Saturday Night Live: Liev Schreiber, Lil Wayne
November 11, 2018 6:09 AM - Season 44, Episode 5 - Subscribe

Host: Liev Schreiber, Musical Guest: Lil Wayne

  • Jeff Sessions Farewell - Aidy Bryant, Kate McKinnon, Beck Bennett, Alex Moffat, Mikey Day, Robert DeNiro
  • Opening Monologue - Liev Schreiber
  • Incest Twins - Kyle Mooney, Cecily Strong, Liev Schreiber, Mikey Day, Alex Moffat, Heidi Gardner, Kate McKinnon, Kenan Thompson
  • Unity Song - Cecily Strong, Beck Bennett, Ego Nwodim, Kate McKinnon, Alex Moffat, Kyle Mooney, Liev Schrieber
  • Paranormal Occurrence - Aidy Bryant, Mikey Day, Cecily Strong, Liev Schreiber, Kate McKinnon
  • Permission - Kenan Thompson, Chris Redd, Ego Nwodim, Melissa Villaseñor, Pete Davidson, Future, Lil Wayne
  • Lil Wayne - Can't Be Broken
  • Weekend Update - Michael Che, Colin Jost
    • Whitehouse Press Intern - Cecily Strong
    • Pete Davidson, Lt Com Dan Crenshaw

  • The Poddys - Liev Schrieber, Cecily Strong, Mike Day, Beck Bennett, Melissa Villaseñor, Kyle Mooney, Kate McKinnon, Heide Gardner, Aidy Bryant, Alex Moffat, Pete Davidson, Ego Nwodim, Kenan Thompson

  • House Hunters - Liev Schrieber, Leslie Jones, Heidi Gardner, Pete Davidson

  • Lil Wayne - Uproar

  • Brothers - Kenan Thompson, Aidy Bryant, Cecily Strong, Liev Schreiber, Kyle Mooney, Beck Bennett

  • Outside the Women's Bathroom - Liev Schreiber, Aidy Bryant, Cecily Strong, Heidi Gardner, Pete Davidson, Kenan Thompson

posted by DizzyOnBugSpray (34 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Liev Schreiber is right. He is not funny. He is a very good actor though, so I have never been so captivated by a bemulleted man with a shrinking fetish talking about his ghost bud, Arthur.

I love Chris Redd and his songs.

As someone who owns an house where the previous (original) owner drained the washing machine into the sump pump because they didn’t want to replace the cesspool (joke’s on them, they had to replace the cesspool and fix the plumbing as part of the contract by state law) I felt House Hunters on a deep level.

I still have opinions about Pete Davidson.
posted by Ruki at 6:49 AM on November 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

In terms of sheer laughs I thought this was the funniest episode in a long time. Every segment had at least a chuckle or two, although the Poddys came closest to being a dud. It almost seemed like a Portlandia sketch, and not in the good way. Very gentle satire and stuff where you have to know a lot of hipster references to get the joke. (I kept having to explain to my girlfriend what all the podcast sponsorship stuff meant and what ASMR was. It kind of made me feel like I was dating my grandma.)

Schreiber seemed terrified in his monologue and I felt like the "managing expectations" thing was sincere, like he truly thought he was going to suck. But I thought he was surprisingly good! He muffed a few lines but his characters had a lot of life to them. (Although his impression in the Poddys bit was so low-key it made a slow sketch even slower.) My lord, that House Hunters sketch!

McKinnon's perpetual abductee lady is dangerously close to being played out, but damn if she doesn't bring big laughs every time. Schreiber's gentle redneck weirdo brought a fun new wrinkle to it too. His story was almost as funny as McKinnon's.

I am fucking done with Michael Che. Every week he hits the same goddamned note about annoying feminist white girls. No matter what the issue is, he always, always manages to bring it around to those privileged, out of touch, latte-drinking, scarf-wearing girls named Megan. It's like his big crusade, and women in pussy hats sure as hell aren't the ones burning the fucking country down to the ground. Is he really that annoyed by the millennial women on the writing staff? Was he scarred for life by Lena Dunham hosting? Looking back, I feel like he's probably the one behind a lot of the show's "problematic," blinkered gags about the left in general and feminists in particular. Like, if a sketch made you go, "What the hell? That seemed weirdly misogynist and almost... pro-Trump-y?" That was probably Che. Fucker's gotta go.

It sucks they gave all that airtime to Lt Com Dan Crenshaw. I didn't really mind Davidson apologizing for speaking dismissively about Crenshaw's war wound, but Crenshaw himself is a tool. I'm also getting tired of Davidson's TMZ status being a regular feature of the show. When they made a whole gag out of an Ariana Grande ringtone, I was like, "OK, we've crossed a line here." (It was also something I had to explain to my girlfriend, but I wasn't proud of myself for knowing what the gag meant.)

I was really expecting a surprise appearance from Alec Baldwin during the Jeff Sessions cold open. His absence felt a little weird, like they were straining to write around it. If he's gonna keep being AWOL, they need a backup Trump!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:35 PM on November 11, 2018 [19 favorites]

I'll miss Kate McKinnon's Jeff Sessions much more than actual Jeff Sessions.

Not sure how this keeps happening, but that should say Invest Twins in the summary, not Incest Twins.

I am not that good with faces, but it took me until they were almost done with the Dan Crenshaw bit before I was sure it wasn't actually Liev Schreiber in an eyepatch.
posted by ckape at 5:33 PM on November 11, 2018 [7 favorites]

I laughed more at this episode than I can remember laughing at SNL in a long while. I loved Permission especially. I liked Lil Wayne's performances too - I always forget how short he is! I thought the "Outside the Women's Bathroom" sketch was the only clunker.
posted by Fig at 5:52 PM on November 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

I am fucking done with Michael Che. Every week he hits the same goddamned note about annoying feminist white girls.

Hey now, he's not always talking about white women... sometimes he makes jokes about how he won't use birth control and pressures his girlfriends into abortions! (I am also done with him)

This is just to say I went to college with Liev Schreiber and he has always been like that. Incredibly talented but also not a great sense of humor. His background is fascinating. I thought he did pretty well, they seemed to try to put him in roles where he could do well.

Liked the Li'l Wayne music stuff more than most of the other music this season. I liked how a lot of the sketches in this episode seemed to have a lot of cast members in them.
posted by jessamyn at 8:32 PM on November 11, 2018 [8 favorites]

The Poddys seemed like a missed opportunity. "Bros Save America" had some great impressions of the pod save America guys, but the jokes we're just... Not there. It was just "haha we're liberal!" rather than anything... Interesting.
posted by meese at 8:59 PM on November 11, 2018 [6 favorites]

Liev Schreiber's correct in saying that he's not funny, but as they say, when you're doing comedy, you don't play for laughs; you make it real, and then the laughs come. Schreiber can make a role come to life, even if it is an offbeat one, and when he's given a straight man role in a comedic sketch he can definitely pull his weight. Good on the SNL writers for understanding what Schreiber's strengths were and tailoring the episode to that.

I thought this episode was pretty funny. Robert DeNiro singing was one for the books. I didn't mind the eyepatch comment apology, because I did feel that was out of line, but I wish they hadn't given Crenshaw airtime to make that damn speech about supporting the troops and being appreciative of their service. Uh, the left gets it about that, which is why we're the ones arguing against unnecessary military action and that vets shouldn't wind up homeless. Fuck off, you sanctimonious tool.
posted by orange swan at 9:36 PM on November 11, 2018 [4 favorites]

Poddys was amazing. The actual podcasts were kinda throwaway, but all the best funny was in the hosts. It was pretty knowing, really well written! Alex Moffat's Marc Maron could use some work but I think there's a kernel of some good bits there.

House Hunters was also great and bizarre in a way SNL never is. Brothers and Women's Bathroom were also unusual, or maybe that's what happens when sketches have endings and that's a kind of professional completeness that Liev brought to the occasion.

Invest Twins and Paranormal were not quite so good, but they set the stage that Liev was game. I think the acting chops really come through in his voices and he really does a lot with a little. I've always thought he was talented.

WU was probably one of the weaker ones of the season. Che's Beto jokes were pretty flat and the angle he took seemed pretty weird and intentionally lame. How can you leave Ted Cruz hanging out there like that?

Lil Wayne was good, and the singer in the first song was great. The drummer was really good, too.

"My Please Hump-It and my Cheese Trumpet."

"I don't like any of them, they all have dirty hands."

Top 3 episode for the season for me.
posted by rhizome at 9:42 PM on November 11, 2018 [3 favorites]

House Hunters was also great and bizarre in a way SNL never is.

It had an absurdist, Monty Python feel to it. New writer? I hope there's more like it.
posted by scalefree at 11:17 PM on November 11, 2018 [7 favorites]

House Hunters was great. I loathe shows like that because of the insane combinations of jobs and budgets, so some well played mockery is always welcome, and that was well played.
posted by Samizdata at 11:32 PM on November 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'd never heard of Liev Schreiber so I had no expectations but his monologue lowered them for me. Then I was pleasantly surprised that he did so well in the sketches.

I thought the Crenshaw bit on WU was ok. I don't know anything about the guy other than the made-up "controversy" over the previous weeks joke, but he seemed at ease in front of the camera and had some comedy chops in a way a lot of other politicians and non-actors don't seem to have. I could have done without the "see, we can agree on stuff / support the troops" speech at the end but it is the Veteran's Day day episode so there's gonna be some of that.

The rest of WU was weaker than usual. The White House intern bit just didn't work for me.

I agree with others that House Hunters was really funny and bizarre. It's gotten to the point though where any time SNL does any skit about a brand of any kind I assume it's paid placement.

I'm too old and uncool to appreciate Lil Wayne.

Not sure what to think about Permission. I'm glad attitudes are changing but lately I feel like SNL is making a joke out of it. Like they're saying "ha ha we have to be politically correct now isn't that CRAZY?" but maybe it's just me taking it the wrong way.

The Poddy's was a good idea not executed all that well. I would have liked to hear more of Cecily's Sarah Koenig and less of Schreiber's... whoever he was playing. Or they could have just had Maron be the co-host.
posted by bondcliff at 7:00 AM on November 12, 2018

My sons are 3 and 5 and the Brothers sketch felt like looking at my future.
posted by apricot at 7:49 AM on November 12, 2018 [7 favorites]

My wife and I got so fed up with Michael Che’s bullshit that we haven’t watched an episode in over a year and a half, and we used to watch regularly. Looks like we made the right call for our blood pressure.
posted by lazaruslong at 7:56 AM on November 12, 2018

Not sure what to think about Permission. I'm glad attitudes are changing but lately I feel like SNL is making a joke out of it. Like they're saying "ha ha we have to be politically correct now isn't that CRAZY?" but maybe it's just me taking it the wrong way.

The songs are Redd's babies and, well, there's a huge difference between his social media and Che's. His whole schtick is going against trope. So far he's written catchy AF rap songs about therapy, trees, and consent. There was a really good interview with him recently where he talked about Black representation and how he wants to attract more Black viewers to the shower and also show white people a different perspective. I'll have to look for it later.
posted by Ruki at 9:01 AM on November 12, 2018 [10 favorites]

Not sure what to think about Permission. I'm glad attitudes are changing but lately I feel like SNL is making a joke out of it. Like they're saying "ha ha we have to be politically correct now isn't that CRAZY?" but maybe it's just me taking it the wrong way.

Gotta take in allll the context: it was about consent in hip-hop and how that plays out in lyrics. Uncle Butt wasn't about consent until he took his teeth out and revealed a shit-for-brains white boy saying "where the hoes at?" right after they sung about exactly that.
posted by rhizome at 9:13 AM on November 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

It had an absurdist, Monty Python feel to it. New writer? I hope there's more like it.

My first thought was that this late in the season the only difference would be the presence of Liev, but then I remembered there's been a couple of odd sketches this season that possibly imply there's a GREAT writer finally getting something through once in a while. It certainly has little in common with the reliable bucket of sketches (Debette Goldry/UFO Lady (same character), game shows).

So, maybe a little bit Liev, maybe a little bit "Lorne is sick today and won't be coming in."
posted by rhizome at 9:24 AM on November 12, 2018

My wife and I got so fed up with Michael Che’s bullshit that we haven’t watched an episode in over a year and a half, and we used to watch regularly. Looks like we made the right call for our blood pressure.

Do what I do: read the reviews on AV Club and Vulture, see which sketches look like they might be actually good and only watch those. Which is why I cannot comment on all sketches and turned some off halfway through. :)

I both enjoyed the Pete Davidson thing and after awhile was all "hey, um, he is a Republican so he's not all good even if he was nice to you this week," though. I do kind of admire how Pete is so down with insulting himself in an amusing fashion because he knows he's a wonky dude. I wonder what he was whispering privately at the end to Crenshaw.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:26 AM on November 12, 2018 [3 favorites]

Not sure what to think about Permission. I'm glad attitudes are changing but lately I feel like SNL is making a joke out of it. Like they're saying "ha ha we have to be politically correct now isn't that CRAZY?" but maybe it's just me taking it the wrong way.

I really enjoyed "Permission" and I think it was genuine. The "isn't this CRAZY" vibe was partly directed at hip hop culture and partly directed at audiences having their expectations subverted.

I thought Incest Brothers was really funny and I couldn't believe it was on SNL.

Weekend Update is just so lame now, and it goes beyond Michael Che. With the late night shows having gotten so political, we get really funny hot takes on the news every single night, so if you want to do something good once a week, days after Seth Meyers and Stephen Colbert have already been there, you better bring something interesting to say. Samantha Bee brings unapologetic, white-hot feminist rage. John Oliver brings deep dives into the issues. Hasan Minaj's new show brings a really good, unique Muslim Millennial perspective (WATCH IT, WATCH IT NOW). Jost and Che bring NOTHING special to the table. There's nothing about any of the jokes they make that couldn't be delivered on the same day that news happens, except the fact that they're making the jokes days later, so they're less immediate.
posted by lunasol at 1:39 PM on November 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

I just want to give a moment of recognition to the costumer who had to dig up those horrible 90's Looney Tunes shirts. Those were perfectly chosen.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:20 PM on November 12, 2018 [11 favorites]

I'm a big fan of Schreiber and yes he's super talented and his timing is good; his self-assessment of not being super funny is accurate. But he didn't disappoint. Loved his breaking during McKinnon's upper decker skit in 'Paranormal.'

I thought that 'Permission' was good - it was done in good faith and was calling out existing culture by doing the classic "going against expectations" bit for a gag.

Strong had another really strong show and demonstrating her really wide range (WH intern). I do feel bad about the in-real-life intern, though. Sam Bee also took a dig at her earlier this week.

The Crenshaw bit in 'WU' - eh. I'm fine with it, Davidson but on a decent face but the microexpressions suggests that he felt obligated to go above and beyond rather than just offer a sincere apology, which he did, to be fair. Watching the segment from last week again - I didn't think it was so bad except for the "lost the eye in war or whatever" dismissal.

I, too, really wonder what he was whispering to Crenshaw at the end.
posted by porpoise at 3:22 PM on November 12, 2018

I couldn't quite express why I thought that Crenshaw felt "off." I think it might be his lack of grace, and the undercurrent that he's a bully and enjoys being a bully.
posted by porpoise at 3:39 PM on November 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm pretty sure this is the last thing of value Davidson has to contribute in front of the camera. I hope he's a good writer, because he has a sub-Fallon ability to play any other character besides himself, and he can't fall back on celebrity.
posted by rhizome at 3:42 PM on November 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

I think that show went as well as could be expected. Wasn't GREAT but it didn't suck or make me argy. And yeah the house-buying show parody was the highlight for me, I think. And when Pete Davidson took out his grill in that video.
posted by not_on_display at 6:38 PM on November 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

House Hunters was by far my favorite bit in the show. I loved both the surreality and the rhythm between Leslie and Liev, including the repeated lines, almost like mantras: "And there's room for my man cave." "I know which one you liked." The graphics team gets extra props for this sketch, having to whip up a bed with a gas stove, a bathroom with plenty of towel racks, and an invisible house with a cat on top, when they each were shown for only an instant.

My second favorite bit was Uncle Butt's supernaturally low voice. I'm amazed by the amount of work and talent that goes into Chris Redd's pitch-perfect videos—I suspect he'll outgrow SNL before long. The Unity Song looked lame next to Permission, and not just in the way they were trying to make it look lame.

The Lt. Cmdr. Dan Crenshaw bit was such an own goal, since it grew out of Pete's very lazy bit making fun of Republicans' looks. When you make fun of a politician for their disability, they automatically get the high ground no matter how reprehensible their policies are. Crenshaw is a bog standard Republican who supports Trump in every significant way, but now thanks to Pete Davidson he gets to be the Cool Republican on the TV lecturing the rest of us on civility.

I liked "Dave's Outside the Women's Bathroom," because it avoided the expected pervy aspect. I was sold when he asked his guest "So that movie The House with the Clock in its Walls—that's fiction, right?"
posted by ejs at 8:28 PM on November 12, 2018 [3 favorites]

Thinking about Pete as Uncle Butt got me trying to remember all his other rap personas - I know he showed up as Yung Bitch in Rap Song and as Lil Pump in Tucci Gang and I can't help but feel I'm missing one somewhere.
posted by komara at 8:58 PM on November 12, 2018

He was in Trees, but as himself. Was that it, komara?
posted by Ruki at 11:06 AM on November 13, 2018

It was totally Trees. Thanks, Ruki.
posted by komara at 11:50 AM on November 13, 2018

Interesting article:

Pete Davidson Is Taking Over SNL: He can’t act in sketches. He can’t do impressions. But “Pete Davidson” is rapidly becoming the show’s must-see character.

"SNL also has a zero tolerance position on distraction. Once someone’s persona becomes bigger than the show itself, they leave.
Which is why Pete Davidson, more known for his biography than his comedy, is one of the most unique cast members in SNL’s crowded history.

Yet though he’s now easily the show’s most recognizable cast member among nonviewers, Davidson isn’t actually good at SNL, which he freely admits: “I’m not good at sketch comedy. I don’t know how to do that, or write it.” He can’t do impressions, his attempts at Digital Shorts are weak tea compared to the (admittedly high) standards set by Lonely Island, and the closest he’s come to a breakout character is his monosyllabic pool-boy homewrecker."

I would figure it's because "Pete Davidson" is practically like a made-up SNL character at this point, except he's actually real. A schmo who briefly got together with a hot chick a la Julia and Lyle, he says silly shit, he laughs at himself, he's funny because he's kinda ridiculous and pokes fun at his own dumb shit.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:13 PM on November 13, 2018 [3 favorites]

The thing is that SNL is an institution and gets to decide for itself who is rapidly becoming the show's must-see character. In fact, in 40 years of watching this show I can't say that I've ever thought that "audience demands" have any role in Lorne's decisions.

But I don't need to harsh on Davidson so much as wonder why he was hired, and I'm not one who usually second-guesses why anybody was hired at all. They can be good or bad in the show, but I don't question their presence.
posted by rhizome at 6:56 PM on November 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

I went to a free performance at the local university a few months back. Luke Null came out and did some original songs and something approximating standup, and he was solid. Mikey Day came out and did something even less like standup and it was mystifying. It's like ... that's Mikey Day! How is he not killing it? The answer is that people are good at different things and he's stellar at reading the cards for a skit that someone else wrote, and maybe not so hot at doing a 10 minute set.

And then Pete came out and I was never like Team Pete nor was I anti-Pete, it's just Pete. In my mind he was one of the three people there and that's about it. I ranked my anticipation to see Pete somewhere below Mikey but above Luke, I'd guess. But that man hit the stage and just exuded some weird and intense charisma. He had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand within a few sentences, me included. I was left completely unable to explain it - some combination of legitimate IDGAF but a funny way of telling what should be a boring anecdote (opposite of what Mikey was doing) and ... I don't know. He just killed it. Absolutely killed it.

So if that's what the SNL people saw in him? I get it. He's got a real presence and maybe that doesn't come through in live sketch comedy, or through TV at all. And I'm not even saying Pete should be on SNL, but after having seen him control an entire crowd of college kids from start to finish I can understand why someone thought to give him a job there in the first place.

[mentally I rank Pete and Leslie Jones right at the bottom of SNL cast members in terms of traditional SNL skills like "being able to effortlessly read the cards without flubbing lines" and "being able to sing, more or less" and "having characters that are nominally different from your regular self" and whatnot. I like them both, but they sure aren't the usual SNL stuff is all I'm sayin.]
posted by komara at 7:05 PM on November 13, 2018 [5 favorites]

He's got a real presence and maybe that doesn't come through in live sketch comedy, or through TV at all. And I'm not even saying Pete should be on SNL, but after having seen him control an entire crowd of college kids from start to finish I can understand why someone thought to give him a job there in the first place.

I totally accept this. However, I'll just say that I've seen Bob Saget do standup twice: once in the late 90s at a normal 500 person comedy club, and about 10 years ago at an auditorium at UC Berkeley (I'm almost certain we were the oldest out of the 1200 ppl). Bob killed both times of course, but the material was much lamer at the college show.

But charisma is a thing, and this really isn't a hill I'm going to die on anyway. :)
posted by rhizome at 8:23 PM on November 13, 2018

komara, thanks, that helped me crystalize my feelings about Davidson, which is: I don't like his humor but I always laugh at it. I don't like his persona, but I often find him charming, even if he's saying something really fucked up. By which I mean, if I just read a quote of what he said, my reaction is anywhere from "ok, fine" to "THIS FUCKING GUY" (when he joked about swapping out his fiancee's birth control). But when I see his bits on Weekend Update, I always laugh, and I usually find myself liking him. The guy has some weird charisma.
posted by lunasol at 12:09 PM on November 14, 2018 [4 favorites]

Yeah, Pete and Leslie both have that charisma not seen on SNL before, so it's hard to lump in with others. That said, so do most of the interesting people to come out of SNL. Here are my random blah blah thoughts before I fall asleep totally:

Like, for instance, A Whitney Brown couldn't act in a skit for his life, but had political commentary so scathing that Dennis Miller couldn't even approach those levels of "see through the bullshit". Not saying Pete is seeing through bullshit rather than living through it, but he seems to be able to destigmatize mental illness issues by acknowledging them. I have to give it to him, although I am "TEAM BROOKS WHEELAN" all the way, he couldn't deliver a desk piece like Pete can. But that's about ALL Pete is great for (hip hop doofuses aside). He's human and young and says funny and sometimes stupid shit. (And that week's desk piece with the "This politician looks like ___" was lazier than any David Spade Hollywood Minute.)

I don't think he's going anywhere, though, because as Lorne says, he's not looking for people to fill certain slots, he's looking for an overall balance, and people come in many flavors. It's when someone's like Luke Null or John Milheiser or Rudnitsky or Tim Robertson that they get one-and-out. Pete's memorable and a ratings-booster, and funny when utilized right and not overutilized (i.e the writers should use him sparingly in sketches).

Leslie? She's just an infectious personality, and I give her a pass for corpsing so much. (Pete can hold it together better; they should train him to hold his shit together.) Leslie also does some excellent desk pieces not seen before in SNL's lineup. But these aren't characters-players, they're always kinda playing muted versions of themselves and their standup personae in whatever sketch they're in. (Leslie's outrageousness has been tuned MUCH lower lately, though.)

And they both corpse a lot. USE SPARINGLY. DO NOT OVERUSE.
posted by not_on_display at 6:18 PM on November 15, 2018

I get all the hate on Crenshaw, but I was honestly surprised by his comedic timing. I know he certainly wasn't there to poke fun at himself, and maaaayybe his fun at Davidson's expense was deliberate enough to come across as mean, but I sensed that Crenshaw was having a good time up there and wasn't uncomfortable with being in a comedy sketch.
posted by emelenjr at 6:57 AM on November 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

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