Only one “Ew!” to be found in this week’s very special episode of Saturday Night Live, so come along with me and let’s enjoy the ride!
What’s The Deal With The SNL Cold Open for 2/6/21?
The interminably long Super Bowl pregame coverage got started even earlier thanks to SNL, kicking off the episode with a look inside The NFL Today on CBS, with Kenan Thompson as “not that” James Brown, Beck Bennett as Boomer Esiason, Alex Moffat as Bill Cowher, Chris Redd as Nate Burleson and Mikey Day as Phil Simms? The success of these impersonations varied, but wasn’t the point of the sketch. Instead, it was all about the COVID-19 jokes, heightening the real-life ridiculousness of a Nickelodeon tie-in from earlier in the football season to expand outside of the ViacomCBS Universe to see how Bravo and Hallmark Channel were counter-programming, to parodies of multiple corporations pandering to the pandemic and politics. So many product placements in the cold open! But I suppose that’s the point of satirizing Super Bowl watching, isn’t it. It was all a great big jumble until everyone loosened up thanks to Aidy Bryant playing the part of both coaches, Kansas City Chiefs Andy Reid and Tampa Bay Buccaneers Bruce Arians. Finally it looked like they were having fun, and so could we.
How Did The SNL Guest Host Dan Levy Do?
Twirling onstage in a sparkly suit, Dan Levy was living his 13-year-old self’s dream, and he performed great, even better by improving much of the material he was given to work with this week.
A cameo by his father, SCTV legend and Schitt’s Creek co-star Eugene Levy, saved what was a too-long-for-the-effort tour of the new safe but fun SNL backstage area.
Dan Levy also made what he could out of a “Super Bowl Pod” that made fun of superspreaders, an ally who’s not as much of an ally as he thinks in the BET “Lifting Our Voices” segment for Black History Month, and as one of two “Wedding Friends” alongside Kate McKinnon whom need to be sold on the groom’s potential.
Levy’s biggest and brightest contributions, though, came through in these two sketches.
First, as Thoby the trainee for the Universal Studios tram tour, overcoming his nerves by oversharing theories and observations about Back to the Future, E.T., Jurassic Park and more. “What’s your softener?”
Then, after Weekend Update, he joined Cecily Strong behind the bar of a sports bar where they led a singalong of “football songs” at halftime after the bar’s TV “broke.” What’s a football song, you might ask? Hot Damn!
How Relevant Was The Musical Guest Phoebe Bridgers?
We all simultaneously discovered and fell in love with the music of Phoebe Bridgers during the pandemic, and she’s up for four big Grammy Awards this year, including best new artist, best alternative album, and best rock song and best rock performance for “Kyoto,” which she played live here.
By the way, how long has it been since our nation’s youth saw a rock star smash a guitar like a boss?
Which Sketch Will We Be Sharing?
The sexy ad that wasn’t so sexy…Zillow! Just when you thought SNL had revived its grand tradition of fake ads, nope, this late-night seductive tease was letting the late-30something in all of us know that we’ve replaced sex with Internet browsing for new homes on Zillow.
The Twitter stats don’t lie. It’ll be interesting to see what traction this ad has versus the actual Super Bowl ads…
Who Stopped By Weekend Update?
We cannot get away from conversations about “cancel culture,” and Lowell Fitzroy and Janet Noonan (Heidi Gardner and Mikey Day) aren’t helping with their new activist group, the “Child Cancellation Project.” A bit of a yawner. But it’s a real Twitter handle? As the sketch aired, we found it and saw a bunch of early activity, suggesting shenanigans by some Barstool Sports guys, but by early morning, the Twitter account had wiped itself clean. Hmmm.
More reliably funny were the YouTubers TwinsthenewTrend, who gained more than 8.4 million views so far, watching them react to listening to “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins for the first time. But are they really only hearing these classic tunes just now? Michael Che put the twins (Kenan Thompson and Chris Redd) to the test with soundbites from the Friends theme, “Baby Shark,” the Friskies “meow meow” jingle, the ABCs, and even the theme to SNL.
What Sketch Filled The “10-to-1” Slot?
At 12:57 a.m. on the East Coast, a video PSA following up 10 years later on the “It Gets Better” campaign checked up on four people who had participated in the project. Bowen Yang’s “Matt” is now a journalist who gets bullied by fellow gays instead of the straights; Dan Levy’s “Taylor” is an artist who feels like he’s getting stuffed in a locker by doing his income taxes; Kate McKinnon’s “Miranda’ is a lawyer overwhelmed by the iguana she brought into the home to please her kids; and Punkie Johnson’s “Jemima” co-founded a basketball program for kids but can’t even get her own girlfriend to like her that much. So, it gets better. “And it gets other stuff, too.”
Perhaps the most significant unmentioned part of the sketch: All four of its main characters actually are LGBTQ+, proving just how far SNL has come in the past decade, and how much it has gotten better for representing their voices in comedy and onscreen.
Who Was The Episode’s MVP?
Kenan Thompson‘s facial reactions may have done a lot of heavy lifting this week, but nobody held the first half-hour of the show together as much as Aidy Bryant. Bryant singlehandedly made the cold open worth watching, kept Levy’s monologue tour moving along as a safety coordinator using a foam swimming noodle for distancing and discipline, and as a teacher in the BET sketch who’s a bit too obsessed with African-American history.
Next week it’s Regina King hosting with musical guest Nathaniel Rateliff!
Sean L. McCarthy works the comedy beat for his own digital newspaper, The Comic’s Comic; before that, for actual newspapers. Based in NYC but will travel anywhere for the scoop: Ice cream or news. He also tweets @thecomicscomic and podcasts half-hour episodes with comedians revealing origin stories: The Comic’s Comic Presents Last Things First.
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