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Tina Fey and 'SNL' Trot Out More Cameos than Jokes for the Celeb-Packed But Underwhelming Finale

By Dustin Rowles | TV | May 20, 2018 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | May 20, 2018 |


Cold Open — The final cold open of the season takes the whole Trump-is-a-mobster thing to its logical conclusion with a The Sopranos finale parody, which sees Trump having dinner with Michael Cohen (Ben Stiller), Rudy Giuliani (Kate McKinnon) and Don Jr. (Alex Day) while Robert Mueller (Robert DeNiro) sits nearby. A few good lines (all of them from McKinnon’s Giuliani), but most of the humor is in the setup. (Watch Here) (Score: 6 out of 10)

Tina Fey Monologue — Fey delivers a Q&A style monologue where she takes questions from the audience, the first one of which is from Jerry Seinfeld, who asks if there are too many celebrity cameos on the show? Fey says yes, that it takes away time from the current cast members, and then she proceeds to call on Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Rock, Robert DeNiro, Fred Armisen, Anne Hathaway, and Donald Glover, and then Tracy Morgan comes up on stage. So, basically: It’s not funny at all, but there were lots of great celebrity cameos! SNL is trying to insulate itself from critics complaining about the number of celebrity cameos by joking about it, which is a bit like Donald Trump joking about all his corruption in order to avoid going to prison for corruption. It’d be one thing if the celebrities actually contributed anything, but as is evident in both the cold open and the monologue, they’re only paraded out to be recognized, like an ’80s joke in Ready Player One. Is it funny? Does it serve the story? No, but we noticed it! Cookie for me! (Score: 4 out of 10)

Royal Wedding Reception — Another one of those skits that relies almost exclusively on its premise — Prince Harry goes around the room to meet various people at his reception, like that black guy from Meghan’s side of the family, the creepy pedophile aunt, and Elton John (played by Aidy Bryant). SNL clearly thought that they needed a Royal Wedding sketch for the show, but no one really bothered to write jokes for the sketch. The joke — like Pete Davidson’s impression of Russell Brand — is that the skit exists at all. (Watch Here) (Score: 3 out 10)

Morning Joe — I watch enough of MSNBC’s Morning Joe to tell you that this is a very good parody. I also watch enough SNL to tell you that they’ve already done this a couple of times before, and there’s nothing new here. (Watch Here)(Score: 4 out of 10)

Mean Girls Musical — Tina Fey, who wrote the Mean Girls musical, decides she’d like to “jam” herself into her show like Lin Manuel-Miranda (who cameos here) jammed himself into Hamilton. The joke is that Tina Fey has no business being in a Broadway musical. It’s intermittently amusing, as this version of Tina Fey is the closest the show has come to 30 Rock Tina Fey (with a little Jenna in there, too), but it’s mostly worth it for the Lin-Manuel cameo, because unlike almost every other cameo in this episode, Miranda actually gets to deliver a funny joke. (Score: 6 out of 10)

Weekend Update Don Jr. and Eric Trump salvage an otherwise weak installment of “Weekend Update,” one in which they bring back “jokes that were too offensive to tell,” which I believe is how they ended last season. Michael Che delivers a great joke about Rachel Dolezal, and has an effective bit on the disproportionate number of black people arrested for marijuana possession, but overall, Che and Jost fail to bring the heat in the finale, opting for a lame lay-up with that Laural/Yanni bit. At least Kenan — as Bishop Curry — brings some good cheer to the segment. (Score: 4.5 out of 10)

Pervert Hunters — Fey plays a Dateline reporter who attempts to capture perverts, but the joke is in how they try to stage-manage the gotcha moment, which actually proves to be funnier than it should be. (Watch Here) (Score: 6 out of 10)

Political Musical — In what appears to be the alt-cold open, Tina Fey plays Sarah Palin in a musical, “What I Did for Trump,” with various has-beens in the White House, including Rex Tillerson (John Goodman), Sarah Huckabee Sanders (Aidy, in what I think is her last episode), Michael Wolf (Fred Armisen), Stormy Daniels (Cecily), Omarosa (Leslie Jones), and Kellyanne Conway (Kate McKinnon). It’s an obligatory fastball down the middle. It’s fine — the sort of video that’s easy to sell online (“Tina Fey returns as Sarah Palin!”) — but hardly memorable. (Score: 5 out of 10)

High School Talent Show — A mother-and-daughter perform “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and argue with each other while the Principal (Kenan) ruminates on his sexual relationship with the mom. It’s a terrible sketch, but Kenan nearly saves it. (Watch Here) (Score: 3 out of 10)

Dick Wolf’s Chicago Improv — A commercial for Chicago Improv in the same style as a spot for Chicago Fire or Chicago P.D. Blergh. (Watch Here) (Score: 4 out of 10)

See you next fall, Mat.

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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.