I wish I could say that Emma Stone triumphantly returned to Saturday Night Live on the night she entered the show’s Five-Timers Club, but this episode fell flat for me.
In no way is that completely Stone’s fault. Besides the “Make Your Own Kind of Music” sketch (which we’ll get to in a bit), the writing on the episode wasn’t the most inspired collection of sketches we’ve seen this season.
I don’t normally chat about SNL’s musical guests in this newsletter beyond them showing up in sketches, but it was very cool to see Noah Kahan on the show. The guy looked like he loved being there, appearing almost giddy at times while performing. He’s having a moment, and it’s always great to see a musical guest soak in the SNL experience.
George Santos Expelled
Will this be the last time we see Bowen Yang as George Santos? With the disgraced congressman getting expelled by Congress this week, Santos can now slip out of the public spotlight — or get a reality show and remain a pop culture fixture for the next sixty to seventy years. (In the real world, Santos was still making people laugh out of Congress.)
- “Scandal in the Wind”: It’s been awhile since we saw a piano performance like this during SNL. After Kate McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton/“Hallelujah” cold open after the 2016 presidential election, the show returned to the bit a few times with Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump. (Nothing as great as the time Ryan Gosling taught us all how he brought jazz back.)
- Wolf’s legacy: I thought this was the first time Sarah Sherman has played Wolf Blitzer, but Popculturology reader/proofreader/my brother, Tim, pointed out that Sherman already joined a long line of SNL castmembers who have portrayed Wolf Blitzer. She follows in the footsteps of people like Chris Parnell, Darrell Hammond, Jason Sudeikis and Beck Bennett.
- Bowen’s showcase: Yang was everywhere this episode. He didn’t give us a reprise of “The Actress,” but he was still a force this episode.
Going into Emma Stone’s episode, there was the question of if we’d get a Five-Timers Club monologue, and if so, how involved would it be. When Justin Timberlake joined the Five-Timers Club a decade ago, he got the full treatment. The set, the former members, the jacket. Would Stone get that level of celebration?
Not quite. Five-Timers Club members Tina Fey and Candice Bergen welcomed Stone into the esteemed collection of SNL hosts. She got the jacket, but that was it.
- Second-hand jacket: Stone’s Five-Timers jacket came complete with marijuana (must be Woody Harrelson’s) and a vaccine card (definitely not Woody Harrelson’s).
- At least it was a real episode: Poor Paul Rudd. When he joined the Five-Timers Club, it was hosting the episode during the Omicron spike when SNL didn’t have an audience or most of its cast.
SKETCH OF THE WEEK
Make Your Own Kind of Music
Like with “Washington’s Dream” in the Nate Bargatze episode, “Make Your Own Kind of Music” could have easily been written for almost any SNL host. The concept is independent of who’s hosting in a given week.
That said, Emma Stone nailed the role of Mitch Lester, the producer who foresaw how “Make Your Own Kind of Music” would be used in the future.
- “Sing this one like a haunted child this time”: I blame The Social Network for this trend.
- See you in another life, brotha: “Make Your Own Kind of Music” is forever associated with the Season 2 premiere of Lost for me.
This may have looked like a standard SNL game show sketch, but the actual joke was the absurdity of how long a tortoise lives (“everyone who studies them dies before they do”) and how wild it would be to be responsible for owning one (“then kill him, tough guy, you won’t”).
- Star of the sketch: SNL loves an animal costar. The tortoise playing Speedy seemed pretty chill.
- A true story: Whoa, Charles Darwin and Steve Irwin owned the same tortoise. (Or, probably not.)
Fully Naked in New York
This one was in the running for sketch of the week, dethroned only after I saw the fantastic “Make Your Own Kind of Music.” I had no idea where this one was going when it began. “With my ass hanging out in the middle of Broadway” is a line that really catches your attention, though.
- Whoops: They forgot to add the fake nudity blur on Chloe Troast at one point.
Tree Lighting Gig
This is a Kenan Thompson recurring character that I always forget exists. (It’s tough living in the shadow of What Up With That?’s Diondre Cole.) It’s been over a year since we’ve seen Trese Henderson but he’s still doing his best to keep his lounge band playing.
- “What are you, a human dumbass?”: This might have been the funniest line of the show.
Please Don’t Destroy: AI
While the concept of using AI to recreate Emma Stone (and using Punkie Johnson as the model to do so) is its own thing, the vibe of this sketch seemed dangerously close to the “At This Point in the Broadcast” recurring bit Seth Meyers does on Late Night. Maybe it was the voiceover or text cards …
What’s in the Kiln?
I actually watched most of this episode as it aired on Saturday night, which despite my previous ability to stay up until 4 a.m., is now an in usual thing for me. Do you guys know how late 1 a.m. is now? Especially when you have a toddler? Going over my notes on Sunday, I had no memory of this sketch beyond remembering that it existed.
- The SNL accent: The accent used by Heidi Gardner and Chloe Fineman reminded me a ton of other classic SNL duo’s like Molly Shannon/Ana Gasteyer and Kate McKinnon/Aidy Bryant.
Weekend Update: Old Fashioned Cigarette on Banning Vapes
Michael Longfellow has stealthily become one of the show’s best Weekend Update guest castmembers. Remember his appearance as David in April?
- Those gloves: The cartoon character three-fingered gloves worn by Longfellow instantly reminded me of the “Omletteville”/“Homelessville” characters that Justin Timberlake used to play when he hosted. I mentioned this briefly earlier, but it’s been over a decade since Timberlake last hosted. Got that Five-Timers Club jacket and was done, I guess.
- Smoking solo: Longfellow’s Old Fashioned Cigarette was the sole Weekend Update guest this week.
If there was one sketch I had to guess we’d see Stone do this episode, it was bringing back her poster girl character. In the past, she’s tempted Pete Davidson, but now it’s Marcello Hernandez playing the character distracted by her enthusiastic-but-not-too-bright model.
- “He ain’t nearly as handsome as he normally was”: We didn’t get much Mikey Day this episode, but his turn as a David Beckham poster gave the show an opening to make an unusually meta joke about Day not looking like Beckham.
Diet Coke by Olay
“I’m not addicted, I just crave it physically” is my philosophy toward Coke Zero.
- No Stone: This pretaped sketch didn’t feature Stone. I gotta wonder if it was prepped before this episode and was on hand to fill any time gaps in an episode.
- Speaking of Coke Zero … I really thought this sketch was going to end with an “also available” for Coke Zero by Olay for Men.
GUEST STAR WATCH
- Tina Fey (“Monologue”)
- Candice Bergen (“Monologue”)
WHO’S HOSTING NEXT?
Adam Driver hosts SNL on Dec. 9 with Olivia Rodrigo as the musical guest.