Saturday Night Live: Issa Rae / Justin Bieber
October 18, 2020 2:37 AM - Season 46, Episode 3 - Subscribe

Issa Rae, from the web series "[The Mis-Adventures of] Awkward Black Girl" and the HBO series, "Insecure."

  • Cold Open - Dueling Town Halls: Mikey Day, Jim Carrey, Kate McKinnon, Alec Baldwin, Melissa Villaseñor, Chloe Fineman, Lauren Holt, Ego Nwodim, Maya Rudolph, Heidi Gardner, Chris Redd, Kenan Thompson, Alex Moffatt
  • Monologue: Issa Rae
  • Bonjour Hi!: Bowen Yang, Kate McKinnon, Mikey Day, Issa Rae
  • 5-Hour Empathy: Beck Bennett, Kenan Thompson, Heidi Gardner
  • Restaurant Exes: Chris Redd, Issa Rae, Kenan Thompson, Pete Davidson, Bowen Yang, Punkie Johnson
  • Justin Bieber - Holy
  • Weekend Update: Michael Che, Colin Jost
    • First Kids: Alex Moffatt, Mikey Day, Chloe Fineman
    • Aidy in America: Aidy Bryant
    • Carla: Heidi Gardner
  • Your Voice Chicago: Kenan Thompson, Issa Rae, Ego Nwodim, Chris Redd, Maya Rudolph, Punkie Johnson
  • Funk Jam Future: Issa Rae, Kyle Mooney, Chance the Rapper, Andrew Dismukes
  • Justin Bieber - Lonely
  • Jack Flatts: Kyle Mooney, Beck Bennett, Andrew Dismukes, Kenan Thompson, Lauren Holt
  • PreBay: Ego Nwodim, Heidi Gardner, Chris Redd
posted by rhizome (26 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My wife (who isn't normally one to express much opinion of the players or their performances) said last night she really hates Jim Carrey playing Biden. I was kind of on the fence about Carrey before, but this performance really sealed the deal for me. He's horrible. I came away from that cold open feeling like they had gone out of their way to make Biden look worse/less stable than Trump.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:29 AM on October 18, 2020 [5 favorites]

Yeah, Carry sucks. If we're going to get four years of him I may finally stop watching the show. It's fine if they want to dunk on Biden, that's what they do, but they need to let up a bit.

The show mostly sucked, I thought. Even Weekend Update had so many bad or poorly times jokes. I did enjoy Aidy in America, even if it was a one joke bit.

I didn't know who Issa Rae was. Her monologue seemed awkward, like she was a bit nervous, but she did ok in the sketches.

Your Voice Chicago was terrible. I kept thinking "am I missing something or is this just kind of racist?" I almost turned the show off after that.

I guess Justin Bieber is lonely? Poor kid.

The only sketch I kind of liked was Bonjour Hi!
posted by bondcliff at 8:19 AM on October 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

I came away from that cold open feeling like they had gone out of their way to make Biden look worse/less stable than Trump.

Kinda had it up to here with their both-sidesing nonsense. One of the dick-faces (tm) on the show barely trying as George Stephanopoulos, intoning that Biden was going to take "softball questions from people who were already going to vote for him". GTFO here with that. They weren't all perfect answers, some going too long or in the weeds with details, but often giving direct answers about policy, often to people who were Republicans. Framing it the way SNL did was lazy, stupid, not satire and served nobody but edge-lord centrists.
posted by ishmael at 9:17 AM on October 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

I think Carrey does an excellent job mimicking Joe Biden. It's the writing that's the problem.
posted by Pendragon at 9:37 AM on October 18, 2020 [3 favorites]

I kind of liked this episode. I'm a huge fan of Issa Rae so I was looking forward to this episode. I think she did a great job. She's also a producer and frequent guest on Black Lady Sketch Show which is hilarious. And Insecure is brilliant tv.

And I liked Your Voice Chicago. I think, like with a lot of Che's jokes, they aren't written for white people. They are intended for a black audience and they don't care what you think.
posted by Stanczyk at 9:50 AM on October 18, 2020 [6 favorites]

I think Carrey does an excellent job mimicking Joe Biden. It's the writing that's the problem.

I remember seeing this comment on twitter when it was first announced that Carrey was going to play Biden:

"Cut to November 4th with Carrey singing Hallelujah at the piano."
posted by ishmael at 10:14 AM on October 18, 2020 [3 favorites]

Your Voice Chicago was riffing on Issa Rae saying she was rooting for everyone Black at the Emmy's a few years ago.

I do not like Carrey's Biden.

I do like Kyle Mooney. I liked his sketches, and 5 Hour Empathy, best.
posted by Ruki at 10:20 AM on October 18, 2020 [3 favorites]

Oh! And the Trump Brothers and Notvanka! That may have been my favorite Trump Brothers appearance.
posted by Ruki at 10:22 AM on October 18, 2020 [4 favorites]

I agree that Carrey actually did a pretty good impression but the writing suuuucked. The one good moment was him as Mr Rogers. Honestly whoever writes their political skits needs to be reassigned. See

Five Hour Empathy was a great skit.

Bonjour Hi just reminded me of how much they need to let the jr. cast do more. Fun and weird.

Jack Flatts aaaalmost got somewhere. But not quite.
posted by emjaybee at 10:37 AM on October 18, 2020 [3 favorites]

Heidi Gardner nailed it as Carla. Her character work is so strong.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 11:48 AM on October 18, 2020 [3 favorites]

Notvanka and Bonjour Hi were both hilarious. Otherwise not one of their better shows.
posted by joannemerriam at 12:53 PM on October 18, 2020


THAT'S what he said? I rewound a few times but there was crosstalk.
posted by rhizome at 1:04 PM on October 18, 2020

Maybe I had seen Issa Rae in something from BLSS but I didn’t remember it. She’s great! I hope she does more stuff.

PreBay was kind of lazy, but it’s so accurate that I enjoyed it anyway.
posted by Monochrome at 1:05 PM on October 18, 2020

I really liked Issa Rae too. I thought her nervousness during the monologue was charming. Just watched the first two episodes of Awkward Black Girl.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 1:10 PM on October 18, 2020

The cold open skits are predictably awful every week, and now they're taking up about 1/3 of the show's runtime.

Heidi Gardner and Chloe Fineman fill very similar niches, but man are they both great. Notvanka and Carla were both highlights.

Kyle Mooney is so Kyle Mooney. Funk Jam Future and Jack Flatts were both worth it because of him. Loved it when he called Chance "Mr The Rapper"

Issa Rae is a delight. Drake Watch on Bonjour Hi! was funnier that it should have been because of her.

I give the show a B-, which is better than SNL's been this year so far,
posted by mcstayinskool at 2:04 PM on October 18, 2020 [3 favorites]

Appreciated that Yang got a chance to play around with a different accent.
posted by porpoise at 3:15 PM on October 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

Finally sticking it to Quebec.

5hr. Empathy was the best part of the show, by far.

Issa Rae is cool, but this was not a good episode.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 7:11 PM on October 18, 2020

Usually I look at the comments here, then watch the episode and think "man, those guys hate everything", but this was one of the weakest shows in a long, long time. Nothing was even remotely funny. Even the studio audience wasn't laughing.
posted by briank at 7:19 PM on October 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

Heidi Gardner nailed it as Carla. Her character work is so strong.

"Brought to you by David O. Russell!"
posted by ishmael at 8:06 PM on October 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

I think, like with a lot of Che's jokes, they aren't written for white people.

Well, the AV Club's reviewer assumed the sketch was written by a bunch of smug white boys from Harvard, parroting talking points from Fox News. So those jokes/sketches may not be written for white people, but they're still making essentially the same points that really terrible white people would make.

I've been watching this show since I was 5, but I think I'm out. Call me when they bring in new head writers.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:49 PM on October 18, 2020

"Brought to you by David O. Russell!"

I had to look him up because that was such a funny throwaway line.

I've really liked Issa Rae since her web series so it's been terrific to see her really getting the attention I think she deserves. She worked pretty well in the sketch format and always looked AMAZING. Like all her outfits, her hair, her nails, just so great, yay her. She was also great in The Lovebirds which she also produced.

Carrey's Biden is mean-spirited in a way that doesn't seem warranted and isn't true to what Biden actually does. Like Baldwin's Trump is actually basically just acting out Trump-y stuff for the most part with different words.

I really liked 5 Hr Empathy and ReBay, and it was great to see Aidy for a quick second there, I miss her. Was good to see New Guy in a few sketches being AOK. The show didn't really pop for me but it mostly wasn't awful either. Bieber seemed sincere which was an improvement over his last kinda-weird Big Shoes and Big Mustache appearance. He's not my thing but Chance the Rapper IS, so it was good to see him. And I liked that they didn't end on a musical number.

That bit with Issa and Kyle in the hallway made me laugh. Trump Brothers made me laugh. Bonjour Hi! was stupid and made me laugh. The rest wasn't entirely my thing, though I did kind of enjoy the weird energy on Update with Host and Che kinda of cracking up more than usual.
posted by jessamyn at 9:46 AM on October 19, 2020 [3 favorites]

Finally sticking it to Quebec.

Generally I don't watch SNL, at least not for a long time, but hilariously the Bonjour/hi sketch percolated up to the Canadian media. So as a French Canadian I was obligated to have to watch it.

Yeah the sketch is funny enough I guess, probably written by a Canadian I'm assuming, though Quebecois would be way too cool to care about Drake and plus they have their own Degrassi (which is more an Anglo thing). I'm gonna assume Kate McKinnon has never heard a real Quebecois speak because they don't sound like that (she's doing some kind of Euro French accent I guess? Its all over the place). Its like how Brits always like to do some weird amalgam of 1930s Bronx / Texas / Georgia accent when they do "American". Bowen Yang is at least closer to an actual French Canadian accent, A for effort there. Incidentally, the phrase Bonjour/Hi is a charged issue in Quebec.
posted by Ashwagandha at 12:33 PM on October 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

I wanted Carrey’s Biden to be good, but the manic energy he’s doing is so weirdly wrong, and not even Biden’s detractors see him that way. It’s painful.

Woody Harrelson played him with an absentminded kind of folksiness that’s a much better fit.
posted by mochapickle at 12:46 PM on October 20, 2020

I thought this episode was an improvement over the last two, though that's not really a high bar. The cold open remains unfocused both-sidesing that goes on too long, but other than that everything was at least OK.

The monologue seemed a bit awkward, though considering the titles of her shows listed above I wonder how intentional that is.

Bonjour Hi was fun, though it felt like I was missing some jokes for not having much in the way of Montreal knowledge. I'm also not familiar with Jack Flatts, though I think I get the gist. 5-Hour Empathy is probably going to be the most memorable bit of the night, and one of the few topical bits they've done anytime recently that was actually any good.

Justin Bieber continues to not be my thing.
posted by ckape at 6:19 PM on October 20, 2020

I wanted Carrey’s Biden to be good, but the manic energy he’s doing is so weirdly wrong...

I keep flashing on Carrey's Fireman Bill when he does Biden. It's like he's recycling bits.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:31 AM on October 21, 2020

This was a good turnaround, IIRC from watching it two weeks ago. Issa Rae is wonderful, I remember the sketches having a good mild punch to them, the fauxmercials were toight, and any cameo from Chance is a treat. Even, somehow, I liked born-again-beiber better than louche-mustachioed-beiber.
posted by not_on_display at 5:06 PM on October 30, 2020

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