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John Mulaney's 'SNL' Juxtaposes One of Its Funniest Episodes with One of Its Worst Musical Guests

By Dustin Rowles | TV | March 3, 2019 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | March 3, 2019 |


Cold Open — This week’s cold open listlessly targets the Michael Cohen hearing, mostly as an opportunity to bring Ben Stiller back, although Bill Hader also made an appearance as Congressman Jim Jordan. Unfortunately, the Cohen Hearings themselves — like so many other events during the Trump Administration — prove to be an elusive topic for parody. It is good to see Bill Hader, though. (Watch Here) (Score: 4 out of 10)

John Mulaney Monologue — I love John Mulaney, and I love a good John Mulaney stand-up set. This isn’t exactly that. I prefer it when stand-up comedians repurpose portions of their stand-up acts for SNL instead of writing new material for the show. This feels like new material he was still workshopping. Even still, the Mulaney patter is riveting. (Score: 7 out of 10)

What’s that Name? — I seem to recall SNL doing this game show once before — or at least a variation of it — but it’s no less effective this time, with Bill Hader hosting and John Mulaney as a contestant completely incapable of naming some of the women in his life. It’s a fantastic skit, and not just the writing. The back-and-forth between Hader and Mulaney is superb. I hope we get to see much more of Hader and Mulaney together tonight (Spoiler: We don’t, alas, and there’s no Stefon). (Score: 8.5 out of 10)

The Toilet Death Ejector — The perfect product to avoid those messy deaths where you “end up dead, ass-up on a bathroom floor with a rotting toilet behind you.” The product is funny. The missed launches are hysterical. This is the Mat sketch of the week (Oh, and Mat, your daughter kicked ass at the track meet yesterday!). (Score: 7 out of 10)

Shark Tank: Legal Edition — Four attorneys — Avanatti, Guilianni, Pirro, and Dershowitz — pitch themselves as attorneys for unsympathetic celebrities, Bob Kraft and Jussee Smollet. It sounds like it should be a much better sketch than it is. (Watch here) (Score: 5 out of 10)

The Unknown Caller — I could swear we’ve seen a variation of this skit before, too, where Pete Davidson plays a disinterested victim of a scary phone call from a murderer. I still like it. (Score: 6 out of 10)

Black Wedding — John Mulaney plays Daniel, the only white guy at a wedding he’s attending with his black girlfriend. It’s not what you think it’s going to be, which is a shame, because what you think it’s going to be might have been funnier (Watch Here) (Score: 4.5 out of 10)

Weekend Update — Spirits were high on this relatively short “Weekend Update,” and Colin and Che were clearly having a good time. Unfortunately, the material lacks. Kate and Aidy’s segment is likewise subpar, although they’re hilariously bothered by the smell of their meat tray (watch that here). I’m going to give you the embeds, because it’s “Update” and I feel obligated to, but it’s not a particularly good installment. (Score: 4 out of 10)

Bodega Bathroom — A musical about a disgusting bodega bathroom? Yes, this is the content I was hoping to see when I tuned into an episode of SNL hosted by John Mulaney. (Score: 8 out of 10)

PBS Cinema Classics — The extended take on To Have and Have Not is not the best sketch of the night, but it is the one that elicits the most laughs. This is all Kate McKinnon putting on a terrific, hilarious comedic performance, and John Mulaney somehow managing not to break. (Score: 8.5 out of 10)

Final Note: I usually start watching SNL 10 or 15 minutes after it begins so that I can fast-forward through the ads. I have never been so unhappy to find that I’d completely caught up by the time Thomas Rhett’s final performance rolled around. Egads. Worse still, Thomas Rhett came at the very end of the show and in most affiliates (if not all), there was no sign-off for Mulaney. On the other hand, I was also able to witness this hilariously awful regional commercial.

Seriously, I have no idea who Thomas Rhett is, and I have seen some bad musical performances on SNL. But this was as bad as Mulaney was great. And I had to watch the whole thing. With my eyes and ears. I don’t even know what genre this is, and I doubt any genre of music would claim him.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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