Willow Smith, Camila Cabello SNL Performance Plus Host Jake Gyllenhaal

Last week’s episode of Saturday Night Live with Jerrod Carmichael featured one of the best monologues in a long, long time, and yet also a ton of head-scratching decisions about which sketches to air and how to play them before and afterward. Certainly there’d be no confusion regarding how to handle Jake Gyllenhaal’s second-time hosting SNL this week, right?

What’s The Deal For The SNL Cold Open For Last Night (04/09/22)?

The show continues to try to throw a lot of characters into this season’s cold opens, even on a week like this one, when they seemingly have just one news event at the core of the premise: Ketanji Brown Jackson winning U.S. Senate confirmation to become the next justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

James Austin Johnson gets a week off from playing Trump (which seems weird even to type in the year 2022) to play President Joe Biden, congratulating Justice Jackson (Ego Nwodim) in the White House Oval Office. Chloe Fineman interrupts to hustle the president off to his next appointment, but not before his wish to speak to the past rubs off on the judge, who conjures up first the ghost of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Kate McKinnon gets one more chance to fire off RBG zingers, including jokes at Ted Cruz’s expense. Kenan Thompson shows up as the late Justice Thurgood Marshall, surprised at how much hasn’t changed; Punkie Johnson’s Harriet Tubman, on the other hand, is amazed by how much has changed; and Chris Redd’s Jackie Robinson warns that the racists probably will still throw batteries at her. All in all, it’s a nod not only to the nation’s progress in breaking racial barriers, but also to how far SNL has come since a 2013 cold open with Kerry Washington in the White House where SNL had to mock itself for its lack of cast diversity.

How Did The SNL Guest Host Jake Gyllenhaal Do?

Jake Gyllenhaal stars in the new movie Ambulance, but he didn’t even mention it! Sorry, Michael Bay. No plugs for you. Our man Jake is too busy reminiscing about how he first and last hosted SNL way back in 2007, when he dressed in drag for a Dreamgirls bit in that monologue, “and that was actually the leasst problematic thing in that episode.” Jake also disses his profession as “a really stupid job. It’s pretend and it’s fun and it should be filled with joy.”

And the guy who played “Mr. Magic” in John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch would be joyous and musical tonight, singing four different times in the episode, including this monologue, too — as Chloe, Ego, and Cecily Strong backed him up (wearing their pre-show backup dancer dresses) covering Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now.”

For a guy who said in the monologue he didn’t like to go Method, he didn’t get asked to portray real people we’d recognize, with two exceptions. The first is this pre-taped parody of the Property Brothers finds Jake and Mikey Day as “Dream Home Cousins” looking to give just that to a couple played by JAJ and Heidi Gardner. Only mother-in-law Bea (Kate) has other ideas, and the cousins have completely remade their home to Bea’s specifications. Even importing Bea’s green electric stove and toaster circa 1978 to the kitchen. And removing all the bathroom windows so “perverts and tuggers” can’t see mama Bea “make her dirt.” Kate knows how to play old lady cray cray. But, still. Yikes.

Mikey also introduces The Singers Four (Jake, Kate, Cecily, Bowen Yang) for their first big reunion gig in five years, so you’d expect something special. And yet. They dedicate this song to the people in the middle, neither winners or losers, who might be bad at sex but at least you won’t be afraid or upset? This sketch, on the other hand, wishes it could be in the middle.

The midnight “Spring Flowers” sketch, by contrast, would be no shrinking violet when it came to shooting its shot as a bit you’d remember. What with Bowen’s bee humping all four of the flowers (Jake, Sarah Sherman, Cecily, Chris), a dog peeing on the flowers, Kyle Mooney as an unwanted weed (how much is he playing into this meta-commentary of his role on the show, I wonder especially after seeing his once-again Cut For Time short). And then there’s Chris’s flower, a late bloomer who’s looking to make up for lost time. This sketch certainly provoked equal amounts of laughs and groans, but did it earn them?

This pre-taped bit, meanwhile, felt like a 10-to-1 idea that somehow moved up in the hour. It opens in a ladies room with colleagues gossiping. SNL recently set a similar sketch in the mens room, but this time the plot twists once the ladies realize that Chucky (yes, the doll from the Child’s Play movies) was in the stall listening to everything. Chucky (Sarah) starts stabbing the ladies (Chloe, Ego, Melissa Villasenor), as Chucky is wont to do. They all get called into HR, where Jake’s character calls them out for bullying and stabbing, respectively. And also everyone hates Janet (Aidy Bryant), who’s taking notes and eating tuna.

The best showcases for how great Jake can be came in the final half-hour, though. Cecily Strong, playing a wishing-to-remain-anonymous host of “Lights, Camera, Achoo!” introduces a clip of Jake one-upping Val Kilmer’s take on Doc Holliday. Jake’s Doc Holliday, sick with tuberculosis, coughs up blood and sneezes all over the bad guys, Curly Bill and Johnny Ringo (Alex Moffat and Andrew Dismukes). And even though this sketch drops all sorts of modern-day references to Pedialyte, CVS, and Valtrex, Jake’s commitment to the character’s defiance makes this sketch stand out.

He followed that up with this bit that had him reading aloud the texts from the “Couples Counselor” (Punkie) that his and Melissa’s characters go to for their first therapy session, only to find themselves embroiled in Punkie’s even higher-octane conflict with her girlfriend (Ego), who threatens to show up and kill her. Thankfully, nobody is harmed in this sketch, and after warning Jake not to do a voice when reading “gurl,” it’s all good.

How Relevant Was The Musical Guest Camila Cabello?

L’Oreal remembered to book their ad featuring Cabello as the company’s spokesperson during the show, so that’s extra relevant. Though not as important, timing-wise, as Cabello dropping her new album, Familia, on Friday. Her album release party “broke” TikTok this week. Her performances included two of the new songs from the album.

First came “Bam Bam,” which certainly sounded like a song featuring Ed Sheeran, even if Sheeran didn’t show up. Cabello and her dancers more than made up for it with their energy. Besides, her second song was an even bigger deal.

That’s because Willow’s onboard for “Psychofreak,” which features so many autobiographical allusions and meta-metaphors. Besides, it’s a banger that’s bound to be a smash hit.

Which Sketch Will We Be Sharing: “Why’d You Like It?”

Speaking of things on SNL that’ll hit home for millions of viewers, Kenan hosted a game show with contestants (Chloe, Chris, Jake) forced to admit to why they really double-tapped the like button on specific Instagram photos and accounts. Chris’s character keeps trying to “pass” his turn. Jake’s under more pressure as his girlfriend (Ego) is in the audience, admonishing him, because clearly, they all liked the selected photos for one and only one reason. They hoped someone would see their like and want to have sex with them. If anything, the sketch could’ve hit even harder with some solid escalation of stakes. The closest they came was but a tease, ending with a potential third round question: Why Did You React To Their Instagram Story Despite Never Meeting Them? which, I’m sad to admit, made me reassess how I use Instagram. Which is a good thing!

Who Stopped By Weekend Update?

Only one visit to the Update desk this week, and it was the pair of trend forecasters (Aidy and Bowen) who remind us what’s IN and what’s OUT right now. But mainly they emphasize what we should no longer be doing. On the OUTS: Jogging to Kelly Clarkson (because she’s too busy with her talk show to motivate you); Waiting outside the fitting room for your partner; and making a noise before you sneeze that sounds like an orgasm.

Their catchphrase, “Go to bed, bitch!” Sounds a little ominous, as if to warn viewers of what’s coming?

What Sketch Filled The “10-to-1” Slot?

What came at 12:56 a.m. Eastern was a live sketch that may or may not be sponsored by Love’s Travel Stops, and most definitely aims at the long-haul trucking lifestyle. Ego and Kyle play plain road-trippers who are baffled by what they see for sale inside, but thank goodness Aidy is there to hype up this 42-song CD collection, “Truck You, You Truckin’ Truck,” by Johnny Goblin (Jake). “Are all these songs about peeing?” Kyle asks. But wait, there’s more! Jake’s Johnny Goblin sings about sticking his hand in his pants after eating Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. He sings with Cecily and Andrew about blowing that horn for the kids, and about accidentally picking up El Chapo (Melissa)? it all sounds like Clancy T. Bachleratt and Jackie Snad have found kindred spirits to keep on truckin’.

Who Was The Episode’s MVP?

Kate McKinnon played three big characters in the first half-hour, but then had the rest of the night off. You knew Cecily Strong would show up anytime Jake sang. Ego Nwodim, however, carried the biggest load of the evening, from centering the cold open, then immediately backing up Jake in the monologue, providing balance to the game-show sketch and the 10-to-1, and a key part to two other sketches. Her comedic fingerprints were all over the episode. Unless you want to stop for another moment to give props to Mr. Music himself, Jake Gyllenhaal. Which reminds me, the only way for a guest host to do even more in a night is…

Next week, when Lizzo is both host AND musical guest!

Sean L. McCarthy works the comedy beat for his own digital newspaper, The Comic’s Comic; before that, for actual newspapers. Based in NYC but will travel anywhere for the scoop: Ice cream or news. He also tweets @thecomicscomic and podcasts half-hour episodes with comedians revealing origin stories: The Comic’s Comic Presents Last Things First.


Leave a Comment