The most important thing to know about last night’s episode of Saturday Night Live is that host Jason Sudeikis went full Ted Lasso in his monologue. (The second most important thing is that later in the show, he busted out his old red Adidas tracksuit—but more on that in a bit.) His face naked of Ted’s mustache, his hot Dad bod swathed in a brown velvet suit, Sudeikis talked about how “neat” it was to be a small part of the show’s history. He urged everyone in Studio 8H, from the crowd to the crew, to pause and soak in the power that’s passed through these walls. It was a full-on locker room speech, delivered by an Emmy-winning everyman to a kid out there in Virginia who might be watching SNL uploads on YouTube and fantasizing about his own future in comedy. Do you believe in miracles, little guy? Because this episode was great from start to finish.
In a fine bit of layered trolling, the cold open poked fun at both President Biden’s slumping approval rating and the show’s inability to nail down his impersonation. Newbie James Austin Johnson, looser than he was in the season premiere, bemoaned his bad run. “People used to like me. The press would call me Uncle Joe. I miss the old me. Where the hell did that guy go?” Enter Sudeikis, Best Party Attitude in a ball cap and a bomber jacket, shooting finger guns from around his back, ready to crack wise and rub shoulders. Biden from eight years ago wants the President to lighten up. “I hope this doesn’t sound sexist, but you got to smile more, sweetie.” Yeah, I’d like to see Biden 2013 try that line on Jen Psaki. She’d make him choke those words back with her patented cock of her head.
What made Sudeikis’s sentimental reverence at the top of the show so endearing was that after that speech, he threw it out the window. Ted Lasso is one my top 5 favorites, but I didn’t want a Saturday night filled with Believe bits. Instead, Sudeikis leaned, literally, into his devilish side. Hotsy totsy, the Parent Teacher Conference sketch was somehow more erotic than the Fifty Shades of Grey movies. “Should I use the big chalk or the little chalk?” Ego Nwodim purred to Sudeikis, who should wear glasses and sit in miniature chairs more often. As Twitter throbbed, Sudeikis mounted Nwodim atop his desk and the two proceeded to have a most enviable make-out session. Give these two an apple. A girl can dream that perhaps they found themselves back in each other’s embrace at the afterparty.
Sudeikis played a more frustrated teacher in the PBS Science Morning sketch, in which his permed periodic table expert tried to educate young minds about the solar system. Cecily Strong and Mikey Day were fantastically out-to-lunch as awkward student volunteers. Strong sucked on her retainer like it was a mouse in her mouth, and Day’s vacancy almost made Sudeikis break after he leaned into the boy’s ear and whispered, “Go to hell.” Our desperate host asked at one point, “What is matter?” Day replied, “Nothing, I’m good.”
Weekend Update had a handful of truly great jokes as well. “Johnson & Johnson reported that their Covid vaccine for children is just Capri Sun,” said Colin Jost. Discussing Walmart’s plans for this year’s Black Friday sale, Michael Che noted “experts believe it could be the most violent gathering of Walmart shoppers since January 6.” But, again, it was all eyes on Sudeikis, who returned as the Devil, there to comment on the last few years of rotten news. The Devil was loose, chatty, feeling like the cock of the walk after working on some of his recent projects like climate change and Instagram for Kids. “You saw that the Astros won? They shouldn’t have.” About Jost’s new wife Scarlett Johansson, the Devil was decidedly direct. “You baby trapped her!” Sudeikis accused. “I don’t know who screwed her more, you or Disney. You baby trapped her!”