Adele, the Grammy Award-dominating world-famous singer known for her unstoppable voice and heartbreaking torch songs, hosted Saturday Night Live for the first time this weekend, with musical guest H.E.R. Coming five years since her last album and in the midst of a pandemic, the timing for her comedic debut hosting the show seemed quite random when it was announced, but she did a very good job of throwing herself into the deep end, and ended up hosting possibly the least bad episode of this not particularly good season so far.
Adele acknowledged why she was hosting now and not performing (her new album isn't done yet), the chatter around her weight loss, and her predilection for swearing during the Monologue, which wasn't that hilarious but was charming and set the tone for the night.
The most memorable sketch of the night was The Bachelor. Instead of the usual formula with these parodies, in which SNL castmembers really let loose with absurd impersonations of the desperate, sloshed contestants, this sketch was all about Adele being an overdramatic contestant on the show who keeps bursting into her famous songs—and it totally worked.
Weekend Update has been the high point for the entire show this season so far. While I'm not the biggest fan of Colin Jost and Michael Che as co-anchors, their political jokes have occasionally had more bite and personality in them than anything in the dreadful cold opens, and Che's willingness to acknowledge the audience reactions and adjust to some of the material on the fly has worked very well.
The guests have been even better, and this week we got an appearance from the woefully underused Melissa Villaseñor on how she's spent her quarantine time alone; it didn't seem like the studio audience really loved it, but her impressions are absolute gold. And you don't want to miss The Village People On Donald Trump Using Their Music. It was the best segment of the entire episode, Kenan Thompson got some of his best line readings of the year, and if you only watch one thing this week, watch that.
A bunch of people (Adele, Bowen Yang, Heidi Gardner, Ego Nwodim) got to get their fortunes read by Madame Vivelda (Kate McKinnon) in 2019, and her outlook for 2020 is appropriately confusing and scary.
Has a castmember ever returned full-time to SNL after leaving? There were a couple in the '80s and '90s (Harry Shearer, Al Franken, Don Norvello), but most of them either were on for very limited stints or returned mostly to be writers; Darrell Hammond kind of came back in 2014, but only as a behind-the-scenes presence as an announcer. At this point, maybe Maya Rudolph should become the first longtime castmember to do so, because it's clear that she is better at sketch comedy than almost anyone else alive, and the SNL writers just about always strike gold with whatever they throw at her. Case in point, Visiting Grandma was a totally adequate sketch that was elevated into something more special by Rudolph's pinpoint performance at the titular grandma.
We finally got a solid 10-to-1 sketch this season with the ad for Ass Angel Jeans, which included Rudolph, Adele, and my favorite Beck Bennett performance of the night. As the season goes on, I can only hope that SNL gets looser and weirder with unleashing more bizarre sketches like this.
On the one hand, Africa Tourism seemed to exist right on the line of painfully offensive stereotyping—was it mocking the white British divorcées touting the regenerative effects of an African vacation, or was it just lazy writing filled with exploitative cliches? On the other hand, Adele broke hard in this sketch, and it was hard not to laugh along with her.
At eleven minutes and thirty seconds, Final Debate Cold Open was the shortest of all the political cold opens this season thus far, which makes it by default the best cold open of the season yet. That doesn't mean it was good—it was just a slightly more forgettable brand of awful compared to the tremendous awfulness of the previous cold opens. I appreciate that they didn't shove a Kamala Harris cameo into it this time, instead having Maya Rudolph play moderator Kristen Welker. Jim Carrey did seem to be trying to rein in his Joe Biden impression slightly, but it remains off the mark entirely. And it says a lot that the only castmember to appear whatsoever in the cold open was Kate McKinnon's poetically grotesque Rudy Giuliani, who got to reference his infamous Borat scene and then disappear.
Check out the rest of the sketches below, including: Chad In A Haunted Mansion, which was exactly like every other pre-taped Chad sketch; and Election Ad, which was my least favorite sketch of the night, a vapid and shallow political sketch.
H.E.R. performed the sultry, '80s R&B throwbacks "Damage" and "Hold On."
We have an exciting Halloween lineup next weekend: John Mulaney, who is always great on SNL, will host for the fourth time, and will be joined by musical guest The Strokes.