HomeTelevisionSaturday Night Live Review: Sterling K. Brown, James Bay Headline

Saturday Night Live Review: Sterling K. Brown, James Bay Headline

Sterling K. Brown on SNL
Photo Credit: Will Heath/NBC

Saturday Night Live: Sterling K. Brown (host), James Bay (musical guest), Vanessa Bayer (cameo appearance).

Written by Mark Henely & Melissa Jouben

The Host – Sterling K. Brown

Melissa: Oh, is Sterling K. Brown a dramatic actor? I wouldn’t have any way of knowing that if not for this episode of SNL. A really weird thing to focus so heavily on in the monologue, to the point where his whole monologue was just him overdramatically discussing his week at SNL and crying a lot. When Leslie Jones came out to tell him they had to get on with the monologue I was like, “Thank God someone said something.” I think Brown’s energy level was right, and he had more enthusiasm I’ve seen from a host in a long time, but one week just isn’t enough time to adjust someone to performing on live television.

Oddly enough I think “Doctor Love” might have been his strongest performance of the night, because there’s a kind of comfort in playing a character with so much frantic energy that he just sank into it and relaxed. This isn’t to say that his performance in every other sketch was bad, but a joke can’t land if it isn’t delivered right, and there was some shaky delivery all around this week. I want to file him in the category of “hosts that I’m excited to see try again” because for someone as excited as he was, and as genuinely talented an actor as I know he is, I think his performance will only benefit from knowing what to expect next time.

Aside from Brown’s performance, this episode wasn’t a particularly exciting one. When I write these reviews I always try to think about what the highlights are in additional to what people will be talking about online the next day, and I’m kind of coming up dry. If you didn’t watch and hate to be that person who misses out, maybe watch the cold open, which was a parody of The Bachelor finale as well as the Mueller indictments. If that doesn’t interest you, I think you’re safe; even the This is Us parody “This is U.S.” was such a soft execution on a decent idea that it didn’t really register as anything.

Mark: There is a joke in amongst Moms and Drunk Aunts right now that This Is Us is the show that makes everyone cry. I also wasn’t familiar with Sterling K. Brown, but I know enough Moms and Drunk Aunts to know that This is Us is about crying. So, Sterling cried a lot during the monologue. Which, I guess is a bit of a jump. Usually the audience cries, but this time he is crying. Unless he cries a lot on the show. Then this paragraph was mostly a waste of time. I say mostly because I think the first two sentences hold up.

Either way, I thought Sterling K. Brown was a good host. Mostly for what I will now declare the Sketch of the Night:

Sketch of the Night – Family Dinner-Shrek

Mark: Sterling K Brown plays a man meeting his girlfriend’s rich parents. The friendly dinner immediately devolves into a viscous argument about the movie Shrek. The argument is hilarious because the topic is so silly, yet Brown’s character keeps throwing really mean insults at his girlfriend’s parents over it. I also love that the Dad (played by Beck Bennett) sort of gets into the back and forth with Brown’s character.

I had to pause the sketch midway to receive a delivery and, when I came back, rewound the sketch to the beginning and start again so I could really enjoy it. It was that good.

Melissa’s Favorite Sketch – Rock vs Rap

Melissa: I am very biased towards a Kyle Mooney video, and this late-in-the-night entry had me extremely thankful for something to talk positively about in this review. For the uninitiated: Mooney has been doing a character named Chris Fitzpatrick since before he was on SNL. Chris is a high school kid who loves rock music and has a bad, anti-authoritarian attitude who has a band called Crippled Rejex. It is such a pitch-perfect parody of THAT guy you all knew in high school (or in Mark’s case, probably were. I feel like Mark was a Chris Fitzpatrick in high school), and it is always an absolute joy to watch him play this character. In this man on the street segment, he goes around asking people what’s better: rock or rap, and tries his best to discredit rap when the people he talks to overwhelming support it. It’s a simple and silly sketch that ends with him performing a song that combines rock and rap – a song that, if you’re curious, he has performed before in its entirety on his most recent episode of Comedy Bang Bang.

Mark: I can confirm that I was a bit of a Chris Fitzpatrick, except I didn’t smoke. I would go on monologues about how much Metal was better than rap, but I eventually relented, started listening to Eminem and ICP, and released that all music could be irrationally angry. And that’s why I listened to music, for the irrational anger of youth.

Worst Sketch – Family Feud: Oscars Edition

Melissa: My rule is that if there’s a Family Feud sketch, it’s immediately my least favorite. These are never good, and always feel like a transparent attempt to parade a bunch of impressions that seem to get worse each time. Heidi Gardner as Allison Janney was never going to work and frankly made no sense. Sterling K. Brown’s Common impression was enjoyable, though, I suppose. I know these sketches are usually a huge draw because of how impressive some of the cast can be with their celebrity impressions but not this time.

As a quick side note, there’s a funny exchange in this sketch where Chris Redd as Jordan Peele tells Steve Harvey (Kenan Thompson) that he’s moved on from doing sketch comedy, to which Kenan-as-Steve responds to with shock – shock over the fact that someone would make a decision to move on from doing sketch comedy after only a few years. As it’s more and more clear that the lines between Kenan and Steve are blurring, Peele asks “are you ok Steve?” and he snaps out of it.

Fun story: Kenan’s first season was in 2003-2004, and I missed the season finale when it aired. This was pre-DVR times, so the only way to catch up was to ask my mom what happened. She said “You’re not going to like this, but one of the cast members is leaving.” She was talking about Jimmy Fallon, who was my favorite cast member at the time. I remember replied “Please say it’s not Kenan!” Little did I know that 15 years later, I’d still be saying “I hope Kenan doesn’t leave.” If getting to keep Kenan means more Family Feud sketches, maybe I can tolerate them a bit longer.

Musical Guest: James Bay

Melissa: Who? Maybe this is the guy I hear on the radio sometimes and think might be Mumford and Sons. I don’t know, because it was SO hard to hear him whispering.

Mark: The show mostly only used camera angles showed James and the back up dancers. Why would they not show the band? This is a thought that repeatedly popped up in my head while watching this sketch. “Why won’t they show the band?” “Why won’t they show the band?” “What are they hiding?!”


Pop-Break Staff
Pop-Break Staffhttps://thepopbreak.com
Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.


Comments are closed.

Most Recent

Stay Connected