Saturday Night Live: Sterling K. Brown, James Bay
March 11, 2018 1:41 AM - Season 43, Episode 17 - Subscribe

Host: Sterling K. Brown, Musical Guest: James Bay

  • The Bachelor Finale- Alex Moffat, Cecily Strong, Kate McKinnon
  • Opening Monologue - Sterling K. Brown
  • Family Fued - Kenan Thompson, Kate McKinnon, Beck Bennett, Heidi Gardner, Chris Redd, Sterling K. Brown, Melissa Villaseñor, Alex Moffat, Pete Davidson
  • This is U.S. - Heidi Gardner, Sterling K. Brown, Aidy Bryant, Pete Davidson, Leslie Jones, Date McKinnon
  • Family Dinner - Beck Bennett, Sterling K. Brown, Aidy Bryant, Melissa Villaseñor
  • Sasquatch - Melissa Villaseñor, Heidi Gardner, Sterling K. Brown, Mikey Day, Pete Davidson,
  • James Bay - Pink Lemonade
  • Weekend Update - Michael Che, Colin Jost
    • Eric & Donald Trump Jr, Alex Moffat, Mikey Day
    • Dawn Lazarus - Vanessa Bayer

  • Black Panther - Sterling K. Brown, Chris Redd, Leslie Jones, Kenan Thompson

  • Doctor Love - Sterling K. Brown, Beck Bennett

  • Close Ups - Sterling K. Brown, Heidi Gardner, Kyle Mooney, Melissa Villaseñor, Cecily Strong

  • Rock or Rap - Kyle Mooney

  • James Bay - Wild Love

  • This Is How You Remind Me - Cecily Strong, Sterling K. Brown, Pete Davidson, Melissa Villaseñor, Alex Moffat, Luke Null

posted by DizzyOnBugSpray (19 comments total)
What the hell? That's the sketch they decided to close with?
posted by Mogur at 6:16 AM on March 11, 2018

Well, made it thru WU, then started channel flipping. (Is WU deliberately skedded later and later to keep the people who watch just "the first half"!)

Some OK moments. Monologue OK. Good to see Vanessa.

But again, political stuff weak. And Kate playing Mueller shows how uninterested in politics the white boys are. (I've seen part of Mooney's pre-tape, and I guess he was making some points about white v black?)

In general, the white boys club just wants goofy shit. Sasquatch was borderline creepy/ cruel. And WTH was the "darkie" line in a sketch? A movie reference?

Also - Sterling K had the volume too loud. When I was in the studio (yes, I'll bring that up again!), I realized it feels like a black box theatre, but the veteran cast / hosts and the audio tech fine-tune it to the cameras. But SKB seemed like he was projecting to the balcony.
posted by NorthernLite at 12:16 PM on March 11, 2018

Dawn Lazarus came back!

Also some other things happened.
posted by ckape at 2:12 PM on March 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

It's funny, when this was airing I thought it was kind of a train wreck but looking back at that list of sketches now I'm not seeing as many duds as I remembered. I did think the cold open was weak and weird. Partially that's because I've never watched the Bachelor and could hardly care less about it, but also because Trump is so obviously guilty of collusion with the Russians that I just can't believe Muller is ready to throw in the towel. I also feel like having McKinnon play Muller was a weird choice that they're kind of stuck with now. She's great as little weird guys like Sessions and Justin Bieber, but as Muller she has to tamp down her natural intensity a lot and they kind of bury her under prosthetics. Her gift is playing the crazies.

And WTH was the "darkie" line in a sketch? A movie reference?

That was a REALLY unfortunate line read from Beck Bennet. He was saying donkey, imitating Shrek (that's what he said he was saying, anyhow,) but it sure did sound like "darkie". It seemed like the audience kind of gasped, so I think we're not the only ones who misheard it as "darkie." Ouch. It suddenly took the sketch to a very weird, scary place.

It was cool seeing Vanessa Bayer again. I kind of wish she never left. Even if some of her characters were run into the ground (Hello, Jacob the Bar Mitzva boy!) she was just fun to have around. The nervous weather lady is a hoot.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:05 PM on March 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

The cold open was amusing, but I assume it's mostly hewing to what happened in The Bachelor because it has little to do with the Mueller investigation. For one, Mueller's mandate is specifically on the Russian investigation and only goes into other things as related to that. For another, if it seems like Mueller's investigation isn't going anywhere that's merely because 1) he is being very methodical (and thus slow) and 2) there's a lot of very loud people who have a lot to lose from what he finds, so they try to spin as much as they can like he's got nothing (when what he has is too many indictments and pleas for there to be nothing going on).
posted by ckape at 4:19 PM on March 11, 2018

Cold Open: For a minute I was super excited that it was a non-political cold open, despite my utter hatred of The Bachelor and shows like it. I do have to say that McKinnon's Mueller is some uncanny valley shit. Like creepier than her Sessions.

Monologue: Sterling K. Brown = <3. And maybe I'm all in a sartorial mindset because it was just awards season, but man that was a splendid looking suit and there are few things more than I like than a handsome man in a handsome suit. Gorgeous. Also great acting AND Kenan impression.

Celeb Feud: I don't care what anyone says, I love these, even if they take Kenan out of the running for anyone else. Nice poke from Chris Redd to Kenan about sketch comedy, even if that bore no resemblance to Jordan Peele whatsoever (ditto Allison Janney). They should have just put Pete on his knees for Timothee Chalomet, but I liked the impression anyway. And Vaseline works for my mom Frances/Kate, so shush. And I'd like to think that Common would have loved that impression of him.

This is U.S.: Eh. Getting sober has been good for Pete's body.

Family Dinner: I'm super distracted by the brown version of Gary Oldman's wig from Bram Stoker's Dracula on Beck's head. Also yeah, that intonation of "donkey" was REALLY unfortunate.

Sasquatch: Ugh. Don't joke about kitchisabe.

James Bay: Oh look, Elvis and Brett Anderson had a baby and it got none of their musical talent. And 75% of Elvis' sense of style but only 25% of Brett's.

WU: I know KJU is...antagonistic and less than...sane (?), but I wish we would stop poking at him through our media and just leave it up to DJT. When SNL makes jokes about Kim Jong-Un it feels like we're just as bad as DJT, or am I just being oversensitive and weird? OH YAY ERIC AND JUNIOR ARE THERE! YAY! ALSO YAY DAWN LAZARUS. PLEASE COME BACK VANESSA BAYER. (She won't, she's on the new season on Love, waaaahhh.)

Black Panther: Remember how a couple years ago this sketch couldn't have been possible? I'm still sad they had to truck in a bunch of non-speaking Black extras. I miss you Sasheer and Jay. Leslie was breaking so hard during this sketch and we all know how much I adore a break. And Kenan's matching ankara cloth (could have been some other African textile, I am far from an expert) apron. I loved it.

Doctor Love: I felt meh until they showed him at the end with his diploma. Then I chuckled.

Close Ups: I feel like most people think Kate McKinnon is SNL's lady MVP but I think it's Cecily Strong.

Rock or Rap: I really wanted to hear that guy's story about New Glarus.

James Bay: No really, Elvis and Brett Anderson.

This Is How You Remind Me: I love last sketches. They're so absurd. I love absurd. Even though I hate Nickelback. I loved that sketch. It was fucking awesome.

Despite the wonderful Sterling K. Brown, I kinda feel like this episode was a mess and I didn't even bother to conduct a Luke Null count (although he WAS in the last one!). I hereby declare it the second worst episode of the season. I think?
posted by elsietheeel at 4:25 PM on March 11, 2018

I wasn't thrilled when Moffat and Day joined the cast because ok, more generic white guys, but I love the two of them together. And their Trump brothers are the best. All day, Kid Ruki's been shouting "g-d damn Jews" whenever something goes wrong. (It's ok if we say it, and tbh, it was a hilarious response to the dog missing the pee pad.) My second favorite part of that bit was Eric's one independent hand gesture being the boobie grab when Jr was talking about Stormy Daniels.

I'm glad to learn that "darkie" was an unfortunate line read of donkey.

"Why are you clapping? This woman just died." I love the absurd sketches that acknowledge the absurdity. I think that's the key for me.

The nervous weather lady is a hoot.

Hap! I miss Vanessa Bayer. I'm so impressed at how well she pulls those lines off.
posted by Ruki at 7:08 PM on March 11, 2018

The Bachelorette sketch didn't work because the whole "you're all waiting for Mueller to come through and he has nothing, ha ha" premise was way off -- given all the indictments he's already gotten there's no way his investigation is going to just fizzle out. I liked the idea of him as a bachelor but they should have gone in another direction and made the bachelorette's frustration with him about something else, such as the suspense, rather than ultimate disappointment.

Loved the "you have to move on from sketch comedy" meta joke between Keenan Thompson and Chris Redd. Keenan actually coming out of character for a moment, and then snapping back into it when he realizes what he's done was hilarious.

I loved This is U.S. Aidy Bryant makes an amazing Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Sterling K. Brown is a perfect Ben Carson. Kate McKinnon was excellent as Kellyanne as always. Pete Davidson's Jared Kushner wasn't so good, alas, but then look who he's measuring up against.

The Trump brothers were very good as always.

The rest was kind of meh for me.
posted by orange swan at 7:58 PM on March 11, 2018

I saw James Bay IRL once. My my, has his style uh....changed. Hooooo boy.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:07 PM on March 11, 2018

I love the Trump Brothers. It’s hilarious, and also, there’s a sweetness to it. The way Mikey Day plays Jr like he’s Christian Bale in American Psycho, but also that he’s really sweet to this version of Eric Trump.

Sterling K Brown was great. He was clearly having so much fun.
posted by lunasol at 11:01 PM on March 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

The cold open was amusing, but I assume it's mostly hewing to what happened in The Bachelor because it has little to do with the Mueller investigation.

I know this. Last week a media critic site had a story about how awful The Bachelor finale was, with the guy going backsies on his engagement on camera then hanging around way, way too long after he'd dumped her. It was clickbait but I clicked & now here we are.
posted by scalefree at 1:07 AM on March 12, 2018

This episode started out great, and kept on going great until the dinner sketch. After that, none of the sketches made sense—I laughed at places but everything seemed off, especially coming after the BEST MONOLOGUE OF THE SEASON. Even the musical guest, I couldn't determine if I liked him or not. Sterling K Brown was a great actor but couldn't save the sketches. By the end of the show, me and my sweetie were saying, "What was all that about?"

But yes, Eric and Don Jr. are welcome to come over and read pop-up books anytime. I like how Mikey's Don Jr. is so sweet to his brother. Pop-up book? @_@ ?? O_O !!!!
posted by not_on_display at 10:11 AM on March 12, 2018

I assume it's mostly hewing to what happened in The Bachelor

I felt like there were a few sketches in this show where I was like "Huh, what is happening?" and I presume that's because of something I don't know from TV. I didn't know this about The Bachelor and as a result I was saying to n_o_d "WHAT, NO COLLUSION???" and he was like "no no, I think this is just about The Bachelor"

I adored the opening monologue. Acting, by a guy who can act, in an amazing looking suit, and no singing. A+

Family Dinner and Sasquatch were both just the worst though. I had no idea if they were referring to something specific but there was just a lot of bad energy in them and very little humor with the Sasquatch one seeming sorta rapey.

So I think I gave them some room with things like Doctor Love and Close Ups which weren't my thing but I could see how they were funny. And I skipped the last sketch because I spent too much time last year with my mom in a hospital bed but that's sort of on me.

I'm usually open to new music stuff but James Bay did nothing for me along any music appreciation axis. I miss when there were musical guests who would also be in sketches sometimes.

Serious thumbs up to Brown, he did a great job. Tempting to want to see a whole show that is just the Trump Brothers. Moffat's got sort of one main schtick--the weird not that bright dudebro--but he is very very good at it.
posted by jessamyn at 11:20 AM on March 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm here for the Kyle Mooney low budget off-the-wall films.
posted by bondcliff at 12:02 PM on March 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

I don't think I've seen Sterling K. Brown in anything before. He was outstanding.

I thought both the monologue and family dinner were hilarious, which is impressive since he was convincingly crying in one, and convincingly angry in the other. It was hilarious, but not clownish.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 12:21 PM on March 12, 2018

I don't think I've seen Sterling K. Brown in anything before. He was outstanding.

Oh you MUST watch him in the People v OJ Simpson.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 4:44 PM on March 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

So, the cold open didn't bother me much at the time but the more I think about it the angrier I am getting since "Mueller's got nothing" is an active disinformation campaign currently directed at the American public and as much as the SNL writers would like to say they're just making jokes they do have a responsibility there.
posted by ckape at 12:42 AM on March 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

the more I think about it the angrier I am getting

Yeah, the premise was confusing enough that it did kind of feel like it might be some more of that weird conservative shit. The show's politics are swerving all over the map these days between preachy millennial feminist and crabby South Park libertarian, and it makes for some really contradictory, confusing messaging. (I think they hit the nadir last week, when Weekend Update went from Michael Che making a shitty dad joke about Women's History Month to Leslie Jones just hollering Beyonce lyrics.) I imagine there's got to be some tension in the writer's room these days, with opposing world views like those. But this bit in particular, I dunno. It gave me the creeps, but I wasn't really sure what I was looking at. I did note that the studio audience was unusually quiet, so I felt like we were all kind of sitting there going, "WTF am I even watching?"

I do kind of feel like I'm watching the air leak out of this show. There have been a few too many weeks lately where I'm left going, "Huh. A lot of dud sketches in that one."
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:21 PM on March 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

It worries me that the latest Mueller news is now actually kinda relating to that Bachelor sketch.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:31 PM on March 13, 2018

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