Deep SNL Thoughts: Travis Kelce knocks out ‘Please Don’t Destroy’
Thanks to the talented ‘SNL’ cast (and a trip to the American Girl Café), the Kansas City Chiefs tight end delivers a solid hosting gig.
I did it. I watched the Travis Kelce episode of Saturday Night Live. As a lifelong Buffalo Bills fan, I’ve more than seen enough of Kelce and his fellow Kansas City Chiefs during the NFL playoffs. Voluntarily watching him for an entire episode of SNL seemed like a bridge too far, but I’m committed to this “I watch SNL” bit, so here we are.
Kelce was a decent host. My expectations weren’t very high going into the episode, because besides maybe Peyton Manning, the bar for athletes hosting SNL is usually pretty low. Kelce’s strongest moments in this episode were during the pretapes like the latest Please Don’t Destroy sketch and “Straight Male Friend.” The show often relegated him to a background role, surrounding him with the show’s actual cast. And Heidi Gardner. Very often Heidi Gardner. I assume the Chiefs fan saw to it that she was in as many sketches as possible with Kelce.
Fox & Friends Cold Open: Dominion Lawsuit
SNL has been poking fun at Fox & Friends for so long, I remember back when Bobby Moynihan was playing Brian Kilmeade years before Bowen Yang joined the show. (Hey, they don’t run the list of things Fox & Friends got wrong at the end of these segments anymore, do they?)
James Austin Johnson does a solid Mike Lindell, but it’s hard to beat Seth Meyers’ impression of the MyPillow salesman.
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Kelce was noticeably nervous during his monologue. He played with his ring a ton, but still landed some good jokes including his impression of teammate Patrick Mahomes (who sounds like Kermit the Frog) and a solid shot a Peacock for refusing to carry his ill-fated reality show.
Kelce’s family made an appearance during the monologue, including his brother Jason, who plays for the Philadelphia Eagles and who Travis and the Chiefs beat in the Super Bowl.
Please Don’t Destroy: Self-Defense
These Please Don’t Destroy sketches are finally getting the showcase they deserve on SNL. For awhile, it seemed like they were getting buried later in the episodes — or even sent online instead of being aired. The past two episodes of SNL, though, have featured Please Don’t Destroy sketches very early on in the night.
I’m going to start doing my best to learn these guys’ names. Ben Marshall, John Higgins and Martin Herlihy. If I could learn the names of the members of The Lonely Island, I can do this too.
This sketch was clicking on every level. Like I said before, Kelce’s strongest moments in this show were during the pretaped bits. Seeing him as Kurt Lightning, a violent self-defense mentor, was the highlight of his work on SNL. Just enough menace to sell the role.
“You punched my friend, and I’m worried he’s dead.”
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American Girl Café
This didn’t make the cut for my sketch of the work, but “American Girl Café” was Kelce’s best work in a live sketch. The show was smart to put it so early in the episode.
This sketch managed to walk the balance of “is this guy actually a creep?” for the first part of it, with Mikey Day’s waiter and Gardner’s manager repeatedly trying to figure out if Kelce’s character was on any kind of registry or aroused by being in the American Girl Café, before flipping over to “this guy probably shouldn’t be talking about one of his dolls being on the pill” by the end of it.
Feels like the American Girl Café should serve 64 oz. steaks.
For a lot of the rest of the sketches, Kelce did his best to keep up with the cast, but there were times he was a bit stumbly or you could see him reading the cue cards. Not the end of the world.
Despite barely having to move in this sketch, Ego Nwodim stole the show thanks to her perfect portrayal of a dead woman on display for her memorial service.
Straight Male Friend
I can confirm that straight men love to get wings and will be sucked in by any “I bet I’m faster than you” challenge. That challenge is especially effective after getting wings (provided those wings were accompanied by several beers).
Abby the Ex-Girlfriend
SNL loves a good sight gag that involves some kind of tubing. Vomit. Blood. Tears. The show has perfected the art of finding ways to propel liquids from castmembers.
Gardner got that honor in this sketch, playing an ex-girlfriend who can’t stop crying as she learns how well her former boyfriend (they went on one to three dates in 2019) is doing with his new fiancé
Weekend Update: Dilbert on Scott Adams’ Racist Rant
With the four words “my hair is skin,” Michael Longfellow delivered one of the most unsettling characters in SNL history. The rookie brought Dilbert to life, allowing him to chat with Michael Che about his creator Scott Adams’ racist video and subsequent downfall.
“Race war’s coming,” Longfellow’s Dilbert remarks as he tells Che how much he’s learned. “You ready, Michael?”
Weekend Update: Punkie Johnson and Mikey Day on Their 2023 Oscar Predictions
Did Abbott Elementary do this bit first? (Sheryl Lee Ralph’s Barbara notoriously mixes up celebrity names.) Or is it too generic of a bit for any one show to claim credit for?
Regardless, it was fun to see Day and Punkie Johnson together as themselves, with Day claiming each celebrity mixup they brought up actually happened.
Weekend Update: Sarah’s News (Birthday Edition)
Is Sarah Sherman the weirdest person to ever be part of SNL’s cast? She effortlessly plays moms and girlfriends, but has another gear when the show allows her to do something like “Meatballs” or the recurring “Sarah’s News” bits during Weekend Update.
Colin Jost continues to be an excellent foil for Sherman.
Loved this sketch and wish it had aired earlier in the show. Nwodim and Johnson killed as an older couple telling their adult children through song that they had opened up their marriage to another man.
“I’m cool with it, and I watch. I watch from the corner,” Johnson repeatedly sang.
For this sketch, all Kelce had to do was sit in a chair and pretend to play Streets of Rage 2 on what appeared to be a Sega Game Gear.
Garrett from Hinge
Great showpiece for Yang. The visual of him sporting a bowl cut while wearing a Stewie Griffin shirt made every other thing he did during the sketch bizarre. The added character wrinkle of Yang repeatedly talking himself out of killing Gardner and Kelce’s characters — he even brought poison! — was pretty great.
This might also be the first time in SNL history where we had back-to-back sketches that mentioned throuples.
Too Hot to Handle
Was that Chloe Fineman or Kate McKinnon playing Glenn? I don’t know if it was the character herself or Fineman’s performance, but I got flashbacks to McKinnon’s glory years of playing stone-cold weirdos on SNL.
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Jason Kelce (“Monologue,” “Abby the Ex-Girlfriend”)
Jenna Ortega hosts SNL on March 11 with The 1975 as the musical guest.
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