Is it just us or was Kristen Stewart a surprisingly great host of Saturday Night Live? The Twilight star’s accidental F-bomb kicked off a raucous episode that was unapologetically political and frequently hilarious. Far from being too cool for school, K-Stew gamely spoke truth (and comedy) to power along with the rest of the newly energized cast, plus special guest star Melissa McCarthy (more on her later). For example, Stewart used her monologue to declare on national TV, “I’m, like, so gay dude,” on the same day that thousands of LGBT rights supporters rallied in front of New York’s historic, Stonewall Inn.
She also floated a convincing theory for why America’s current POTUS, Donald Trump, was so obsessed with her love life back in the days when she was dating her onscreen vampire boyfriend, Robert Pattinson. “The President tweeted about me 11 times,” Stewart said, referring to a stream of Trump tweets from 2012 in which he encouraged Pattinson to dump her. “To be fair, I don’t think Donald Trump hated me. I think he’s in love with my boyfriend.”
The new President’s phone etiquette, rather than his Twitter-quette, was the subject of SNL’s fiery cold open, in which Alec Baldwin’s President Trump returned to ring up several world leaders Jerky Boys-style. While his advisor, Steve Bannon a.k.a. the Grim Reaper looked on approvingly, Trump regaled the prime minister of Australia with tales of the tragic Bowling Green Massacre, before trying — and failing — to trick the Mexican president into paying for that wall he’s always talking about. (Incidentally, that’s a campaign promise the real Trump claimed to have made in the increasingly less prophetic White House 2018 sketch that aired during the infamous SNL episode he hosted a year before the election.) He also shared the title of his new memoir with German chancellor Angela Merkel: My Struggle. Hmmm…that might not move a lot of copies off Berlin bookshelves.
But Trump’s trolling couldn’t phase Kenan Thompson as the leader of Zimbabwe, who delivered demonstrated how you really hang up on a world leader. “You cannot even walk down stairs, you little white bitch! Don’t you ever call Zimbabwe again.” That riposte was fierce enough to send Trump scurrying back to his little kid’s desk so that President Bannon could reclaim his rightful seat. Hopefully the SNL switchboard is well-manned, because the staff is going to be fielding a lot of angry calls come Monday morning.
Best Sketch: “Welcome Video”
The controversy over the Trump-issued travel ban went unmentioned in the cold open, but that’s because the writers knew they had a savagely funny take on an otherwise tragic situation waiting in the wings. This easily passed our extreme vetting for good comedy.
Worst Sketch: “Weekend Update”
Missed cues, lackluster teleprompter reading and a distinct lack of energy made “Update” something of a trial to sit through this week. Consider Colin Jost and Michael Che to be two of the casualties of Melissa McCarthy’s comic hurricane.
Best Use of Kristen Stewart: “Dry Fridays”
From her crazy no-hawk hairstyle to wild stories about drinking 40 beers and cutting down 35 pine trees, Stewart’s not-at-all regretful college alcoholic felt like a character that might have originally been written for Kate McKinnon. But K-Stew was so committed, we didn’t miss K-McK at all.
Best Return of a Recurring Character: “Totino’s Lady”
After years of taking care of her “hungry guys” on Game Day, Vanessa Bayer’s Totino-baking housewife treats herself to something special for a change. The entrance of Stewart’s Sapphic temptress spins what’s normally a funny spoof of football ads into a wickedly provocative send-up of soft-focus French romances.
Episode MVP: Melissa McCarthy
After only one appearance, we’re ready to place McCarthy’s gum-chewing, podium-lifting take on White House press secretary Sean Spicer alongside such iconic SNL political impersonations as Chevy Chase’s Gerald Ford, Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin and Larry David’s Bernie Sanders. Lorne Michaels would be wise to take whatever money he’s throwing at Alec Baldwin and triple it to keep McCarthy on retainer for the duration of Spicer’s term.
Saturday Night Live airs Saturdays at 11:35 p.m. on NBC. Watch clips and full episodes of SNL for free on Yahoo View.