Cold Opening: I'm pretty sure that this is the first time that Beck Bennett earned a mostly solo cold opening. To his credit, he did a wonderful job, portraying Putin with the perfect amount of sliminess. I also appreciate seeing Kate's Olya character outside of Weekend Update, especially when she subtly referenced the march on Washington. Putin's line about it also earned massive applause from the audience, justifiably so. I'm impressed that they managed to mention it with less than a day of prep time, considering that they have to do script readings and multiple rehearsals.
Monologue: Can we just get Aziz to do every monologue?! I just love his style of stand-up comedy. He sounds so earnest and happy. This is a solid nine minutes of him delivering wonderful commentary on the world while cracking quality jokes. He's awesome on Parks And Recreation and Master Of None but this shows me that I need to start looking up his stand-up routines. He wins the award for the best monologue of the season with a genuine, heartfelt, and hilarious speech that shows that there is still good in the world.
Beat The Bookworm: Holy forking shirt, this sketch was positively made for me. I love books. Heck, I'm basically the Bookworm, only not as mean. Still, I would have won at the nineties pop culture round. Ironically, I'm a huge bookworm and fairly confident in my ability to answer all of those questions. On another note, if I could recreate the set for my bedroom, I would. It looks glorious, filled with a comfy armchair and a huge amount of books. Finally. I wish the sketch was longer, but I'm not sure if they could have done that without sacrificing the joke. You can watch it here.
La La Land Interrogation: Irrationally, part of me wanted to mute the sketch so the movie wasn't ruined for me. Eventually. I'll see the movie. However, I'm glad that I didn't foolishly do that. Along with a weird duo of cinema-obsessed and potentially racist cops, it also featured some excellent social commentary.
Kellyanne Conway: Finally, we're getting more jokes about Kelly other than being grossed out by Trump, but continuing to help him. The Chicago parody portrays her as being obsessed with the nature of celebrities, desperately wanting to be one. And what better way to do that than help Trump with his horrible plans? The production values in the prerecorded piece remind me of a typical Crazy Ex-Girlfriend musical number, with high production values and songs suddenly appearing in a seemingly mundane situation.
Attorney Ad: I saw it coming, with Aziz's character being annoyed about not getting as much money as the rest of the charactes. Even so, the disproportionate nature of his accident and the output compared to the other clients getting exorbitant fees just for fairly unimportant court cases. The lawyers made it even funnier, mostly thanks to Bobby Moynihan. He was in fine form, with his character's incredible stupidity. You can watch it here.
Big Sean Performance #1- "Bounce Back": I enjoyed it. You can watch it here.
Weekend Update: Wise words from Michael Che tonight, "Believing in equality just means you're not a dick." Leslie Jones had a remarkable piece on Hidden Figures. Sure, it wasn't really a review of the movie so much as a commentary on the nature of technology throughout history, racism, and whitewashing. It's definitely worth your time. The piece on the 'friend one' is not as beneficial, but I did appreciate that it was in a mock satellite piece. It adds more realism to the parody news show set. I know that they don't have unlimited time for the segment, so I'll stick to The Daily Show for that, but it made for a refreshing change. You can watch it here, here, here, and down below.
Bedroom: I'm glad to see more of Melissa on the show. Based on this sketch, we need more of her in everything. She's incredibly funny. Her character's combination of literalness and outright cruelty made me burst out laughing. I'm also happy to see one of her classic impressions making it onto the show. You can watch it here.
Five Stars: This is no mere digital short, it's a short film. In just a few seconds, it sets up the characters and motivations. All of the jokes land, we genuinely feel for the characters, and it's not just a one-note premise. It genuinely has depth. We feel for the characters and want them to succeed. "Five Stars" feels cinematic and it's one of the best shorts in recent history.
Pizza Town: This is going to get stuck in my head. It's hard for SNL to go wrong with having their cast members play robots, and this is no exception. This season in particular has had some well-produced robotic comedy sketches. When you take an amusing Chuck E. Cheese parody and add a tense crime scene, it produces comedy magic. You can watch it here.
Big Sean Performance #2- "Sunday Morning Jetpack": That's one of the best names for a song that I've ever heard. You can watch it here.
To Sir With Love: That was beautiful. Sasheer Zamata and Cecily Strong are great singers. Just like the rest of us, they will miss Barack Obama. You can watch it here.
Final Thoughts: Aziz Ansari demonstrated why he's such a excellent person tonight with a wide array of characters and a heaping dose of social justice. He didn't shy away from addressing the inauguration and getting personal in the monologue, and I respect him for that. Nothing felt staged or manufactured. He was simply himself and the audience knew that. The show itself was superb. With only the Weekend Update piece on the friend zone being awkward, everything else soared. When I eventually make my list of the top episodes and sketches of the season, this will be near, if not at, the top.
Next Time: Prepare for a seemingly endless parade of Twilight jokes, Kristen Stewart will be hosting the show when it returns on February 4th. Alessia Cara will be the musical guest. I've never heard of her, but I wish her the best of luck! It's a tough gig.
Zachary Krishef is an evil genius. Do not question his knowledge of Saturday Night Live trivia or Harry Potter books.