John Mulaney made his Saturday Night Live hosting debut this weekend, and the whole thing was just… bizarre. There was no rhyme or reason for many of the evening’s sketches — an eclectic bunch that included everything from a surprise Meet the Parents reunion to a lobster-themed Les Miserables parody.
Like most comedians, Mulaney ditched the usual monologue to tell jokes from his stand-up routine, including a particularly great bit about the world being run by computers. He was equally impressive as a performer, but that didn’t come as much of a surprise. After all, he used to write for the show (you have him to thank for Stefon) and is well aware of its rhythms.
Lo and behold, my picks for the best and worst sketches…
BEST: MEET THE PARENTS
The opening skit not only reunited Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro, but loosely recreated a scene from the movie, as
Jack Byrnes Robert Mueller interrogated prospective son-in-law Greg Focker Michael Cohen. It was a clever hybrid of political satire and nostalgia, and thus one of the better cold opens as of late. (Watch it here.)
BEST: SITCOM REBOOT
This sketch was wrong on so many levels, but Mulaney, Cecily Strong and Beck Bennett really sold it. The host portrayed the creator of a soon-to-be-revived sitcom about a young boy (played by “little Andy Cunanan”) who swapped bodies with his father and, as a result, had to have sex with his mother. No wonder it was cancelled!
BEST: DINER LOBSTER
This Les Miserables spoof has to be among the most asinine things the show has ever done — and that’s what made it so entertaining. You didn’t have to know the musical to appreciate the elaborate set design, or Kenan Thompson dressed as a lobster, singing a retooled version of Jean Valjean’s “Who Am I.” The whole thing was ridiculous, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
HONORABLE MENTION: WILD WILD COUNTRY
Everyone’s been buzzing about this Netflix docuseries, which tells the unbelievable true story of Indian spiritual guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and his devoted followers. Heck, it’s TVLine’s latest #PeakTV Treasure! This send-up featured former SNL cast member Nasim Pedrad, who starred as Rajneesh’s personal secretary Ma Anand Sheela.
HONORABLE MENTION: LAURA INGRAHAM on WEEKEND UPDATE
Kate McKinnon’s take on the Fox News host was serviceable, but the funniest part of this Weekend Update bit was the rundown of companies still willing to advertise on her show. Those included Carl’s Sr. (described as “leftover Carl’s Jr. food ground up to mush for old people”), Your Pillow (“From the makers of My Pillow, ‘Send us your pillow because we need more pillows.'”) and Malaysian Airlines (“Caught in a scandal and need an escape? Malaysian Airlines!”).
It’s hard to imagine a scenario where rookie Luke Null gets invited back next fall after the one-two punch of “Late for Class” and “Horns.” With very little effort, Mulaney and Heidi Gardner stole whatever spotlight was supposed to be shone on Null, which I suppose is less embarrassing than flat-out bombing.
What were your favorite sketches this week? And what missed the mark? Grade the episode via the following poll, then hit the comments to flesh out your thoughts.
Launch Gallery: <i>SNL</i>: Season 43 Episodes, Ranked