Ayo Edebiri fights drugs on campus, confronts Nikki Haley while hosting ‘SNL’

‘The Bear’ star made her hosting debut, playing a variety of weirdos.

Ayo Edebiri fights drugs on campus, confronts Nikki Haley while hosting ‘SNL’
Ayo Edebiri and Marcello Hernandez during Saturday Night Live. / NBC

This week’s Saturday Night Live couldn’t have felt any more different than last week’s episode. If you watch SNL because you want to see the host and cast shine (as opposed to watching Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon hijack an episode), Ayo Edebiri’s first time hosting was right up your alley.

I’m not sure if it was Edebiri herself, SNL’s writers or (most likely) a combination of the two, but this episode felt slightly off kilter in the best way. Edebiri’s characters had weird quirks. They spoke in ways that weren’t exactly normal. They wanted to start new society in elevators, keep their friends off mushrooms and make it clear that they did not give their consent to be hypnotized.

As a standup comedian herself, Edebiri never seemed out of place on the SNL stage. She fully committed to each sketch, never appeared to be reliant on the cue cards and effortlessly synced up with the show’s cast.

• • •

Before we jump into this episode, SNL announced on Saturday that Shane Gillis will host the show in a few weeks — a stunning pick to host when you remember that Gillis was fired from SNL just days after the announcement that he had been hired.

“We were not aware of his prior remarks that have surfaced over the past few days,” SNL said in a statement in 2019 after podcasts where Gillis used racist and homophobic language were discovered. “The language he used is offensive, hurtful and unacceptable. We are sorry that we did not see these clips earlier, and that our vetting process was not up to our standard.”

The only thing that’s changed between 2019 and 2024 is that Gillis is now famous. I guess for Lorne Michaels, when you’re famous, your past words and actions are no longer problematic. (I mean, we saw this with Dave Chappelle last weekend.)

I’ve seen fans of Gillis gleefully comparing him hosting SNL to Norm Macdonald hosting after the show fired him. Macdonald was not only a legendary figure in the world of comedy but he was actually an SNL castmember. Gillis is neither of those things.

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CNN Town Hall South Carolina

SNL went political for its cold open this episode, taking us to a CNN town hall with Donald Trump. If you heard one thing about this episode, it’s probably that Nikki Haley showed up during it. SNL having candidates for the White House cameo isn’t a new thing (hey, they even let one host a few years ago …), but this one does feel weird. Does it feel like a bit of a therapy session for Haley? You know, a chance to say to the fake Trump the things she only recently started saying about him in real life?

  • “Do you think it starts with an ‘s’ and ends with a ‘lavery’?” What I’m more curious about is how Ayo Edebiri wound up in the cold open. Hosts don’t usually have a role in an episode’s opener. Did she request the opportunity to ask Haley about her infamous slavery flub? Or did the show’s writers craft that moment with Edebiri in mind?
  • “They want a convicted criminal. Someone they can trust to get the crimes done right.” I think we get James Austin Johnson’s portrayal of Trump every two or three episodes this season. It’s always a welcome appearance on SNL. (Johnson’s command of how Trump flows from one topic to the next is masterful.)
  • “I look at you and think, is that Hot Lincoln?” Every time I think we’ve seen the last of Devon Walker’s take on Tim Scott, SNL finds a new way to bring it back.


After appearing in the cold open, Ayo Edebiri got her moment to fully introduce herself to SNL’s audience. If you’re like me, you absolutely know who she is. The Bear. Big Mouth. Her Irish heritage. But I understand that a lot of people might not know who she is, and I think Edebiri did a solid job here establishing her connection to the comedy world.