In the wake of his new HBO special Rothaniel and Will Smith’s Traumatic Oscar Slap of Chris Rock, Jerrod Carmichael Stopped Saturday Night Live to host alongside musical guest Gunna. Carmichael, 34, has quietly built a comedian’s dream resume. He starred in the critically acclaimed film The Carmichael Show for three seasons, during which Jerrod achieved what many thought was impossible: a multi-camera that was both hip and fun. His three hilarious comedy specials on HBO, love at the store, 8and the above Rothaniel, deploy the intimacy and class of a vintage jazz album. He was also hired by Quentin Tarantino to co-write a film and recently directed and starred in the 2021 Sundance Film Festival darling On the count of three, which The Guardian said was “proof that Carmichael was a director to be excited about”. We’re looking for an artist here, and he’s a great fit for SNL.
SNL delivers its weekly Fox News cold opener with Alex, Heidi and Mikey as Fox and Friends hosts. Mikey, as Brian, talks about downloading Trump’s new social media app, Truth Social. (“I downloaded the app, opened it, and my phone immediately got really, really hot.”) Kenan and Kate stop by as Clarence and Ginni Thomas to discuss his recent hospitalization and his recent legal issues. (“I take my duty as Yoko Ono of the Supreme Court very seriously.”) James Austin Johnson then FaceTimes as Trump to discuss current affairs, including the slap. (“A whole arm on Hitch. I always knew Hitch had an arm.”) The fox and friends the hosts then attempt to dispel rumors that the Jan. 6 insurrection was an intentional coup and that Trump used a burner phone, which Trump is only too happy to admit. (“I couldn’t even tell you what a burner phone looks like, I was too busy with a phone call, a burner phone, and a coup.”)
Credit where credit is due: Having Trump FaceTime from his bed is a smart touch, and Donald having to hang up because TruthSocial is making his phone hot is a good reminder. We may have to rename the cold open “The Sketch of James Austin Johnson” as his impressions of Biden and Trump dominate the show‘s top.
Jerrod Carmichael walks onto the stage in a sexy shirtless suit and immediately tells the audience that he won’t talk about it. By “it” he means the Will Smith slap of Chris Rock, which he admits makes it feel like it happened years ago instead of last Sunday. (“I promised myself I’d never talk about it again. But then Lorne walked into my dressing room.”) This is perhaps the best monologue of the season. Not only do we get a stand-up comedian’s fresh take on recent events, but we also get a fun story from Lorne Michaels. (“[Lorne] says the nation needs to heal. “) Jerrod admits that he is not very famous and claims that he is the least famous host of SNL the story. That may be true today, but I don’t think it will be true for long.
Kate is the host of “Is My Brain Okay?”, a game show that tests you on things you knew before the COVID lockdowns. (Kate: “One thing’s for sure, we’ve gone dumb.”) They soon post a picture of a wheelbarrow and ask the contestants to guess what it is. (Sarah: “Bike? (Kate: “Sorry, Derek, his name was Derek.” Jerrod: “We have the same name?”) For the last question, Kate asks, “If you were to speak to one person, by what start?” – which leads to three very unbalanced answers. (Jerrod: “If you move the clock forward, you don’t need to be alive that long.”)
It’s a bit of a Celebrity danger! clone, including an exact Final Jeopardy-style ending. But a game show about our all-too-familiar struggles to get back to our usual pre-COVID routine is very smart and always has some great jokes in it. Jerrod shines as the deadpan Derek and cries out to the costume department for help. His gaze as Kate read her final response was one of the highlights of the episode.
Pete briefly steps out of witness protection to sing a song about wanting to watch the shortest movies possible. Pete is currently filming a horror movie in New Jersey, but the show missed him. He’s the biggest celebrity in the cast, and his feud with Kanye continues to make headlines, culminating in leaked texts where he allegedly told Kanye he quit. SNL to make fun of him and that he was in his wife’s bed. With 25 people in the cast, SNL has enough people that the main cast members are taking a break to do other projects. However, the random absences of the actors sometimes seem strange. Gunna and Chris Redd also appear, alongside Simon Rex reprising his rapper persona, Dirt Nasty.
From the start, basing a sketch on the Oscar slap from a seat filler’s perspective was both surprising and fun. Jerrod is a seat filler who meets Will Smith, played by Chris Redd, just as Chris Rock is telling his infamous Jada joke and now has to try and deal with the fallout as Will sits back and yells at the audience. (Redd: “I just saw Paddington 2. The best movie I’ve ever seen. I love this little bear. One second, y’all. KEEP MY WIFE’S NAME OUT OF YOUR FUCKING MOUTH!”)
Jerrod is really impressive here. He was very funny as the oddball dollmaker in “Shop TV,” and now his reactions as a straight man to Chris Redd’s maniacal Will Smith add layers to this sketch. Kyle, who has been paired with Jerrod in several sketches, walks in after missing the incident and sees the video on Twitter. (Chris: “Nice to meet you, man. What’s your name?” Kyle: “I don’t…they didn’t give me one.” think they left some on the table, including Denzel and Jada Pinkett Smith herself, as producers reportedly asked Will to leave. SNL stepped in and delivered one of his most memorable sketches of the season.
Michael made headlines last week when he told a comedy show he was leaving SNL. But those rumors were quickly put to rest when he said he wasn’t leaving and it was just a joke transcribed “by some jerk”. Seen the rumor that he was leaving SNL, his “Update” joke resonates all the more loudly: “Press Secretary Jen Psaki is apparently leaving the White House to join MSNBC. Slim. She’s still at work and has her next job lined up? It’s as crazy as some of the sketches from season two of That fucking Michael Chethis summer on HBO Max.
Michael and Colin are often the best part of SNL, and when the inevitable day comes when one or both have to be replaced, it will be a blow. Che specifically delivers punchlines better than almost anyone on TV these days. (Che: “In his acceptance speech, Will Smith said, ‘Love will make you do crazy things.’ Do you know what makes you do crazy things? Crazy.”)
Jerrod Carmichael is my MVP. He was the perfect person to deliver an Oscars monologue, and I think he actually healed Saturday Night Live viewers a bit. There were really no bad sketches, and there was a lot to do with it. He even helped turn two weird sketches, “Scattering Remains” and “Story,” into gold with his commitment and timing.
This episode might not be everyone’s cup of tea, as they went for slower, goofy humor, but I think SNL delivered a solid entry. After the Slap, it felt like everyone immediately wondered what SNLIt would, and they hit every time they touched it — the cold open, the monologue, the seat-filling skit, “Weekend Update” — with consistently funny and quirky takes. It was a good reminder that SNL is still the benchmark for topical humor as the only weekly sketch show on thousands of TV channels or streamers.