Saturday Night Live
“Martin Freeman/Charlie XCX”
Season 40, Episode 9
Chad White, Rating: More Brits Please
Cold Open: Ever since SNL stalwarts like Fred Armisen and Kristin Wiig left, younger but equally as capable cast members had to step up to the plate to help refocus the show. Taran Killam, Kenan Thompson, Jay Pharaoh, Cecily Strong, Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon have each had their chances in the spotlight, some more so in the past few weeks. Killam starred as Charlie Rose this week in the cold open as he interviewed Kyle Mooney and Bobby Moynihan (who have also stepped up in various capacities) who portrayed the therapists that were used by the CIA for torture techniques. The jokes were flying as the two played off of each other. Killam’s impression of the host is comical and almost over the top which worked well. All in all, it was a run of the mill cold open that poked fun at our government.
Monologue: Martin Freeman came out strong during his monologue. He was a natural on stage in front of a bunch of slovenly Americans. That’s probably what he thinks of us. There’s no stopping it now. His monologue relied on other famous British people as he said he hangs out with the likes of Kate and Harry, Alan Rickman (Killam) and even Maggie Smith (McKinnon). So all of your suspicions were right: all famous Brits know one another.
Front Nine: A really good holiday sketch led the charge as Thompson starred as “Sump ‘n Claus.” Pete Davison and Jay Pharaoh usher in Thompson as he sings about everybody getting something for Christmas. It’s a decently done music video where Thompson raps about giving white envelopes filled with cash to those who don’t get gifts from Santa. Don’t ask where he gets the money.
Next, there’s an “Oxford and WNBA Wedding.” Freeman is about to marry Leslie Jones and everybody has something negative to say about the union. Firstly, the two only met days ago. Second, they’re essentially opposite of each other. That’s a theme that is brought up in jokes. Kenan, Aidy, Kate and Vanessa Bayer are among those that disagree with the marriage. Taran appears as an ER doctor that informs everyone that Freeman’s penis is severely disfigured due to the couple’s sex. And Cecily stops by as one of Leslie’s teammates in a mannish manner. It’s an outlandish, somewhat random yet still grounded sketch that worked endlessly to get the laugh. And it got it.
A made-for-publicity sketch came next in the form of “The Office: Middle Earth.” Freeman, of course, was the hobbit/Tim. Bobby took the reins of David Brent/Gandalf, Taran is Gollum/Gareth, Kate as Dawn/Tauriel, and Kyle as Legolas. It is well crafted and smartly edited. Bobby’s role is expertly played as he takes both the awkward and leadership route. It’s a real shame this doesn’t exist because I would totally watch it.
“Right Side of the Bed,” a sketch about a couple (Taran and Cecily) host a midday talk show. Taran plays an obviously gay man and does so wonderfully. Freeman is their special guest that they continuously throw to and he’s never ready. And Kate appears as Keith Urban. Like the Oxford/WNBA wedding sketch from earlier, it’s a bunch of random jokes that work.
Finally, “St. Josephs Christmas Mass Spectacular” was the run of the mill, fish eye lens-laden promo for a church’s holiday service. It was fun for a while but got annoying. However, the cast cameos as common parishioners of the church worked very well. It just confirmed that the first half of this episode was excellent all around.
Weekend Update: It was a night of new or maybe one off characters in tonight’s WU. Sasheer Zamata came to talk to Colin and Michael about diversity in technology. Cecily came on as One Dimensional Character from a Male Driven Comedy. You know those types of girls. They have no characterization and are generally there as the second option for the protagonist. But they’re good at what they do. Cecily’s character was very much like the one Vanessa played earlier this season. Let’s hope that these two return sometime soon in the same WU together. Finally, Bayer’s Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy returned just as funny as ever.
Back Nine: Freeman took a very dimwitted Killam around a “Ketchup Assembly Line.” Killam just doesn’t get it. The entire thing is like a backwards I Love Lucy bit. Freeman displays a good American accent that should be taken in short spurts.
A weird sketch taking place at “Pine River Lodge” where Kenan, Freeman and Kyle entertain guests at a holiday gig is the penultimate sketch. Kenan lets it slip that he’s staying with Freeman, who has a big problem with a guy named Roman. The audience, consisting of Beck Bennett and Vanessa, is just as entranced with Freeman and Roman. Kenan sings a stupid song too. It’s a strange thing but this sketch comes together somehow.
The final sketch of the evening was a commercial for “Waterbed Warehouse.” Freeman was the owner that constantly introduced his wife played by Aidy. She performed the jingle that just became absurd at points. She was essentially the mascot which worked perfectly.
This week, the show let the host dominate the sketches. Moreover, they let things get super weird. That’s one of the best things to happen to this show this season. SNL is finally finding its groove.