Rami Malek‘s a Killer SNL Host, But Bowen Yang Stole the Show


    Rami Malek‘s a Killer SNL Host, But Bowen Yang Stole the Show

    The Oscar winner and Bond villain helmed a triumphant Saturday Night Live—though even he was no match for Yang’s Daddy Long Legs.

    Hell yeah, we got ourselves a proper host. Rami Malek understood the assignment. Saturday Night Live is always best with a gifted actor at the helm who can also cut loose. The No Time to Die star, who leading up to the episode felt like a filler slot as we wait with bated breath for Jason Sudeikis next week, wound up being tremendous. Right from his assured monologue, in which Malek acknowledged his resting villain face, you could tell the evening was going to cook.

    But first, the writers wisely tacked away from politics for the cold open. Without a good Joe Biden in their chamber (again: Sudeikis is coming!), and the budget deal dragging, they set their sights on the hopeless inanity of the NFL. James Austin Johnson had a good turn as disgraced Raiders’ bag of trash Coach Gruden, who claimed his outrageous emails were just another case of getting burned by autocorrect. There was only one thing that could remedy the NFL’s PR disaster, besides Kyle Mooney’s Stinky Italian mascot and Heidi Gardner’s former cheerleader turned newly elected Chairman for Women’s Relations. If a new head coach was needed because the last guy turned out to be an offensive dick, well then, Levar Burton was there to save the day. “Suck on that, Mayim Bialik,” said Kenan Thompson.

    Malek and Pete Davidson had a couple of great two-handers. Their country Squid Games video was a beaut: Two good old boys down on their luck, desperate to keep their trucks and puppies, are driven into the dystopian nightmare of the blood-sprayed hit TV show. Never mind the fact that when Davidson converted the winnings to U.S. dollars, he walked away with $47.89.

    But it wasn’t until the Celebrity School sketch that you realized how freakily similar these two men look—especially when Malek, slouching in a tie-dyed hoodie, turned on the comedian’s itchy Staten Island vibe. In his monologue, Malek joked about his actual twin brother swapping places with him during the night in a sketch. Davidson could well be their missing triplet. Other celebrity impersonations worth praising here: Melissa Villasenor did a masterful Kristen Wiig; Johnson’s Adam Driver was marble mumble delight; and my kingdom for a chance to see Chloe Fineman’s Jennifer Coolidge go up against the real one.

    Bowen Yang was the real MVP of the evening, though. In the Bug Assembly sketch, his Daddy Long Legs came to slay all the other earnest student bugs. Clad in navy spandex and high heel boots, with a little sequin cap and big spider booty, he was ready to slutdrop and educate. “What does a Daddy Long Leg eat?” his teachers wondered. “Boys, boys, BOYS!” When pressed for some actual science facts about his assigned bug, his student with a Bravo executive father said, “I’m hot, I party, I walk into a room, and I’m respected.” Do not bother him with your irrelevant questions, girl ladybug!

    Yang was the highlight of Weekend Update as well, after Colin Jost introduced welcomed his “Proud, Gay Oompa-Loompa” up on stage to comment on the first official set photo of Timothee Chalamet as young Willy Wonka. “Oh my God…. you just, um, outed me on national television,” Yang worried. There were also still facts that needed clearing up about the Oompa-Loompas’ upcoming factory strike. Wonka, said Yang, is an ideas man who doesn’t appreciate the labors of his workforce. “Meanwhile, we’re up all night rehearsing the little song and dance we do when a child dies!” IATSE, represent.

    Thompson and Malek came to trade licks in a Prince-off to get the part in Jordan Peele’s upcoming biopic. Malek is an almost disturbingly good Prince; Thompson is a cheerful pitcher of grape juice. Their cues were wonderful. “Prince stepping on a Lego!” “Prince gets shot in the stomach!” Enter Daniel Craig in a Robin Hood prince costume, and you’ve got yourself a winner of a sketch. Craig lingered for a second sketch, appropriate after his March 2020 hosting performance promoting No Time To Die—which would immediately get pushed because of COVID.

    Musical guest Young Thug was terrific, and what a pleasure to see Travis Barker play the drums instead of chewing on Kourtney Kardashian’s face for a change. But it was the reds and pinks of “Love You More”—the emotive range of Nate Ruess’ voice complementing the dull ache of Young Thug and Gunna—that got me.

    Speaking of: even Malek’s introductions of Young Thug felt somehow grander and more joyful than the average host. His power as a live performer was almost mysterious. (Was he as good as I think, or am I just punch-drunk seeing a gifted performer up there after workhorse Kim Kardashian’s not embarrassing/not inspired performance last week?) He looks to be a diminutive fellow, but he carried himself as tall as Young Thug. 

    This is a man completely alive on a stage (or a Sleepy Town mattress!)—his elocution crisp, almost musical, and his physicality loose and in the moment. If Yang’s Daddy Long Legs was going to hit up a dance club after the show, Malek’s stink bug could totally hang. After his cast goodbye, Malek sprang from the ground and wrapped himself around his co-star Daniel Craig’s steamboat of torso. Half Bond’s size, but somehow equal heft. He’ll live to see another night as host.

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    Published at Sun, 17 Oct 2021 12:16:57 +0000

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