This weekend’s new episode of Saturday Night Live, hosted by Idris Elba, carried with it a lot of hype. The Luther star has been on many a wishlist for years, mostly because of his sense of humor in interviews and his perennial status as a rising star. Even though he’s a dramatic actor, he is legitimately funny. Luckily, early on in this show, that showed.
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Before that, though, let’s talk a little bit about the cold open — it was a decent comedic take on the R. Kelly – Gayle King interview, but was anyone else slightly uncomfortable about the whole ordeal? It’s always tricky when SNL takes on serious allegations. It is the responsibility of the show to tackle current events, or at least they consider it though. Whether or not we agree … well, that’s up for debate, but we don’t really feel comfortable grading it.
As for the rest of the sketches tonight, we’re gonna get into them now! Be sure to refresh throughout…
Idris Elba monologue – This was the perfect monologue for a first-time host, as Elba shared his personal story working in New York wanting to be successful prior to him getting a chance to be in The Wire and some other roles. This was inspirational, but also worthy of a few laughs. It’s the perfect addition to the Idris Elba brand. Grade: B+.
Can He Play That? – This was a biting, brilliant game-show spoof mocking Twitter outrage over actors playing controversial roles because they don’t look or identify with them in some way. This produced such lines as “the astronaut was secretly Mexican all along” and how nobody, apparently, can play Caitlyn Jenner. We do appreciate that the show is willing to “go there” mocking casting reactions, even if there are some times in which this actually is an important issue. Grade: B-.
Bok Bok’s Chicken – The entire premise for this sketch is a chicken restaurant with a scary mascot. Admittedly, we don’t know that much about the internet meme in which this was based, and that caused our personal enjoyment of this sketch to go careening down the hill. The scary moment with Bok Bok and the kids at the end at least was worth a jump or two. Grade: C-.
Power Point – Consider this a sketch made entirely by the performances of Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant’s complete failure to be able to deliver a proper presentation. This was absurd, gross, but really funny just for the terrible Power Point sight gags, including a cry for help, a photo of Wayne Brady that they couldn’t remove, and pie chart graphics that were actually clocks. Grade: B.
The Impossible Hulk – This could’ve ended faster than it did, but this was SNL social commentary at its finest. When Elba gets upset, he turns into an angry white woman played by Cecily Strong — who somehow gets whatever she wants, whereas he has to be constantly restrained in fear of having something happen to him. This was played out, in the end, across a number of different situations. Grade: B+.
The Gold Diggers of the WNBA – A really funny play on Basketball Wives/The Real Housewives featuring some guys trying to get with WNBA players … who aren’t anywhere near as successful financially as regular NBA players. It played up at least in part both reality TV conventions and what we expect from the ladies’ pro basketball world … but we also gotta say that it wasn’t entirely as funny as we thought it was going to be. Grade: B-.
Weekend Update – We had a feeling that the big headline tonight was bringing out the actual Gwyneth Paltrow to join Baskin Johns, Heidi Gardner’s GOOP salesperson who can’t remember the details about the products. Then, Pete Davidson came out and compared R. Kelly to the Catholic Church. We can imagine a lot of the phone calls that NBC is going to get the next morning. We understand Pete’s point here — that you can be attached to things because someone involved did some bad things — but this is still gonna be controversial. We had an appearance from Leslie Jones on the other side of this, but we admittedly had a hard time focusing just because we were still trying to deal with our feelings about Pete. Grade: B-.
Premiere League analysis – We didn’t expect that we’d be spending some time watching Idris Elba talking about soccer tonight … but here we are. Elba here played an analyst who was a complete waste of time and derailed the entire broadcast from start to finish. This was moderately funny, but also nothing that we haven’t seen before in some other form. Grade: C.
The Great Rudolpho – Here, Elba played a magician who needed a new assistant … and found it in the form of the owner’s wife. Yet, she wasn’t the same size as the previous assistant and she insisted that it wasn’t a problem … even if it was at times. It took a while to get to what the actual twist here was, and it was that the magician was actually looking to kill his wife … it just wasn’t working. Grade: C+.
Big Break – Beck Bennett wanted to get his big break, and he didn’t. Idris Elba did. That’s really the idea of this sketch … plus Beck freaking out about it. This was probably an eighth as creative as the sketch beforehand, but somehow it actually worked better — probably because it was tighter and didn’t feel as stunted. Grade: B-.
This wasn’t the best SNL episode, but at least it was edy and memorable! That counts for something.
What did you think about the Idris Elba episode of Saturday Night Live overall? Be sure to share right now in the comments. (Photo: NBC.)