I counted three jokes about Uber during the most recent episode of “Saturday Night Live.” Either Lorne Michaels is taking some money under the table or the writers are attempting to look hip (based on a Taylor Swift commercial toward the end of the episode, I’m going with B).
But other than frequent mentions of the ridesharing service, Saturday night’s Chris Rock/Prince episode probably utilized more African American cast members than any other episode in the show’s 40-year history. It’s unfortunate that the writing wasn’t as strong as last week’s Jim Carrey episode.
First, there was the cold open, which SNL seems to reserve for bad political jabs. This one was about the Ebola quarantine controversy between Chris Christie and Nurse Kaci Hickox.
I have a theory. Fellow Awards Daily TV writer Clarence Moye thinks that SNL should get rid of political sketches, and I agree—mainly because I think more immediate shows like “The Daily Show,” “The Colbert Report,” and hell, sometimes even “South Park” seem to get to the jokes before SNL airs on Saturday night. While this sketch wasn’t terrible, especially with Kate McKinnon’s interpretation of no-nonsense Nurse Hickox, there wasn’t any joke that hadn’t already been made.
By far, the funniest bit of the night was Chris Rock just riffing during the opening monologue on everything from why Boston Marathon was the worst American terrorist attack (“You get to the [26-mile] finish line and someone says, ‘Run!’”) to what he wants to rename New York’s Freedom Towers (“’Never Going In There’ Tower”). It’s just a reminder what a true talent he is, without a song and dance or scripted monologue shtick.
The same could not be said for the rest of the episode, which actually seemed to underutilize Rock’s abilities. In “Vlog,” about a precocious teenager’s adult dance moves, Rock plays the father trying to keep her 3 million vlog viewers from pleasuring themselves to her #Flawless girations: “What the hell is fap?” Cute, but more of a showcase for Sasheer Zamata.
While the cold open seemed to touch upon jokes already made throughout the week, the same went for Weekend Update (“Kim Kardashian has claimed more black victims than Ebola”), despite Pete Davidson’s appearance. I also don’t know what’s scarier, Colin Jost’s soulless baby blues or this punchline:
I was kind of hoping co-anchor Michael Che would address another controversy of the week, involving his comments made about the street harassment video that went viral days earlier. This would have been an opportunity to make a statement and make light of a situation Che presumably would like to get himself out of. Instead, we got a strange Katt Williams and Suge Knight sketch.
Another thing that was missing was a reprisal of Chris Rock’s famous SNL character Nat X. That would have been welcome over the “How’s He Doing?” Obama sketch. And why couldn’t Prince make a cameo somewhere—anywhere?
Speaking of Prince, he killed it during his nine-minute female-led set. So much so that the entire episode could have been called a Prince concert with some strange somewhat-funny comedy skits bookending it.
The good news is that SNL is showing signs of life in other areas. Leslie Jones is a great addition, and even though the last skit of the night titled “The Couple” wasn’t great, it highlighted Jones’ talent for creating characters, something SNL is lacking right now.
What did you think of Chris Rock’s SNL episode?