In anticipating the end of the 40th season of “Saturday Night Live,” you would think that maybe some cameos and special guests were in order to close it out. But we got all that out of the way with the wonderful 40th anniversary special in February, which means the cast and host Louis C.K. were allowed to shine without any gimmicks or crutches. This was more than a solid episode, with only one bad sketch, and more than a few great moments. There wasn’t much pomp and circumstance to end this landmark season, but I think that’s for the best. So let’s see how the sketches played out.
This is How I Talk – First of all, Louis C.K. doing an exaggerated version of excitable Leslie Jones is hilarious by itself. But for me, the funniest part of this sketch is that this guy keeps up this schtick for five years. This was so funny that Jones even broke briefly, which is a rarity for her.
Forgotten TV Gems: Whoops! I Married a Lesbian – The Kenan Thompson introduction and interludes in this recurring sketch are always reliable, but the “forgotten” show that he’s recapping also had some great laughs. In a way, this felt like a prequel to Dyke & Fats, which was a pre-recorded sketch with Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant that aired when Louis C.K. hosted for the first time a couple years ago.
The Shoemaker and the Elves – Maybe it’s just because Louis C.K. is the perfect everyman that hearing him put on an unusual voice is just that much funnier. It’s so ridiculous that sometimes you can see Louis C.K. processing just how silly he sounds. There was some impressive timing here with the spankings being dished, not to mention that the green screen effect itself was very well done. Just a very funny, well-crafted sketch.
Police Line-Up – This is a fantastic premise, but it never really takes off or gets to the hilarious place I feel like it could have. Beck Bennett and Kyle Mooney were the best parts. Of course, Kenan Thompson had some more of his trademark, hilarious, loud-volume lines too. I’m sure Pete Davidson loves standing there the whole time with almost nothing to do.
Summertime – This sketch is more admirable and charming than it is funny. Kate McKinnon’s version of Hillary Clinton is so wild-eyed and crazy that it’s sometimes uncomfortable and too weird, but she’s still great. It was very cute to see the entire cast together at the end doing the musical version of “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!”
Cabana – The first time this scenario played out when Dwayne Johnson hosted back in March, it was pretty amusing. However, it was just a mess this time. Maybe it’s because Louis C.K. lost his character’s voice almost immediately. Or maybe Cecily Strong’s character is what should be recurring and not the entirety of the original sketch. Either way, if this trashy British girlfriend comes back, the sketch needs to be better.
Wood PSAs – I feel like if there were one or two more of these throughout the night, it might have ended up being collectively funnier. But otherwise, these were more weird than funny to me.
Michael Che and Colin Jost had some great interactions to end this 40th season, and it would be great if over the summer they spent the time trying to figure out how to do it more. We know the chemistry is there, but they need to bring it out more. Otherwise, Jost’s Apple Watch joke cracked me up.
Tom Brady – Taran Killam doesn’t do anything particularly special with his Tom Brady, but then again, Tom Brady isn’t particularly special, so it works. This was a pretty funny way to deal with the conclusion of Deflategate, and it allowed Colin Jost to have some fun. He really needs to come out of his shell more.
Pete Davidson on Turning 21 – It’s pretty impressive that at 21 years old, Pete Davidson recurred more than a few times in his first season, as himself, on Weekend Update. He’s becoming an Adam Sandler type, but smarter and without the musical silliness. It remains to be seen if he can make a bigger impression on “SNL,” but there’s no denying that he’s funny as hell.
Riblet Interrupts Cut Jokes – There’s a part of me that wishes Jost and Che would have just done a bunch of cut Weekend Update jokes to end the season, but bringing back Riblet is also a welcome segment. This is such a weird character to be recurring, but Bobby Moynihan’s attitude makes it work so well. Maybe he really will steal Che’s jorb.
When you have a stand-up comedian on “SNL,” you know the monologue is going to be top notch, because it’s just their stage material. And this instance was no exception. Louis C.K. did some pretty edgy material that is probably going to prompt some people to complain online, but this set was fantastic and laugh out loud funny throughout. As far as seeing Louis C.K. in sketches, we’re so used to seeing him as a version of himself that the characters he plays always seem more weird than they otherwise might be. But he throws himself into the sketches and has fun, even if he can’t maintain the right voice all the time. He’ll be in the Five-Timers Club in no time.
The entire cast of “Saturday Night Live” deserves a round of applause to end this milestone season. After having to contend with a huge influx of new names, this cast has really come into their own with signature characters, some bold material, and they’re really on their way to having some major stars blossom out of the cast. Taran Killam and Kate McKinnon are at the top of their game, Kyle Mooney and Beck Bennett make a great duo, Kenan Thompson is still going strong, and Bobby Moynihan is a favorite of mine for sure. It’s always great when “SNL” begins to find their footing after a couple challenging years.
The Final Word
Like any season of “Saturday Night Live,” this one had its ups and downs. This particular season had the added struggle of having to put together a massive 40th anniversary show in the middle of the season, which resulted in some missteps when the show got back to normal.
But it was always exactly what “Saturday Night Live,” is supposed to be: a snapshot of pop culture and comedy in the period in which it’s created. As several people from the show have said, “The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready. The show goes on because it’s 11:30.” Sometimes the show has bad sketches, and sometimes it has mind-blowing, hilarious pieces. The ups and downs are what make this show so fun, and sometimes difficult, to watch. “SNL” is undeniably unique and special, and there will never be another show like it. So even when there are bad episodes, its existence is impressive on its own.
That’s all for this season of “Saturday Night Live.” We’ll see you in the fall.
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