Ditching a go-nowhere bit for helpless laughter, Kate McKinnon is all of us at this point

Dennis Perkins
·2 mins read
Kate McKinnon, Colin Jost
Kate McKinnon, Colin Jost

Last night’s Bill Burr-hosted Saturday Night Live may have started out pretty disastrously (for those not interesting in watching Jim Carrey as Jeff Goldblum as the fly on Mike Pence’s head copiously throw up into Pence’s hair), but the rest of this second episode of Season 46 went pretty smoothly. Even the one part that was seemingly designed to careen off the rails. Unsurprisingly for anyone whose watched the show since 2012, that highlight came courtesy of Kate McKinnon, who showed up on Weekend Update as one (rather unpromising) character, but left to universal goodwill and laughter as herself.

The bulk of her correspondent piece was as new character, one Dr. Wayne Wenowdis (say the last name fast), a supposed COVID expert come to rebut the Trump administration’s stance, plans, and social distancing measures about, essentially, everything. With a clipped little accent and puffing on an unlit pipe, the doctor responded to co-anchor Colin Jost’s every report on just what “Masque Of The Red Deathgarden party is up next for Donald Trump and his science-denying dunce squad, McKinnon’s mustachioed Wenowdis invariably explaining the obvious irresponsibility with her name and catchphrase, “Wenowdis.”

It’s not “The Big Ear Family” in terms of one-joke conceptual bits destined to run out of oxygen in 30 seconds, but it’s not great, even if McKinnon—ever the beneficiary of inexhaustible audience goodwill—goofed about amiably. At one point, the good doctor patiently attempted to explain about how we all all have holes in our faces where an airborne, unprecedentedly deadly virus can make ingress, but the laughs started to run pretty dry by the time McKinnon whipped out a blood pressure cuff, purportedly to give Jost an on-air physical. See, there’s this squeaky sound the thing makes, and McKinnon started playfully pawing all over Jost while mumble-singing something that sounded like a David Bowie/Queen track named “Blood Pressure,” and then things got giggly enough that Jost finally broke in to ask, “Kate, are you okay?”

McKinnon, who’d already played one half of a couple driven to madness by pandemic isolation and day-drinking at this point, laughed the laugh of the barely-holding-it-together, responding, “I’m obviously not.” What happens next should be enjoyed by everyone tempted to just chuck whatever task we’re soldiering through in our shared quarantine isolation-brain. You know, as McKinnon (as herself) laugh-rants, what with the unsettlingly uncertain election, the stretching-into-its-tenth-month pandemic, and the as-it-turns-out shockingly fragile nature of American democracy. And, sure, it’s what those in the wrestling world might call a worked shoot, but good god if it isn’t just what we need right now. We, indeed, know this.