It was a Christmas miracle: a “Saturday Night Live” opening sketch that wasn’t in any way dependent on a series of surprise celebrity cameos or an onslaught of political impersonations.
Instead, this weekend’s “S.N.L.” broadcast (which was hosted by Scarlett Johansson and featured the musical guest Niall Horan) began with a comedic look at the dinner tables of three families celebrating the holidays around the country. The first was a liberal-leaning family, led by Cecily Strong, living in San Francisco; the second a conservative-leaning family, led by Beck Bennett, in Charleston, S.C.; and the third a black family, led by Kenan Thompson, in Atlanta.
For starters, Strong expressed her pleasure that President Trump seemed on the verge of being impeached, while Bennett lamented it and called it “a disgrace.” Thompson asked his family, “Y’all think ‘Bad Boys 3’ is going to be good or not? I mean, it’s got to be good. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence back together.”
When Chris Redd asked him to please talk about politics instead, Thompson replied, “Oh you mean how Trump is definitely getting impeached, and then definitely getting re-elected? I’m good.”
The dinner guests around Strong’s table wondered who could possibly vote for Trump now, while at Bennett’s table they asked how anyone couldn’t vote for him. To his family, Thompson asked, “Who do you think is going to get voted off ‘The Masked Singer’ next week?”
Redd, trying to steer the conversation back to politics again, said that people would not vote for Trump again. “What people?” Thompson said. “White people? If white people tell you I might not vote for Trump this time, you know what that’s called, right? A lie. Nobody was going to vote for Trump in 2016 either. And then guess who did? Everybody.”
Strong and her guests said they would take any Democratic candidate over four more years of a Trump presidency, while Bennett and his family said they liked Trump better than any of the Democrats. Thompson said to his guests, “You know who I’m starting to like a lot? That Pete Buttigieg.” After a pause, everyone around the table laughed knowingly.
At its conclusion the sketch returned to a snowman played by Aidy Bryant, who told the audience that all three families had one important thing in common: “They live in states where their votes don’t matter,” she said. “Because none of them live in the three states that will decide our election. They’ll debate the issues all year long but then it all comes down to 1,000 people in Wisconsin who won’t even think about the election until the morning of. And that’s the magic of the Electoral College.”
For good measure, the sketch threw in Kate McKinnon as the 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, who replied to Trump’s social media mockery of her.
“Donald Trump, step to me and I’ll come at you like a plastic straw comes at a turtle,” McKinnon said. “I can’t believe I’m saying this to a 70-year-old man, but grow up.”
‘Marriage Story’ Parody of the Week
When you have an episode hosted by Scarlett Johansson you’ve got to satirize the meme-friendly Netflix movie she’s currently starring in, right?
The “S.N.L.” take on Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” trades the squabbling artistic couple played by Johansson and Adam Driver for the political spouses George T. Conway III (Bennett), the conservative lawyer and Trump critic, and Kellyanne Conway (McKinnon), the White House counselor. As in the movie, the Conways list their favorite qualities about each other, which they then proceed to undermine, and engage in an intensely personal argument: “You’re not even verified on Twitter,” McKinnon taunts Bennett. “Where’s your blue check, George?” In response, Bennett punches his fist through a wall.
Fake Commercial of the Week
What starts off as a seemingly innocuous advertisement for Macy’s becomes a devastatingly precise comedic commentary on the experience of shopping for and dressing uncooperative small children. (Whose parents nonetheless love them very much.)
A genial voice-over promises that Macy’s offers “the best in fashions that’ll have them saying — ” followed by kids shouting, “It’s too hot!” and “It’s itchy!” A third child cries inconsolably. The commercial goes on to boast of “boys’ merino wool sweaters that won’t fit over his head,” “kids’ jackets so big and thick they won’t fit in their car seat anymore” and “snow boots that are so hard to put on they’ll strain your marriage.” Happy holidays!
Weekend Update Jokes of the Week
Over at the Weekend Update desk, the anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che continued to riff on the latest developments in the process to impeach President Trump.
After yesterday’s vote approving articles of impeachment, President Trump could become the first president to face impeachment while also running for re-election. Because only Democrats could figure out a way to lose twice in the same year. Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, who was accidentally CGI’d to look like both Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro, appealed to Republicans on the committee, saying, “When Trump’s time is past, how will you be remembered?” Remembered? I barely know you know now and I think you’re my congressman. I hate to break it to you, but the only way Americans ever remember a congressman is if he sent someone a picture of his penis. And we only remember that because his name was Weiner.
President Trump set a personal record on Thursday when he reacted to impeachment news by posting more than 100 tweets. Causing White House officials to ask, Is everything O.K. in there, sir? [the screen displays a picture of a bathroom door] I don’t get why Trump’s so worked up. I mean, it’s still going to take two-thirds of the Senate to vote him out of office. And that’s not going to happen because, well, take a look at the Senate. [the screen displays the images of several white Senators] It would be like if Obama got voted out of office by the Wu-Tang Clan. But look on the bright side, Democrats, now you know you can cheat. Why are you nerds still playing by the rules? Literally nothing matters anymore. Kamala dropped out because she ran out of money. Rob a bank! Do y’all want this or not?
Weekend Update Deskside Bit of the Week
If we were making this selection solely with our hearts, we would probably choose the return visit from Chen Biao, the irrepressible Chinese trade official played by Bowen Yang. But for obvious zeitgeist reasons, we have to give the edge to this inevitable appearance from Baby Yoda, the breakout Disney Plus character portrayed by Kyle Mooney as a self-aware entertainment-industry player.
He may not know anything about the Force, but this Baby Yoda eagerly shared photos of his squad (consisting of Timothée Chalamet, Robert Pattinson and “the two guys from the Sonic commercials”) and boasted about his new stand-up special on Netflix. (“I basically just tell stories about who hooked up on the ‘Mandalorian’ set: me.”) He also revealed that he has some enemies: “Baby Groot, do me a favor. Keep my name out your lil tree mouth before I snap you like a twig.”
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