall-to-wall cameos, and selected cast “stars”, as their own way of having a coda for the last two seasons of covering the Trump administration (and there’s certainly a tone of finality here, echoing the wishful & delusional thinking of many that the Mueller report would supposedly end Trump). Needless to say, this piece, and everything that came before it or after it aged like milk.
  • Yet another beloved song butchered by this SNL era, as “What I Did for Love” is a personal favorite of mine.
  • As if I wasn’t already irritated enough from him earlier in the episode, Fred returns yet again with vengeance with his Michael Wolff impression.
  • John Goodman returns yet again for a cameo with his Foghorn Loghorn-esque impression of Rex Tillerson, at least he’s not going with the plantation owner voice that this cast does when impersonating people from the South. so sad to see him making what’s probably his final SNL cameo in this bloated mess of a sketch.
  • If this wasn’t padded enough, now we get a random return of Leslie’s Omarosa as the song is about to hit its climax. All I have to say about this sketch is: thank God that the music rights made this one buried & pretty much forgotten by the general public.

Rating: *1/2

Musical Performance – “Poke It Out” ft. Playboi Carti

  • Jesse Nathan: Not sure why this performance is billed as a Nicki Minaj song when she only does a featured verse.
  • The way Playboi Carti sings “poke it out” sounds like he’s saying “polka dot”.
  • Not loving Playboi’s rapping. It feels a bit too lazy, and he’s basically just repeating the same statement over and over, much like other rappers these days.
  • Playboi’s having a very hard time self-censoring, to the point where the song starts becoming empty.
  • I have a hard time telling if we’re on the verse or the chorus. They’re so indistinguishable, which is another problem with most rap songs these days.
  • Ah, now we finally get to who we wanted to see: Nicki. Her dress is actually really cool, and is igniting strange feelings in me.
  • Nicki’s rapping is starting to feel boring, as she’s just saying “Playboi” over and over.
  • Ah, we thankfully get the usual solid rapping from Nicki, which is adding some life to this dire performance.
  • “You gon’ be an episode of Dateline.” Damn.
  • Playboi’s increasing repetition of “poke it out” is getting on my nerves.
  • Overall, for the final performance of the season, this was a bit of a bust, but Nicki helped redeem it slightly, but not enough to make it good. And hey, it was still a better way to end the season than whatever the fuck Katy Perry was going for in the preceding season’s finale.

Rating: **½ (the latter for Nicki)

Talent Show

  • Mikey (who’s been all over the episode, by the way) is very funny in his scene early on.
  • Great to see Melissa leading the final live sketch of the season, which will also be the case in the finale of next season.
  • I love the style of both Melissa & especially Tina, with the latter wearing an 80s style of clothing, which is fitting with Tina’s age in real-life during that decade.
  • Surprisingly good chemistry between Tina & Melissa, and it is good to see a low-key, slice-of-life sketch in an episode that’s been bloated with dire political material.
  • Kenan is stealing this sketch as the principal and him randomly disclosing that he had sexual relationship with Tina had me howling.
  • A fun moment with Kyle & that resilient blonde wig of his.
  • Sadly, that cutaway to Luke is not a good use of his talents, even though I got a laugh from it.
  • I love the sweet ending with Melissa bonding with her mother, as played by Tina, and this sketch is a good way for the live sketches this season to go out with a strong final piece.

Rating: ****

Chicago Improv

  • A very fitting piece to close out the season, considering Tina Fey’s background doing improv in Chicago.
  • I love the visual quality here, and the way that the piece is presented is wonderful. It really adds to it overall, and presents the comedic conceit in the best way possible.
  • Here we are folks, Luke Null’s very last SNL appearance, and as expected, he’s pretty much silent in this short, on par with how poorly utilized & wasted he was throughout his short-lived tenure.
  • Beck’s voiceover work is as strong as ever here, as his tone throughout the short is perfect, especially when reading the reviews of the piece.
  • Funny magazine reviews, especially the “Too much improv” one from Improv Magazine, which always stuck with me from this short.
  • An overall great & underrated piece in general and both a great way for this troubled episode to end, and a solid way for this season to bow down.

Rating: ****

In Memoriam – a photo of Margot Kidder marks her passing


  • The image of the dozen or so cameos blocking the cast in the season finale speaks volumes of the disgraceful treatment that the majority of this era’s cast suffered from for just a few clicks & maximum YouTube profit.
  • Ah, I’ll miss you Luke. So much potential wasted for either what we already saw a billion times or for pointless, pandering, and pathetic cameos.
  • Good to see the BBQ Becky bit continuing into the goodnights.

Cut For Time: Friendship Song

  • Kinda interesting that this is our second musical short in a row that features the musical guest and both got cut for time.
  • It’s so obvious that the style of the band here, as portrayed by Aidy, Kate, and Tina is based on HAIM.
  • I’m enjoying both the visual quality of this short and the general vibe of it, even when I feel that Tina isn’t fitting as well here as I excepted her to be.
  • Now here comes Nicki’s part in the short, with her going into a rapping break, and as expected, she’s performing with fiery energy and terrific flow.
  • While not one of the more memorable shorts from this season, this one is still better than a lot of what eventually got on air this episode. This one could’ve easily replaced that Mean Girls piece or even the awful What I Did For Trump.

Rating: ***1/2

Segments Ranked From Best to Worst

Talent Show

Chicago Improv

Pervert Hunters

CFT: Friendship Song

Weekend Update

Royal Wedding Reception

Mean Girls Musical

Morning Joe

What I Did For Trump

Holsten’s Restaurant


Final Thoughts:-

  • A dumpster fire of a finale, which is quite the fitting capper to a season that started off promising. What worked for me in this episode was not too much, and most were buried in the post-Update half, while A LOT of stuff flopped HARD, the pre-Update half in particular was downright unwatchable, with one of the worst monologues in SNL’s history as its centerpiece. And it goes without saying how suffocating and annoying all of these cameos were & the show’s complete disregard of its fans and cast by having random celebrities, in addition to Tina Fey chastising the press and fans for having the “gall” to call it out on its faults. All in all, aside from few bright spots in the post-Update half, this is an episode to make you weep.

Up Next:-

  • The season 43 wrap-up post, with final thoughts, data, and hot takes coming very soon!

3 Replies to “May 19, 2018 – Tina Fey / Nicki Minaj (S43 E21)”

  1. No. Just…NO. What a horrible way for this season to go out. Here’s a sketch-by-sketch breakdown:

    Cold Open: Purely awful. It already started out bad with the opening “HIV/HPV” joke, and it only got worse from there. Nothing in this open got even a mere smirk from me, not Kate-as-Giuliani, not Ben-as-Cohen, not even the visual of Alex on that trike. Not to mention the anger-inducing clapter that we get in regards to everyone except Mikey. And to make things even worse, we get a dated reference in The Sopranos. Also, the blackout gag was very poorly done.

    Monologue: Awful, awful, AWFUL. I kinda get the idea behind this monologue, but with all the applause and everything, I can’t tell if it’s being meta or if it’s being so smug in its praise and criticisms. That was especially apparent in the bit with Fred, which went on FOREVER. This monologue made me so angry that not even cameos from Anne Hathaway, Donald Glover, or Tracy Morgan could amuse me. Truly one of the worst Q&A monologues ever, along with Krasinksi’s S46 monologue.

    Royal Wedding Reception: Boring, boring, BORING. I don’t give two shits about the Royal Family, and this went on a little too long. Not helping it more is the fact that this is the lead-off sketch of the night. The only moment that got even a mere smirk from me is Mikey’s ad-lib after Tina’s hat falls. Also, why is Aidy playing Elton John?

    Morning Joe: BORING. Most of the dialogue just washed over me, and the whole sexual tension thing between Alex and Kate feels so old-hat by now. Nothing got a mere smirk from me, not even Alex and Kate constantly interrupting Aidy. Tina’s Russian accent felt old-hat, and her portion went on waaaaayy too long. The most interesting thing about this sketch is the fake songs from Alex.

    Mean Girls Musical: Some good laughs from the portions with Lorne and especially LMM, but I dunno, the actual portions with Tina trying to work with the Mean Girls cast left a lot to be desired.

    Weekend Update: Colin and Michael’s jokes were okay, but not as funny as I wanted them to be. The Trump Brothers’ commentary wasn’t as funny as usual, but I did get my fair share of laughs from Alex eating Play-Doh and blurting out “look at those hidden swastikas”. Kenan’s commentary didn’t do much for me, but he was as likable as usual. The jokes that were deemed too offensive were only mildly funny at best.

    Pervert Hunters: A fairly funny concept, but the execution left me underwhelmed.

    What I Did for Trump: No. Just…NO. This was PAINFUL. The musical number went on way too long and felt way too pandering, not to mention UNFUNNY. Once Fred walked on as Michael Wolff, I wanted to punch my laptop screen. Seeing John Goodman here just made me sad. Oh, and do I even have to mention this: “Isn’t it funny that we’re both named Sarah when we’re both classic Beckys?”

    Talent Show: The first fully enjoyable segment of the night. I liked the mother-son dynamic between Melissa and Tina, and this was a good usage of Melissa’s natural demeanor. I also got a good laugh from Kenan’s reveal that he’s having sex with Tina. The ending was good, too.

    Chicago Improv: Some good laughs from the various improv situations. As I said in John’s review, I like how all the performers here are featured players.

    Final Thoughts: A terrible season finale. Barely anything worked for me, particularly in the first half, where I didn’t care for ANYTHING. Some of the worst segments of this era aired in that half. Most of these segments also feel way too smug and pandering, which is not a good way to end the season. Fortunately, the night and the season ended on a good note with the final two sketches. Still though, this was pretty bad.

    And as always, the averages:
    Gosling – 6.8
    Gadot – 6.3
    Nanjiani – 7.0
    David – 7.0
    Haddish – 7.2
    Chance – 7.1
    Ronan – 7.3
    Franco – 7.6
    Hart – 4.9
    Rockwell – 6.9
    Chastain – 6.0
    Ferrell – 6.1
    Portman – 5.6
    Barkley – 6.5
    Brown – 6.5
    Hader – 5.1
    Boseman – 6.2
    Mulaney – 7.0
    Glover – 5.9
    Schumer – 6.0
    Fey – 4.8

    Best Episode: James Franco – 7.6 (Runner-up: Saoirse Ronan – 7.3)
    Worst Episode: Tina Fey – 4.8 (Runner-up: Kevin Hart – 4.9)
    Overall Average: 6.4

  2. Musical performance averages:

    Jay-Z – 6.0
    Sam Smith – 7.5
    Pink – 6.0
    Miley Cyrus – 6.5
    Taylor Swift – 7.0
    Eminem – 6.0
    U2 – 5.5
    SZA – 6.0
    Foo Fighters – 9.0
    Halsey – 5.5
    Troye Sivan – 4.5
    Chris Stapleton – 8.5
    Dua Lipa – 6.0
    Migos – 4.0
    James Bay – 6.0
    Arcade Fire – 5.5
    Cardi B – 4.5
    Jack White – 7.0
    Childish Gambino – 9.0
    Kacey Musgraves – 6.0
    Nicki Minaj – 6.5

    Best Performance: Foo Fighters / Childish Gambino – 9.0 (tie) (Runner-up: Chris Stapleton – 8.5)
    Worst Performance: Migos – 4.0 (Runner-ups: Troye Sivan and Cardi B – 4.5)
    Overall Average: 6.3

  3. Cold Open ***
    A decent Cold Open

    Monologue ***½
    Some pretty good jokes in this particularly from Donald and Jerry.

    Royal Wedding ***
    Another decent sketch but a little bit more funny

    Morning Joe ****
    I always love these sketches and this one was just as good

    Mean Girls Musical **
    Uh yeah not sure what to say

    Pervert Hunters ****
    This was alot better than I thought it would be and I liked this

    Chicago Improv ***½
    An absolute amazing pre-tape liked the to much improv line

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