Cold Open, Big Boy SNL, Hello Kitty, host Keke Palmer +2023

After two Saturdays off during the Thanksgiving break, the Saturday Night Live cast and crew returned to 30 Rock for the first of three new episodes to wrap up 2022. Thanks to the manifestation of their special guest host, they came back with an added sense of success and more! They took a lot of big swings and while some missed, they also hit a lot of home runs.

What’s the deal for them SNL Cold open for last night (12/3/22)?

The night’s biggest failure came early as the Cold Open felt as lackluster as the Republican campaigns for the US Senate itself. Gosh. When Kenan Thompson’s Herschel Walker failed to identify GOP scythes John Cornyn (Mikey Day) and Marsha Blackburn (Cecily Strong), most viewers in America also wondered. Not even James Austin Johnson’s Mitch McConnell could breathe life into that premise as he tried to rally Walker in one last pep talk ahead of the Georgia runoff. You could have just had Kenan read Herschel’s very real blunt speech about werewolves and vampires and called it a sketch. Somehow they decided to put more effort into it for a smaller result instead. A bit like the actual campaign? It’s kind of funny, but not in the way they intended.

How did she SNL Innkeeper Keke Palmer Do?

A star is born, and soon a star’s unborn child too!

Keke Palmer revealed a happy pregnancy during her monologue and showed throughout the episode that she has what it takes to run the nightly gauntlet with the best of them at SNL. As she said in her monologue, she had dreamed of appearing on this show since she was a child actor and wondered if she would be a Maya Rudolph, Eddie Murphy or Kristen Wiig guy. Don’t be surprised anymore. Being herself proved more than enough.

The 1984 soap opera sketch leaned a little on tone and a lot on the gag of using apparent stunt doubles for the catfight between Cecily’s and Keke’s characters, with the delicate staging and camera cuts back and forth between the real performers and the fakes. Who were the doubles? Would it have been even funnier if the stunt doubles were also performers who felt all the actual pain? Oh well. It still felt slightly playful the way they played it.

The show has had good luck with themed group music videos during the holidays, and “Cuffing Season” was no exception, as Cecily, Keke, Ego Nwodim, and even Punkie Johnson all expressed their wish for some big ol’ boys to keep them warm in the winter.

Then came a live PSA from United Tingz of Aubrey, in which Ego, Punkie and Keke were joined by Sarah Sherman, Chloe Fineman, Heidi Gardner and a bevy of female extras, all with sad tales of meeting Drake, only to to ends used as references in his songs. Ego almost collapsed in the middle, but Keke made the best of it and played herself so she could claim that “In My Feelings” ruined her life because she’s Keke, “just not that KiKi!”

At employee training for the Hello Kitty store in NYC, there are fun facts from Cecily and Molly Kearney that don’t sound funny at all to the trainees played by Bowen and Keke. Marcello Hernandez and Sarah seem ready to go with the flow. To Sarah, “It just seems like a crazy place to get high.” To make it even weirder, a bunch of costumed Times Square folks enter the store to defend the weirdness, illustrated when the Hello Kitty character removes her head to reveal she is Natasha Lyonne playing herself in the costume!? Now I want to see a sketch explaining what happened in Lyonne’s career circa 2022 to get her to perform as a costumed character in Times Square.

Arby’s $5-for-10 Roast Beef Sandwich Deal is this week’s best effort to showcase SPONSORED CONTENT as just a regular old sketch. The customers (Mikey, Keke, Cecily and Bowen) cannot understand this economically. And Kenan as Arby’s actual voice actor Ving Rhames has no answers, unless changing the subject to Taco Bell’s $5 box or Wendy’s $4-for-4 deal does anything.

The authors incorporated Keke’s pregnancy into two of the sketches. Live on stage, she gets an ultrasound from her gynecologist (Cecily) only to find that her womb twins (Bowen and Sarah) are so active they can even get a phone to order a Filet-O-Fish via Seamless to order ? As in the soap opera sketch, Keke and Cecily play head-to-head against another duo’s physical dismemberments. Contrary to that sketch, this time we know and can love the duo better as they do all the act-outs and gags.

And just to show how much of a triple threat Keke is, we heard her belt out “O Holy Night” alongside Molly, Cecily, Ego and Sarah in this schoolgirl choir skit.

How relevant was the musical guest SZA?

SZA returned for her second stint as the show’s musical guest. The Grammy winner’s latest single, “Shirt,” has racked up over 60 million streams worldwide since its release six weeks ago. This music video included a snippet of their second single “Blind”. She performed both songs on the show and announced that the full album will be released on December 9th.

Which skit will we share: “Kenan & Kelly”

Finally, that Kenan & Kel Reboot fans have been screaming, but with a twist. Or two. Or more! First up, this pre-recorded short shows how Keke introduces Kenan to the project as she plays Kelly as his new sidekick in this reboot. Devon Walker tries to impress with his own Kel impersonation. But then the real Kel Mitchell shows up and runs into his beloved companion… the orange soda fridge. During the behind-the-scenes look at this short, Kenan jokes that Keke factored her pregnancy into the storyline because she’s fishing for an Emmy.

To be honest, this entire episode should earn her an Emmy nomination.

Who stopped in the weekend update?

Here’s an update on Update: Just when you think live studio audiences couldn’t love Colin Jost more than they already do, this week’s audience can’t get enough of him and roar as he meets Michael for the first time Che sees, and then compensates, delivers greater resonance than Jost imagines.

As for the cast members stopping by…

Michael Longfellow continues to make his mark as himself with sit-down stand-up parts. This time he’s here as a child of divorce to talk about dealing with the holidays when your parents have separated. As it turns out, his parents split up before he knew them as a couple. Bigger Surprise: When Longfellow reveals his dad is now a divorce attorney who met his now-wife thanks to a case he tried?!?!

The constant horror on Sarah Sherman’s face as she plays Trish Dale, the president of the Peppa Pig Fan Club who is outraged at the introduction of a new dual-dad polar bear character to the series, is nothing short of amazing as he-single-c-single -k. Her obsession with the imaginary “anal penetration” is obviously a bit much, but the way she goes about it. How she forces you to go with her. The way she gets your attention. Only w-single-au.

Which sketch filled the 10-to-1 slot?

At 12:57 Eastern, we have Ego and Keke as flight attendants with Leis on board earning their millionth miles as companions, which means they’ve earned some hefty rewards! The only problem for the passengers is the TMI they get afterwards. How could they have worked on a plane that has flown so many miles, crashed so many times, still has a whites only sign in the lavatory and a pilot with an ancient birthday mid-flight??? Somehow it didn’t feel crazy enough for the final sketch of the night, but the chemistry between Ego and Keke makes you want to learn more about their characters’ backstories as these flight attendants, doesn’t it?

Who was the MVP of the episode?

Cecile Strong and Bowen Yang definitely dominated in terms of screen time this week, though Sarah Sherman continues to shine brighter than the rest of her talented cohorts.

Next week Steve Martin and Martin Short return to host with musical guest Brandi Carlile!

Sean L. McCarthy edits the comedy beat for his own digital newspaper, The comic of the comic; before that for real newspapers. Based in NYC but travels everywhere for news: ice cream or news. He also tweets @thecomicscomic and podcasts half-hour episodes featuring comedians revealing origin stories: Comic’s comic presents last things first.

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