November 11, 2023 – Timothée Chalamet / boygenius (S49 E4)

Cold Opening – Republican Debate

Donald Trump (JAJ) crashes the GOP debate

  • The first of I’m certain will be quite a number of GOP debate sketches this season.
  • Wow, John Higgins as Ron DeSantis? I honestly expected either Mikey or Marcello in this part. That expression on John’s face gave me a big laugh, which is quite impressive from a non-cast member.
  • No comment about Ego being cast as Vivek Ramaswamy.
  • Devon’s Tim Scott impression is hilarious and the funniest part of this debate sketch so far. It also feels the impression being done with the most effort, though the other cast members are perfectly fine here.
  • The hell with the mic noises? It gives this debate sketch an oddly hollow feel.
  • Now we get James interrupting the sketch as Trump while the cast freezes behind him? We already did that last season, SNL.
  • There are some good meta bits here and there throughout James’ Trump speech. And James is giving his usual expert performance, but this bit would’ve been better had happened after an actual debate sketch was occurring; this has the “let’s get this done with” feel all over it.

Rating: **1/2


(host) shamelessly promotes Wonka and raps with (PUJ), (KET) and (MAH)

  • Like last time, Timothée is displaying lots of likability and stage presence.
  • A musical monologue? I did love the famous Willy Wonka song suddenly turning into Timothée shamelessly promoting his Wonka movie.
  • The part with Timothée sitting in the audience reminds me of Adam Driver’s season 45 monologue.
  • Good addition of Marcello, and the whole baby face rap turn is fun and relatable to me as a person who’s so baby-faced.
  • This monologue is so bloated, but the energy is fun, and Punkie’s quietly solid season continues as she’s great here and her rhythm during her solo number is impressive.
  • An overall very fun monologue. I actually prefer this a little bit more to Timothée’s first monologue.

Rating: ***1/2

Museum of Hip-Hop Panel

(host) is oblivious to Hip-Hop history

  • Not surprised seeing the return of this classic sketch from Timothée’s first episode. This one happens to be one of my personal favorite sketches in quite some time.
  • Great usage of Ego throughout this season so far, especially having her in a lot of anchor/glue roles, which is the way she should be used all the time. Ego’s been utilized in this capacity, with varying degrees of frequency, since season 46, but I feel with last season onwards, the show seems to be (rightfully) leaning more on her in such roles.
  • Funny seeing a Cornel West impression by Kenan, who’s basically using a voice he’s used a lot in the past. Kenan is still funny in his portrayal here, though.
  • Timothée is as hilarious as he was last time and has been dropping an endless amount of idiotic funny lines. And, while I wouldn’t mind him coming back for a cameo, I appreciate the show letting Timothée shine on his own and without Pete Davidson.
  • The whole capitalism/capping line is both so dumb and hilarious; the rapping portion afterwards, while not as absurdly hilarious like last time, is still very fun, funny and strangely super catchy.
  • I love the ending with Timothée calling his mom to send him an Uber out of the Bronx.

Rating: ****

The Woman in Me: Auditions

Audiobook auditions for Britney Spears’ (CHF) memoir are revealed

  • It feels like a while since we got this type of impressions parade pretape; the Britney memoir audiobook seems like a good concept for such.
  • Chloe’s Chalamet sounds not that different from her Kristen Stewart, which shows how a number of Chloe’s impressions are interchangeable.
  • The cutaway to Molly as Kevin James made me laugh out loud; perfect casting too.
  • Great Natasha Lyonne from Chloe, and it especially reminds me of how much I loved her as host during season 47’s finale.
  • Nice seeing JAJ debuting more impressions and his accent and voice as Werner Herzog is both very fun and uncanny.
  • I absolutely love Troast’s impression of Maggie Smith, especially having her dressed as the Dowager Countess; her voice and facial expressions had me in stitches and stole this whole pretape for me.
  • Fun seeing a Bill Hader impression by Michael. By the way, why is Michael barely in this season so far when a lot of his fellow cast members been having an-already solid seasons? Why underuse him so much after such a strong rookie year?

Rating: ***

Gym Call

(HEG) has trouble locating her purse

  • Feels odd seeing Heidi play a low-key role like this, but this is probably due to all the Wacky and Crazy Heidi showcases we’ve been getting with her since last season.
  • Great jacked dude voice and characterization from Mikey. This is a role that he’s born to play, in my eyes.
  • Now, Timothée is doing an equally funny characterization with his own part of the sketch.
  • I love how old-school, writerly this sketch concept is and the cast is pulling it off very well.
  • As always, Heidi is a solid straight man throughout this sketch and her increasing frustration regarding her missing bag is well-paced. This is easily my favorite live performance from Heidi in several seasons.
  • The whole part with Mikey and Timothée talking over each other while Heidi repeatedly asking them if they hear her is excellent and impressively pulled off.
  • Sarah steals this whole sketch with her brief bit near the sketch’s end.

Rating: ****

Giant Horse

(host) and pet horse reunite in outer space

  • A great, inspired idea to a sequel to the classic Tiny Horse short from Timothée’s first hosting stint. And I got a warm smile on my face as soon as the audience recognized they’re seeing a sequel of the much-beloved short.
  • I love the whole sci-fi look and feel this short has, which is a nice contrast to the more folksy feel the first one had.
  • I absolutely love how Giant Horse is done using claymation, as it makes him come off more believable, and thus, more adorable.
  • Much like the first short, Timothée’s singing is wonderful and there a lot of great visuals here. I especially love the one with Timothée resting with his back on Giant Horse’s nose.
  • Great look and fantastic characterization from James as the typical sci-fi villain. It feels also great seeing him getting such a fun support role, which shows how terrific he is in such roles.
  • I love the tension between James’ character, Timothée’s and Giant Horse, especially hearing the audience getting really into this sketch.
  • Man, James’s performance is fantastic here. Just so damn good. This short will hopefully be one of the earlier example of a hopefully another strong year for James.
  • Great ending and look to the camera from Timothée and now Tiny Horse.

Rating: ****

Musical Performance – “Not Strong Enough”

Weekend Update

busy co-worker (HEG) is basically doing nothing

  • I’m not finding myself laughing at a lot of these jokes, though the Haley/Vivek Smith/Rock one did give me a solid laugh. The rest? A lot more hit-or-miss to me than usual of Che & Jost.
  • Ok, the Jared Leto slam was great, considering how unbearably obnoxious and pretentious I always found him.
  • Did we really need the return of this office co-worker character of Heidi’s? This character is nothing but annoying ticks and Mike Myers-levels of mugging with the scantest of material.
  • Yeah, this is not working for me. Heidi is a lot better than being this one-note. This Jimmy Fowlie has truly ruined so much of what I enjoyed of Heidi.

Rating: ***

Troye Sivan Sleep Demon

(SRS)’s sleep demon is Troye Sivan (host)

  • How many sketches will Sarah be in that begins with her waking up in a hospital room? Also, Bowen has been plying lots of doctors/nurses as of late. Just an observation from me.
  • As soon as Timothée showed up, I immediately knew he is playing Troye Sivan as he’s perfect casting for him.
  • This is such a bizarre, but creative premise. I get a strong feeling Jimmy Fowlie wrote this sketch, as it feels like some weird fantasy of his, and with Timothée hosting, he got the perfect opportunity to pitch this idea. This is one of his better sketches by default.
  • Lots of fun, silly dance moves from Timothée throughout this sketch, even as there’s clear pandering and the audience is, of course, eating the whole sketch up.
  • Good inclusion of boygenius and it’s funny seeing them a bit loose in a sketch.

Rating: ***1/2

Please Don’t Destroy – Jumper

John Higgins, Ben Marshall, Martin Herlihy [real] try to persuade jumper (host) not to jump

  • Good change of scenery with us seeing the PDD boys as they are about to go to work.
  • I knew Timothée would do a PDD short, but not as a character. Good they didn’t go the easy route and had him play himself.
  • The shitty beats Timothée’s character is playing is providing lots of laughs, as are the PDD boys’ solid straight man reactions to them. Timothée is also selling his character’s misery as well as expected.
  • The tough-looking cop running away as soon as he heard the shitty beat had me in stitches. One of the standout funniest moments of this whole episode.
  • Strong PDD piece overall.

Rating: ****

Musical Performance – “Satanist”

Little Orphan Cassidy

Orphan’s (CHR) song reveals her horrible deeds.

  • Finally, a Chloe Troast showcase!
  • So fascinating to see a mostly solo showcase of a newer cast member, alongside the host. This sketch is one I could see being done during the first decade or so of the show.
  • Great and fun vocals from Troast, which is not that surprising, as I saw her pre-SNL work and a lot of it featured her performing musical numbers as good as here.
  • Timothée’s reactions to Troast’s constant revelations are cracking me the hell up and Troast is absolutely crushing this sketch and carrying it with total ease.
  • Timothée’s “You started COVID?!” absolutely slayed me, as was Troast whole bit about gay gargoyles.
  • The cutaway to Molly with that knife protecting the other girls was great, as was the ending bit with Timothée.
  • An overall very impressive first showcase for Troast. She absolutely killed it here and got huge laughs with such a solid, creative sketch concept.

Rating: ****

Calm Sleep Story

(host) struggles at recording relaxing tape; Alec Baldwin cameo

  • Sadly, not too surprised seeing Andrew just now appearing on the show. On the other hand, I’m happy seeing Punkie continuing to get good airtime, as I’ve always found her both criminally underrated and underused.
  • I’m usually not too hot on these recording studio sketches (e.g. that terrible “lol black people sound funny!” sketch in Kevin Hart’s S38 episode), but this one is alright so far, even when barely any lines are standing out to me.
  • Ah, Punkie’s “chatty little bitch!” line gave me a big laugh. Great example of how much her delivery steals sketches.
  • Alec Baldwin cameo?! This is so random and so last second that the applause break barely even ended before the sketch concluded.

Rating: ***


Segments Ranked From Best to Worst

Little Orphan Cassidy

Gym Call

Giant Horse

The Museum of Hip-Hop Panel

Please Don’t Destroy – Jumper


Troye Sivan Sleep Demon

The Woman in Me: Auditions

Weekend Update

Calm Sleep History

Republican Debate

Final Thoughts:

  • As expected, a comedown from the phenomenal previous episode. However, this episode as a whole was still pretty solid making Timothée 2-for-2 in terms of solid shows. Also, much like Timothée’s first episode, we got a high number of strong segments and joyful, fun vibes throughout the night. I also really admired some of the more weird, interesting ideas with some of the sketches in this episode, especially the post-Update material. Timothèe was once again such a solid, effortless host that became more of an honorary cast member instead of the usual weekly host, which makes sense, given his theatre background. He shined even more in this episode and absolutely nailed all of his roles with complete ease and charm. It was also so fascinating seeing him working with cast members he never worked with before this time around, which really shows the massive cast turnover in just three seasons from season 46 to season 48.
  • Deserving as well particular mention are the musical performances by boygenius as they were outstanding as expected (particularly that first performance) and added incredibly well to the quality of the night. I continue to greatly enjoy this young season thus far.

My Favorite Moments of the Episode, Represented with Screencaps:

Up Next:

  • Jason Momoa returns to host since his first time back in season 44. Tate McRae is our musical guest for the night.

My full set of screencaps from this episode is here

13 Replies to “November 11, 2023 – Timothée Chalamet / boygenius (S49 E4)”

  1. As always, it’s a treat to read your reviews. This episode received a great deal of backlash and discourse, extremely draining, and in some cases, like the reaction to the Britney pre-tape, completely stupid, but I can forget that through your review and remember the moments I enjoyed.

    I don’t think I’d disagree with any of your points, other than putting the cold open higher than Update – I didn’t love either but much as I criticize meta SNL (which often amounts to “we have no choice about doing this, but we’re also going to criticize ourselves just as a precaution so you’ll remember these choices are not our fault”), I prefer it to more of Heidi vamping and Jost/Che running out the clock. I do think that the show needs to accept JAJ is not going to properly win viewers over as Trump, no matter how hard he tries. I would much rather see him keep getting to have his fun impressions and character parts.

    Like you, I thought Fowlie must have co-written the sleep sketch, but apparently it was Celeste Yim, Alison Gates, Martin Herlihy, and Bowen Yang. I was surprised I was able to enjoy the sketch – usually I would just find these pieces to be out of touch, cynical pandering, but even as someone who has little knowledge of Troye Sivan, I thought it was a lot of fun.

    I’m still amazed Chloe Troast’s sketch got on the air (I will have to give some credit to Seiday, who co-wrote it). As you said, it felt much closer to the early seasons of the show. I immediately thought of those Christine Ebersole songs.

    I don’t know what’s going on with Michael, but he deserves more, just as Andrew Dismukes did when he was unnecessarily shut out so much of last season. SNL needs players like these to be consistently used to help provide balance to the “stars.”

  2. Another great review as usual Blood! I agree that while this wasn’t as good as the epic Nate Bargatze show, it was still a solid episode and probably the 2nd best one of this young season so far.

    Even though the cold open was basically a retread of the Easter cold open from last season, I still enjoyed it fine. JAJ’s Trump had some funny meta lines and like you said, Devon’s performance was really funny. Said it before, but he’s improved a lot in a relatively short amount of time which is always nice to see.

    While we didn’t necessarily need a sequel to the Hip Hop Panel sketch from Timothee’s first episode, this one was still very funny. Timothee had me cracking up with all of his lines and Kenan as Cornel West is always worth a laugh. Shoutout to JAJ as Rick Rubin. Even just his look gave me a solid laugh.

    Gym Call I didn’t like quite as much as you did. It wasn’t a bad sketch, but it kind of felt like it was a little short and could have had more gags/escalation to it. Mikey and Timothee were both hilarious in their characterizations though.

    Giant Horse was a fun and creative sequel and I liked how they completely changed the setting of it. The set and character design was remarkable too, and the VFX department deserves a huge shoutout for the hard work they put into it. JAJ was great fun as the villain.

    It’s weird when a Jost/Che Update is arguably the least impressive thing in the episode, but this one just felt phoned in. A couple of chuckles here and there, but overall it just felt like they were going through the motions. Also, what is with Update only having one guest commentary lately? I can’t help but wonder if Jost and Che agreed to stay until the 50th on the condition that Update be shortened. As for Heidi’s commentary, I’ll grant that she performed it well and was committed, but this character is basically just an excuse for her to ham it up and mug. Poor Heidi is definitely past her prime, although I still like her on the whole, and even at her worst, she doesn’t annoy me nearly as much as Fred, Kristen, or Kate did at their worst.

    The Troye Sivan sketch I’m rather mixed on, as I really know basically nothing about him and a lot of it felt like it went over my head. Timothee was once again fun in it though, and I appreciated that Bowen’s role was a little more funny than annoying, even if I still detected some of that self amused vanity that was the bane of his tenure last season. I’ll give Bowen a bit of credit: so far, apart from that dreadful Spaceship sketch in the premiere, he’s bounced back a little bit this season. Time will tell if this is just an anomaly for him though.

    PDD’s sketch was definitely one of their better ones. Their straight man reactions were all great and the visual of the cop running away was hysterical. Also liked the meta turn with them poking a bit of fun at themselves.

    This may or may not be premature, but I think we may have witnessed a star being born with Chloe Troast’s sketch. She completely stole the entire show and knocked it out of the park in her debut lead role. Timothee’s straight man reactions were hilarious and on point. Someone on the sub described Chloe T as seeming like a combination of Cecily and Will Forte. I can definitely see it, and given how those two are two of my favorite cast members of all time, I’m very excited to see what she’ll bring to the table going forward. It’s hard to sing well while also singing in a funny way, but she nailed it!

    I was absolutely shocked at that Baldwin cameo in the 10 to 1. I would have thought for sure that his SNL days were over. Though given how this is the same show that had Trump and Elon host, I guess I shouldn’t be too shocked lol.

    I loved how Punkie’s solid season has continued, and I really hope this bodes well for her for the rest of this season. It’s about time she get used more! On the flip side, I’ll say it again, what the fuck is happening with Longfellow?! This episode was a new low for him, getting literally only one line in a pretape. His underuse this season is utterly shameful and is reminding me of how badly Melissa got underused at times.

    All in all, another solid episode, with Timothee once again being a great host with a lot of charm and likability. Despite some quibbles, I think this has been a quietly hot season so far.

  3. I wasn’t as high on this episode as you were, but I thought it was still good.

    I wasn’t a big fan on the Gym Call sketch, and it would’ve been a complete DUD for me, if not for great performances by Mikey and Timothee.

    I also wasn’t as high on the Troye Sivan sketch, it just felt like audience pandering to me and nothing else, despite great performances. I also feel that the PDD short, while good, isn’t as solid as their other shorts.

  4. I also was higher on the cold open than you were. Despite the idea being done last season, I still thought it was pretty good.

    One thing I’ve noticed so far this season is how in each episode, chunks of cast members don’t get ANYTHING to do all night.

    I’m surprised you didn’t say anything about Sarah’s John Mulaney impression, which I thought was really funny.

  5. Was Chloe sick this week? Weird seeing her in only one live sketch.

    Enjoyed the Women in Me Impressions, Though I wish Heidi would’ve done her Kim Kardashian impression instead

    I also loved the Orphan sketch

  6. I do enjoy that without leaning on Pete for most sketches, Chalamet diversified the castmembers he worked with for the episode

  7. Thanks for another strong review and giving us a strong outlet to talk SNL.

    I think we’re looking at SNL operating at or near the height of its consistency. They mitigated host limitations in the first two episodes and delivered on the potential of the Nate Bargatze. Here, they successfully avoided a big comedown following the previous episode’s grand slam. That’s exciting and encouraging.

    I’ll join the chorus of people who dug the cold open more than you. I know we’ve gone the meta route before, but I more often than not really enjoy it. We’ve seen a million rote debate sketches. There’s nothing really compelling about SNL playing it straight anymore. And besides, it’s central premise is not incorrect. I’ll agree with Dennis Perkins (will wonders never cease) that JAJ’s Trump came off as a bit too much of the voice of reason here and it’s also quite clear that the audience is still not quite tapped into his rhythm, but this was a cold open that I could appreciate, even if it was only fitfully amusing. It’s a complete contrast to the previous episode’s CO, which had a lot of audience pleasing moments but was absolute garbage as pure sketch construction.

    The monologue was odd in that it seemed to be comprised of two separate, unrelated premises, but each was a little fun. Hey, at least we were once again spared from another charmalogue where the host talks about how much they love their mom, or whatever.

    I thought the first Rap Roundtable was on the precipice of greatness, but was maybe too beholden to the paint-by-numbers sketch formatting. That said, the redux was every bit the hoot that the original was with maybe more lively support performances. I’d be happy to see this character brought back in another context. Chalamet’s performance in this is so great.

    The gym sketch was enjoyable garbage. The game was fun and the performances were lively, but…y’know, it was a whole lot of nothing. An interesting detail is how Heidi played the straight man while also playing her character with a distinctive vocal fry. Are we no longer shaming vocal fry? *sigh*

    Giant Horse was a strong sequel too a sketch I appreciated but never really enjoyed. It felt like the comedic reveal was taking forever and a day, but once it was revealed to be a sequel, I admired the patience.

    The back half of the show was solid. A fun PDD, though I’m still awaiting their classic turn…maybe it was the Bad Bunny one? I’ll give it time before a re-watch. Troast’s showcase was phenomenal. The vocal chops are apparent, let’s hope the weirdness doesn’t dissipate. The Troye Sivan sketch was not for me. The final sketch was a perfectly cromulent way to cap the show. I’m guessing the Baldwin cameo was the show’s way of testing the waters on his official return…James compared Baldwin returning to the show having Trump and Elon on, which…is a take. I don’t think those things are the same.

    Also, and it pains me to say this, especially as someone who cares deeply about music, I just don’t understand the appeal of boygenius. I didn’t click with them as solo artists and I’m not sure the team-up does much more for me. I thought their performances were fine (I actually liked the second one more), but there’s nothing really dynamic about their songs.

    1. Hi Carson! Love your reviews on the One SNL a Day 2.0 project as well as your comments here.

      With regard to my comment comparing Baldwin and Trump and Elon, it wasn’t my intention to say that he’s on the same level as them, but rather to show how SNL, especially recently, has been no stranger to courting people with a lot of baggage.

      Despite Baldwin’s numerous controversies and accounts of bad behavior, the whole Rust shooting really felt like the end of his career in a way. Even though by all accounts it was just a terrible accident, all the bad press he was receiving made me (and plenty of others) think his SNL days were over.

      While it’s nowhere near the same as having Trump or Elon host, it still shows Lorne’s willingness to book people on his show, irrespective of how they are perceived in the public eye.

    2. Thank you very much for the nice words about me and my work.

      I didn’t hate the cold open. It just felt rushed to me, but can see you why some others felt it was fine. A **1/2 rating from me indicates that it’s average and nothing terrible. I think JAJ’s Trump had a more of a hit-or-miss run with its writing, and it rarely veered off into being bad, unlike Trumpwin and the political writing of 43-46.

      I like boygenius more than you it seems. You see, I’m a big Phoebe Bridgers fan, and enjoyed Julien Baker’s work, so this supergroup seemed to be right up my alley. And their music to me is so ethereal and calmimg, and not to mention having fantastic vocals and (especially) lyricism. That first musical performance had me feeling feels that an SNL musical performance rarely had me feel in quite some time. Great stuff.

      1. Trust me, EVERYONE likes boygenius more than me. My reductive line would be “Haim, but without ANY hooks,” but that’s not quite it. I’ve tried listening to their album and now I’ve seen them live on SNL and…yeah, it’s just really boring to me.

  8. A thing i’m not a big fan of, is how the show has been utilizing JAJ ever since around February/March of last season. It feels like they are only using him for Trump and that’s it. I know I’ll get backlash when I say this, but I feel like the only reason they hired him was for Trump and Biden.
    If he didn’t have those impressions in his repertoire, then the chances of him getting hired would’ve been WAY lower. But that’s my opinion.

    1. Oh I completely disagree with you, Nylan. In fact, the date you mentioned (February/March) is around the time the show started to utilize JAJ more and more in the way *I* wanted them to since the start.

      He’s been getting a lot of fun character and impression roles, and a number of episodes since the second half of last season had him dominating in a very MVP/utility star way. Hell, he got great airtime just this last episode with a very fun sci-fi villain performance to boot. If the show only hired him at the start as an impressionist, then I’m glad he proved himself he could be Dan Aykroyd/Phil Hartman-levels of utility leader, which is the vibes I, and quite a number of other fans, have been getting from him.

  9. You are much higher on this episode than I originally was. It worked better for me on rewatch, but still was a chore to sit through. To me, this show seemed to lean on the crutches that work for the outskirts of general fans/pop culture obsessives, but I hate as a hardcore fan.

    In my decade of watching live episodes, I don’t think I have ever been as pissed off as when that awful Co-Worker piece shows up on my screen. The overacting and mugging… wow. That’s the kind of stuff even a Level 1 Acting class would tell you not to do. And here we have an SNL veteran doing that. Heidi doesn’t need to do that crap, she’s proven that she’s capable of much better material. And she’s certainly proven that she’s a natural actress, so there is absolutely no need for her to crank that dial to level 100 cringe. I’ve said it before: Jimmy and Ceara seem like nice people and I wish them nothing but the best; but dear lord, they are contributing some of the worst material in this era.

    And then there’s Chloe (Fineman). I’ve seen some people say they’re using her better this season than last (and while I can see where they’re coming from), it still doesn’t excuse the fact that she’s kinda the odd one out. While I’ve seen many point to her as the “impressionist,” usually most of them are capable of having more than five voices and repeating them for each celebrity. I link it to this: in the 1930/40s, she would be a great supporting actress in comedic “screwball” films. Leading lady? Possibly pushing it. And I think if the show recognizes that she probably won’t hit with the audience and it’s better to keep her to reduced roles, then you may as well just let her go.

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