Saturday Night Live: Halsey
February 10, 2019 1:19 AM - Season 44, Episode 12 - Subscribe

Black History Month.

  • Meet the Press - Kyle Mooney, Cecily Strong, Leslie Jones, Kenan Thompson, Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant
  • Monologue - Halsey
  • Them Trumps - Halsey, Kenan Thompson, Leslie Jones, Chris Redd, Ego Nwodim, Leslie Jones, Alex Moffatt
  • Blackface - Halsey, Kenan Thompson, Mikey Day, Cecily Strong, Kyle Mooney, Pete Davidson, Beck Bennett, Alex Moffatt
  • Valentines - Halsey, Aidy Bryant, Kate McKinnon, Beck Bennett, Kenan Thompson, Kyle Mooney, Heidi Gardner,
  • Office Architect Randy - Mikey Day, Halsey, Beck Bennett, Melissa Villaseñor, Chris Redd
  • Women of Congress - Halsey, Kate McKinnon, Melissa Villaseñor, Leslie Jones, Cecily Strong, Ego Nwodim, Aidy Bryant, Heidi Gardner
  • Halsey - Without Me
  • Weekend Update - Colin Jost, Michael Che
    • Grammy Picks - Melissa Villaseñor, Kyle Mooney
    • OnceUponASnuggle - Mikey Day, Heidi Gardner
    • Guy Who Bought a Boat - Alex Moffatt
  • Karaoke - Aidy Bryant, Kate McKinnon, Melissa Villaseñor, Cecily Strong, Halsey, Pete Davidson, Chris Redd, Kyle Mooney, Ego Nwodim, probably some others.
  • Black History Month - Leslie Jones, Kenan Thompson, Ego Nwodim, Chris Redd, Kyle Mooney, Beck Bennett
  • Halsey - Eastside
  • Porn Dad - Kenan Thompson, Leslie Jones, Chris Redd, Halsey, Ego Nwodim, Alex Moffatt, Kyle Mooney
  • Riverdale Finale - Kenan Thompson, Melissa Villaseñor, Halsey, Beck Bennett, Pete Davidson, Alex Moffatt
posted by rhizome (28 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Pete played a character who wasn’t Pete!

I love Halsey. I didn’t know just how much I love her until last night. Eastside is one of the most memorable musical performances I’ve ever seen on SNL.
posted by Ruki at 9:20 AM on February 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

Same here. I had no idea who she was, except the double billing meant she was a singer, but her opening monologue blew me away. Subsequent sketches may have overused her NJ accent a tad, but she was in a lot of sketches and di well in all of them, and this is the first time in a long time that I haven't simply fast-forwarded through the musical numbers.
posted by Mogur at 11:51 AM on February 10, 2019

Same. Never heard of her. Her music isn't really my thing but that second song, where she painted the thing while she sang (or lip-synced, but whatever), that was kind of cool. I've seen a lot of SNL musical acts but that was one of the more impressive ones.

Was that the shortest monologue ever?

A pretty good show, and they seemed to use most of the cast members rather than it being a Kate and Cecily show.
posted by bondcliff at 1:17 PM on February 10, 2019

If you've never heard of her, how do you explain your comment from the last time she was on where you said about her *checks notes* that you had no idea who she was?
posted by ckape at 2:45 PM on February 10, 2019 [7 favorites]

Because I have absolutely no memory of seeing her before? I mean in that comment I even said "She seemed quite forgettable, at least in my middle-aged-out-of-touch-dad mind" so I guess I was right about that.

Pretty good record keeping on your part though.
posted by bondcliff at 2:52 PM on February 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

I can't stop laughing about this. This may be the funniest interaction I've ever had on Metafilter. Called out because I didn't remember Halsey.

In the good old days this would have been a MeTa post with seven thousand comments and twelve flameouts.
posted by bondcliff at 2:58 PM on February 10, 2019 [27 favorites]

Honestly I had completely forgotten she had been on before, and I had only checked because I thought it was odd she got the double gig when I didn't think she had even been on the show before. Then I was just playing the odds that someone would say they weren't aware of her twice.
posted by ckape at 3:24 PM on February 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

I already knew Halsey, I have a teenaged daughter, and I know way too much about her relationship with G-Eazy. I fell in love with her last year because of this speech from the Women’s March. But I didn’t fully realize just how crazy talented she is until last night.

I basically just posted again to share that video, though.

(Also, I cringe at my comment in that last thread now that I know that Che actually voted for that turnip. Ursula Hitler was right all along. Also, also, writing that combination of words caused some serious cognitive dissonance for this here Jew.)
posted by Ruki at 3:30 PM on February 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

They seem to be barely putting effort into the monologues at this point, which is lazy but kind of understandable. I know they were usually not very good and everybody hated writing them but it still feels like a punk-ass move to have the hosts come out and just kind of introduce themselves, the end. Maybe that's better than another underwhelming musical number but I kind of wish they'd at least try to do something funny. They have like 30 writers!

Another forgettable episode. There was lots of juicy Trump idiocy in the headlines this week but the show mostly left it on the table. Baldwin literally phoned in his part. I have this idea, and I can't say if it's true or not, that at this point the writers' room is a constant tug-of-war between millennial feminist women and Michael Che. (It results in weird mood swings like Hillary Clinton mournfully singing Hallelujah in one episode and a bunch of lolwhitechicks stuff the next week.) I'd almost rather watch that struggle than the actual show that comes out of it. This week the ladies won and there was some kind of underbaked girl-power-y stuff with no jokes about how Nancy Pelosi has gone mad with power or any of that. I feel like the ladies have better politics but Che writes better jokes, so it's usually a choice between me just kind of agreeing and not laughing or chuckling guiltily while wishing Che would go away already.

Halsey seemed nice and she was fine in the sketches but her songs gave me kind of a blah Kelly Clarkson vibe. For anybody curious, her upside-down drawing was probably done using an old cartoonist "chalk talk" trick where she was following a pencil outline that the audience/camera couldn't see. Either that or she's just pretty good at doodling faces upside-down.

Melissa Villaseñor's WU bit was cute. She really is an amazing performer and I keep wishing this show would find a way to use her better. I don't know if she's much of a writer, and that may be what's sinking her, but I'm surprised the writers aren't having her do a dozen impressions every week. Pete's British accent wasn't bad, so now we know he can do British, idiot pool boy, stoner high school kid and himself.

Word is that Kenan is on the way out, and the show will definitely suffer once he's gone. Every sketch he's in gets elevated by at least half a letter grade!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:11 PM on February 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

You could see the pencil line. The camera angles mostly hid it but it was there a couple times.

I though Halsey was better than the writing this week. I think the monologue just seemed fast because they didn't make a whole production out of it, and I liked it.

They could/should go in harder on Them Trumps, it's always just kind passing. Women of Congress was similarly by-the-numbers, but it should really be an 8min sketch (something I'm DYING for them to do).

Is Halsey the one with that voice or are there others? I listen to the radio enough to be used to that sound, but the particular songs were good and I could tell there was a ton of technique going on. She seems like a good person, and she was not a bad actor at all.
posted by rhizome at 5:45 PM on February 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

Because I have absolutely no memory of seeing her before?

Yeah neither did I. I liked her in this episode and enjoyed the episode generally. I like how if the host basically isn't going to thrive in a monologue they just mostly skip it. I liked seeing a lot of female characters doing stuff, the Black History bit was spot on and I appreciated and awful lot of "What in the actual fuck?" about the news coming out of Virginia. Also I've always had a soft spot for Guy Who Bought a Boat and it was good to see him again.

I'd been hearing Eastside on the radio a lot recently and it's got some nice quality to it and seeing her singing it while painting (even if from a pencil outline, still more than I could do) was oddly calming.
posted by jessamyn at 9:28 PM on February 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

Word is that Kenan is on the way out

This has been the rumor since Chaucer was head writer.
posted by Etrigan at 3:45 AM on February 11, 2019 [8 favorites]

At this point I assume Kenan is staying on until he can take over for Lorne.
posted by Uncle Ira at 6:34 AM on February 11, 2019 [3 favorites]

Turned it off after Weekend Update. It was too much of a chore.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 7:10 AM on February 11, 2019

Fun Fact:
Kenan Thompson starred on the Nickelodeon comedy sketch show All That from 1994-2002. He then joined the cast of SNL in 2003.

Which means Kenan Thompson has been the star of a nationally-televised comedy sketch show for the past 25 years.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:28 AM on February 11, 2019 [4 favorites]

Which means Kenan Thompson has been the star of a nationally-televised comedy sketch show for the past 25 years.

And he's only 40. He's spent a higher proportion of his life working on a nationally televised comedy sketch show than Lorne Michaels.
posted by Etrigan at 10:24 AM on February 11, 2019 [4 favorites]

But, if they take out Kenan, the studio will explode.
posted by ckape at 10:30 AM on February 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Lorne told Kenan many years ago that he has a free pass to stay as long as he wants. I think he likes the job security, and "Kenan Reacts" is one of my favorite non-speaking lines.

This show! I thought it went great. I had no idea who Halsey was, and glad she didn't sing during the monologue, and her first song was kinda bland. But! that second song where she sang and painted at the same time. I wouldn't care if it were connect the dots she was tracing along. I couldn't sing and do anything else at the same time. Update wasn't a meltdown of cringey jokes. The sketches had punchlines, even, and not just trailing off endings.

And yes! Pete, way out of his wheelhouse, nailed it. And Melissa's desk piece was very welcome. And it's so good that Ego is getting funny lines, and not just the "token black girlfriend in the restaurant sketch" roles. I do wish that the appreciation of previous black characters actually went through a list—but Beck and Kyle, that was them being awkward and wrong at a comedically perfect time.

(I tried to go through a list of Afr-Am cast members in my head last night while going to sleep. Looking it up quickly now: Garrett Morris, Yvonne Hudson, Eddie Murphy, Danitra Vance, Ellen Cleghorne, Dean Edwards, Tim Meadows, Michael Che, Leslie Jones, Ego Nwodim, Chris Redd, Sasheer Zamata, Finesse Mitchell, Jay Pharoah, KEEENAN, Jerry Minor, Tracy Morgan, Chris Rock, Maya Rudolph, Damon Wayans. 20 out of 151. Am I forgetting anyone? Probably.)

Aaaaanyway, I think this has been a great season so far, much better than last season (even though S42 was amaaaaazing). And this show was one of the season's jewels.
posted by not_on_display at 3:02 PM on February 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

My all-time favorite Kenan moment is still him showing up in a monologue dressed as Panthro from the Thundercats, insisting that it's not a costume and he actually is Panthro, and saying "I'm told that this was Kenan's idea, and that he stands by it."
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:29 PM on February 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Well, Kenan has a sitcom in the works, one where he's starring and producing, so if that becomes a series he's definitely off SNL. He's making moves to exit, but it's not a sure thing yet. I was actually wondering if he was in the show so much this week because he's planning to leave soon.

As for Halsey tracing, I didn't see the pencil lines on my TV. I'm surprised other people could apparently see them. Hi-def TVs show a lot of detail, but even so I'd think they could have used pencil lines fine enough that a camera wouldn't pick them up unless they were in close-up. The whole stunt didn't impress me much, to be honest. It felt kind of hokey and... I dunno, America's Got Talent? One of those shows with the three judges. Mostly I was wondering if this was the first time a singer ever performed on SNL with no band, where the music was obviously prerecorded.

In the awkward Valentine music video I was kind of getting a vibe like the boss was actually crushing on her employee in a really creepy way. Like, an "I love you" bear, and SAYING "I love you," that's obviously super inappropriate. I guess we were supposed to assume the boss was just clueless and she didn't understand how it was coming across... but damn, if a male boss had done it there probably would have been a lawsuit!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:34 PM on February 11, 2019

That was probably my favourite Davidson, ever.
posted by porpoise at 5:58 PM on February 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Tracing lines (probably want to click to zoom)
posted by rhizome at 10:42 PM on February 11, 2019

Pete really did nail it in the Riverdale sketch and is getting better at not breaking. I think it was only once in Blackface, which is a big improvement as far as I’m concerned. I think this is proving Kid Ruki’s theory that John Mulaney makes everything better.
posted by Ruki at 12:53 PM on February 12, 2019

While the pencil outline was needed to do the bit at all, Halsey still had good brush strokes and a light touch, all the while keeping to the choreography. I'm still impressed.
posted by Mogur at 2:19 PM on February 12, 2019 [3 favorites]

She definitely had a guide laid down on that canvas, but she is a talented visual artist as well. Here is her portrait of musician YUNGBLUD [cw: bloody nose].
posted by Rock Steady at 11:58 AM on February 13, 2019

Never heard of Halsey before, looks like she had a lot of fun and enjoyed the experience a ton. Wasn't crazy about her performances, like, first one was okay for music that ain't for me, but the second one had me cringing a bit. For a while I thought she was doing one of those likewise corny performances where someone does a portrait, but it's upsidedown and you don't get to see it until the last moment, or maybe it looks like paint splotches until they add one colour detail and surprise, it's Jesus! It's always striked me as one of those things that impresses people who view drawing as a mysterious artform only the chosen are blessed with the talent to do.

Don't get me wrong, making a visual art process like painting or drawing into a compelling visual performance is very difficult, like, I can't think of a single example in history of a live performance of a drawing/painting being memorable or effective in a positive way. Like, plenty of room to watch someone livestream art-making, or everyone seems to love a sped-up video of a work in progress to completion -- it's the performative consideration that bring it down. You're either mugging to the camera in a weird way, or deliberately construing drawings in such a way as to hide the eventual finished work as it progresses, or relying on some flashy paintbrush slashing or what have you. She settled on just semi lip-syncing over a recording while she slowly did a sketch for a portrait of an earless woman, which as far as I could tell, was not thematically relevant to her song -- but it wasn't my jam so I wasn't focusing on that.

Anyway, if the final drawing was super dope it might have saved the performance, but like I don't think that drawing would past muster in a Drawing I class for non-majors even.

With that off my chest, I liked the episode overall. Halsey did well enough in her sketches, I loved the Kyle-Davidson skit, thought they did a good job with the BHM thing. The Weekend update didn't feel like they were reading the top comments from a social media thread on a news article.

The one sketch that cracked me up in a weird way was the Riverdale one. It seemed to me like some folks got "the 'dale" as a riff going in the writers room and thought it was hilarious among themselves. For the most part it didn't seem like anyone cared or had seen the show, which is fine, I only saw a few episodes and most of it hinged on calling its production "the 'Dale" and general jabs at its creation that seem like they'd work or maybe work better for CW teendrama of the week. Anyway, it seemed to me like they thought calling it the 'Dale was a joke strong enough to carry the sketch by itself and in turn framing it that way made it really funny for me, if that makes sense.
posted by GoblinHoney at 1:49 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

Not ever having seen it, pretty much the whole Riverdale sketch went right past me, but the characterizations were funny enough to make it passable.

Like "Minnesota Nice," there should be "SNL Funny" when something is just funny enough not to hate it.
posted by rhizome at 8:30 PM on February 13, 2019

Not ever having seen it, pretty much the whole Riverdale sketch went right past me, but the characterizations were funny enough to make it passable.

I don't think the "Riverdale" part of that sketch was intended to be the funny part.
posted by Etrigan at 8:21 AM on February 14, 2019

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