“Saturday Night Live” has settled into a nice groove as its 41st season has progressed. The episodes that have aired in 2016, in particular, have displayed a nice blend of entertaining characters, memorable pre-recorded content and strong host performances.
The episode that aired this past Saturday night, hosted by actress Melissa McCarthy and featuring musical guest Kanye West, was fairly forgettable, but not necessarily bad. There were several good sketches, along with several lame ones. The episode did not reach the heights of last week’s Larry David-helmed affair, but the show very rarely reaches those heights.
McCarthy, who appeared on the show partly to promote her new film “The Boss,” has become an “SNL” favorite. This past weekend represented her fourth time hosting the show after she first hosted in Oct. 2011. Each time, her comedic skills allow her to fit right in with the rest of the cast members.
McCarthy is also willing to push physical comedy to its limits in search of a laugh, as she did several times on Saturday night. In an early sketch, she plays a jumpy audience member viewing the test screening of a horror movie, and things get weird. Various bodily fluids are involved, and she eventually punches a fellow audience member in the face.
Later in the show, as the unusual trainee of a female pickup artist, she sticks her fingers in a bar patron’s mouth before telling him that “the world would be better if I choked you out and hit you in the head with a rock.” How McCarthy keeps a straight face through all of this madness is a great mystery.
“Saturday Night Live” has churned out excellent pre-recorded shorts since Andy Samberg and The Lonely Island joined the show in 2005. This episode was another in which these shorts were the best parts of the night. “The Day Beyoncé Turned Black” is as satirically cutting as it sounds, depicting an apocalypse after Americans watch the pop star’s new racially-charged music video for the song “Formation.”
The other pre-recorded short jokingly documents the life of quirky cast member Kyle Mooney as an aspiring rapper, and his desire to take on musical guest Kanye West in a rap battle. Mooney’s low-key line deliveries remain hysterical, and the ending in which West stomps Mooney with a freestyle off his new album “The Life of Pablo” is well staged.
West had himself quite the night, giving a pair of emotional performances with the assistance of Young Thug, Chance the Rapper and a reasonably-sized choir. After performing the soulful “Ultra Lightbeam,” he announced that “Pablo” was available to stream online in a burst of manic energy.
The show’s “Weekend Update” segment brought upon a pair of unexpected characters: Vanessa Bayer, doing a stellar impersonation of Jennifer Aniston as Rachel from “Friends,” and Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller. Not an actor playing Miller, but the Denver Broncos defensive end himself, who gloated about his victory under the guise of scientific education.
It was an average episode of SNL, with the usual collection of highs and lows. McCarthy gave the show a much needed boost of energy, but she has had better hosting nights.
“Saturday Night Live” returns on Mar. 5 with host Jonah Hill and musical guest Future.
Tyler Keating is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.