Sudeikis’ Devil rips into Jost on “Weekend Update,” as Oscar Isaac, Emily Ratajkowski and Nicholas Braun triy to get a word in edge-wise on Kenan Thompson’s classic talk show parody.
If there’s one thing Jason Sudeikis can do, it’s bring up the energy in the room. The long-time former cast-member injected all of that positive “Ted Lasso” flow into his return to “Saturday Night Live” and it was infectious.
A performer and writer during his time on the show, Sudeikis mostly elevated the writing, too, with some great character moments and a few of his classic recurring characters making unexpected returns.
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What’s a true testament to his skills as a sketch performer, though, is that he was able to bring humor out of sketches that weren’t so great, even getting other performers to crack with his commitment and ad-libs.
This week also marked a huge milestone for Colin Jost, who officially surpassed Seth Meyers as the longest-tenured “Weekend Update” anchor with his 155th appearance behind the desk after taking over from Meyers in March 2014.
Perhaps the biggest return of the night — and a totally unexpected one — was Sudeikis’ recurring character, Vance. Don’t remember him? How about “red track suit guy” from Kenan Thompson’s “What Up With That?” sketch? Yep, that’s the guy.
Out of nowhere, Sudeikis must have convinced Thompson to bring back the chaotic crowd-pleaser, and they even enlisted some all-stars to help including Oscar Isaac, Emily Ratajkowski and “Successions’” Nicholas Braun. But what about Lindsey Buckingham, long-time fans are asking? Don’t worry, it’s addressed!
As usual, we’re ranking all the sketches from worst to first, including the Monologue, Cold Open, “Weekend Update” and any sketches that were cut for time but made their way online. We’ll skip the musical guests, because they’re not usually funny — unless Ashlee Simpson shows up. We wrap up with a look at the cast-member who had the strongest week.
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Men’s Underwear Commercial
Addressing a very intimate problem that men face every day, which Chris Redd summed up pretty well. Sometimes no matter how well you clean, it can be like you didn’t at all later in the day and what is that all about. How come no one has addressed this with a special product. Well, now they have. Did we need this ad? Absolutely not. Do we need to be talking about this? Hell, no. Was it at least funny? Not really. But it made everyone uncomfortable, the ugly stepsister to comedy. Maybe we’re just not ready to get this real.
It’s always fun to see a musical piece, and another chance for Melissa Villaseñor to showcase her own talents on this show, but unfortunately this one was just way too obvious … even with the twist. At least we got to enjoy the great reactions from some of the other members of Warbucks’ staff at learning just exactly what service Jason Sudeikis’ Ricky provides the American billionaire. As for the musical number itself, both Cecily and Melissa did a great job with their vocals, while the rest of the servants had fun little asides. Honestly, this entire troup could probably put on a great full-length comedy musical (a la “Schmigadoon!”) or parody. Maybe when they’re not busy they could just whip that up for us!
Cold Open: Ghosts of Biden Past
James Austin Johnson’s Joe Biden gets a cute pick-me-up pep talk from Jason Sudeikis’ 2013-era to remind us that the impression of Biden used to be carefree, fun-loving, aviator shades cool. We didn’t get a Jim Carrey appearance to complete the trifecta, so Alex Moffat reprised his extremely brief tenure in the role for a cameo making fun of the fact hardly anyone remembers he did this.
Chloe Fineman got an unexpected big applause for her walk-in as Press Secretary Jen Psaki, which she didn’t seem to know what to do with. While the segment reminded us of the dire straits of the Biden administration right now, with tanking approval rating and infrastructure struggles — his own party holding him up — it was nice to take a trip down memory lane to a simpler time for the former VP.
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Monologue: Jason Sudeikis
Jason Sudeikis, of course, hit us with some of that “Ted Lasso” love, even as he said he doesn’t understand it’s success. “It somehow became a hit, which is shocking to me because it’s built around two things Americans hate: soccer and kindness,” he explained. But then he showed us exactly why it works.
After talking a bit about what he’s done since his decade on the show, with some nice zingers, he started talking about the storied history of Studio 8H in 30 Rock and he really did get people feeling the power of the place, the legends that have walked its halls. It was actually incredible to watch just how effective sincerity, kindness and words can be. If only words were always used for good!
A rare Andrew Dismukes showcase piece that sees him pitching the idea of a “sick-ass” treasure map on the back of the Declaration of Independence. We loved the slow burn of him convincing everyone else to get on board, and even the random appearance of Aidy Bryant and Aristotle Athari from the future to tell them how pissed people are that there is no map on the back so they better make it happen! The whole premise was quickly absurd, but the earnestness of the performers — including Kyle Mooney trying to keep them on task with inspiration — really sold it.
At least they acknowledge how lame the premise of a male “Ellen” is right in their introduction to this piece. But then the piece itself was a pretty good breakdown of the stereotypical male experience, complete with juvenile sense of humor, violence, inability to get emotional and celebration of deeply problematic “toxic” men like Louis C.K. — another great James Austin Johnson impression — Conor McGregor and Jake Paul. Let’s just say it was stupid in all of the authentic ways, which also stands up and tells me to maybe … do better?
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Colin Jost and Michael Che were on fire this week for a shortened “Update,” with an onslaught of great jokes attacking Ye’s name change, Facebook’s name change, all things vaccine, Biden’s mental health initiative and mental state and even tying Walmart’s Black Friday deals to January 6. It was great to see them taking shots all over the place, including Biden and Trump dumps within a few breaths of each other.
Jason Sudeikis brought back his “SNL” staple, The Devil, where he talked about tweaking America to be more like Hell — he’s been beta-testing in Florida for years. Turns out he’s also the mastermind behind Bitcoin, vaping and even those persistent ads that dominate your browser when you’re trying to read an article. His joyous delivery was cracking Colin up, as were the ad-libs. His response when Colin questioned what his ringing phone was was priceless. It’s … a phone.
We were already cracking up when Colin asked if he had anything to do with QAnon, but that got Sudeikis’ Devil so offended at the very thought that he threatened to undo the deal that he made with Colin so that Scarlett Johansson would marry him. He then accused Colin of baby-trapping her and talked about who screwed her more, Colin or Disney. It was all pretty edgy stuff, that had Colin uncomfortable and cracking up right there with us.
CUT FOR TIME: Not really about Hispanic Heritage Month, but more a “Mary Poppins”-inspired pitch for someone to step up and be her new boyfriend. We really wanted to like this because she had a sweet delivery, but the material just wasn’t all that funny.
CUT FOR TIME: Was this “Guy Who Just Bought a Boat” segment cut for time or cut for crass? We have to give it up for Alex Moffat, though, as this segment was packed with sexual and Halloween-themed innuendos and he nailed all of it. This character can get tiresome, but when the wordplay is this strong, we find ourselves looking forward to how he’s going to twist things up next.
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This was just an opportunity for Kenan Thompson and Jason Sudeikis to riff and have fun with a ridiculous “Indecent Proposal” with Kenan as the wealthy man who approaches Jason and wife Heidi Gardner. The back-and-forth just escalates into silliness as Kenan keeps moving the dollar amounts up and down randomly and the offer gets stranger. Does he really have any money? It’s the kind of character Kenan excels at, and it’s clear that he and Jason enjoyed getting to play together again.
We missed Bill Hader’s Lindsey Buckingham to really bring this together, but Kenan Thompson managed to create a callback to the character through “Succession” star Nicholas Braun that was even funnier. Kenan slipped back into those jeri-curls like he’d never stopped playing this character. We knew Jason Sudeikis’ dancing tracksuit was on his way, but we weren’t expecting Fred Armisen back on the saxophone to really bring us back in time. Always a feel-good nonsense romp during its heyday, of all the Sudeikis-related skits, we never expected to see this back as it’s more a Kenan showcase, but we were so glad it did return.
This sketch would have been funny just for the steamy chemistry between Jason Sudeikis and Ego Nwodim as the parent to one of his students, flirting through their parent-teacher conference with increasing heat. Both were absolutely incredible with how they leaned into these roles, and with how far it got. But it’s Kyle Mooney’s signature sad sack routine as Ego’s husband, standing by with increasingly angry but still impotent threats, that took it over the top and made it hilarious. No one does this better, and all three performers were at the top of their game with commitment and delivery.
The return of one of the funniest sketches that celebrates abject stupidity. Cecily Strong is absolutely incredible as a dimwitted teen just in the confused look she’s able to carry. As always, the host steps in as the new instructor, and Jason Sudeikis handled the slow burn beautifully as Cecily and Mikey Day’s inept students just couldn’t grasp anything. We did appreciate that they’re socially conscious (sort of), so they’ve clearly learned something, and we absolutely loved bringing in their parents so Jason could tell them what a terrible job they were doing. This one had us laughing pretty non-stop, and even got Jason at one point.
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This was the biggest week for Alex Moffat we’ve seen in a while, and yet his best piece — “Guy Who Just Bought a Boat” — was left on the cutting room floor. Cecily Strong slayed us in the “Science Room,” and James Austin Johnson continues to come out strong in just four episodes.
Kenan Thompson had two great roles on the night, while Ego definitely had a standout moment in her parent-teacher conference, as well as some great reaction moments in “Annie,” but we’re going to have to give Player of the Week to her parent-teacher screen partner.
Kyle Mooney was on fire as Ego’s loser husband, standing by and getting pointlessly angry as Jason Sudeikis blatantly hit on and ultimately aggressively made out with his wife right in front of him. Balance that with his clueless dad in the “Science Room” and his more serious take on the Declaration piece and manly man in the underwear ad, and he showed more versatility and range than he usually gets to.
Kyle has always been the oddball of the cast, with many of his pieces winding up toward the end of the show. He often worked with Beck Bennett, so maybe now that Beck is gone, he’s pushing more into the mainstream — such as it is — with some of his concepts? We love that he keeps it weird, but we also love seeing all of his creative sides.
“Saturday Night Live” returns November 6 with host Kieran Culkin and musical guest Ed Sheeran.