Saturday Night Live S41, E19: Brie Larson, Alicia Keys- Church Lady Vs. Ted Cruz, Game Of Thrones

Side Note: One sketch features Game Of Thrones spoilers. No, really. You have been warned.
Here we go, comedy friends. It’s the first episode of May, meaning that there’s only two more to go. Prepare for a major comedy withdrawal over the summer. I’ll get the reruns and some snacks.

Cold Opening: Your eyes aren’t failing you. This is not a rerun. Somehow, Dana Carvey is back, bringing “Church Chat” with him. For those of you not in the know, “Church Chat” was a classic skit back in the day, featuring Dana Carvey as the Church Lady, a judgmental woman who hosts her own church-themed talk show. This particular edition, the first one since the thirty-sixth season, features her interviewing a manic Ted Cruz (Taran Killam). Taran’s incarnation of Ted comes off as a despondent man, slowly turning into the Joker. He’s actually genuinely scary, making me wish that his interview went on for longer. Fortunately, the next interview features Darrell Hammond’s Donald Trump Drumpf, and has a dash of Ted Cruz-turned-Satan verbally sparring with him. No Zodiac Killer jokes, but I’ll take what I can get. SNL, I don’t know how you got Dana Carvey to return for a cameo, but thank you!

Monologue: It’s Mother’s Day, everyone! Last season, the monologue consisted of a surprisingly heartfelt joke. The mothers of every single cast member came up to embarrass their children with real-life home video footage. Well, almost all of them. Kenan Thompson, former All That cast member and child star, had some footage from one of the Mighty Ducks movies. This year’s installment features appearances from Pete Davidson’s, Brie Larson’s, Beck Bennett’s, and Bobby Moynihan’s respective mothers. While it did seem inordinately short, I still liked the sweet sentiment.

Mattel’s President Barbie:
Mattel’s President Barbie: Continuing the recent trend of subverting stereotypical commercials, this one features a group of girls discarding Mattel’s new “President Barbie” in favor of Lego, a broom, and almost anything else. Much to the detriment of the narrator, they joyfully proclaim that they don’t have to play with dolls if they don’t want to.

Near-Death Experience: While not featuring alien abductions like the previous sketch, this is officially a sequel to the initial sketch in Ryan Gosling’s episode. This sketch doesn’t feature a lot of substance, it’s mainly an excuse to see Kate McKinnon’s character ramble about her horrible near-death experience. I enjoyed it, mostly for Kate McKinnon’s bizarre one-off lines and everyone else’s horrified reactions.

Mom Hair: First, there was Mom Jeans, now there’s Mom Hair. The sketch features a requisite odd hairstyle that all mother must have, no matter what. Initially, I thought that the concept had potential, but the delivery felt off. This changed when it was revealed that the moms had essentially formed a cult, all linked by the hair. Being in a semi-hive mind caused the monotone speaking. As mock holiday tributes go, it could have been better, but it had enough small moments to not be annoying. I suggest you show it to your mom.

Weekend Update: Let’s face it, this week has been bad. Fortunately, Weekend Update has typically been a nice remedy for that. What better way to get rid of the awfulness of the week than to make fun of it? After all, it’s better to laugh than to cry. We get some great extended riffs on Donald Trump from Michael Che and Colin Jost, especially a great riff from Michael Che on wanting the lizard people to be real, just so they could cheat and kick Trump out of the election. In terms of guest appearance, we get SNL’s “Resident Young Person”, Pete Davidson complimenting his mom, Vanessa Bayer as a child reporter, gleefully covering lurid news stories about STDs, and Sasheer Zamata giving a wonderful speech about Larry Wilmore’s use of the n-word during his White House Correspondent’s Dinner speech. I was disappointed that we didn’t get a repeat of last year’s gimmick where Colin and Michael read jokes written by their mothers, but the wonderful interview segments made up for it.

Game Of Thrones: In case it isn’t obvious by now, the writers are nerds. Huge nerds. Nerdiest of the nerds. Remember, this is the show that had William Shatner insult fans at a Star Trek convention. In this case, I have a feeling that some writers are really disappointed with this week’s installment of Game Of Thrones. The sketch features the characters all agonizing over Jon Snow being dead and trying to bring him back to life….very, very slowly. I have never seen the show, so the sketch meant almost nothing to me. However, due to the lengthy hiatuses between episodes of Disney’s dearly departed Gravity Falls, I know what it’s like to wait for a seemingly infinite amounts of time before your favorite show returns.

Quiz Whiz 2018: Broadcast straight from two years in the future, it’s another game show sketch! Unfortunately, it doesn’t have any jokes about how horrifying the Donald Trump-infested future is, just a lot of jokes about how no one remembers Ted Cruz. This, coupled with a lot of redundant jokes about how it’s the year 2018, unfortunately make this sketch rather annoying. The jokes would be more effective if they wouldn’t keep repeating, “You know, it’s 2018.” I would rather the majority of be about how horrible life is with Trump as the president. My favorite joke would be when one of the clueless contestants is revealed to be Ted Cruz’s wife.

Discreet Annihilation Kickstarter: Woo, another prerecorded short from Kyle Mooney! This one satirizes ineffectual Kickstarters by bands. The band in question is a group of white nerds ranting against ‘mainstream’ media through a bizarre movie idea and song names. It’s not the best prerecorded short from Kyle Mooney, but it could be worse.
Dead Bopz: I’m a sucker for sketches that involve rapid-fire impressions from the cast. In this case, the commercial parody features a CD of holograms of dead celebrities singing modern pop songs. Special notice goes to Jay Pharoah’s Tupac making “Shake It Off” semi-tolerable and not-Fred Astaire sounding like Kermit the Frog.
Musical Performance: As always, I am not a good judge of music. However, I did find it ironic that the second song seemed to be a religious song and the beginning of the show featured the Church Lady.

Overall: It’s the beginning of the end for SNL’s forty-first season, but it seems to be going out with a bang. Funny jokes, recurring sketches, and a healthy dose of nostalgia all make for a boisterous episode. Even with some clunkers and a severe lack of Trump-bashing, I would definitely recommend it. However, it should be noted that as good as the episode was, the broadcast in my state seemed to be slightly glitchy. The beginnings of several sketches were slightly cut off, and the pixels kept showing up. I don’t think the television that I was using was at fault, because I checked during a commercial break, and it kept happening in a different room.

Other: The branded content deal might not be arriving until next season, but I did notice Bobby Moynihan starring in an actual Pizza Hut commercial shortly after the monologue. Corporate synergy, everyone!

Zachary Krishef is an evil genius. Do not question his knowledge of Saturday Night Live trivia or the Harry Potter books.