Kieran Culkin and the Left Side of His Hair Crushed Saturday Night Live
Cecily Strong opened last night’s Saturday Night Live as Judge Jeanine in a Fox News segment—but let’s start with when she stole the whole show instead. In a startlingly effective bit of political commentary, she appeared as “Goober the Clown (who had an abortion at 23)” on Weekend Update.
Dressed in clashing patterns of yellow and pink, a water-squirting flower on her vest lapel, and Gilda-esque bushy pigtails sticking out over her porkpie hat, she pitched her voice high, sent her bow tie spinning, and shared the straight story of her abortion. “You don’t have to do this, Cecily,” said Colin Jost, still wet from being doused by her flower. “Who’s Cecily? I’m Goober, and I wish I didn’t have to do this because the abortion I had at 23 is my personal clown business. But that’s all some people in this country want to discuss all the time, even though clown abortion was legalized in Clown v. Wade in 1973.”
The balder her truth—like when she descrbed sitting around a large dinner table at which eight other women revealed they too had had abortions, and what a relilef it was for everyone to finally be sharing the grateful fact of their decision—the more she’d squeeze on her busted clown horn. “Honka honka honka!” Keep it light! Make it funny! Mustn’t let Jost or the audience feel threatened by a woman owning the rightness of such a big life decision.
In a genius wind-up to this urgent and destabilizing performance piece, Strong took a large hit of helium from a bright blue birthday balloon and demanded safe, legal, and accessible clown abortions. “We will not go back to the alley. I mean, the last thing anyone wants is a bunch of dead clowns in a dark alley.” As the audience clapped, she turned to Jost, her voice still spring-tight from the balloon, and sighed “Think I better disable comments on this one.” Protect this generous and brilliant woman at all costs.
Anything else the show did well last night was gravy. Kieran Culkin and his mesmerizing relationship with the left side of his hair was a perfectly fine host. He chose a surprisingly shiny vest and a too-big pair of shiny pants for his big audience hello. There was a slightly sweaty nervousness to him that his Succession character, Roman Roy, would probably both recognize and absolutely loathe. The best part of his monologue was rolling the tape of when he crashed the stage 30 years ago, when his brother Macaulay (Mac!) hosted. There he was during the cast goodbye, nine years old and making a hilariously unenthusiastic Kevin Nealon pick him up so he could ham alongside his aloft brother. What is more worrisome than a charismatic and stupidly adorable child actor?
Culkin’s best sketch was the completely accurate send-up of Spectrum customer service. The dude wants out. Help us, Spectrum. Let us get back to our day. Instead, Culkin gets hot potato’d through the ranks of reps who seem high on Nine Perfect Strangers smoothies, intent on vibing with Culkin’s frustrated caller rather than canceling his service. “I’m very close to being triggered,” he warns, to which Kyle Mooney’s blue-shirted Adam croons, “Very cool.” In the end Bowen Yang waits for us all at the end of the call, wearing a Christmas lights brain band and blue contact lenses. “I am the Spectrum, the source, the nexus, the provider,” he says. Resistance is futile. Spectrum’s landline offer is coming for all of us.
I loved the heart of the sketch about self-consciousness in the men’s room. Not about dick size, but men’s inability to be their authentic selves. Bowen Yang wants to feel closer to his new colleagues. Kieran Culkin is furious at himself for picking the urinal right next to Chris Redd’s. Andrew Dismukes can’t believe he entered the room asking the guys if they had big plans for the summertime, in November. The blue light of anxiety shines above Yang’s head as he worries aloud to himself, in one of the funniest lines of the night, “I’ve been standing here for so long. None of the automatic sinks work, but my hands are covered in soap!” In a surprise reveal, Tracy Morgan bursts out of the toilet stall in jeans and an ill-fitting pink button-up. It’s always lovely to see his friendly belly, but it seemed to have mucked with the bit’s finish. Lines seemed to be forgotten, and the sketch ended with the fellow bouncing around as if on a trampoline.
The most charming moment of the evening came during Ego Nwodim’s marvelous, predictably absurd repeat of her Dionne Warwick talk show. She sang her way through not getting her booster on air. She made Ed Sheeran, whose speedy recovery from Covid gifted us with two great performances, blush. “Now, you did a song called ‘South of the Border.’ My question is, are you nasty?” She quickly dispensed with Culkin’s Jason Mraz and Pete Davidson’s Post Malone. Fed up with interviewing lightweights she could care less about, Nwodim’s Dionne then welcomed the real Dionne. Enter the diva in black sequined tracksuit and platinum blonde hair. “Dionne, why are you perfect?” Nwodim asked. And then, “Dionne, would you like to sing a song for the people?” Warwick looked at her and purred: “Do they deserve it?”
We definitely don’t. And we got one anyway.
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Published at Sun, 07 Nov 2021 12:24:53 +0000