Stranger Things leading man David Harbour made his Saturday Night Live debut. He made a valiant effort, but let's face it: Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a tough act to follow. But how can you entirely hate an episode that also features Billy Porter and Lin-Manuel Miranda? Also,those arms.
The highlight of the show was the spoof of Joker, Grouch, a gritty origin story of Oscar the Grouch that shows how Oscar, played by Harbour, was first a sanitation man driven mad on Sesame Street.
Other Sesame Street regulars reimagined included Snuffleupagus (Kenan Thompson as a pimp), Prairie Dawn (Chloe Fineman as a prostitute), broadcaster Guy Smiley (Bowen Yang), Bert (Alex Moffat), Ernie (Mikey Day), a Mexican Elmo (Melissa Villaseñor), a peep-show Big Bird (Heidi Gardner), and a pill-addicted Count (Beck Bennett). Ego Nwodim played a social worker named Susan (!) while Chris Redd, who is actually in Joker, is a fellow sanitation worker "Grover M." They even filmed on the same steps in the Bronx (between Anderson and Shakespeare Avenues on West 167th Street)!
Turns out that SNL writer Streeter Seidell wrote the sketch with Day... based on an idea from Harbour and Harbour's girlfriend, singer-songwriter Lily Allen. (Also Seidell was Cookie Monster.)
The Cold Open was political once again, this time with a CNN Equality Town Hall. Moffat reprised his Anderson Cooper, as candidates Senator Cory Booker (Redd), Mayor Pete Buttigieg (Colin Jost), Senator Elizabeth Warren (Kate McKinnon), Julian Castro (Lin-Manuel Miranda), and Vice President Joe Biden (Woody Harrelson). It was a pretty tame cold open—Miranda's Castro almost broke into "Alexander Hamilton"—but having Billy Porter emcee the town hall was a stroke of genius (his intro for Biden: "The Delaware Daddy whose only vice is the choo-choo train!"). Please have Porter host an entire episode of SNL:
The Monologue gave Harbour an opportunity to visit the Upside Down, a bizarro world where he finds Pete Davidson (making his first appearance of the season) and Lorne Michaels, as an NBC page.
The SoulCycle sketch didn't bring up billionaire investor Stephen Ross's ties to Donald Trump. Instead. it featured a look into the world of spinning instructors who have to be entertaining, deep, and aspirational.
The commercial parody was the excellent Father-Son Podcasting Microphone. Finally, dads can have a dialogue with their sons... and also promote Squarespace:
Weekend Update was pretty heavy on President Trump, with Jost and Michael Che feasting on the arrests of Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, the associates of Rudy Giuliani who were arrested last week. Davdison made an appearance to talk about STDs (and Joker) and Gardner's teen YouTube critic, Bailey Gismert, also mentioned Joker.
The Little Miss Teacher's Friend pageant featured a number of girls vying to be a teacher's pet. Of course, the teacher (Nwodim) doesn't really this idea, in spite of the students offering up their biggest tattles. Very reminiscent of the Nephews pageant from the Kit Harrington episode
Who knew folk trios were so dark? Peter, Paula, and Murray share their secrets in a benign song:
If you were hoping to see Harbour and McKinnon in drag and playing horny, Italian-American grandparents, then Sauce is for you. It's also the physical comedy sketch of the night.
Cecily Strong put on her Judge Judy robes to play Judge Connie Schaumberg (she asks, with an image of a dog wearing a MAGA hat, "Is a dog pushing its political beliefs onto your dog?") of the "110th-and-Amsterdam Dog Court." A perfect sketch, if only because it features dogs acting like dogs and not like actors who understand cues:
And if you loved Dog Court, here's the dress rehearsal, via Strong's Instagram, where she explains she was sick all week and that this sketch was a highlight:
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Here’s the dress version of this moment of pure joy (because it was the very first actual surprise). I was sick Sunday and most of the week and feeling totally beaten down and exhausted and just generally not as “up” as I would have liked to have been for the show and and especially because our host was so game and so fun and it makes me feel like a letdown. This came at the very end of a very long and funny dress. In the script, (written by Kent Sublette and Sudi Green and Fran Gillespie and not at all me I just lucked out) I’m holding a football helmet with a dog inside. I assumed chihuahua. They gave me a pug because I guess that’s become my brand (I don’t hate it 🤷🏻♀️). I said we are not putting this pug in this helmet, it’s too small. Kent said they’d rewrite it but before dress he asked if I would just hold both. He liked the joke. I said sure. The helmet fell off my lap immediately when Petunia hit my arms. She kiss attacked my face and it melted me. I think I almost cried after because it was like she was saying, as only a 6 month old puppy can, “DONT BE SAD! FEEL BETTER! DONT BE SICK! I LOVE YOU! SNAP OUT OF IT” and gave me some much needed real joy and warmth and it got me through the rest of the show. Thanks dogs. And thanks a Kent, Sudi, and Fran (sorry gals I fixed it!!!) for letting me be surrounded by dogs, number one spirit lifters. EDITING TO SAY A HUG FROM BILLY PORTER IS ALSO A NUMBER ONE SPIRIT LIFTER ❤️❤️❤️
A commercial for Giuliani and Associates was cut for time:
Musical guest Camila Ceballo dressed as Marie Antoinette to sing "Cry for Me" and went contemporary for "Easy."