John Mulaney isn't necessarily a universal household name yet, but to fans of Saturday Night Live who have enjoyed his work as both a writer (for six seasons) and as a host, he may as well be Jerry Seinfeld. Or as he put it in his Monologue this past weekend, "I'm like Louis Farrakhan—I mean a lot to a small group of people."
This was Mulaney's third time hosting SNL in three consecutive years, not that's he done much since his last appearance: "I'm also the first host to ever do the least between his second and third time hosting. I have nothing coming up. I'm here to promote the month of March." That's somewhat of an understatement, since he did produce the Netflix special John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch, an existential children's show which featured the inimitable David Byrne and Jake Gyllenhaal, both of whom joined him on SNL (more on that below). But his lack of upcoming projects only made his monologue, which touched on his friendless father and a Make-A-Wish experience, all the better—Mulaney hosts because he loves the show, the formula, and the unlikely comedic magic that sometimes emerges from Studio 8H when the writers and performers and audience are in sync. This happened to be one of those special nights.
The only thing Mulaney seems to love as much as he loves SNL is musical theater (if you haven't seen the Documentary Now! episode "Original Cast Album: Co-Op," please do so). The first time he hosted, there was Diner Lobster. Last year came Bodega Bathroom. And this time, Mulaney unveiled Airport Sushi, another surreal, ever-expanding musical sketch about the travails of people inside LaGuardia Airport. It features a loose pigeon, Gyllenhaal flying, tons of de Blasio jokes, music from Little Shops Of Horror, Phantom Of The Opera, and Wicked, all topped off with David Frickin' Byrne leading the cast in a parody of "Road To Nowhere" called "Plane To Nowhere." The best way to spend eight minutes on a Monday is by rewatching this one.
Mulaney was perfect playing a furious uncle who confronts his "punk nephew" Tyler (Pete Davidson) about how he turned him into an Uncle Meme. This truly is "not what Melania meant when she said, 'Be Best.'"
Mulaney loves musicals so much, he couldn't just do one musical sketch this episode. He plays Rolf to Cecily Strong's Liesl in Sound of Music: Rolf and Liesl, with both of them romantically singing about the difference in their ages—after all, age is just a number "that the government keeps track of."
Kyle Mooney did everything he could to get into shape so he could be included in a sketch about male strippers in the pre-taped sketch Kyle's Transformation. His trainer, Justin Theroux, is there to support him through this incredible journey. And if you think about it, it ultimately worked, because Mooney wasn't cut-for-time this week!
Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon teamed up for another old timey sister act in The Admiral, which is becoming one of their specialties on the show. Mulaney plays the "pass around party bottom" inadvertently competing for the titular Admiral's affections with the sisters.
The Coronavirus Cold Open started out with Beck Bennett's Vice President Pence briefing the country on the crisis ("A test of my faith, like dinosaur bones, or Timothee Chamalet."), but quickly pivoted to a Democratic debate free-for-all, featuring Michael Bloomberg (Fred Armisen), Bernie Sanders (Larry David), Elizabeth Warren (Kate McKinnon), Joe Biden (John Mulaney, picking up where Jason Sudeikis and Woody Harrelson left off), Pete Buttigieg (Colin Jost) and Amy Klobuchar (Rachel Dratch). David and Armisen were particularly good, but as ever, this was yet another overstuffed, comedically-bland cold open.
Jackie Robinson had a great premise, with Kenan Thompson playing the first black man to boo the legendary baseball player; it was also apparently a previously rejected sketch written by Michael Che. It was probably the weakest sketch of the night, but was worth it for the moment when Thompson briefly insinuated his character is a cannibal.
There were two cut-for-time sketches: the timely Love Is Blind one, about the Netflix reality show which became a sensation over the last month, has a clever coronavirus tie-in, and is worth a viewing for anyone who has strong opinions on Jessica's baby voice. The You Go Show isn't quite as effective, relying mostly on those classic Kenan Thompson reaction faces for laughs.
There were lots of coronavirus jokes on Weekend Update, with Michael Che giving in to despair and deciding to no longer hide his drinking problem. Chris Redd, the only guest this week, stopped by to talk about some of the terrible things that insulted black people during Black History Month.
David Byrne and his merry band of besuited lookalikes performed the Talking Heads classic "Once In A Lifetime" and "Toe Jam," from his Broadway dance-theater production American Utopia.
Daniel Craig will host SNL next weekend with musical guest The Weeknd.