“Saturday Night Live ”recap: Fired Shane Gillis returns for interesting, if not always successful episode

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Gillis wasted no time in addressing his history with the show.

Sometimes I think back to the classic conclusion to season 34, when Will Ferrell and a host of other celebrities and SNL legends sang “Goodnight Saigon.” What if that were the unofficial, final end to SNL proper? What if the subsequent seasons exist in some sort of pop culture fugue state, like the final stretch of Roseanne, or Dallas’ “Dream Year”, or — hell — season 11?

That would explain the recent discourse around the show, wouldn’t it? Tonight’s host - Shane Gillis - is an infamous name in show lore. Here’s what I said back in 2019 in this very column:

…this Shane Gillis affair, more than anything, raises questions around SNL’s vetting policies and, honestly, how their communications team preps for new cast member rollouts. Granted it’s NBC, and SNL is likely accustomed to positive press, but the swift backlash to Gillis signals there must be more strategy when unveiling news moving forward. Hell, I was able to uncover Gillis’ interview on Louis CK and Trump hours before Seth Simons broke the dam with the infamous podcast clips. All it took was brief research on Google. They’ve got to prepare a bio, clips, and conduct a thorough SEO audit for cast members (wearing my strategic comms hat, clearly) and not lean into so many punches. New world order.

I was right! Clearly, the show has invited these divisive takes by bringing Gillis — who has become one of the country’s biggest stand-up and podcast comedians — on to host. So, Conehead nation, it’s time for SNL in Review. Will tonight be a total misfire, a thunderbolt of controversy, or merely mediocre? Let’s see!

<p>Rosalind O'Connor/NBC</p> 21 Savage, Shane Gillis, and Kenan Thompson on 'SNL'

Rosalind O'Connor/NBC

21 Savage, Shane Gillis, and Kenan Thompson on 'SNL'

Cold Open

It’s a classic DC lounge for politicians. Marco Rubio (Hernandez) is chatting with Tim Scott (Walker) and Lindsey Graham (Johnson) about their personal disdain for Donald Trump and misgivings over his control of the GOP — yet they have all endorsed him. “We all agree, Trump is great,” said Mikey Day.

Johnson’s Graham and Scott’s Walker remain funny — for different reasons. Two different style of impressions. Graham consoles Walker like we’re in Good Will Hunting: “It’s not your fault.”

This cold open about the compromises these Republican politicians have embraced, and how they live with themselves, isn’t bad. It’s self-contained, has a real political POV and is well-executed.

Former cast member Victoria Jackson says, “Marcello is adorable. He looks like my Cuban high school boyfriend Angel Otero.”


“Yeah. I’m here.” He talks about his true calling in life — not being a cast member on the show, or the host, but a high school football coach and 9th grade sex education teacher. His parents are in attendance.

He talks about having family members with Down syndrome and being nervous. Eventually he gets a few good laughs from the crowd, but they seem a little on edge.

Former cast member Patrick Weathers calls Gillis “disarming.” He adds: “I asked the young man at the checkout at the grocery if he knew him. He loves him, finds him very funny and mentioned the whole downs schtick. And that's what we just got!”

Victoria Jackson agrees: "Shane's monologue, like his stand-up, was refreshingly politically incorrect."

"Church on Vacation"

“Church is church no matter where you are,” professes a dad (Gillis) on vacation with his family in Jamaica. They are Catholic, they get church in no matter where they are in the world.

Of course, the family is very out of place — even with the dad painfully adopting the local accent. Nice showcase for Ego Nwodim here.

Victoria Jackson says, “Well, that's a first. I just heard the gospel — the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus — in an SNL sketch! Awesome.”

"Rock Bottom Kings"

Here’s a spoof of Fan Duel commercials — gambling is super fun, but degenerative gambling is no joke. With Rock Bottom Kings you can make a parlay about your addict friend’s despair.

The ads are always full of cash, gold, riches. So, this pokes fun at that — the gloss and the misery of modern sports gambling.

"HR Meeting"

Shane Gillis wants to ask out some of his coworkers, even though company policy frowns upon it. He banks Carly’s "yes" (Nwodim). None of the coworkers get it, and Marcello has a funny punchline at the end.

Weathers is a fan of this sketch. Jackson says "very funny."

"White Men Can Trump"

It’s a magical sneaker movie for white people. Jordan Dwyer is terrible at basketball. He is gifted those Trump sneakers that were peddled at Sneaker Con in Philadelphia this week. From Newsmax and the makers of Like Mike.

Gillis’ “Trump was great!” says Weathers. Yes, and fun to see him against JAJ's Trump.

"The Floor"

Michael Longfellow does a commendable Rob Lowe here, hosting The Floor.

Gillis plays the kind of role here that Louis CK would have in a different era. He is too self-conscious (or ignorant) to answer questions about prominent Black Americans accurately. (Well, besides Cleveland from Family Guy — a great joke!)

Mid-show assessment: Victoria Jackson says these are all funny! 

21 Savage performs "redrum"

We start out in Portuguese and strings! This Stephen King ode was produced and co-written by London on da Track and samples vocals from Brazilian songstress Elza Laranjeira's "Serenata do Adeus." The dancers here are out of Black Swan.

Here is the music video.

Weekend Update

Colin Jost compares Trump to Bane. And away we go.

The Alabama Supreme Court has ruled that frozen embryos created and stored for in-vitro fertilization (IVF) are children under a state law allowing parents to sue for wrongful death of their minor children. A frozen embryo from Alabama (Marcello Hernandez) comes on to discuss Vanderpump Rules’ Tom Sandoval. He is not fully formed — he does not have a heart or mouth! Like Jost, he is just a talentless white blob.

Next week is the start of Women’s History Month. Truman Capote (Bowen Yang) comes on to discuss. There’s a Feud show on FX about his infamous swan squad. Capote was supposed to host back in season 2! John Belushi used to play him back in the day, with Darrell Hammond portraying the author in a play a few years back. Yang’s Capote asking if Jost was Anderson Cooper was the highlight for me here.

Patrick Weathers thinks the "Capote sketch sucked on every level."

"Greenbow High High School Reunion"

It’s 1985 and Ricky (Gillis) is back with his high school buddies — he runs the third best nightclub in Tallahassee. He once did cocaine with Danny DeVito!

He looks over and sees his old classmate, Forrest Gump (Day). He used to chase Forrest in his truck and is totally unaware of his Gump’s many iconic accomplishments. Pretty funny!

Of course former SNL cast member Siobhan Fallon Hogan was in Forrest Gump!

Patrick Weathers says: “Gillis has a John Candy quality. and that's about the best quality you can have in sketch comedy. They should have had Forrest stand on an apple crate. He looked and sounded more like Lee Harvey Oswald. If they are going to portray Southern icons, both dead and never-really-were alive, they should at least give them Southern qualities. Like an accent. Maybe they're afraid Alabama will accuse them of cultural appropriation.”

"Sex Doll"

Fugliana (Sarah Sherman) is the average looking sex doll for below average looking men. Shane Gillis would get intimidated with his other, more beautiful dolls. Really fun work by Sherman! “Cuz you busted!”

I always think about when SNL would do those Best Of tapes, and how offbeat work like Fugliana would be an easy addition to Sherman’s collection!

21 savage performs "prove it"

"Prove It" is a song from 21’s third studio album American Dream. It was produced by ibmixing, Coupe and Tye Beats and contains a sample of "You Are My Joy (Interlude)" by Faith Evans. Summer Walker pops up.


A group of friends warn against using modern technology — your computer is always listening to target ads in your email! Brent (Gillis) is not convinced. He checks his email — there’s an ad about buying a Green Bay Packers sex toy. Uh oh.

I like the Constance Wu jokes! Silly payoff.

Final Thoughts

—Thank you to Victoria Jackson for her fun thoughts on tonight’s show!

—Thank you to Patrick Weathers! Check out his new song “Rhythm & Blues” ASAP! Weathers said Gillis was "fine hosting the show. It reminds me of the Jerry's Kids days… Some of the best sketches all season. Best since Chappelle.” He adds: “Del Close taught me a comedy exercise where you think of something funny and keep it to yourself. Even though the lines may not be that funny. If you appear amused when you're delivering them or in between the lines, your audience may be drawn in, intrigued and amused, too. Because you have a funny secret. Gillis seems to be a master at it.” Yes!

—Well, what did you think? Vote here!

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