Saturday Night Live cold open: Gayle King, R. Kelly interview spoofed

SNLWhat happened with tonight’s Saturday Night Live open? We’ll admit that going into it, we weren’t as sure what the show’s producers would do as we’ve been in the past. There weren’t as many political headlines of the past several days — we don’t want to consider this stretch of time quiet by any means, but in comparison to many other periods in this past news cycle, you could almost call it that.

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We had a feeling that the show would go with R. Kelly in the cold open, mostly because it was the big pop-culture headline of the past several days. It’s still odd that the show didn’t do anything political — but, like we said, it’s been a quieter time politically. This sketch featured Leslie Jones as King interview Kenan’s Robert Kelly, who was desperate to try and figure out a way to spin the interview in order to suit his fancy. First, that meant him singing to himself; then, that meant trying to pretend like he wasn’t altogether successful. The interview got pretty dark at times, with SNL really diving into the darker corners of the recent R. Kelly headlines. We’re not some who’s actively followed every single headline, so we’ll admit that we didn’t pick up on all of them.

Did the show need to do this? That’s the question that we’re going to be wondering for a while, mostly because some of the stuff R. Kelly did is no laughing matter. The show didn’t exactly present him in a comedic light, but this has long been a tricky spot for SNL in the Me Too era. Can you make fun of accused predators? We’ve seen the show do so repeatedly, especially with Bill Cosby (another character Kenan has played over the years) in a multitude of different sketches.

If you can get past that specific part of the sketch’s premise, we suppose that there were some funny, absurd lines in here, including from R. Kelly’s “crisis manager” and then also his lack of awareness as to what was going on around him. That included him referring to Gayle King as “jail king’ while also not knowing that there was a camera directly in front of him.

The one part of the sketch that will be very remembered for diehard fans of the show was when Kenan, still in character, turned the wrong direction to say that “live from New York!” line instead of facing the audience. We can’t really picture the last time that happened where there was an intentional flub of the line, which is a tradition that goes back for decades.

In the end, we’d describe this cold open in one way: Polarizing.

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