“Are you trying to make us lose the game, nerd?”
It was a line said during a sketch and is a bigger reflection of the entire evening of John Cena hosting Saturday Night Live this week. Cena is used to performing in front of a crowd on live television and usually under some heavy circumstances. But for some reason, the episode of SNL encapsulated all the qualities of an middling episode. This is, by no means, a shot a Cena’s efforts. He smiled, delivered lines deftly, and hit pretty much all of his cues. It comes from years of practice. As the evening progressed, like his stature, Cena’s efforts started to become Herculean as they muscled their way through and began to carry the show. It became a classic example of great host, mediocre show.
Let’s run it down.
Cold Open – The Lead with Jake Tapper
The election has been a big subject of SNL this entire season. While Alec Baldwin has been around for the duration of it, the show’s clearly looking for ways to not use him as a crutch yet still tackle the subject. Cut to Drumpf’s incredibly weird recent cabinet decisions. Seeing some of the names our President-elect has declared, it’s really not that far off a premise should Walter White become the head of the DEA.
Cena is taking on all takers in his monologue, including Leslie Jones. Who, we’ve fully accepted as the larger than life persona of the show. It’s tough to build a monologue around a wrestler, but The Waddler and Kenan immediately regretting the chair decision is a good place to start.
What happens when the host of the show is a better suitor option than the men on the actual game show? Well that’s what this sketch addresses.
The Karate Teen
This sketch works because it zigs instead of zags. Taking a potentially underdog story and spinning it on its head. Kenan Thompson was the glue to this sketch as he seemed to do for most of the evening.
If you have a big, hulking guest host the show, well chances are you need to put them in a sketch like this. Which is the manifestation of a nerd’s take on a jock’s entitlement.
Dyke and Fats Save Christmas
It’s so great to see McKinnon and Bryant resurrect these characters. It’s a fun sketch that should only return after you forget it exists.
Maren Morris “My Church”
Aside from a huge appearance by A Tribe Called Quest, the musical guests this season haven’t produced huge, “OMG” moments. Maren Morris is pleasant enough but didn’t really present one of said moments.
Colin Jose and Michael Che cranked out another great Update as they tossed out terrific jokes, particularly inspired Boeing and Pope fake news jokes.
Angela Merkel returns to address the recent Time “Person of the Year” nomination.
Cathy Anne on Pizzagate delivered one of her best lines of her appearance – “Wait, did they put you in a men’s prison?” “They put you where they put you, Michael Che.”
Where’d Your Money Go
This sketch was fairly forgettable unfortunately. Kenan does a fantastic Charles Barkley character, but it didn’t connect with the ridiculous in this setting, it’s best when opposite Bjork.
Joanne & The Tree
Again, another forgettable sketch. It was high in production value, but the joke that a Christmas tree was more important than a woman’s life just passed us by.
Through Donald’s Eyes
It’s pretty obvious that the writers are looking to tackle Donald Drumpf without relying entirely on Alec Baldwin’s availability. This surreal POV sketch was just that. A different view on the President-elect and how he views himself when he wakes up. Bigly.
Maren Morris “80s Mercedes”
country Selena Gomez Maren Morris.
What do you to when you have a beefcake like John Cena hosting your show? You write a sketch when you can dress him up as Fabio on the cover of every romance novel your mother read.
What do you to when you have a beefcake like John Cena hosting your show? You write a sketch when you can dress him up as a viking. And then have his owl sh*t and vomit all over you of course!
And that’s a wrap. Next week Casey Affleck and Chance the Rapper bring our fall 2016 episodes of Saturday Night Live to a close.