NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” delivered the best show of the season last night – which, admittedly, is damning with faint praise considering how abysmal the season has been.
But powered by the utter charm of guest host Adele, the show for the first time did not feel like a horrible chore.
Adele played herself in a silly “Bachelor” skit that had her belting out snippets of her greatest hits (to great enthusiasm from the in-studio crowd). She was one of a group of friends who went to a psychic in 2019 and was puzzled by the eerily accurate predictions of the never-ending hell show we call 2020. She was the murdered ghost who inadvertently killed slacker Chad (Pete Davidson). To that point, all we can say is a fervent: “Okay.”
With the musical stylings of guest H.E.R., the ninety minutes were agreeable, and sometimes even amusing.
But SNL has always risen to the occasion in election years with cutting humor, and this season has been a failure.
It can be fixed. Here’s how:
Drop Jim Carrey.
As much as America needs a Joe Biden victory next week, America cannot take four years of Jim Carrey playing Biden.
From Chevy Chase as Gerald Ford, to Darrell Hammond as Bill Clinton, to Tina Fey as Sarah Palin, SNL had always turned to its comedy maestros for political impersonations, and they gave us gold.
SNL broke with that four years ago when it hired Alec Baldwin to impersonate Donald Trump. Baldwin, however, successfully disappeared in his ridiculous take on Trump’s many gaffes.
But while the experiment may have been successful, there’s no reason to enshrine it as practice.
Carrey isn’t doing an impersonation. He never lets you forget he’s Jim Carrey struggling to read a teleprompter and maintain some semblance of comedic timing.
Give the job to an SNL player.
Trim the cast.
Last night’s opening roll call listed 15 starring players and five featured players.
That’s a whopping 20 people.
Worth noting that the original SNL cast in 1975 starred just seven people.
With so many cast members, no one can break out of the crowd. No one can form any sort of synergistic partnerships – think John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd, or Chris Farley and David Spade, or Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. With so many people jockeying for time, no one gets to shine, much less play off another.
After Adele, the female with the most screen time last night was ex-SNL star Maya Rudolph, who appeared in three sketches.
Initially rehired to play Kamala Harris last year, for which she picked up a deserved Emmy, Rudolph appeared as the debate moderator, a fuzzy grandmother, and a woman bewitched by “Ass Angel Perfume Jeans.” Is Rudolph back on the show full-time? As much as we love her, there was nothing about those roles that they couldn’t have been played by someone else.
Sharpen the knives.
Has SNL suddenly become afraid of offending anyone? The humor even in the political skits is so mild, the writers might as well be delivering roses to the actual candidates. Hey, it’s only the future of the entire country at stake and everyone, but everyone, is on edge about the election. There must be some comedy in that, don’t you think?
Colin Jost and Michael Che remain insufferable.
There’s no fixing that. I’m so sorry.
Before you go, watch this skit of Adele and Kate McKinnon raving about the particular joys of traveling to Africa. In the history of SNL, no one has quite broken so much and so hilariously as Adele here. Enjoy!