The Bear star Ayo Edebiri takes full control of Saturday Night Live, dominating the night (even with Jennifer Lopez as musical guest) and bringing the strongest episode of the season — and that’s with the Dune Popcorn Bucket song!
There’s a tendency on Saturday Night Live for these three-new-episode bursts like this to run out of steam in the final week, but the opposite happened this time around. Jacob Elordi was a mess, Dakota Johnson was a bit stronger, but Ayo Edebiri just dropped the season’s best show.
Seriously, there was not a bad sketch in this entire show. They weren’t all grand slams, but every single one of them had something fun about it, some fantastic performances from the cast, and an incredibly committed Ayo really leading the show. If this is how she makes her SNL debut, the Five-Timers Club had better start tailoring her jacket!
In an interesting move (or moves, as it turned out), Nikki Haley made a surprise appearance in the Cold Open where she was allowed a do-over of sorts to her disastrous “slavery” Civil War answer. Then, not long after, Ayo addressed her own controversial comments about tonight’s musical guest Jennifer Lopez.
For the record, it looks like all is good between the women, even if they did miss their hug connection during the goodbyes. It looked as if J.Lo spent a little long waving to the audience, so when she turned, Ayo (not wanting to interrupt) had already moved on to hugging the cast … So J.Lo hugged Latto and Redman, who appeared during her first performance.
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.
Um, we’re not even really sure where to start with this one. We kind of liked the random declaration about hooking up in the elevator within minutes of it getting stuck, but the rest of this sketch kind of meandered into quick nonsense and then wrapped up with even more nonsense. When it ended, we found ourselves just kind of staring at the screen like, what was that? It’s as if the sketch was half-baked or an amalgamation of multiple ideas that didn’t make much sense together. We’d have maybe liked it just a little more if they’d not have cut off the offer to Michael Longfellow’s fireman so abruptly, only adding to the awkward pacing of the whole piece.
Well, this one was perhaps inevitable. Ever since the supposed Dune popcorn bucket was revealed the — ahem — sexual implications were… Like… did no one at any point in the development of this product… we mean… seriously… this is why we need younger people in the room. Ahem. Anyway, this got a good audience response, and we did appreciate the rug getting pulled out from under us with the bucket twist. We knew one was coming, but didn’t anticipate this. From there, though, we wish it could have found a way to be funnier either in the lyrics or video itself. As it was, the only laugh we got was Kenan Thompson as a father trying to figure out why his daughter Ayo Edebiri would also fall for this bucket.
Almost every host talks about what a dream it is to host SNL, but Ayo actually teared up as she was talking about it. It’s easy to see why, though, as she came up doing standup comedy in and around New York City. She even shared some terrible ideas for the show she’d developed years back (not sure if those were real, but they were cute enough). Actually, that’s where she really shined in this. We won’t say it was the funniest monologue, but it was heartfelt and she came across very well. Her standup background and obvious acting chops had us feeling pretty confident that she was good to go. And her easygoing charm only made us feel even stronger that the show was in good hands. That’s the least a good monologue should do. Plus, we’re happy for her getting to live out this dream.
For a show that tried so hard for fun, twist endings and surprises, they forgot to even give one to the last sketch of the night. Was it running long so they told Kenan Thompson to just wrap it up? We were actually enjoying the silliness of this piece about a hairdresser so bad she exposes parts of her clients’ brains. Once again, Ayo Edebiri was fantastic as the aggrieved party, while Ego’s no-nonsense stylist was not putting up with anybody’s nonsense … and really doesn’t see the problem anyway. It was such a fun ride, it’s a shame it just kind of stopped midway through.
Ayo Edebiri took this character and this silly premise by the horns and wrangled it into something pretty funny. This was all about her performance as a teenage boy pretending to be hypnotized opposite Andrew Dismukes as a hypnotist most definitely not hypnotizing him. Ayo was fully committed to her performance, while Andrew stayed right with her both confused and dumbfounded. We even appreciated the whole reason behind it as it was still perfectly in line with the teen character, though we could have done without the final singalong. While it might have been slightly earned, it still didn’t quite fit the tone of the rest of the piece.
Cold Open: Trump Town Hall
After taking it easy on the Taylor Swift non-troversy last week, SNL certainly leaned into it from the jump this week, with James Austin Johnson’s Donald Trump hilariously spoofing the Swifties’ digging for clues in everything to explain how she’s infiltrating the Super Bowl on the way to helping Biden steal the election. He also noted that people are tired of a suspected criminal (Biden) and are ready for a convicted one (himself) so they know he will do the crimes right. And we have to give a shout out to one of our favorite random lines, “I like to say I put the panic in hispanic.” This was one of James’ finest rambling sequences as Trump, which really benefited from the CNN Town Hall format, thus allowing him to interact with other people and answer questions. They didn’t even need a cameo from the real Nikki Haley, acting as a concerned voter wondering why he won’t debate Nikki Haley … though it was nice of them to give her a Civil War-slavery do-over.
A welcome return for a sketch that really digs into why people can be so nasty on social media. The premise is simple. Why’d you leave this comment on Instagram? Why’d you do it? Why’d you say it? Ayo Edebiri really brought her character to life in this one, making us believe how lost and alone she was. Kenan as host was a perfect foil for these awful and/or sad and/or shameless people with his glib reactions to their responses and how uncomfortable everyone was. Honestly, we wish you could pull these commenters out and make them face their words publicly. It might make some think twice … or just leave before doing anything, like Mikey Day did the moment Kenan explained the game.
Ayo then unexpectedly addressed her controversial comments about Jennifer Lopez when her character finally broke and said, okay, we get it about being irresponsible on social media or “run your mouth on a podcast and you don’t consider the impact because you’re 24 and stupid.” It was nice to see her get an opportunity to address this controversy on the show, and open up to her past misdeeds. It’s interesting that this was the second real-life mea culpa offered on the show after Nikki Haley.
This turned into a fun piece with Bowen Yang as an on-the-street reporter in New York trying to find a rom-com meet-cute story only to encounter one awful story after another. The cast clearly had fun playing different roles and sharing their stories, even bring in a few extras to beef up the creep factor a couple of times. Ayo Edebiri even got to swing by twice but we’ll leave you to see why that is. This one also earned its inevitable twist ending, which actually added laughs to what was already a pretty funny string of horror stories. It turns out that while there may be no wrong ways to meet and fall in love … love might also be dead.
Mikey Day and Ayo Edebiri were killing us with their ’90s-level shock and horror at Andrew Dismukes’ college character admitting he did a microdose of shrooms in a chocolate bar. The portrayal was so obvious and juxtaposed with everyone else around them being cool and normal, it was fantastic. The only drawback to the otherwise very strong sketch was when they had to come right out and say those two were acting like a ’90s PSA. We honestly didn’t need that. Mostly, though, we can’t get over the level of over-the-top mayhem Mikey put into his line deliveries. The shock only heightened the comedy. This was just a masterclass in commitment to character.
Ego Nwodim had a great ad-lib when she mixed up Sarah Sherman and Ayo Edebiri’s character’s names. Then, we got to the real meat of this sketch was was about Ego deciding Ayo was her favorite because they both went to Spellman College. There was also a hilarious racial connotation to the whole thing as we found ourselves laughing uproariously when Mikey Day tried to complain and the women got up on each side of him to find out the “why” of his concerns. The shot to the judges when he and Sarah complained later in the sketch and Ayo’s phone-a-friend moment only added to the sketch’s brilliance. Ego owned every bit of this sketch.
A relentless assault of jokes from Colin Jost and Michael Che to kick off this shortened “Update” segment. It was almost too fast to really soak it all in, but there was definitely some solid material in there. Che was loving all the audience groans and reactions to some of his jokes, like quipping that Black History Month started “20 minutes late,” and police shot a Jackie Robinson statue because he refused to put down the bat. With great energy and solid material, the guys were definitely on a hot streak with this one.
Every time Sarah Sherman shows up on “Update” it’s absolute magic. This was no different, with her cropping up as a teenager named “CJ” who scored tickets to the shoe and never knew his dad. It was obviously just another way for her to razz on Colin, who was obviously portraying CJ’s dad. Colin’s terrible acting and line reading actually made it better, as was Sarah’s overly dramatic everything. We found ourselves just smiling our way through this entire appearance. Sarah is so much stronger in her own element than when she has to do something even slightly normal in a sketch. Stay weird, girl!
It’s easy to see why this was definitely the Ayo Edebiri show as the host dominated every sketch she was a part of. With someone so capable as host, the rest of the cast slid into more supporting roles, meaning there wasn’t enough meat on their moments to make this an easy decision to make.
We have to give huge props to Marcello Hernández for getting a big musical moment with his “Dune Popcorn Bucket” piece, we just wish it had been a stronger piece. Kenan had a strong night with some great supporting roles and a very fun lead performance in “Why’d You Do It?” The same can be said for Ego Nwodim in her game show role.
But with nobody having a dominant night by any means, we’re going to have to go with the one who had us smiling the most. Ego nearly had us with her one-two punch with her game show sketch and her court appearance, but Sarah Sherman left us dying with her latest sparring against Colin Jost. We love her in her element and it’s always great to see her get an opportunity to shine.
“Saturday Night Live” returns February 24 with host Shane Gillis and musical guest 21 Savage.