We open with the duel of the presidential town halls this week, the atmosphere, “poorly attended university conference”.
On ABC, Joe Biden (Jim Carrey) answers softball questions with “a story and math problem.” On NBC, Savannah Guthrie begins with “tear up [Trump] a new one. ”She asks the president (Alec Baldwin) to disown the white supremacists and the madmen of the QAnon plot, which he of course refuses to do, although he expresses his hatred of pedophiles … just before he goes. yelling at his late friend Jeffery Epstein.
We fly between the chains, hitting all expected targets, including the scary audience member with the hots for Trump and the odd masked woman sitting behind the president nodding, either in agreement or because she had a crisis. Worry for the latter makes Kamala Harris stand out, though there is no reason other than to give Maya Rudolph time – all of it is wasted. We scaled down the Biden show, which became a Mr. Rogers / Bob Ross soft program, and then back to Trump’s, which became WrestleMania.
It looks like that last-second joke may have been a better premise on which to build the entire sketch, but it wouldn’t be a cold-open modern SNL if it didn’t lazily mimic already overexposed moments from actual events.
Issa Rae makes her debut as a host, speaking about the awkwardness of her career with Insecure this time four years ago, noting how “it was rude to peak just when democracy crumbled.” She then continues a tedious, painless laugh-less monologue comparing being famous to returning to high school. Between the open cold and the monologue, we have the bad feeling that there are going to be a lot of awkward pauses in this episode.
This is certainly the case with the first sketch, Bonjour Hi !, a French-Canadian morning show all about making fun of how “everything is 25% different” and allowing Rae, Bowen Yang and Kate McKinnon to do Franco-Canadian. accents (Bowen is the best).
An advertisement for 5-Hour Empathy features an energy drink that empowers white people to understand systemic racism and oppression. Sadly, a white liberal commuter is too scared to try it, as is his wife, who recoils and says, “I’m a woman… so it’s the same. It looks like a holdover from last week. Let’s see if the same people who took offense at Bill Burr’s monologue will also be mad at this sketch, because it makes the same point.
Rendezvous sees Rae and Chris Redd enjoying a meal on a restaurant’s outdoor patio. Things are going well until a series of her crazy ex-boyfriends – a street flower vendor, “Karate Man” and a silver-painted dancing robot – interrupt them. It all leads to the revelation that she works as the Disney Princess of Time’s Square. The laugh-worthy repetition of the term “breast meat” aside is yet another tedious shrug of a sketch.
Justin Bieber is the musical guest, accompanied by Chance the Rapper for a performance of the Holy. Then the weekend update opens with Colin Jost poking fun at Trump’s steroid-drugged ramble at recent rallies – or “coronavirus giveaways.” Michael Che notes that NBC is giving Trump his own town hall after his drop out of a debate is on the right track for the network. “We have a guy,” he says, as images of Bill Cosby, Matt Lauer and Trump appear onscreen.
The hosts are joined by Donald Jr and Eric, going through their usual Abbott and Costello routine, moron Eric mimicking his huckster brother trying to eat his mask and get drunk on hand sanitizer. Trump’s fourth child and perpetual fifth wheel Tiffany (Chloe Fineman) aka “Notvanka” shows up and gives Eric a run for his money.
After a quick and funny cut to a new segment, Aidy in America, in which a frightened Aidy Bryant finds herself lost in a cow pasture somewhere in a flyover country, and a surprisingly hilarious moment of Jost unintentionally committing a ‘blackface’ vocal, the hosts welcome their second guest, famous’ 80s cocaine bride Carla (Heidi Gardner). The dressed-up party girl is there to talk about the effect of Covid on the nightlife economy, but she ends up having a ‘led by David O Russell’ style panic.
Your Voice Chicago is a local talk show. On the election, Rae’s expert has pledged to vote for black candidates across the board, regardless of their policies or background. His commitment is put to the test when contestants in a race are revealed to be Trump-loving, anti-mask Fox News crooks in Diamond and Silk mode. It’s a solid idea but again the jokes aren’t strong enough to carry it.
Bieber performs his second song, Lonely, going from a moody mirror in his dressing room to a single spotlight on stage. Everything is so overworked that it plays a bit.
A Covid-themed ad for retro restaurant chain Jack Flatts is interrupted by a trio of white separatists living in the basement and their only black friend. They furiously call for the reopening of their favorite restaurant and the end of masking and social distancing protocols, while timidly threatening to “kidnap the governor”. The joke seems to be that these people are too pathetic to take seriously, even if it’s too confusing to tell.
The latest is (yet another) Covid-themed ad, this time for eBay, poking fun at people’s ‘overly optimistic’ quarantine buys: “Instead of reading the Odyssey, you’ve watched every episode of Selling Sunset . ” This is good, but of all the sketches of the night, this is the one that makes it seem like it could have been a bit longer.
In previous seasons, one could usually count on SNL’s worst episodes to deliver a bizarre or memorable track. But for the third week in a row, the show fails to deliver a memorable sketch. Hopefully he will come out of his crisis soon.