Saturday Night Live: Scarlett Johannson / Nial Horan
December 15, 2019 10:14 AM - Season 45, Episode 9 - Subscribe

Sixth time hosting?

  • Cold Open - Christmas: Aidy Bryant, Bowen Yangmv Cecily Strong, Mikey Day, Beck Bennett, Kyle Mooney, Chris Redd, Kenan Thompson, Ego Nwodim, Kate McKinnon
  • Monologue: Scarlett Johannson & Cast
  • Santa Land: Alex Moffatt, Heidi Gardner, Beck Bennett, Chloe Fineman, Kenan Thompson, Scarlett Johannson
  • Macy's Christmas Sale: Alex Moffatt, Kenan Thompson, Chloe Fineman, Aidy Bryant, Ego Nwodim, Chris Redd, Kate McKinnon, Heidi Gardner, Mikey Day, Bowen Yang
  • Office Christmas Party: Beck Bennett, Melissa Villaseñor, Aidy Bryant, Bowen Yang, Cecily Strong, Scarlett Johannson, Kenan Thompson, Mikey Day
  • A Conway Marriage Story: Scarlett Johannson, Kate McKinnon, Alex Moffatt, Beck Bennett
  • Niall Horan - Nice to Meet Ya
  • Weekend Update: Michael Che, Colin Jost
    • Chen Biao: Bowen Yang
    • Baby Yoda: Kyle Mooney
  • Haunted Hot Tub: Ego Nwodim, Chris Redd, Cecily Strong, Scarlett Johannson, Niall Horan
  • Hallmark Winter Boyfriend: Aidy Bryant, Scarlett Johannson, Beck Bennett, Alex Moffatt, Kyle Mooney, Chris Redd, Mikey Day
  • I Saw Daddy Watching Mommy Kissing Santa Claus: Cecily Strong, Mikey Day, Scarlett Johannson, Beck Bennett?
  • Niall Horan - Put A Little Love On Me
  • Choking Poster Couple: Bowen Yang, Scarlett Johannson, Heidi Gardner, Kate McKinnon, Mikey Day, Kyle Mooney, Alex Moffatt, Ego Nwodim
  • Max the Dog's Thoughts: Kyle Mooney, Mikey Day, Scarlett Johannson, Alex Moffatt, Cecily Strong, Beck Bennett

posted by rhizome (18 comments total)
If despair is a sin, then this is the most transgressive time that SNL has ever had.
posted by Etrigan at 1:48 PM on December 15, 2019

So I really liked the Hallmark dating show, and a lot of other stuff was fun too, like the Macy's ad, the hot tub song, and the I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus parody. Some inoffensive filler, like the Choking Poster and the Santa Land music, and all of that was completely overshadowed by just absolute garbage political content.
posted by ckape at 2:01 PM on December 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

Yeah, the show was OK as long as it avoided politics... and when it did go political it was a nightmare. This show's politics are FUCKED right now, and as long as they stick with their current regime behind the scenes, things aren't going to get better. We're going to see more and more of this both sides stuff, more stuff that's weirdly sympathetic to Trump and his supporters and where the joke is on silly snowflake libs who won't stop whining about how we have a goddamned fascist crook in the White House. Trump will get ouchy about it because to him anything less than a wet sloppy ass-kiss is a dis, but if he had any sense he'd realize this show isn't really doing him any harm these days. This is "centrist" political comedy in 2019, and it's a horrorshow. For once I actually agree with a lot of what the AV Club reviewer had to say, and I hope the folks at SNL read it and it shames somebody into writing something with teeth.

All the stuff about how Trump is gonna win was pretty horrifying... but it's worth remembering that this was the show that said all the stress and hubbub of the 2016 election was pointless because Jeb was gonna win in a walk. The thing is, SNL has had fucked politics, or shifty, not-great politics, plenty of times before. But the Libertarian frat boy stuff that was just disappointing and annoying in the Adam Sandler days is actually dangerous now, because, again, we have a fascist in the White House. This is a moment when SNL's satire could make a difference (they took down Sarah Palin, after all) and instead they just keep telling us that nobody can make any difference, that we're just doomed and there's no point fighting. I've been watching this show longer than I can remember, and this is the first time I've seriously considered bailing. They've got some of the best cast members ever and they still do some hilarious sketches, but the political stuff is getting too nauseating to bear.

The Thanos bit was mostly notable for yet another thing where Pete Davidson shows up to joke about how he's "not on the show" again this week... while getting more air time than Luke Null ever did.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:48 PM on December 15, 2019 [4 favorites]

The Macy's ad was brilliant "because it's true" and I predict will show up on lot's of Top 10 lists. I have been wondering all season -- why does Pete Davidson still have a job on SNL? He's never really there, he has zero range, all he does is basically play himself. Honestly, I never thought Pete Davidson was particularly funny, but when SNL stood by him after his addiction troubles were made public I thought that was great. Now all this time later, I can't quite see how they justify keeping him as a full-time cast member when his contribution is so minimal and banal. Every single person in the cast can play a convincing stoner dude, they don't need Pete for that. They should give his spot to one of the POC supporting players who are all more deserving and 1000x funnier.
posted by pjsky at 9:07 AM on December 16, 2019 [6 favorites]

Every single person in the cast can play a convincing stoner dude

Ooooh, I would definitely not go that far!
posted by rhizome at 1:55 PM on December 16, 2019

Yeah you can dress Kyle Mooney up as Sloppy Moses all you want - he still exudes strong sober energy.
posted by komara at 2:01 PM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

why does Pete Davidson still have a job on SNL?

Maybe because his employer is actually doing the right thing with a staff member facing addiction and mental health issues?
posted by Stanczyk at 2:03 PM on December 16, 2019 [5 favorites]

Totes agree that Macy's ad was fucking brilliant. All I could do as I watched it was pity the poor PR department at Macy's. Watching that ad and realizing, "Fuck, they're right."
posted by Stanczyk at 2:07 PM on December 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

why does Pete Davidson still have a job on SNL?

I think it's a combination of things. On the more cynical, calculating side, he's a tabloid fixture who dated Ariana Grande. For reasons that have little to do with his actual performance on the show, he's probably the most famous person in the cast. That's why, when he does show up, most of the jokes are about his personal life, his health and his mental struggles, who he's dating, etc. It probably helps the ratings to keep him around.

Beyond that stuff, the cast and crew seem to like him a lot and they're worried about him and rooting for him. After John Belushi and Chris Farley died young, I think Lorne Michaels really doesn't want to see another cast member go down in flames and he's cutting Davidson some extra slack. And finally, while I've never been a huge Davidson fan I recognize that a lot of people find him really funny. He might have been a breakout star even without all the tabloid stuff.

For various reasons it makes sense for them to keep Davidson around, but I do think it's getting a little weird that he keeps showing up for these bits about how he's not on the show this week. If they just wrote him an actual sketch instead, he'd be on the show this week. Maybe they think him showing up to say he's not there has become its own joke, but instead it just kind of plays up the drama and makes people worry about him more.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:21 PM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

I seem to remember a comment or aside in this episode that implied that they never know if Pete is going to show up on Saturday, which if so, they can't really write for him. If he didn't show up all week, they wouldn't have to worry about it, but if he's helping putting the show together then flaking out at broadcast, then that's a harder problem.
posted by rhizome at 2:38 PM on December 16, 2019

"And finally, while I've never been a huge Davidson fan I recognize that a lot of people find him really funny. He might have been a breakout star even without all the tabloid stuff."

I'll quote a comment I left on Fanfare around this time last year:
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.
posted by komara at 4:05 PM on December 16, 2019 [4 favorites]

So if that's what the SNL people saw in him? I get it.

That has been Pete's joke since DAY ONE:
"How am I even on this show? When am I gonna be fired? I live at my mom's."
He takes his self-doubt (one of probably what are a whole cloud of symptoms due to multiple mental health disorders) and makes it funny. Same with his desk pieces on whom he's dating, and why even is this happening. His first desk piece ever contained a reference to his father dying on 9/11, and IT WAS FUNNY. Sometimes he goes too far and/or pushes boundaries. That's why Pete gets a little airtime. He's probably the best "desk piece stand-up comedian" they've had in a long, long time. I am totally Team Pete. This show isn't MEANT to be safe. Its original purpose was to push the boundaries, using "Live TeeVee Anything Can Happen Late At Night" as the excuse. Pete exemplifies this.

And don't tell me anyone could do CHAD. Andy Samberg couldn't do Chad OR Uncle Butt.

Oh yeah the SHOW. The show isn't trying to cater to just one simple liberal 25-49 demographic—the writing team realizes (at least I think they do) that things these days are nuanced and can't be summed up easily by sloganistic comedy. (See the cold opening for an example of this.) They are kinda testing things out with comedy, and much more so than many other casts of the past. While I don't agree politically with some of the jokes, i can appreciate them, and I can appreciate that we can still have a variety of jokes on one show, for now.

Oh yeah, THIS show. I was experiencing major cognitive dissonance when they placed Colin next to a picture of Cosby. Colin and Scarlett seem so well-adjusted. It was adorbs but... I mean... okay, the rest of the show was plain okay. The hot tub sketch was funny but too long. The One Direction Other Guy had a great second song. Kate McKinnon is getting back on my good side. The sketches weren't the best, but they all did have at least one laugh-out-loud joke in'em.

Bowen Yang, while amazing simply doing his thing, is at the same time filling a little hole in my heart what misses Leslie Jones so much.
posted by not_on_display at 8:02 PM on December 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

Bowen Yang, while amazing simply doing his thing, is at the same time filling a little hole in my heart what misses Leslie Jones so much.

Thank you for crystallizing what I'm loving about Yang. He (like Leslie) is clearly starring in his own show, which only occasionally intersects with SNL.
posted by Etrigan at 6:04 AM on December 17, 2019 [9 favorites]

He (like Leslie) is clearly starring in his own show, which only occasionally intersects with SNL.

My spouse has refined this theory: we are all living in the universe of a 30 Rock-esque show, in which Jones and Yang play the Tracy Jordan role.
posted by Etrigan at 8:32 AM on December 18, 2019

we are all living in the universe of a 30 Rock-esque show, in which Jones and Yang play the Tracy Jordan role.

And if you thought you were sick of Alec Baldwin as Trump, wait till you see how badly Trump butchers the "Always Be Closing" speech in Glengarry Glenross.

(Reviewing it now, maybe Trump woulda won an Oscar.)
posted by not_on_display at 12:28 PM on December 18, 2019

things these days are nuanced and can't be summed up easily by sloganistic comedy.

I'm not asking for "sloganistic comedy," but there's not really much nuance where Trump's concerned. The president is a fascist bully who keeps brown children in cages and is on tape boasting about sexually assaulting women. These facts are hardly in dispute and in fact much of his base would see them as selling points. He is not W, or one of the Bush twits, or Reagan, guys who were terrible politicians but were at least politicians. Trump is more ridiculous than any of them, but also much more dangerous.

I suspect some of the writers and cast probably aren't very happy with the show's political material lately. (If Beck Bennet has a soul he's gotta be pretty appalled by some of the stuff they had him say Saturday night. The guy was spewing bile like Linda Blair.) The show had a lot of angry pro-feminist sketches a couple of seasons back, the Welcome to Hell era, and I thought that stuff was kind of on-the-nose ("sloganistic," I guess you'd say) but now they never do stuff like that and I've got to figure there are people there who are pretty pissed about the stuff that does make it on the air. This should be a golden age for SNL, they have the talent on board and the headlines have never been more ripe for mockery, but they keep giving us this crap about how maybe Trump and his supporters aren't so bad after all and those out-of-touch millennial libtards should just stop whining. Any comedy show that tries to play "both sides" in 2019 isn't just doing its job poorly. It's actively harmful.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:44 PM on December 18, 2019

I remember when Fox tried one-sided comedy. It didn't work for them.

NBC/Universal is definitely part of the large subset of "corporations that do not want a Dem in office" even if MSNBC and its TV arm lean slightly left-center. They want to attract a wide set of demographics, and to have it both ways is going to turn very few viewers away. It's not like SNL has become Fox's comedy wing. I just don't think you're going to get the kind of left-wing comedy you want anywhere but Pacifica Radio. I'd say the Daily Show was about as far left as television would let satire go.

Did you ever notice [/andyrooney] that the further from the center you get in any direction, the less funny the attempts at comedy are? There's a reason. The world isn't an easy math solution, and neither is comedy.

Maybe the internet has a realistically-based comedy show. But that's an oxymoron. Comedy's not easy.
posted by not_on_display at 9:37 AM on December 19, 2019

(I also want to add that I am glad we are watching the same show, and that our political views aren't really as far apart as I'd paint them.)
posted by not_on_display at 9:41 AM on December 19, 2019

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