It’s the viral phenomenon that gets picked apart on social media, where you throw out random words and see what gets a response — but first, the “Saturday Night Live” opening sketch.
This weekend’s broadcast, hosted by the “S.N.L.” alumnus Will Forte and featuring the musical guest Måneskin, began with a parody of the Fox News program “The Ingraham Angle,” with Kate McKinnon as its host, Laura Ingraham.
She lamented the first year of the Biden administration, which she said had been a disaster, citing rising inflation, high gas prices and the green M&M’s getting canceled. She added that the nation “is still mourning from the sudden loss of America’s dad, Robert Durst.”
McKinnon introduced her first guest, Senator Ted Cruz, played by Aidy Bryant. Bryant explained that her beard was “like Jan. 6: shocking at first, but sadly it’s been normalized.”
Bryant’s Cruz went on to deliver a warning to her constituents in Texas: “February’s going to be a cold one, so you might want to book your vacay to Cancún now,” she said. “Live más, everybody.”
After offering shout-outs to her remaining sponsors (including Covid Negs, “the Covid test that’s guaranteed to be negative, even if you have it”), McKinnon brought out Pete Davidson as Novak Djokovic, the unvaccinated tennis star who was recently deported from Australia.
“People love to tear you off your pedestal, just because you’re really rich or you’re the best at tennis or you go to a charity event with 200 kids even though you’re dripping with Covid,” Davidson said.
Ego Nwodim appeared as the conservative commentator Candace Owens (“It’s my greatest honor to continue to fight for African Americans,” she said, “no matter how many times they ask me to stop”), followed by James Austin Johnson in his recurring role as former president Donald J. Trump.
“I’m back just like ‘Tiger King 2,’” Johnson said. “You had fun the first time, but now you’re like, how are more people from this not in jail yet?”
This time, his Trump-style free associations were accompanied by a round of Wordle, the popular online word game (as well as a boast that he would beat Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida if he opposed him for the presidential nomination). After rambling about the booster shot, John Mayer, Hilary Duff and Jason Momoa, Johnson landed at the correct Wordle answer which turned out to be — what else? — Trump.
Opening monologue of the week
Forte, who was a “Saturday Night Live” cast member from 2002 to 2010, made his first appearance as a host this weekend. And to hear him tell it, he was not at all bitter that he finally got to do it after hosting duties had previously been handled by his fellow alums Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Andy Samberg and Fred Armisen. (Then Wiig again, then Hader again, as well as Jason Sudeikis, Seth Meyers and John Mulaney four times.)
But Forte didn’t exactly welcome an onstage appearance from Wiig. (“I flew in for this,” she explained as he shooed her away. “Oh, great, so you know where the airport is,” he replied.) Nor was he pleased to see next week’s host, Willem Dafoe, in the house when the “S.N.L.” boss Lorne Michaels claimed that Forte’s booking had been a mistake: “I texted Willem and, you know, autocorrect,” Michaels said.
MacGruber of the week
C’mon, you didn’t think you would get a Forte-hosted episode without a return appearance (or three) from MacGruber, the hapless MacGyver wannabe he originated on “S.N.L.”?
It’s been more than a decade since Forte last played MacGruber in an “S.N.L.” sketch (though the character went on to have his own movie and a streaming TV series). But rest assured that MacGruber is still an overconfident blowhard who finds himself trapped in rooms with ticking time bombs that spell his imminent demise.
Oh, and now he’s an unrepentant conspiracy theorist and anti-vaxxer. Did we mention he was joined by Wiig and Ryan Phillippe, and he also believes in QAnon?
Weekend Update jokes of the week
Over at the Weekend Update desk, the anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che continued to riff on President Biden’s recent news conference and the Senate’s defeat of a voting-rights bill.
President Biden marked the end of his first year in office with a two-hour press conference. Because that’s how long it took to list everything that’s gone wrong. It was actually the longest presidential press conference in history. But as I’ve been told many times before, just because you went for a long time doesn’t mean you did a good job.
Senate Republicans lined up to shake Kyrsten Sinema’s hand after she voted against changing the filibuster to pass voting rights. Ah, the U.S. Senate. Keeping Black folks down with a quiet handshake since 1787. Senator Bernie Sanders suggested that he supports replacing fellow Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. Damn, Bernie, stab your own co-workers in the back? That’s unforgivable. I would never suggest Colin should be fired, no matter how much better I think Bowen would be. [The screen shows an image of Che anchoring Weekend Update with his “S.N.L.” co-star Bowen Yang]
Most important news development of the week
What started as a not-so-innocent visit to the Weekend Update desk by Alex Moffat as his recurring character Guy Who Just Bought a Boat turned into a timely opportunity to roast Jost about this week’s news that he and Davidson were among the investors who won an auction for a decommissioned Staten Island Ferry boat.
Joining Jost and Moffat at the desk, Davidson declared in a deeply chagrined tone, “We bought a ferry — the windowless van of the sea.”
Jost replied: “Yes, it’s very exciting. We thought the whole thing through.”
To which Davidson added, in disbelief: “Even the mayor tweeted about it. Which is how I found out we have a new mayor? What happened to Bloomberg?”