[Ed. Note: Jenny Nelson is a writer, student, and -- most importantly -- Videogum intern. She'll be taking us through this season of Saturday Night Live.]

Something cool about how SNL is a live, weekly show is that it can quickly respond to media criticism. What I’m talking about, of course, is Nasim Pedrad. (Did you think I was talking about the cold open? Nope! JK hold on. I will talk about it. Just a second!) Since the start of this season, every time I’ve seen anything about SNL on the Internet it’s almost always (and this is only a slight exaggeration) been a complaint about Nasim Pedrad not being in enough sketches. Here is SNL being like, “We heard you!” because in the past two weeks she’s been the focal point of a lot of sketches, which is cool because she’s great!

Okay but the other (more political, important) frequent complaint is about the lack of cast diversity, specifically how there are no black females in the cast. SNL addresses this in the cold open, and when I say “addresses this” I mean they pretty much say, “Yup, you are right,” and then continue as normal.

And I will talk about that in a minute but first let me just say the one Internet thing SNL does not get is that “What Does The Fox Say” is a viral video from TWO [MILLION] MONTHS AGO, and no amount of accuracy or kind-of funny jokes in that parody will make it not the worst. And on that note we can look at this episode now.

So I missed the episode on Saturday, and by the time I was watching on Sunday I had seen the text apologizing to Kerry Washington from the cold open and so naturally thought, “Very funny but now I won’t even enjoy it when i see it because it’s lost the surprise factor!” BUT this sketch had some other surprises in it and I’m choosing not to repeat them all so you can enjoy if you haven’t seen it yet! I thought it was very funny but then every time I’ve thought about it since I’ve felt a little empty, so yayyyy.

The good (?) news is that pretty much every sketch after this was very weird or silly or something, starting with Pedrad’s motivational speaker from Yemen, who just says nonsense like, “Heshi sewage fires success!” between thrusts accompanied by big sound effects. IDK. Also I had so much to tackle in those intro paragraphs that I forgot to mention Kerry Washington is lovely. She shines in this scene and gets to say, “Respect my ability to assess a bucket, Heshi,” which is nice.

As previously mentioned, there was a “What Does The Fox Say” video, which: ugh.

Then there is a sketch that is just, “White people are like this/black people are like this,” which is a very tired premise but I did like Kerry Washington’s character and there’s a funny bit about what would make these guests lose their support for Obama and the answer is nothing.

The “Miss Universe” sketch was full of very talented ladieesss but was strange and not funny. I did not understand Kerry Washington’s character, did I miss something? Please let me know if I missed something, I’d like to know.

Weekend Update was fine? Kate McKinnon was German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Jay Pharaoh and Kenan were good as Shaq and Charles Barkley. Here is the second of those:

The most genuinely embarrassing thing is that my favorite sketch of this episode was “Cartoon Catchphrase.” This very dumb sketch really catered to me the tired viewer watching TV while doing her dishes. Aidy Bryant is very talented. Also the ridiculous cheating husband story weaved into a game/reality show reminded me of the “Chews to Lose” sketch on Comedy Bang Bang from a couple weeks ago but no worries. I will watch these sketches forever and will be more forgiving if I’m doing my dishes.

Jay Pharaoh was in a lot of sketches this week in which he played people other than Obama! Here he is being principal. I really like Jay Pharaoh and this silly character but this sketch was not great.

“MTV Date or Diss” was a very strange sketch disguised as a normal sketch! This whole episode, you guys. I am getting worn out remembering it. Whew.

The show closed with another Good Neighbor prerecorded bit, in which Kyle Mooney and Taran Killam play ice cream scoopers who don’t get Beck Bennet’s cheesy joke. This sketch was so strange and I wanted to like it because I like strange things but if I’m being honest (which I am because #honesty) it made me a little mad!

Since I watched on Hulu, I missed Eminem’s performance but you can check it out on Stereogum. He brought out Rick Rubin and maybe lip-synced; even if he wasn’t lip-syncing he managed to be super boring. There was also a Lou Reed tribute that I missed and can’t find online but I think it’s just a clip from his 1986 appearance.

Comments (16)
  1. Aidy Bryant has been slowly but surely creeping her way into my heart and might now be my favorite cast member.

    • I really like her as the nerdy friend on those teen talk shoe sketches. Even though in theory I really hate those sketches and they’re pretty lazy. Aidy makes me laugh in them and that’s worth it.

    • I like Aidy Bryant a lot—she’s reliably funny even in not very well written stuff. Actually, I think all of the women are great right now. (Except maybe Cecily Strong, who makes me laugh sometimes but mostly annoys me with her reliance on the non-joke that Latina women talk funny.) (Although, let’s be honest, pretty much Saturday’s entire episode was “People with accents talk funny.”)

  2. I felt like the Eminem performances were too busy, and yet nobody on stage looked like they were doing anything, and Eminem seemed like he was trying to scream over everyone without a microphone and I just could not hear anything he rapped. Whatever!

    I really liked the cold open. In fact it was one of the better cold opens in recent SNL memory because it didn’t try to spend 25 minutes talking about one sort of funny but not 25 minutes worth of funny political gaffe. Also Al Sharpton looks too skinny now but he always makes me laugh.

    I also looooooooooooooooved the sound effects in the Heshi sketch. I’m afraid to praise it too much, though, because I don’t know how I’d feel about Heshi being in every 3rd episode.

    • Sorry but I turned off the TV for M&M. I really dislike his music. BUT I liked the opening sketch even though I still think they could hire more minorities and they were kind of skirting the issue.

  3. That Ice Cream sketch killed me. Also, Kerry Washington as the Uganda beauty contestant was a total minstrel show but was also super funny? Does that make me a bad person? Kerry Washington was great, I’m very much in favor of her being a recurring host. I will be incorporating “respect my ability to assess a bucket” into daily conversation.

    • Best line in the show. I am usually not a big Kerry Washington fan but she made me change my mind–especially with her bucket assessing lady.

  4. The Ice Cream sketch was amazing. It was like Inception but funny. And smarter. Jay Pharoah’s Shaq was incredible, too.

  5. Also I’d just like to reiterate how much I hate the music video work this season. With Lonely Island stuff the songs were always packed with jokes. With the “What Does the Fox Say” parody, the verses were all nondescript filler, it was awful.

  6. I really did not enjoy this episode very much. Maybe I was just in a bad mood, but none of the sketches really resonated with me. The cold open was clever, but from then on, it seemed to me that Kerry Washington was playing stereotypes at every turn, and she’s such a talented actor, so I hated to see that. The Miss Universe sketch seemed like it was just making fun of other cultures? But I’m not familiar enough with those cultures to be in on the joke. I will admit that I did not watch past Weekend Update. Maybe I should give the second half of the show a chance. Also, doesn’t Eminem always use a backing track? I guess I don’t understand why his lip syncing is such a big deal all of a sudden…man I just re-read this post and I sound like a grumpy old man! I guess I have a case of the mondays.

  7. I’ve never seen Kerry Washington in anything but Scandal promos and fashion stuff until Saturday. LOVED her as the professor in “How’s He Doing” and spent much of yesterday giggling over the white people mail joke. I really do get 3-4 Pottery Barn catalogs a week (even though I have asked them to stop) and am friendly with my mailman. I liked basically all of it but the Miss Universe bit and the stupid ice cream thing.

  8. haha, look at the ice cream menu prices behind kyle mooney

  9. My mom liked the “Fox” parody but she also has never seen the original video and didn’t even know it was a parody until I told her over dinner Sunday night. Haha. My mom rules.

  10. I was really tickled by the MTV sketch. My boyfriend’s mom and sister pretty much watch those sort of shows nonstop, so I got a lot of enjoyment seeing them parodied accurately. I’m digging most SNL this season! I do not like the Lonely Island replacement videos, though. I hope those either get radically better or just stop.

  11. As simple and silly as it was, the Heshi sketch killed me. Sound effects and pelvic thrusts. Count me in. Same goes for the MTV sketch. “If I get tickled I dump.” Oh man. Giggles.

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