Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Subscribe in a reader
Saturday Night Live recap: Timothée Chalamet makes his hosting debut


Timothee Chalamet


 Friends, Romans, Coneheads! Lend me your ears. I come to recap the latest episode of SNL season 46, not to bury it. This SNL in Review episode features first-time host Timothée Chalamet, one of generation Z’s foremost actors and already the third youngest performer to ever earn a Best Actor nomination at the Oscars. Beyond being one of Hollywood’s premier next guard talents, he is also the subject of one of Chloe Fineman’s best impressions. Nothing would please me more than a ‘Dueling Brandos’ style face-off between the two of them.

Tonight’s musical guest is the opposite of Chalamet the upstart: words fail to describe Bruce Springsteen’s legend adequately. Tonight is his fourth appearance performing on SNL — previously he appeared in season 17 and 28, and he last showed up nearly five years ago, to the week. I am joined tonight by former SNL cast member Gary Kroeger, who was the first SNLer to impersonate Springsteen on the show. (For those keeping score: Kroeger played The Boss in the “I Am Also The World” sketch in the March 30, 1985 episode hosted by Hulk Hogan and Mr. T.)

Kroeger recalls “Jim Belushi thinking that he should be Bruce because Bruce was the biggest act in the world at the time...I won out simply because I could look a bit like him and could actually sing in a gravelly voice.” He adds: “The immediate audience recognition when I stepped into frame — with an intentional underbite — and sang fairly accurately, was very pleasing. I was proud of myself...I wasn't asked to talk like him, just to sing a line in a Bruce-ish way. I think the leather jacket and hair styling was 90% of the impression.” What a snapshot. Maybe this is one way to fittingly convey how prolific and essential Springsteen has been throughout his career — SNL was spoofing him way back in season 10.

So Chalamet/Springsteen are quite a billing contrast. (By the time he won his Oscar for Philadelphia, already 20 years into his career, Chalamet wasn’t even born.) Live from [wherever you’re reading this] it’s Saturday Night!

We are back in The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer — an “indoor man with an outdoor name.” He compares the approval of the Pfizer vaccine to the Ps5. Beck Bennett has made Blitzer a recurring character, of late. Dr. Fauci is back, and this time he is not played by Brad Pitt, as he was during the #SNLatHomes. This time, Kate McKinnon gets the ball — looking a helluva like Katrina Johnson’s Ross Perot from All That. McKinnon continues to play male members of the administration.

This cold open seems to struggle finding the humor here — Heidi Gardner does commendable work as Dr. Birx.

“There ain't one damn funny thing about COVID-19 to me,” says Kroeger. “Maybe there is humor in our new societal adjustments to living in isolation, but, personally, I am separating how seriously I take this pandemic, from what I find entertaining.” This is the line SNL rides every week.

Still, Kroeger is a fan of the current cast, saying: “I've never admired anyone more than Kate McKinnon, but you know who I relate to?  Beck Bennett. I understand his every move, glance, pause and delivery. I have this gut feeling that we find the same kinds of things funny.  I got to say hi to him at the 40th reunion and was taken aback by how unassuming and authentic he was.  No star trip about him at all. I relate to that.”

Chalamet is ecstatic. He grew up about 12 minutes away, in Hell's Kitchen. His mom did backup work on SNL in the 80s — in fact, she appears as a partygoer in the classic Massive Headwound Harry sketch, and was almost spit on by Chris Farley. The show cuts to her in the audience, wearing a mask.

His monologue is dedicated to spending his holidays in New York City growing up. He is joined by Pete Davidson, who smells. He relates a (slightly) different Christmas experience in Staten Island. 

“I only know of Timothée from reputation, his Oscar nomination, and the fact that I know he is a heartthrob," says Kroeger. "I have teenagers and I recognize when an actor's appeal transcends even their work; he has charisma beyond being a serious actor.”

Chalamet is not known for his comedic chops, so it will be curious to see how the show utilizes him tonight. He was a little nervous and giggling here. Kroeger comments: “I don't think it ever matters whether a host is a dramatic actor, a singer, a comedian, or a politician. The show's foundation is the writing and the cast and I have 100% confidence in this era of SNL talent. Sometimes, in fact, it was the host who was a fish out of water that made for the most surprising moments and the most fun. Back in my day I found people like George McGovern and newsman Edwin Newman to be fun surprises. And Ron Howard, who, yes, we obviously knew he could do comedy, but was coming into his zenith as a film director and he brought his likable nature to being serious about the work.”

Cecily Strong and Beck Bennett are parent COVID-19 strands, who welcome their daughter (Lauren Holt) home for the holidays. Andrew Dismukes is her boyfriend...who infected Tom Hanks.

The Herpes — Oral and Genital — come over. They always appear when people are stressed out! Chalamet is the family black sheep — he failed at infecting New Zealand. There’s a family squabble.

This has a very surreal, intentional vibe. Does it work? At all? The self-amused puns and goofy/cringe costumes are like a spoof of a vintage SNL sketch. And, with nearly 300,000 dead from the pandemic in the United States, this swings hard for a very specific, dicey tone. God help us.

“This is a major purchase!” cries Heidi Gardner, furious at Beck Bennett for buying a car without consulting the family. He’s been out of work since March 2019. Things go south from there. This is a funny take on incessant tone-deaf and rosy car commercials. Bennett is perfectly cast as the oblivious, pathetic dad. He could make a great live-action Randy Marsh.

(And in a bit of potential irony, Fred Armisen appears in a commercial for Cadillac immediately following this sketch. Could this be a bit of network-sponsor synergy?)

Ego Nwodim plays Warwick, who just discovered Twitter. (She went viral several times this week.) Punkie Johnson is Brittany, her producer and niece.

Her first guest is Harry Styles, played by Chalamet. Warwick cannot place him. “Why is Wendy Williams acting like a bitch to me?” she asks him. She then shoos him away. Next up: her cooking segment with Andrew Dismukes. She sings, and returns to her chair.

Her next guest is Billie Eilish (Melissa Villaseñor), who performed on SNL in 2019. And Yahtzee — here is Chloe Fineman as Chalamet himself. Warwick asks him to help her clapback at Wendy Williams. I am disappointed this is how they utilized this; there are so many ways to be meta here. Isn’t meta SNL’s sweet spot?

Then, Pete Davidson plays his real-life friend, Machine Gun Kelly, former Eminem foe and current pop punk artist.

The Farm

Beck Bennett, Heidi Gardner and Timothée Chalamet are playing yet another family. They are past due on their bills, and must sell the family farm. Even the animals. Chalamet begins to sing: he is feeling very alone. He must set his claymation tiny horse free. So ~RaNDom! This seems purposefully designed for the meme machines, the TikTok brethren. Tiny Horse goes onto big things — getting married to AOC, and appearing on The Tonight Show. “Git!”

The audience seems mystified by this one.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post