Written by Mark Henley & Melissa Jouben
The Host – Tiffany Haddish
Melissa: Prior to airtime, I read a lot of people congratulating Tiffany Haddish for being the first Black woman comedian to host SNL. I know that this isn’t technically true because Maya Rudolph has hosted, but it is definitely true that SNL has a pretty public problem hiring Black women, so it’s a rare treat when someone like Tiffany Haddish hosts. My biggest concern for her going into the episode was that she was going to have to explain herself to an audience who may be largely unfamiliar with her, a fear I have whenever the host is a comedian.
I wasn’t too worried, though, because I knew she’d knock it out of the park, and she did. I do think the episode overall was kind of lackluster and didn’t take all of the opportunities that were likely in front of them this week. Whole stretches would go by without a meaningful appearance from Haddish, which felt a little like they were at a loss what to do for her this week. She came to bring her A game but the show, as it went in, proved only to be giving her their C game or something. I think she deserves a make up episode if you ask me.
Mark: I didn’t know who Tiffany Haddish was going into this episode, but I was immediately impressed. During her monologue, she introduced herself as being an actress from Girl’s Night, but I could tell she was a stand up comic from the confident way she delivered her monologue. I found Tiffany to be incredibly charismatic (the friend I was watching this with snapped her fingers several times in agreement to what she was saying during the monologue) and I thought she was a more than competent host.
Best Segment of the Night – Monologue
Melissa: It is always going to be true that when a comedian hosts, their monologue is going to be the funniest part of the episode. When you let them let loose with their own material, they start the show on a confident and powerful note. Haddish’s monologue helped the audience get a crash course in who she is and by the end of it, it was hard for anyone who didn’t know her to be in love with her.
Worst Segment – Lion King Auditions
Melissa: My sister summed it up best when she said “I wanted more of that, but better.” An impressions parade like this can be a lot of fun to watch, but all the impressions in this were extremely lackluster. The dialogue they were delivering was never that funny, and didn’t even get the opportunity to be elevated by the accuracy of the impression because no impression was truly that accurate. It was just a bit time filler, one of those sketches where you’re watching it with someone and you use it as an opportunity to continue the conversation you were having before the commercial break ended.
Mark: SNL has a problem where they want to produce sketches where they can showcase a long series of impressions, but sketches that only exist to showcase impressions are inherently vapid. They continually try to find ways to showcase these impressions (see Celebrity Family Feud, Celebrity Price is Right, etc.) and I thought this was an especially vapid version of this concept.
Musical guest – Taylor Swift
Melissa: I am not aboard the Swift train one bit, and I was the least excited about her being on the show that I’ve been about any host or musical guest all season. I can’t bring myself to compliment her performance, and I am going to hold my tongue about how much I disliked the marketing for this episode centering around her. All I will say is that I’m very glad that she didn’t perform “Look What You Made Me Do” and I guess I owe her a small debt of gratitude for not making me sit through it.
Mark: I don’t like the music that Taylor Swift makes and I don’t like it when she dances.