The last time Cecily Strong played Fox News host Jeanine Pirro on “Saturday Night Live,” it seemed like she was saying goodbye to her old TV home. (She finally ended the segment by singing “My Way” and dousing herself in a giant box of wine.)
But in favor of the show, Strong didn’t leave “SNL” and tonight she played Pirro in the cold open air of the show. She would get a more memorable moment in the spotlight later in the evening — for now, the segment belonged to rookie cast member, James Austin Johnson, who has quickly become one of “SNL”‘s most versatile celebrity impressionists and his capable broadcast of former President Donald J. Trump to the program for the first time.
Strong began by interviewing a guest who introduced her as “an American brave enough to stand up and say, fuck you science – I know Joe Rogan.” That turned out to be Pete Davidson playing Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this week and confirmed in a combative interview Friday that he had not been vaccinated.
Davidson, like Rodgers, defended his ambiguous comments about his vaccination status. “I never lied,” he said. “I got all my teammates in a jumble, got all their faces two inches away from my wet mouth and told them to trust me, I’m more or less vaccinated. Go team!”
He added: “In the end, my record is still 7-1. That means that out of the eight people I’ve infected, seven are okay.”
Strong also interviewed Alex Moffat, who played Glenn Youngkin, the Republican governor-elect of Virginia. When asked to provide a definition of critical race theory, Moffat replied, “It’s simple: That’s how I was elected.” Moffat urged more clarity, adding: “It’s not important. What is important is his parents.”
He introduced Heidi Gardner as a member of his parental task force on education, and she quoted some of the books she wanted removed from the state curriculum, including “Pride and Prejudice” (“Prejudice is fine, but pride is a term that co-opted by the gays,” said Gardner) and “The Great Gatsby” (“Too much jazz”).
Strong brought up her surprise final guest: Trump, played by Johnson (who already holds the recurring role of President Biden on “SNL”).
“I just wanted to congratulate Glenn Youngkin and especially myself on a great win in Virginia,” said Johnson. “You know what Glenn? We did it together.”
Moffat answered awkwardly, “You don’t have to say that.”
Johnson went on to deliver a discursive monologue, complete with a “Pardon the Interruption”-esque list of topics and a countdown clock, in which he continued on “Star Wars” (he claimed to have told George Lucas, “You must do with swords — the lasers aren’t enough”), “Dune”, Timothée Chalamet, Jason Momoa, “Game of Thrones” and, finally, the state of Virginia.
An impressed Strong asked him, “How do you keep all that in your head?”
Johnson replied, “I had my ears sealed so that nothing comes in or out.”
Opening monologue of the week
Kieran Culkin, who plays sarcastic media scion Roman Roy in HBO’s “Succession,” of course used his opening monologue to make some jokes about his role in that hit series. Roman, he said, is “one of the funnier characters on the show — which still makes him one of the Top 10 Worst People on TV.”
Culkin also reminded viewers that he had previously appeared on “SNL” some 30 years ago when his brother Macaulay hosted the program, and that 9-year-old Kieran was hoisted up by adult cast members during the show’s good nights. Did a 39-year-old Kieran repeat the tradition at the end of this weekend’s broadcast? You will just have to look and see. (Okay, well, he repeated it.)
Surprise celebrity cameo of the week
This is why you watch an “SNL” sketch all the way to the end. It initially seemed like a typical outing of “The Dionne Warwick Talk Show,” a recurring segment where Ego Nwodim plays a wonderfully wacky version of that enduring pop singer. And as usual, she was joined by guests she doesn’t recognize or really care about, including Chloe Fineman as Miley Cyrus, Culkin as Jason Mraz and Ed Sheeran as Ed Sheeran.
But just as the sketch seemed to be coming to an end, Nwodim said, ‘I’m tired of interviewing people who aren’t icons. Please welcome: me.” And out walked the real Warwick, who sat down in a chair opposite her. Nwodim asked the singer, “Dionne, why are you perfect?” Warwick replied, ‘My dear, I am not perfect. I’m just very, very good.” Their short duet of “What the World Needs Now” that followed was almost too generous, but we’ll take it anyway.
Weekend update jokes of the week
At the Weekend Update desk, anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che discussed the approval of President Biden’s infrastructure plan in the House of Representatives and the results of Tuesday’s election.
Our top story tonight, as I can remember it for as long as I can remember: infrastructure. Last night, the House approved President Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, which should be enough to clean as many as two of LaGuardia’s bathrooms. The infrastructure bill will also expand Internet access in the US, which is good news because when has more internet ever been bad for America? [His screen displays a photo of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.]
What went on:
Democrat Terry McAuliffe lost to Republican Glenn Youngkin in the Virginia governor’s race. But on the plus side, losers from Virginia usually get a statue. [His screen displays a photo of a monument to Robert E. Lee.] Political pundits say the Republican victory in the Virginia governor’s race was fueled by white women who didn’t go to college. Which just happens to be the exact same group I target on Tinder.
Weekend update Character of the week
Here, as promised, was Cecily Strong’s real standout moment from the episode.
At the Weekend Update desk, Jost kicked off with an introduction to the recent Supreme Court arguments over a restrictive Texas law that bans most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. He then introduced Strong as a character called Goober the Clown who had an abortion when she was 23.
While spraying Jost with water from a trick and trying to make balloon animals, Strong talked about how common it is for clowns to have abortions and how they feel more comfortable discussing the subject with each other when they find out that other clowns have an abortion. they have had. . It was not the easiest subject for me for comedy. But as Strong explained, describing a doctor jokingly asking if she’d gotten pregnant on her way to the clinic: “It’s not like a funny joke, but like a funny one, you’re not a terrible person and your life isn’t over yet. The best kind.”