Although its first two episodes avoided opening sketches that recreated news events, “Saturday Night Live” eventually found reality too irresistible: This weekend’s broadcast led with a parody of what was potentially the final meeting of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
As the hearing began, Kenan Thompson, playing the committee’s chairman, Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, offered some momentous remarks. “Jan. 6 was one of the most dramatic and consequential moments in our nation’s history,” he said. “So to fight back, we assembled a team of monotone nerds to do a PowerPoint.”
Summarizing the meeting’s agenda before holding up a tray of miniature cupcakes, he added, “We’re going to summarize our findings, hold a history-making vote, and then and only then, we all get to have a little treat.”
He then turned the hearing over to Heidi Gardner, playing Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming and the committee’s vice chairwoman. Gardner explained that the committee’s evidence was aimed at all Americans: “Whether you’re a Republican who’s not watching or a Democrat who’s nodding so hard your head is falling off, one person is responsible for this insurrection: Donald Trump,” she said. “And one person will suffer the consequences: me.”
For those viewers wondering where her toughness came from, Gardner suggested it was hereditary. She asked, “For your 10th birthday, did you eat pizza at Chuck E. Cheese with all your friends, or did you shoot a deer in the face with Dick Cheney?”
Thompson almost acknowledged an eerily eager Michael Longfellow, playing Adam Schiff, Democrat of California, but reconsidered. (“Too spooky,” he said.) The committee also showed a video of Chloe Fineman (as Speaker Nancy Pelosi) and Sarah Sherman (as the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer) reacting in real time to the Capitol attack.
While Fineman, as Pelosi, conducted a tense call with Mike Pence, Sherman, as Schumer, was also on the phone — to DoorDash, seeking a missing lunch order. (She said it contained “12 dill pickles, still floating in the juice, and a hot pastrami sandwich with very light mustard.”)
Another video featured James Austin Johnson as former President Donald J. Trump, making remarks said to have taken place the day before the attack. Speaking on a phone, Johnson said: “The votes don’t matter at all. Because what even is a vote? It’s just a piece of paper, you fold up and put it in a hat, a guy shakes it around.” After some rambling remarks about Apollo Creed, Ivan Drago and Obamacare, Johnson wrapped up the call by casually asking, “Is Mike Pence dead yet?”
Thompson concluded the meeting itself: “We tried,” he said. “It was a fun country while it lasted.”
Giiiiiiiiirrrrrl of the week
Is it possible for a single joke — a single graphic — to make an entire sketch worthwhile? If so then “Girl Talk” might just have been that sketch. It started off innocuously enough, with an introduction from its host, Mo’nique Money Mo’nique Problems (Ego Nwodim), who described the program as “the talk show where ladies tell me their problems and I keep my advice real simple.”
She and her guests (Megan Thee Stallion and Punkie Johnson) went on to discuss their problems and solutions in conversations consisting of different intonations of the word “Girl.” And just to be helpful to “any white people or men tuning in,” Nwodim provided subtitles for a discussion of the war in Ukraine, during which a two-syllable utterance of “girl” by Megan Thee Stallion produced an entire screen’s worth of densely packed (but educational!) text on the history of the conflict.
Music video of the week
This filmed segment for an original song called “We Got Brought” spun laughs (and a genuinely catchy tune) from a recognizably stressful premise: Nwodim, Megan Thee Stallion and Bowen Yang played the tag-along guests of three longtime friends who have met up at a club and ditched their plus-ones to hang out among themselves.
Now the three guests, who are strangers to one another, are stuck at a table and unable to find anything to talk about. As one verse goes: “You’re all out of topics and the conversation’s lazy / So you just keep on saying, ‘That’s crazy, that’s crazy.’” The anxiety of Yang’s character — who tries to make small talk by remarking that only 25 people have died at Disneyland since 1955 — is so palpable it pops off the screen.
Weekend Update jokes of the week
Over at the Weekend Update desk, the anchors Michael Che and Colin Jost continued to riff on the Jan. 6 committee and the outcomes from its latest meeting.
After the Jan. 6 committee subpoenaed Donald Trump, Trump responded the next day with a 14-page letter. Fourteen pages. OK, Unabomber. I don’t know if this is a coincidence, but Trump wrote the letter on the same day the F.D.A. confirmed the nation is experiencing a shortage of Adderall. I just know from experience in college, any time I wrote a 14-page paper in one night, I’d also taken a disturbing amount of Adderall.
He went on:
My favorite part of Trump’s letter is the beginning because it’s on really nice letterhead. It starts, “Dear Chairman Thompson.” And then the first line is just screaming. It’s like reading a Victorian love letter that says, “My beloved Winifred, WHO THE HELL ARE YOU HAVING SEX WITH?”
Che picked up the thread:
The committee showed a never-before-seen video from Jan. 6 of a desperate Nancy Pelosi speaking on the phone with Mike Pence. Which to Pence counts as adultery. In the video, Pelosi said that she wanted to punch out Donald Trump and knew that if she did, she’d go to jail and be happy. I assume because she owns stock in private prisons.
Heartfelt musical performance of the week
It was a moment that passed by almost as quickly as one of Megan Thee Stallion’s verses, but in the midst of a hectic night of comedy and costume changes, the rapper was genuinely moved during a portion of one her songs. In her performance of “Anxiety,” Megan Thee Stallion referenced her mother, Holly Thomas, who died of brain cancer in 2019. As those lyrics run:
If I could write a letter to Heaven
I would tell my mama that I shoulda been listenin’
And I would tell her sorry that I really been wildin’
And ask her to forgive me, ‘cause I really been tryin’
And I would ask, please, show me who been real
And get ‘em from around me if they all been fake
It’s crazy how I say the same prayers to the Lord
And always get surprised about who he take
Megan Thee Stallion did not so much as swallow a syllable but the emotion of the lyrics were audible in her voice and visible on her face — some viewers wondered online if they even saw her shed a tear. On Friday, Megan Thee Stallion tweeted that she was contemplating a break following “S.N.L.,” and if she chooses to take it, she has surely earned it.