“Saturday Night Live” was back live this week with “La-La Land” actress Emma Stone taking on hosting duties for the third time. Teen pop sensation Shawn Mendes took the stage as musical guest for the first time. Check out our complete recap of the night below:
WARNING: Complete spoilers for the entire episode ahead
DONALD TRUMP COLD OPEN
Alec Baldwin has said that he doesn’t plan on making regular appearances on “SNL” as Donald Trump for the next four years, but he was back again for this week’s cold open and we’ve got to say that he really has made “SNL” great again. This latest sketch features the President-Elect repeatedly interrupting a security briefing to announce that he’s retweeting some of his tremendous followers. Although Darryl Hammond did an amazing Trump impression when he was part of the cast, we can’t imagine anyone else stepping in to play Trump before 2020. Our favorite line of this cold open came when Trump gestured off camera and said “Is that that picture of me that I hate so much?” to which his former campaign manager Kellyanne Conway (played by Kate McKinnon) replied “No sir, that’s a plate of mashed potatoes.”
We know that the musical monologues can be very cute, but we couldn’t be more thrilled that Emma Stone didn’t do one this week. Instead, her monologue focused on comparing her return to “SNL” to what it’s like to go back to your old high school a few years later. Vanessa Bayer played the super popular mean girl, Aidy Bryant (Stone’s former real life high school classmate) played the sweet best friend, and Bobby Moynihan played the bad boy football player that Stone fell for hard. We’d be down to see a reunion of these characters every time Stone shows up in Studio 8H.
HIGH SCHOOL THEATRE SHOW
Speaking of high school, the opening sketch of the night featured Stone and a handful of other cast members performing a wonderfully dreadful high school theater showcase wearing all black outfits, making uncomfortable statements about social justice, and doing really terrible improv. The teen performers took on the Black Lives Matter movement, the AIDS epidemic, and a really badly delivered scene about basketball. We’ve definitely seen this premise dragged out quite a few times before, but that’s because making fun of high school theater is—well—really fun.
THE CHRISTMAS CANDLE
The first digital short of the night was also our favorite sketch of the night. “The Christmas Candle” featured the ladies of “SNL” in a cheesecloth wrapped, badly dubbed, 90s style music video about the gift that keeps on getting regifted year after year: a $9 peach scented candle. The candle that no one really wants is the gift that keeps on giving and giving and giving. Plus, this sketch gave us a great idea about what we’re getting our coworkers, and our mother in law, and our other coworkers.
Tonight’s “Posters” sketch was a nice melding of character and premise, starring Pete Davidson as a teenager whose posters start talking back to him to help him out with his math homework. Emma Stone delivered her best character of the night in this one—a sexy, scantily clad bombshell eating a hot dog in a way that taught none of us any valuable lessons about algebra.
THE HUNT FOR HIL
Kate McKinnon isn’t hanging up her pants suit just yet. She reprised her role as Hillary Clinton this week in another digital short “The Hunt for Hil,” in which Beck Bennett and Kyle Mooney hunt the one-time Presidential hopeful through the woods of Chappaqua like she’s Bigfoot. The pair tracks Hillary by discovering a footprint of her heelless shoe and later try to draw her out of hiding with an article about the recount in Wisconsin.
SHAWN MENDES PERFORMS “TREAT YOU BETTER”
The Vine star turned superstar performed his megahit so well that we couldn’t even be bitter or resentful about his meteoric rise to fame at the tender age of 18.
Co-hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che have never seemed more in the groove than they have since Donald Trump’s election. Our favorite Update joke of the night, though, was Jost’s comparison of the Dakota Pipeline controversy to “Office Space”. Jost pained the Native Americans fighting to keep their water source clean to Milton, the guy who keeps getting his desk moved around and eventually ends up in the basement with only his precious red stapler to comfort him. Jost says the Dakota lands known as Standing Rock are the Native Americans’ stapler, and we all remember what happened to that office building when they tried to take Milton’s stapler, so maybe we should just let them keep it, huh?
LESLIE JONES ON LONG TERM RELATIONSHIPS
Leslie Jones returned to the Update desk to comment on a recent story that showed that women in long term relationships are less sexually satisfied. Jones implored men to “not promise me a rack of ribs and then show up with a little penis” and then broke down laughing herself when she “quoted” Maya Angelou by saying “No matter the size between your thighs you can still rise.” (Let us just clarify in case there was any confusion—this is NOT an actual Maya Angelou quote.)
RACHEL FROM FRIENDS
Vanessa Bayer showed up at the Update desk next to comment on the recent influx of 90s nostalgia TV shows as Rachel from “Friends.” Her impression is amazing and we also loved the random cutaways to the outsides of apartment buildings every time she actually completed a full sentence. Then when we thought things couldn’t get any better, Jennifer Aniston herself showed up and argued with Bayer about the accuracy of her impression in a moment that just made us want to heavily layer our hair, put on our best Ross impression and shout “We were on a break!”
The first post update sketch of the night featured Emma Stone, Cecily Strong and Leslie Jones as members of the cleaning crew in an upscale office who asked to perform a holiday song for the executives just before they leave to spend the holidays with their families. The trio then whip off their cleaning uniforms to reveal red sparkly tops and tight leather skirts before launching into some overly sexy songs about Santa. This sketch wasn’t a total flop but also didn’t have us rolling on the floor since we could see every joke coming for a country mile once the premise was revealed.
Kate McKinnon’s elderly actress character Debette Goldry made another appearance in this next sketch about a “Women in Film” conference at the Paley Center for Media. Leslie Jones, Emma Stone, and Jennifer Aniston played themselves talking about the struggles of being a woman in Hollywood today while Goldry—the first woman to dive into a pool on film—talked about what it was like to experience a whole different level of sexism. “Back in those days, actresses were actually part of the prop budget” said Goldry.
WELLS FOR BOYS
Tonight’s commercial parody came late in the broadcast, but it was worth the wait. The ad featured Fisher Price’s “Well for Boys”—a toy for sensitive boys who prefer to reflect on the fragility of life rather than play “Star Wars” with all the other kids on the block.
“Some kids like to play. Others just sort of wait for adulthood,” the voiceover said gently as sensitive Spencer peered longingly into the well.
Other items from the Wells for Boys line included a balcony for making grandiose statements and a fractured mirror for examining one’s own tormented self-image.
“Don’t just give him a Barbie,” said the ad. “I mean, it is like that, but that’s just part of it.”
SHAWN MENDES PERFORMS ‘MERCY’
The poise on this kid is frankly maddening. Another solid performance.
The final sketch of the night had Emma Stone playing the Virgin Mary just after giving birth in the manger, and considered that maybe she wasn’t all that thrilled about having a bunch of guys show up and hang out in her birthing room. Mary says that when she found out that she was going to give birth to the Savior, she kind of imagined the whole scene would be different and there would be, like, a real bed and stuff—and maybe less sheep poop on the floor—and maybe not a bunch of guys hanging out comments on how tired she looked. Hey, everybody’s gotta dream.
“Saturday Night Live” returns next week with host John Cena and musical guest Maren Morris.