Saturday Night Live was back and all new tonight with Drake, the saddest boy in all of Canada, hosting and providing the music, the third time this season an act has done double duty (Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga were the first two).
It was the first episode for new cast member Sasheer Zamata, hired after public outcry that the show lacked diversity. Zamata had a chance to shine, with her best work coming in a pre-recorded music video about New Year’s resolutions. Zamata’s Rihanna impression was spot on. (See below for GIF)
This is the second time Drake was on SNL. He was a musical guest on Oct. 15, 2011 when Anna Faris hosted and got to be part of a Weekend Update sketch with Jay Pharoah in which the two rapped about stealing Halloween candy from kids. He also appeared in a digital short with Andy Samberg.
Below is my sketch-by-sketch recap of tonight’s episode. Drake rocked, even when the sketches didn’t. He proved to be a great host who really seemed to give it his all, whether he was impersonating A-Rod, Katt Williams, Jay Z, Lil Wayne or playing non-celebrities like a disgruntled amusement park employee or a kid in detention with a thing for older women.
Piers Morgan Live: Taran Killam does a mean Piers Morgan. I’ve hated when SNL has done this in cold opens, but I think they picked good “stories” to cover. Bobby Moynihan took on the Chris Christie traffic-jam incident, Drake was Alex Rodriguez (“I’m suing steroids for being inside of me” and “My butt = the emoji of a steroid needle”) and Kate McKinnon took on Justin Bieber, leather vest and punk-ass attitude in tow.
Infinitely likeable Drake took us back to 1999 to reenact his Bar Mitzvah with the black and Jewish sides of his family. The monologues this season have almost all been musical, and Drake’s was too. He sang about his favourite purple drink, Manischewitz wine. Sasheer Zamata made her debut, uttering two whole words: Mazel Tov. She played Drake’s uncle’s girlfriend Rhonda.
Hip Hop Classics: Before They Were Stars
A look at hip-hop artists like Drake who got their starts on sitcoms and soap operas in the 80s and 90s: you have 2 Chainz played by Jay Pharoah on Disney Channel’s That’s So 2 Chainz, Drake as Lil Wayne on Family Matters and Jay Z on a science show, Rick Ross played by Kenan Thompson on The Teletubbies and Rihanna played by Zamata on Blossom. The best part was Zamata as Rihanna, moving her hips and “dancing” just like the Barbadian songstress.
Noel Wells does her best Nancy Grace impression, but it’s not nearly as good as Kristen Wiig’s. Grace interviews guests in Colorado, where a businesswoman (McKinnon) tells Grace she’s made $650,000 in one week. Katt Williams (played by Drake) was also on approving of Colorado’s move to legalize the sale ofmarijuana. Drake’s Williams is good too, and he’s proving to be a totally game and all-in host, but Jay Pharoah’s Williams impression is way better.
A song (with Killam, Drake, Pharoah and Zamata) about vowing to keep New Year’s resolution, like eating better, tanning more, drinking less, and “no more sex toys.” Eh. The “Twin Bed” song from the Jimmy Fallon episode raised the bar for SNL songs and this one was a little disappointing.
A moustachioed Drake plays a dad whose daughter (Zamata, getting lots of airtime tonight, but not a lot of lines) is having a sleepover. One of the teenagers (Aidy Bryant) has the hots for Poppa Drake and very uncomfortably tries to seduce him.
Drake – “Started From The Bottom”/”Trophies”
Yeah, Drake doesn’t have new music, huh? First musical appearance of the night is a medley of “Started From The Bottom” and “Trophies.”
Seth Meyers is here? A great Jacqueline Bisset bit with Vanessa Bayer as Bisset sitting in one of the studio’s back rows, taking forever to make her way onto the stage and hugging and touching audience members (she later sat back down and started to comb her hair. When she made it onto the stage, she took deep breaths and was played off by the music and Seth and Cecily’s goodnights – har har – as she started to speak). I really missed Nasim Pedrad’s Arianna Huffington and I’m happy she made a comeback in tonight’s Update, but it felt a bit too long. It wasn’t addressed, so my assumption is that Meyers is staying on Update (despite saying goodbye to Drunk Uncle and Bar Mitzvah Boy last year) until he takes over Late Night later this season.
Drake is all in, the most enthusiastic he’s been all episode. This sketch is weak, weak, weak. Drake is Dalton, a Universal Studios emcee at the Indiana Jones Experience who enlists the help of an audience member, Rahat (Nasim Pedrad), to reenact scenes from the iconic movie. He struggles to get Rahat to understand what he wants her to do. She keeps repeating: “I am Rahat” and “This is my rice.”
As punishment for getting detention, high-school kids get a visit from a terrible poet (Vanessa Bayer) who makes the students write about where they’d rather be than detention. Drake has really been the saving grace of the episode. Even when the material was so-so, Drake brought it. In this sketch, his poem is about his love for older ladies.
Drake – “Hold On, We’re Going Home”/”From Time”
A trio of morning show hosts reluctantly record promos for a week’s worth of episodes. They did this on the Miley Cyrus episode and it was great. Ditto here. Again, Drake is all-in and super game, like he was all episode.
Kinda lame to end Saturday Night *Live* with a pre-recorded sketch, but it gave newbies Mooney and Bennett some screen time.
Next week, two-time Oscar nominee Jonah Hill hosts with musical guests Bastille. On Feb. 1, Melissa McCarthy hosts with musical guests Imagine Dragons.