Weekend Update: Summer Edition — Too Much of a Good Thing, or The Perfect Show for The Moment?

Weekend Update Summer Edition
Photo Credit: Mark Ellen Matthews/NBC

Weekend Update: Summer Edition Plot Summary:

Colin Jost and Michael Che look at the news of the summer in this limited. spin-off series.

Melissa Jouben: How weird is it that we’re reviewing an entire episode of SNL devoted to Weekend Update, considering Mark and I rarely even mention Weekend Update in our usual SNL reviews? This week begins NBC’s Weekend Update: Summer Edition series that will likely take us from now until the beginning of the new season, which is expected to start sometime in October. Still hot after a summer off, the SNL audience has apparently been dying for the show’s unique blend of social commentary and satire to help them digest all the news that’s fit to print. Here to help them are some of SNL’s most prominent players: Weekend Update anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che. Also, some of the other cast members.

After a long applause from the studio audience, Che and Jost dove right in to the news and started with some of the most typical stories – namely, the tension between the United States and North Korea. Reviewing each individual joke feels an awful lot like taking all the fun out of hearing a joke, so I’ll just say that their jokes move at the pace and with the same level of wit that we’d expect out of Weekend Update at this point. Che and Jost are on their game with their banter and with their specific points of view that they bring to each news piece.

Photo Credit: Rosalind O’Connor/NBC

Very quickly, they introduce their first guests: Donald Trump Jr. (Mikey Day) and Eric Trump (Alex Moffat), to discuss the news and it relates to them and their family.

First, I want to point out that their presence on this special likely confirms that both players will be present for the new season, which ends the speculation I had just yesterday about whether Alex Moffat would make the cut. I’m glad!

Here, he elevates the Eric Trump impression slightly beyond the simple “and I’m Eric!” line that he contributed through most of his previous performances of the character and is slightly more engaging as the Trump that we still know just about the least about. On the other hand, Mikey Day’s Don Jr. is just shy of not even trying – it’s just Mikey Day in a Slenderman suit. I can’t even express how much I actually enjoyed it when he pulled out a fidget spinner to distract Eric, who at first doesn’t seem to understand how they work, and is then so entranced in it that his enjoyment of it steals the scene. Eric also builds a hotel out of Legos that is remarkably, hilariously, unimpressive.

They tell a joke about the man who was caught pleasuring himself during a screening of The Emoji Movie. The joke is alright, but mostly I still can’t believe that such a thing happened and that it happened so close to home. Literally. It happened in the movie theater five miles from my house.

They also have a joke where they poke fun at themselves and the fact that, “Every time NBC has even a mildly successful show, they overdo it and dilute the brand.” I appreciate them recognizing that. I won’t say that this show is diluting the brand, especially considering that news is happening so much and so fast that SNL can’t possibly take an entire summer off and expect to stay caught up, but I still don’t know if entertainment television is the best way to deliver news – especially considering how we got into this whole mess to begin with? It’s a complicated position to be in, where you’re excited to absorb as much SNL as you possibly can, while still recognizing that there is a limit that exists somewhere and we may be close to reaching it.

Photo Credit: Rosalind O’Connor/NBC

I would be so remiss if I didn’t talk about the appearance of Anthony Scaramucci — in character form, of course. Ever since the guy got the job that he only lasted eleven days in, everybody was abuzz about who would get to play him on SNL. Some suggested Chris Kattan for the role, which may have been nice. The obvious answer to the question – at least in its most recently proposed incarnation, “Who will appear as Anthony Scaramucci for probably just one time since he’s already no longer relevant” – is Bill Hader! Boy is he a sight for sore eyes. I mean, I don’t even know if this impression is accurate considering I didn’t even get to see the real Scaramucci do anything, but it’s certainly very biting, and VERY funny.

We also get a special visit from Keenan Thompson (who I actually thought was confirmed to be leaving, so I’ll have to look that up again) and everybody’s favorite cast member, Leslie Jones. I won’t spoil her bit. But it’s very Leslie, and therefore very good.

All in all, it was a fun and fast thirty minutes. Without commercial breaks, you’d barely realize this was a little bit longer than a normal segment of Weekend Update. If that’s your least favorite part of an episode of SNL or you usually skip it, good news: you don’t have to watch it at all! If you like Weekend Update, if you’re interested in not only staying up to date on the news but also in hearing what take the writers of SNL have on it all, or in seeing one or two bits that are completely unrelated to politics, then I think you’ll totally find that this is for you. I’m not actually sure how long the summer edition is expected to go on for, but I feel like it would be the most effective in a short three to four episode run. I guess we’ll see in the coming weeks if the Summer Edition of Weekend Update outlives its usefulness.

For now, I give it a 7 out of 10.

Mark Henely: While Melissa is right that we typically skip talking about Weekend Update in our usual SNL recaps, I find that’s really just a function of the fact that Weekend Update is not a segment of fluctuating quality. In a show that can be as hit or miss as SNL, Weekend Update stands as a consistent high point week after week. It got boring to just write “Weekend Update was hilarious” week after week.

And, you know what, this show wasn’t any different. It was great. It is really just the standard Weekend Update, but a little bit longer. It really speaks to the power of the segment that it can just be a fully developed and fully realized TV show exactly how it is.

Photo Credit: Rosalind O’Connor/NBC

The high point for me is the segment with Donald Jr. and Eric Trump. The segment they during last season was great and I really wanted to see them come back and do it again. Alex Moffet’s portrayal of Eric Trump as this completely helpless idiot who is incapable of lying is incredible. It’s like he seems to find thinking painful. He looks like he thinks all of his clothes are too tight and he plans on removing his shoes the second the camera shuts off.

Moffet’s Eric Trump is a feral man-child who is propped up as a businessman simply because he is the son of the President. The fact that he has no desire for the position or ability to execute its responsibilities. Some may decry the character as being too far away from the real Eric Trump, but I feel it’s the artistic license they take with the character that makes it profound metaphorically.

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