Those of us who watched Saturday Night Live for all our lives would have no problem giving a spontaneous TED Talk about what makes a good host. We certainly know what makes it a bad one. Some say professional athletes should never have the chance to embarrass themselves – and embarrass us – no matter how famous they are. (Crack timing in the field rarely correlates with comedic timing in the studio). Actors who are so on the list that they don’t care whether we can tell they openly read their lines on cue cards are another class of disappointing hosts (cough robert deniro cough cough). Lorne Michaels himself sadly identified Steven Seagal as the worst host the show has ever had. But while we know the kind of people who tend to make bad hosts, we also know who’s likely to be great: people who already have live experience. People who refuse to waste what could be their very first introduction to millions of viewers. People who are triple threats.
In other words, of Classes Ariana DeBose killed during her first visit to the show.
DeBose’s list of screen credits is still relatively short. You may have seen it in Prom on Netflix in 2020. If you recently bought a piece of Apple hardware, maybe you checked it out in AppleTV+ Schmidadon! opposite SNL cast member Cecile Strong. (Inset: Some kind of bummer that Strong missed this episode and denied us the chance to rewatch her and DeBose sharing a scene.) Only if you’re confident enough to have been to the movies in the last two months. you saw DeBose play Anita in Steven Spielbergit is West Side Story, for which she recently won Best Supporting Actress at the Zombie Golden Globes. DeBose took the SNL opportunity as serious as her current profile demands and has owned Studio 8H from the moment she strutted for her monologue with a killer outfit, confident joke delivery and queer tinge West Side Story mix with Kate McKinnon.
In fact, as the episode continued, the impression DeBose gave was that he wanted to play as wide a cast of characters as possible. Considering the release this week of a full trailer for Bel-Air, a dramatic reimagining of The prince of Bel-Air, a parody postulates: What if another one “the beloved 90s show about the black experience” was to get a remake that stripped the original of its “fun” and “charm”? Get ready for Urkel, a gritty reimagining of Family matters which revolves around a troubled and isolated Steve (Chris Red). DeBose plays a vital role in this The dark origin story of Urkel: his drunken and violent mother.
Next, DeBose debuted another topical skit: She played a city hall spokeswoman introducing New York City’s new mayor, Eric Adams, represented by Redd. SNLAdams’ view, so far, seems to be that he’s generally attention-hungry — or, as DeBose put it before calling him on the podium, “the most dashing uncle in your BBQ!”
DeBose’s best work in the episode had nothing to do with current events and was rather bizarre. pete davidson and Sarah Sherman headlined the promo for Ron & Donna Lacatza’s Formal Emporium, a “one-stop-shop for all your daughter’s school dance needs.” They don’t just provide “dresses as pretty as she is – huh, depending on the girl,” they also provide bodices, a photographer, and personalized transportation. If parents are worried about their daughters having sex on the night of their official event, the Lacatzas are also happy to offer their son Donovan (Andrew Dismukes) “Because Donovan WOULDN’T KNOW WHERE TO START.” DeBose is one of the Formal Emporium customers who testified: “He had crumbs on his lips the All night long.”
DeBose later reunites with McKinnon, who plays Fraulein Maria in a music sound parody. DeBose is Maria’s even more flighty ex-boyfriend, meeting the family of repressed children she aims to bring to life through the power of song. The only problem—other than her bizarre behavior (“I say the hills are alive and don’t come out”)—is that she hasn’t learned all the lyrics to Maria’s instructional songs and comes up with her own version. (“Ooh, one thing Homer Simpson/Ray says, a movie with Jamie Foxx…”)
True emission specialists know, of course, that the the very last sketch of the night is the most unbalanced. This one – set in the kitchen of a Longhorn Steakhouse and populated by employees confused by their manager (Heidi Gardner), his incomprehensible accent, and specifically his insistence on punctuating all his statements with the non-word “lurr” – is a prime example. Everyone involved seems to be on the verge of breaking up. Watch to see if they stick together!
The weekend update ended with arguably the most current topic of the episode: Elmo (Chloe Fineman). A clip almost 20 years old sesame street character – in which he loses patience with his friend Zoe after she insists they save a cookie for her pet, Rocco – went viral this week, and SNL is on it, giving Elmo a chance to apologize and explain that he’s been thinking about his rage. But then Michael Che gets Rocco out, on his own little wheeled chair, to share the segment with Elmo, triggering another tantrum.
Nobody likes a diva, Elmo. If you can’t learn to gracefully share the limelight with people you think are inferior to you… well, you’re going to end up in a monologue joke, just like poor Steven Seagal.
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