Saturday Night Live: Kumail Nanjiani (host) and P!nk (musical guest).
Written by Melissa Jouben and Mark Henely
The Host – Kumail Nanjiani
Melissa: Kumail Nanjiani has been a well-loved stand-up comedian and actor for years, but thanks to his movie The Big Sick, which came out this summer, he’s been exploding in popularity with a more mainstream audience.
This is the episode I’ve been most looking forward to since they announced the first three hosts for this season. It’s always a treat when a standup hosts the show because it means we get to see a monologue used to its full potential and on an episode hosted by someone with as well-defined a comedic voice as Kumail, it’s hard for any sketch to top the monologue.
Honestly, it’s hard for other episodes in general to compete with one hosted by a comedian. It’s fun when an actor like Ryan Gosling shows up ready to be silly and have fun, but actors are always concerned with their public image at the end of the day, or show up with their own ill-advised ideas. Any ideas Nanjiani brought to the table this week definitely served to make the episode better, and his performance elevated every sketch, even when the premise or the writing wasn’t spot on. I’d go so far as to say that hosts like him only come around once or twice a season.
Check out Pop Break’s interview with Kumail Nanjiani, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano and the cast of The Big Sick.
Mark: I still can’t get used to the idea that Nanjiani is now a big enough star to host SNL. I remember showing anyone that would sit still for 10 minutes his spot on Comedy Central’s Live at Gotham when that was airing maybe seven years ago and I couldn’t be happier to see such a great comic become big enough to host a show like SNL. So, I came in with massive expectations for his performance.
And I think he did a pretty great job. The sketches themselves weren’t necessarily the best, but he did the best he can and no one can ask for more.
Best Sketch – Monologue
Melissa: Well, duh. Kumail Nanjiani is the first SNL host to perform standup to a national audience that aired live in every timezone, and it totally killed. How awesome is that? I started off ever-so-slightly awkward, I think due to the fact he had to do a lot more set up for an audience that was less familiar with him than the audiences he usually performs for at this stage of his career, but this was him at his best, making the absolute most out of a really amazing opportunity. While there were some decently funny sketches this week, the monologue is the only thing that you really truly need to see. That and “Customer Service.”
Worst Sketch – Office Halloween Party
Melissa: The owner of a company calls his staff while they’re enjoying their office’s Halloween party to deliver some bad news that affects everybody. Honestly, not even a bad sketch. It was definitely the weakest, with a quickly established premise and not a lot happening after that. It was relatively short, though, so that’s good. Overall it just wasn’t exciting or very memorable.
Mark: It really bummed me out that everyone got Hepatitis A at the end of this sketch. I know it’s only fictional and they didn’t actually get the disease, but I think things like this matter. It can really give put a damper on the rest of the show and turn the whole thing serious instead of silly.
Musical Guest: P!NK
Melissa: Is it Pink or P!nk, officially? [Editor’s Note: It’s P!nk] I’m not a super fan but her music is good and I appreciate her a lot. She’s a good singer and seems like a fun performer and her outfits were completely weird but in a way where I actually totally dug it. She was a fun choice for this episode.
Mark: Going in, I was excited to see P!nk. Then she played new songs and I kind of tuned out. Intellectually, I understand that the SNL performances are supposed to be a showcase for new music, but I just wasn’t into it.