Saturday Night Live recap: The Harder They Fall star Jonathan Majors saddles up as host

Good morrow, fellow Coneheads. We're back with another vibrant, fresh-faced, totally spot-on SNL in Review episode recap. This edition of Saturday Night Live is hosted by Jonathan Majors, who has experienced an exceptionally meteoric rise on his way to the hallowed halls of Studio 8H, having appeared in The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Lovecraft Country, Da 5 Bloods, Loki (MCU money!), and Netflix's The Harder They Fall all within the last two years. And, oh yeah, no one less than Taylor Swift is performing as the show's musical guest, for the fifth time.

I am joined tonight by former SNL cast member Dr. Ellen Cleghorne, who has recently begun teaching at the New School — it's been eating into her television time. That's ironic since she's teaching a humor studies course, covering the history of satire and featuring luminaries from the comedy world. Recent guests (via Zoom) have included Tim Meadows, Mike Shoemaker, and Marci Klein, who has helped with a lot of the coordination.

"Because the class is in person, I have to test for COVID every week, even though I'm immunized unlike Aaron Rodgers. It's tiring but necessary," Cleghorne says. She's all for community safety.


Will Heath/NBC Jonathan Majors hosting 'Saturday Night Live'

Cold open: Ted Cruz Sesame Street

Ah, Cruz Street, a gated community. So, I am not a fan of Aidy Bryant as Cruz. It's a second-rate Melissa McCarthy-as-Sean Spicer, just kind of emasculating and doesn't really capture Cruz's level of malevolent, unctuous sleaze. The Texas senator was mocked this week for mocking Big Bird on Twitter after the Muppet's pro-vaccine messaging. So that's the premise here. Cruz has created his own Sesame Street for anti-vaxxers and people over 65.

Marjorie Taylor Greene (Cecily Strong) shows up, boasting about promoting BIF. "Pussy," she calls the local kids. Q — the man — is the letter of the day. Freedom is the word of the day — cue brief random appearance from Chloe Fineman. Kyle Mooney is Big Bird, sort of channeling Mark McKinney's Chicken Lady. A little overstuffed here, folks.

Pete Davidson portrays Joe Rogan, eh. And Bert and Ernie — former Proud Boys — come out to announce their engagement. Easy joke. Chris Redd is a ward of the state thanks to Joe Biden — he's Oscar the Grouch, a Republican welfare caricature.

The show has been strong during this initial stretch of episodes in season 47. The bouncy cold opens have had a lot to do with that. But this doesn't really do it — no James Austin Johnson? Why?


Majors comes out and talks about being humbled filming a movie opposite Idris Elba. He talks about being homeless, going to Yale, and working at Red Lobster. Red Lobster is also where Chris Rock and Nicki Minaj got their start.

"He kind of makes you say, 'Michael B. Jordan who?'" Cleghorne says of Majors. He "is awesome and should be in every sketch in a short-sleeve shirt or topless." She adds that she "loved Lovecraft — it sent me down a wormhole researching [H.P. Lovecraft] and the fetish of people traveling to Rhode Island to visit his birthplace… It's ironic that his work is used to flesh out racism that still exists in the 21st century."

Majors seems a bit nervous here. But he lands the monologue with a nice anecdote about advice his grandfather gave him.

March of the Suitors

Chloe Fineman is a sought-after, indifferent queen. "Sure." Mikey Day presents potential suitors, first Thomas (Kyle Mooney), who has been friend-zoned. Next is the pleasant boy (Andrew DIsmukes), joined by his dirty mother (Cecily Strong.) He is very well-endowed. "Behold the new King of England," offers Aidy Bryant, shocked at the girth.

Majors, a prince, comes out — presented by Kenan Thompson. Turns out he's just Dave, a "dumbass" toucan salesman. Ego Nwodim appears as his wife to dress him down. Punkie Johnson shoots her shot too.

Please Don't Destroy — Three Sad Virgins

Pete Davidson joins the Please Don't Destroy gang — he wants to do a music video. All his friends are cool and famous, except "three sad virgins." Interesting blend of PDD sensibility and standard Pete parody video. I think this does a good job approaching that classic Lonely Island vibe (an improvement over typical Pete rap.) Re: Pete though, it's clear-eyed about how big he has gotten and a funny commentary on his gossip mag appeal. "It's the King of Staten Island!"

Taylor Swift appears to sing the equally insulting bridge. Another Big Bird joke, too.

Audacity in Advertising Awards

Jake the State Farm guy (Majors), and Flo from Progressive (Heidi Gardner) are hosting an awards show on over-the-top and dissonant woke commercials. JAJ is a widowed dad coming out to his son as part of a Facebook Portal ad. That sort of thing where you don't even know what this social issue has to do with the product being peddled. "You're Using What to Sell… What?" BP is the winner, and an intern (Andrew Dismukes) appears to accept the recognition. "Absolutely craven."

"Don't You Make Land Mines?" is one of the other categories. R.I.P., Quibi, Tubi, Vubu, Boppy, Duku, Titi. This is sharp and biting.

Strange Kid Tales

Kenan Thompson and Jonathan Majors are hosting a paranormal show for kids. They do not like doing this show, it's way too scary for them. Aidy Bryant brings out her son. The hosts "do. not. like. it." Great showcase for Kenan, GIF-ready close-ups. "Kid already looks creepy and he hasn't even said a word."

Alex Moffat and Heidi Gardner bring out their respective spooky kids too. The hosts increasingly lose it, until there's a twist ending. Well done. And props to the actress who played Coraline — she nailed it and knows it!

Man Park

This one hits close to home. Masculinity makes intimacy hard — and most adult men only have their wives to rely on emotionally. So now there's a dog park, essentially, to bring dudes to bond and get their energy out. IPAs, Vin Diesel's twin brother, Marvel, Rick & Morty, Tom Brady. These are the topics typical men want to discuss. I like the touch of JAJ, a Ravens fan, squaring off against a Pats fan. "Dune?"

I believe this was cut from last week's Kieran Culkin episode.

Taylor Swift performs 'All Too Well'

"All Too Well" is a near-consensus choice for best Taylor Swift song OAT. The re-recorded version of the song and its uncut 10-minute version (clips shown behind Swift during this performance) were just released as part of her second re-recorded album, Red (Taylor's Version).

The audience is all about this. And Swift is passionate, laying into this emotional story about a three-month relationship she had more than a decade ago. She kills it. "I remember it all too well." The scarf, my fellow Swifties. The feels.

Swift performing one extended set puts her in rare company: Eminem and Prince did it last decade. The Band did it. Beyond her joining the elite "musical guest five-timers club" (patent pending), this is an incredible distinction — and something you would absolutely consider in her SNL Hall of Fame plaque, should she ever be inducted (patent pending). Seminal performance. Slam dunk, instant classic.

Weekend Update

Colin Jost comes out commenting on the Swift performance. The audience screams. They also erupt after Che talks about Britney Spears being freed.

Sarah Sherman comes on to talk about how her season on the show is going so far. "Hit 'em at the Update desk." She has some feedback. "Why is it live?" she wonders. She nails Jost over interrupting her and mansplaining. "And another thing!" she cries, extrapolating while Jost protests. Adorable yet subversive. A winning formula.

Is Sarah the America's next sweetheart? "She got you man, you suck!" Che says, laughing. Love it.

A robot that does stand-up comedy, Laughintosh 3000 (Aristotle Athari), comes out. He does impressions of Instagram and Tinder. Another strong original character from Athari.

Good energy tonight.

Broadway Benefit

Aidy Bryant and Kyle Mooney are attending a Broadway music revue, brought back from the COVID-19 shutdown. Ahh, Cecily Strong singing. One of those. She banters with Bowen Yang, and quickly the material is not appropriate for young music fans. "Everybody today is doing drugs!"

Tennyson Hartley (Majors) is high as a kite, entering through a window. This kind of thing is not for me. Yang is definitely charismatic and Strong can do this sort of thing in her sleep (in fact, she is doing a Broadway show in a few weeks), but we've seen it.

Pet Store Ad

This is very specific and strange. And I love Ego Nwodim's work here. The audience isn't following, maybe too young, but it's a gem.

Pastor Announcement

Majors joins Ego Nwodim as Pastor J.R. Jr. and his wife. They've shared 24 years of happy marriage, plus last year. They are opening up their relationship. They have sent out scented invitations and are joining many apps, including Coffee Meets Penis. They're seeking their congregation's permission to get their freak on — and some parishioners want in.

Love seeing Ego get center stage in sketches like this. Is she finally becoming one of the show's centerpieces? (This episode has a decent amount of Melissa too.)

Final Thoughts

  • What did you think? Vote below, or hit the comments section!

  • Thank you to Dr. Cleghorne! Her comedy course sounds AMAZING.

  • Lots of Vin Diesel jokes today?!

  • Some musical switch-ups tonight. The dawning of the Liz Patrick era upon us?

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