Culture Trips

Saturday Night Live: Maya Rudolph encounters ghosts – and guest stars | Saturday Night Live

We open with an MTV Spring Break dating show for “hot, infectious singles”, called Snatched, Vaxxed, or Waxed.

Hosted by Cece Vuvuzela (Maya Rudolph), the show, coming live from Miami Beach, Florida, during a global pandemic (“We are so close to the end – let’s ruin it!”) the show sees dumb college bros (and one off-duty cop) compete for equally dumb college women by guessing which of the three title categories they fall under.

It’s all so rapidfire that it’s hard to be clear what’s going on. A few funny lines stick out – “Florida, Adderall, meth!” “Versace murder steps” – but none really land. It’s also a baffling choice for a cold open. One gets the feeling this was a last-minute switch-out.

Former cast member (and current semi-regular) Rudolph hosts. Her optimism about the end of the pandemic and her own children being in the audience puts her in a contemplative mood.

She brings out “the new kids in the cast” – Andrew Dismukes, Punkie Johnson and Lauren Holt (or Chirpy, Little Deedee and Calista Vagina, as she refers to them) – to impart some wisdom.

But thanks to all the brain damage she’s suffered over the years by way of being electrocuted in the bathtub one too many times, she confuses memories of the show with the plot of The Breakfast Club.

This leads to Rudolph and the young comedians singing along to the chorus of Don’t You (Forget About Me). As with the cold open, there are a few funny bits scattered throughout, but it feels a bit pointless.

Up next is a new episode of the popular YouTube talkshow Hot Ones, where “celebrities answer hot questions while eating even hotter wings”. The guest is Beyoncé, who “still can’t tell if this is beneath me”. Regardless, she quickly realizes she’s in over her head, as the various hot sauces – including selections Hitler’s Anus and the Devil’s Diarrhea – has her sweating buckets and trying to keep from “blowing out [her] pants on [the] janky-ass show”.

At one point, she demands her hair stylist “take my wig off, put six ice cubes on my head, and put my wig back on”, only for her controlling publicist to override the order.

Eventually, she calls it quits before her body team swoops in like the CIA and shuts everything down.

Kudos to the show for finding an unexpected setup to place Rudolph’s Beyoncé in. This should be the template for more of their celebrity impression sketches.

Then, A Kamala Harris Unity Seder has Rudolph’s vice-president giving a Passover message to her “adopted people”. She brings out second gentleman and “Semitic smokeshow”, Doug Emhoff (Martin Short), who vacillates between coy shyness and uncontrollable physical passion for his wife.

The couple eventually welcome their guests, including the despicable Ted Cruz (Aidy Bryant), second daughter and pretentious fashion model Ella Emhoff (Chloe Fineman), and President “JaBiden” (Alex Moffat, whose impression has slightly improved, although there’s still too much George W Bush in it).

Biden has brought along “retrained” first dog Major, who promptly mauls Doug Emhoff, giving Short a good reason to flail about while the president and vice-president passive-aggressively spar, until they’re all interrupted by Representative Majorie Taylor Greene, who enters through the window (“Doors are ruining this country,” she explains).

The sketch is ups and downs – Short, great as always, puts a unique spin on his character, but the others aren’t a match for him.

Meanwhile, the relationship between Biden and Harris feels much more on target here than in past episodes, but the show’s continued reliance on a wacky portrayal of Greene continues to leave a sour taste in the mouth. It also seems clear that this was meant to be the cold open but had to be swapped for whatever reason.

The musical guest is Jack Harlow.

On Weekend Update, Colin Jost lays into the GOP’s opposition to even the most basic gun control reforms, to which Michael Che responds: “I don’t know what you talking about – I just bought a gun last summer when all those white kids were talking about getting rid of the police.”

The recent spate of horrific violence continues to be the main theme, as they’re later joined by “Asian Cast Member” Bowen Yang, who pleads with everyone to “do better”.

Next, a dance troupe welcomes a new choreographer, but there’s a mix-up that results in the dual hiring of sassy drama queens and former lovers Richard PaQuest (Kenan Thompson) and Tanya KaTanque (Harris). Their rolling love/fight-fest sees Thompson and Harris gets some laughs but there’s a lot of dead air.

The 2021 Barfly awards is a ceremony celebrating drunks for such honors as Wildest Claim (“I had sex with a ghost”, “I can run a two-minute mile”, “I came up with the idea of the rolling suitcase, I can show you the email”), Most Bummer Detail (“It’s my last weekend with my foot”, “I’m 41 years old”, “My husband’s in this jar”) and Most Destructive Trip to the Bathroom. The solid premise feels a little underutilized, but it’s still a lot of fun.

The Maya-ing is a short film shot in the style of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shinning, in which Rudolph travels the haunted halls of Studio 8H. There, she encounters a couple ghosts, and one squatter, played by Tina Fey, Kristen Wiig and Rachel Dratch.

Between the great guest turns, excellent directing and a number of hilarious non-sequiturs – Rudolph silently contemplating a picture of former host Kevin Spacey, wistfully reminiscing about one-time musical guests Sum 41 (“That was when music was music”) and catching Beck Bennett stealing money out of her purse, this may just be the best sketch of the entire season, and the perfect note for the episode to go out on.

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