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Saturday Night Live recap: Former SNL cast member Will Forte returns to Studio 8H for the first time as host

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Tim Calhoun. The Falconer. MacGruber. Tonight's host is Will Forte, one of the most idiosyncratic and offbeat cast members in the history of Saturday Night Live. Like Jason Sudeikis — who returned to the show back in October — this is Forte's first time as host, though he has cameoed several times since leaving 8H officially back in 2010.

Having distinguished alumni return to host is always special and heartwarming, particularly on a cold night like tonight. There have been murmurings about whether the show is challenged this season getting hosts due to COVID, but in Forte's case, it's all in the family; his SNL spin-off character MacGruber just launched his new show on Peacock.

Will Forte SNL
Will Forte SNL

Saturday Night Live/Youtube Will Forte hosts 'Saturday Night Live'

As always, I am joined tonight by a former SNL cast member, who will share insights on the episode. Jeff Richards was on the show when Forte joined as a cast member back in 2002, and calls him "well adjusted."

"It was like meeting a young Don Johnson. You simply don't know how to behave," jokes Richards about his first interactions with the future Last Man on Earth star. Forte's musical guest is Måneskin, the Italian rock band that won the Eurovision Song Contest 2021 with the song "Zitti e buoni."

Whether you're warming up from the frigid standby line barricades with a hot cup of cocoa, or are a refugee from the AV Club's own coverage of the show, welcome. It's SNL in Review time.

Cold Open

Kate McKinnon has the ball for this cold open — she is playing Laura Ingraham again. "The green M&M is canceled just for being a whore," she whines.

Curiously, she calls out Morgan Wallen being canceled — when, of course, SNL had a role in that whole saga! Having it both ways, gang.

Laura welcomes a bearded Aidy Bryant as Senator Ted Cruz. Sniveling as always. "Hit me," Cruz pleads. He just wants to remain in the mix. Bryant playing off McKinnon has that timeless 2015 vibe, doesn't it folks? I wish they just wouldn't here.

Tennis star, and anti-vaxxer, Novak Djokovic (Pete Davidson) is up next to lament his deportation from Australia. The show loves to challenge Davidson's abilities as a performer, no? Next up: Ego Nwodim is Candace Owens, who is misquoting MLK.

And, finally, James Austin Johnson brings back his Trump impression. He brings out his Wordle: Boost, John Mayer, How I Met Your Father ("We love Duff!"), Jason Momoa, Prada. Impeccable work, if a little rushed. Lots of pop culture references, if you enjoy that type of thing.

Monologue

Forte is back! He immediately references his cast — and how they have all returned to host, except him. He, along with current cast member Kenan Thompson, was on the show during its third golden age. It is good to have his energy back in the studio. He's totally "not bitter" about folks like Seth Meyers and John Mulaney getting to host before him. "It's finally my turn!"

And, on cue, Kristen Wiig arrives. I think we all knew this was coming. "Back to North Korea," she says. "It was really hard to get out." Her applause was bigger than his. (Previously, he appeared in her monologue when she hosted.) A little lukewarm so far but this certainly works with Forte's petty persona.

He begins to get serious, but the music starts to play him off. He opts to take a question from the audience — and Lorne Michaels tells him there has been a mistake. Willem Dafoe stands next to him — convinced he is actually tonight's host. (FWIW, Jeff Richards has the best Willem Dafoe impression in the business.) Always fun to see Lorne in sketches.

MacGruber

Ryan Phillippe (who hosted SNL on April 17, 2010) joins Wiig and Forte — COVID has really changed the game. MacGruber asks for their masks, as part of his escape plan. He's "freeing them from tyranny." MacGruber, of course, is anti-vax. They squabble, hijinks ensue.

"MacGruber is easily one of the best action-comedy spoofs of all time, absolute tour-de-force and perfectly deranged performance by Forte," shares Richards, who attended the film premiere.

Kid Klash

A Double Dare spoof – Mark Zazz (Forte) announces the rules, and welcomes this week's contestant. This would be at home on 'Saturday Morning All Star Hits!' which Kyle Mooney recently did on Netflix. '90s nostalgia galore. The grand prize? Pizza for life.

Tatum (Bryant) is swimming around a giant pie of cream, looking for a flag. This is, alas, how these shows functioned. "The cream is pretty thick." She can't locate the flag — she finds a medallion though! Zazz, however, isn't through with her — he isn't a fan of quitters, and insists she see this through. He's teaching her a grim lesson about life and "her unfulfilled potential."

MacGruber (again!)

"He's following the science!" But he has a huge hole in his mask. Turns out, MacGruber has COVID... and horse worms and herpes and syphilis. And a bunch of spaghetti. Clearly, MacGruber has been listening to a lot of Joe Rogan — an alt-right misinformation rabbit hole.

Cinema Classics

Reese De'What (Thompson) is back — ugh. He has been presenting classic cinema and television since season 39. This is the first segment since last season's Mulaney spoof with The Birds. Tonight, it's Gaslight. A teenage Angela Lansbury (Chloe Fineman) serves her a pineapple and tells her it's a steak. These have long since hit their expiration date. No thanks.

Threesome

It's a high class night at the Radisson. A married couple (Mikey Day, Heidi Gardner) hire "an experienced third" for her birthday. Forte is the third — and he is, naturally, off-putting. "It's a three-way, not a Me way," he says, popping three Cialis. He's sweaty, unbuttoned shirt, jewels. Day (AKA Taint) is reluctant, while Gardner is game. Hijinx!

Måneskin - "Beggin'"

This is a classic, first popularized by the band the Four Seasons in 1967. In fact, Måneskin first released this way back in 2017! And this version largely follows the structure of the Madcon cover, including the rap verse. It's kind of funky.

Jeff Richards shares: "I went to bed listening to this song and woke up at a 7/11 bathroom covered in candy necklaces."

Weekend Update

Colin Jost, who just bought a historic Staten Island ferry with Davidson, starts off talking about President Biden's press conference and Donald Trump. Michael Che suggests replacing Jost with Bowen Yang. Speaking of Yang, Chen Biao — the Chinese Trade Minister — is back! He's discussing the upcoming Winter Olympics, despite NBC not sending correspondents. (I like his jab at The Wire season 2 being the worst.) Biao first appeared during the Phoebe Waller-Bridge episode in season 45 — this is his fifth appearance, but his first since the Chris Rock season premiere in 2020. "Father, Son, House of Daddy," he concludes, wearing Lady Gaga's ski goggles from House of Gucci.

It is cold, as mentioned. "Underpaid rookie" Sarah Sherman shows up to discuss the cold. This is a retread of her last Update appearance, which is a bit disappointing. She's engaging and has great energy, still. The crowd is eating this up, as she continues to roast Jost. She wants Jost and Che to kiss.

The NFL playoffs are continuing, so the Guy Who Just Bought a Boat (Alex Moffat) is here to discuss tailgating tips. As always, he uses slang to show that he is wealthy, which compensates for his small penis. This is his seventh appearance — he first appeared way back in 2017. He calls out Jost and Davidson buying the ferry, which leads to Davidson showing up. It's an interesting dynamic to have Davidson and the fictitious bro interacting. And Davidson clearly loves this!

Clancy T. Bachleratt and Jackie Snad Country Music

Thompson is Jevner Keeberelv, welcoming Clancy T. Bachleratt (Forte) and Jackie Snad (Wiig), two goofy country singers who believe in alien conspiracies and "toddler Hell". They're back with a new album. Songs include "Pool Trip Tango" and "The Eyes of God."

Fun to see the three of them in a sketch together again, like it's 2009, friends. In fact, we saw Clancy T. Bachleratt and Jackie Snad in the Jonah Hill episode in 2008, and in the Seth Rogen episode in 2009. Flat out demonic performances. I like the unofficial NFL anthem, and the toddler hell dance!

Måneskin — "I Wanna Be Your Slave"

This voyeuristic, dirty ballad is off their second studio album, Teatro d'ira: Vol. I, released last March. There's apparently a version with Iggy Pop out there too. Cool!

Jeff Richards says: "This song makes me want to take a shower. This could have easily doubled as a hot sauce commercial."

MacGruber (again!)

This time, Forte's MacGruber is dressed as the QAnon Shaman, spouting a bunch of references to the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. "Yeah, according to CNN!" and "Not my clock!" he shouts, as the bomb prepares to detonate. This is inspired.

Final Thoughts

— What did you think of the return of Will Forte?! Vote here or weigh in below!

— Thank you to Jeff Richards. Check out his deep fake podcast (latest episode features Kevin Farley) and, oh yeah, Maryland fans should go see him next weekend at Rams Head in Annapolis!

— No Tim Calhoun?

— Rest in Peace Louie Anderson, Bob Saget and Meat Loaf. Damn.

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