Where Bill Hader goes, Stefon is sure to follow. Sure enough, Saturday Night Live’s hottest “Weekend Update” guest made his triumphant return to Studio 8H for the first time since 2015 during his alter ego’s second hosting gig. Brought on to provide some tips for those revelers looking to party hearty at St. Patrick’s Day festivities in the Big Apple, our guide threw out some typically offbeat suggestions, name-checking clubs that offered everything from key fobs and sexy asbestos to repeat appearances by Roman J. Israel, Esq., and leprechauns that resemble Farrah Fawcett. There’s a reason why Stefon remains on Hader’s personal Mount Rushmore of SNL characters: it’s that thing where he’s just so darn funny.
Sadly, the eternally youthful club kid didn’t bring his husband, Seth Meyers — or their children — along for his return. (Those tykes would get along famously with Kyle and Leslie’s kid, Little Lorne, during his visits home from college.) But we did meet his dad for the first time … after a fashion. Midway through his “Update” appearance, while striving to define what exactly constitutes a “human squatty potty,” Stefon called over his personal lawyer (and conceptual piss) artist, Chi, for an on-air consultation. And who should walk over but John Mulaney, the former SNL writer turned poster child for millennial comedians that co-fathered Stefon with Hader a decade ago on a 2008 episode hosted by Ben Affleck.
That first sketch was an embryonic version of the character, though; it took another two years for Stefon to flower into the “Weekend Update” guest that reduces everyone to helpless puddles of laughter, up to and including Hader himself. Until now, Mulaney has had to remain in the shadows, rewriting cue cards at the last minute with new jokes that make Hader repeatedly break on air. So putting him on camera (even if he didn’t get any lines) was a nice way to acknowledge his parental role in nurturing Stefon all these years. And it’s not like Seth and Stefon are splitsville or anything. In fact, they’re still finding ways to keep their marriage interesting. Introducing his hubby’s signature Late Night segment, “A Closer Look,” Stefon revealed that the key to their relationship is versatility — as in, “Some nights I do it and he’s under the desk.”
Trump check: “Anderson Cooper 360”
No Alec Baldwin tonight, but Alex Moffat’s Anderson Cooper used the cold open to comment on Donald Trump’s latest round of firings. First, we checked back in with Kate McKinnon’s delightfully daffy Jeff Sessions, who threw up his hands when asked why he fired FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe two days before his official retirement. “I can’t even dance around it — Trump made me do it! I’m just a simple man who wanted to make things bad for immigrants, and here I am taking away the pension of a Christian white. It ain’t right!” Then we said hello and goodbye to John Goodman’s Rex Tillerson, whose real-life counterpart was jettisoned from the State Department at the start of Trump’s very busy week of departures. At least Goodman got to call Trump a “moron” one more time before he headed out the door. (We imagine Tillerson did the same.) For his cold open cameo, Hader bypassed playing the week’s other fresh firee, John McEntee, and instead spoofed Anthony Scaramucci, who lost his job way back in July — practically a century ago on Trump time. Although, if you ask us, Hader seemed a lot more eager to revive Vinny Vedecci, rather than Scaramucci.
Lamest return: “The Californians”
For this Hader cut short his monologue? While it was great to spend more time with Stefon, we didn’t need a reunion with Devon, Stuart, and the rest of the Californians clan. Especially since Vanessa Bayer didn’t get to come back.
Getting lucky: “Irish Dating Show”
The setup for this St. Patrick’s Day dating show sketch didn’t seem promising, especially when Cecily Strong’s romance seeker confessed to being the cousin of Hader’s eligible bachelor. But the writers lucked out by leaning on the idea of kissin’ cousins being an ordinary thing in the Irish reality show world, and allowing the always-hilarious Aidy Bryant to be the lone voice of reason crying in the wilderness.
Death by ’90s nostalgia: “Jurassic Park Auditions”
Hader’s impressions of Alan Alda and Al Pacino are timeless classics. Too bad that the rest of the celebrity impressions — including Sinbad and Poison Ivy-era Drew Barrymore — in this ’90s time capsule of a sketch feel entirely fossilized to modern audiences.
Most welcome schooling of a public official: Betsy DeVos
America’s education secretary may have escaped Trump’s axe (for now), but her 60 Minutes appearance last Sunday didn’t do her career any favors. Kate McKinnon had the perfect explanation for DeVos’s epic face plant: “I think the problem is that the words coming out of my mouth were bad, and I think that’s because they were coming from my brain.” Makes sense to us.
Sorry, not sorry: “CBC Report”
Poking fun at Canadians is one thing: poking fun at Canadians and sexual harassment in the same sketch is a tougher line to walk. When it comes to the #MeToo movement, SNL has run hot and cold all season long, with some sketches nailing it, while others struggle to find the punch line. There are just enough chuckles here to keep the writers from having to issue a formal apology to our neighbors to the north, but let’s agree to try a little harder next time, eh?
Episode MVP: Hader’s Wheelchair
You’d think that living in L.A. full-time would make Hader a better driver, but the host had major trouble steering his mechanized ride as an old geezer crashing his much younger wife’s game night. Repeatedly banging into furniture, as well as his co-stars, Hader kept interrupting the flow of the sketch. Here’s the thing: those interruptions also made the skit much funnier.
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