Saturday Night Live: John Mulaney / David Byrne
March 1, 2020 3:08 AM - Season 45, Episode 14 - Subscribe

The first-ever Leap Day episode.

  • Cold Open - Coronavirus: Beck Bennett, Kenan Thompson, Fred Armisen, Kate McKinnon, Larry David, Colin Jost, Rachel Dratch
  • Monologue: John Mulaney
  • Sound of Music: John Mulaney, Cecily Strong, Kate McKinnon, Beck Bennett
  • Memed Uncle: Chloe Fineman, Chris Redd, Heidi Gardner, Pete Davidson, Beck Bennett, John Mulaney, Aidy Bryant
  • The Strip Club Sketch: Beck Bennett, Kyle Mooney, John Mulaney, Mikey Day, Justin Theroux, Chris Redd, Aidy Bryant, Chloe Fineman
  • The Admiral: Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, Beck Bennett, John Mulaney
  • David Byrne - Once In A Lifetime
  • Weekend Update: Colin Jost, Michael Che
    • Black History Month: Chris Redd
  • Airport Sushi (La Guardia): Pete Davidson, Chris Redd, John Mulaney, Kenan Thompson, Cecily Strong, Kate McKinnon, Beck Bennett, Jake Gyllenhaal, Mikey Day, Bowen Yang, David Byrne
  • David Byrne - Toe Jam
  • The First Black Man to Boo Jackie Robinson: Ego Nwodim, Kenan Thompson, Kyle Mooney, John Mulaney, Mikey Day, Beck Bennett
Cut for Time
  • Love Is Blind: Chloe Fineman, Kyle Mooney, Ego Nwodim, John Mulaney, Beck Bennett, Heidi Gardner, Alex Moffatt, Melissa Villaseñor
  • You Go Show: John Mulaney, Kenan Thompson, Mikey Day, Cecily Strong
posted by rhizome (20 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It was exactly what I expected it to be, and yet it all worked very, very well.
posted by Etrigan at 10:19 AM on March 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

I may have had my fill of John Mulaney.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 1:18 PM on March 1, 2020 [4 favorites]

I love John Mulaney and I love David Byrne. I hope they both continue to have fun working together.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 2:29 PM on March 1, 2020 [3 favorites]

This one didn't soar like Mulaney's other hosting gigs, but it was still pretty good. The thing where he was a twink sailor was just kind of... weird, and didn't exactly play to his strengths. It felt more like something they'd pitched to a bunch of boy band dudes who all turned it down, but then Mulaney was a good sport. It didn't play like they were desperately kissing up to the host, like it did when they did the same bit with Jennifer Lopez, so that was good. Mulaney's twink-y "hotness" was a goofy joke, they weren't expecting us to be drooling all over him. (Either that or somebody on staff IS gay-hot for Mulaney, this was another one of their weird thirsty sketches, and I just wasn't in the demo.)

David Byrne was such a joy. It made me realize just how often I've been giving the SNL music acts about 15 seconds before I get fed up and hit fast forward. Like, this was actually good! Everybody was having so much fun, hopping around in bare feet. Byrne really blended in with the band too, he was obviously in charge but everybody got their moment in the spotlight and it was just sweet. Byrne sure has impressive pep for a guy in his late sixties. I don't think the dude even broke a sweat!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:00 PM on March 1, 2020 [6 favorites]

I thought that there was some good stuff here, and Mulaney is a consummate professional. But maybe that detracted from the show? Like, he's too good and everyone was deferring to him instead of bringing individual energy.

'Memed Uncle' had some strong highs, I don't expect the forced Davidson stillframe to end up as an actually successful "meme" in the wild, though. Mulaney's unadulterated photo might, though - unless ironic lameness is now once again just lame.

'Sound of Music' is intellectually funny but zero laughter from me.

Nice technical work on Kyle's makeup for 'The Strip Club Sketch.' Disappointed that they went with the path-of-least-resistance where bodybuilding = turning into a simple cliched musclehead. Wanting to show off muscles (a little/ waaaay too much) after he gets them, that reads true to me.

'Airport Sushi' was, again, intellectually brilliant, but zero laughter. Beck transitioning into 'Westside Story' was technically astounding.

Technically/ theoretically very strong show, but I couldn't feel any heart in it.
posted by porpoise at 5:51 PM on March 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

Byrne was great. The monologue must have been just the gems from mulaney's current routine, and was great. I'm also happy with a flying Jake Gyllenhaal singing an odd to security groping.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 6:23 PM on March 1, 2020

The Love Is Blind skit really made me LOL.
posted by rogerroger at 7:20 PM on March 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

OK, I am going to say that most of the show sucked in a really bad way. So so many things to complain about. Even the jokes that landed were just insulting jokes. The one sketch that worked AWESOMELY was the musical. That was actually one of the better sketches of the season. The rest of the sketches, toss them all out.

The news: it was off the rails in a good way—I loved the return to the premise that the anchors are not the real people who play them. It reminded me of a (good) Jane Curtin/Dan Ackroyd episode of the news. Che nailed it, stuck with the premise, and I praise him for that.

OK, I am done with kibbitzing about the comedy-show. In conclusion: keep the musical. The news passed muster. Toss the rest of the sketches into the kitchen trash. EXCEPT FOR THE BEST BEST BEST PART of the show for me, maybe one of my favorite TV moments ever.

The thing that I will always and forever take away from this one episode, which will make it stand out among all of the SNL episodes I have seen or will see, is that it contains the single best musical performance I have ever witnessed on SNL—and maybe even on a TV or movie screen. THE BEST.

"Once in a Lifetime" was delivered with such timelessness, yet it was particularly timely. The set and the clothing were spare, and matched; the band was having a great time and TOIGHT, especially having to play, sing, and dance—and it was a diverse bunch, but nothing and nobody seemed forced. And the choreography was aaaaaaMAZing. It's extremely difficult to move and play an instrument at the same time, period. Focusing on the message and delivery method, while not pandering, selling out, or condescending. Rather than concentrating on the look, or the money, or the optics,this was simply emotion and celebration. You don't see that too much anymore. And definitely not with a band and stage show that compact and so much in sync. And through all of this, they still retained the essence of the song itself, and the essence of the chief artist himself. That was an excellent performance. To see one of my favorite childhood songs revived in such a powerful way, and unexpectedly, had me all teary-eyed. (The funny headshot in the opening credits shoulda been a clue!)

So much fun. Fuck the rest of this episode.
posted by not_on_display at 8:57 PM on March 1, 2020 [4 favorites]

I really like Mulaney and thought all the performances were good on their own this week but this was a bad episode for me. Airport Sushi was great, and while not quite as good as the first time around I really liked it.

I have mixed feelings about The Strip Club Sketch. I like Kyle Mooney and the slowly growing arms and chin were well done but I get a little tired of Mooney being a punching bag. If it was ever funny it's getting old. I'm not sure it was ever funny really.

I did not like another sketch on the show at all. It was one of the few episodes where I wanted to skip sketches and watch the musical guest. It's usually the opposite for me.

You Go Show and Love Is Blind were much better than anything they kept.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 7:33 AM on March 2, 2020

Byrne's "Once in a Lifetime" performance was one of the best I've ever seen on SNL (a low bar, to be sure, but still). I loved it sooo much. It was so joyful and everyone was obviously having a blast. I'm listening to Byrne this morning, all morning.

I love Mulaney but this wasn't his best run of hosting. It was a perfectly fine episode! I didn't laugh out loud that much, but the monologue was good and the musical sketch was great. I like that Jake Gyllenhaal is his new go-to weirdo.
posted by Aquifer at 9:56 AM on March 2, 2020

> The one sketch that worked AWESOMELY was the musical.

Disclaimer: I meant the Airport Sushi musical. NOT the Pedo Sound of Music. That was just a massive fail. My god, I want to like John Mulaney so much but then sketches like that. I loved Oh Hello on Broadway! I know he can be funny.
posted by not_on_display at 10:36 AM on March 2, 2020

Yeah I think when you start your show of with a weird pedo sketch (maybe that relies on knowing the source material to make it not seem like "weird pedo sketch") maybe you don't have much. I like Mulaney! But this was... mostly not-great Mulaney except for airport sushi which I also hated but then warmed up to. A few good things generally

- loved seeing Pete in TWO sketches
- I thought the general premise of "You meme'd me" was great but execution was a little off
- Very happy with the musical numbers, they just seemed great,well-planned and well-executed
- Love is Blind was so good!

Am likewise kinda done with Awkward Kyle, I miss the him-and-Leslie running bit they had before she left. I've been generally enjoying SNL this season but this episode just didn't work for me. Something about Mulaney basically playing the same dude over and over again sounding like a radio announcer from 1940. I was expecting to like this and was surprised I didn't.
posted by jessamyn at 11:37 AM on March 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

Nthing the love for the performance of Once in a Lifetime. Part of what made it work so well is that that song gets more powerful as it ages, so the fact that Byrne is older now just makes it hit home harder, because his gray hair and slightly less buoyant movements reinforce the song's theme.

When I first heard it when I was 13, it made me put on the suit coat my dad got married in and lip synch to it with my friend recorded a video with one of those camcorders with the tape component you slung onto your hip. I had no idea what a shotgun shack was.

When I hear it now, 34 years later, I live in a double shotgun, I'm married with a family, and this song does the powerful work of reminding me that I am living one of countless possible timelines.
posted by umbú at 12:01 PM on March 2, 2020 [5 favorites]

All I have to say is that it was really nice that SNL had a musical guest I was somewhat familiar with.
posted by bondcliff at 12:52 PM on March 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

Speaking of Pete, has anyone watched his new Netflix special? I was pleasantly surprised.
posted by Clustercuss at 2:43 PM on March 2, 2020

> Speaking of Pete, has anyone watched his new Netflix special? I was pleasantly surprised.

It's on top of our queue now; we're just waiting for a good time to settle in together and watch it. Meantime, the other takeaway for this show was that one of the trailers, "SNL Host John Mulaney Finds a New and Improved Pete Davidson," was just such a sweet and funny bit. I am hopeful for Pete and his future on the show. This was one of my favorite trailer/sketches (i.e. not a series of musical-guest/host/cast improvised bits) in recent memory.

I just now watched the Cut for Time sketches. They should have went with these; the show would have been at least a little better. Not much, but a little.

I also agree, I am tired of the Kyle=Revenge of the Nerd trope; I think Kyle has much better range and has had much funnier ideas. I wonder how he and Beck are getting along together in the process.

And I keep forgetting how long Cecily's been on the show and still nails the shit out of it, every damn time. She is definitely the unsung hero of many of these seasons...

...but still this show sucked NEXT PLEASE WHO'S UP Daniel Craig and the Weeknd? Really overdone but well-studied accents by Craig, and some ear candy from Weeknd? I'll take my chances with that. There have been worse ideas. If JJ Watt can nail it...
posted by not_on_display at 8:41 PM on March 2, 2020

Re: jacked-up Kyle, I thought they were taking a dig at Joe Piscopo (who used to be kind of normal, started getting very into weightlifting, and is now a Trump supporter). No?
posted by queensissy at 10:35 AM on March 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

Nah, not Piscopo. I doubt people of age are likely to know about his bodybuilding, let alone remember it, and at any rate even the mighty David Byrne isn't enough to pull all of them in. People, especially Mulaney fans, are going to connect the character with grunty freeweight bros at the gym. Which is why the sketch shines!
posted by rhizome at 5:40 PM on March 3, 2020

That sketch might not have been expressly about Piscopo, but I am dead certain that Kyle Mooney knows about Joe Piscopo's career and personal arcs.
posted by Etrigan at 10:27 AM on March 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

Yeah, me and n_o_d were very much like "Piscopo?"when that sketch got going.
posted by jessamyn at 11:24 AM on March 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

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