SNL Sketch Imagined A Wonderful World Where Pokémon Were Real

SNL Sketch Imagined A Wonderful World Where Pokémon Were Real

Joe Biden and a Jigglypuff sign a law to give free Xboxes to all Americans.

Picture: NBC

What is a term for the midpoint between watching greedily for entertainment and watching hate? That’s where I’m at with Saturday Night Live, as it winds through those particular years. But this weekend’s episode was just plain funny, in a way that I can’t remember the show having had in years. And especially when Pokémon showed up to offer free Xboxes to all Americans.

It seems fairly uncontroversial to say that SNL’s best recurring feature so far are the Please Don’t Destroy videos created by a group of young writers on the show. (Hell, the show doesn’t have a single recurring character of any rating at the moment, so there’s not much competition.) This week was their best yet, during which the trio learned a new variant of covid-19, but this one is good. Well, look at it:

As a Brit, SNL wasn’t something I grew up with and has only really started to piece together its rippling quality history in recent years. But having become a regular viewer at the last peak, it’s fair to say that the series is currently in something of a low point. Despite some absolutely superb comedians on the current lineup, there is a real sense of the doldrums, and one that had set in before all the lockdown measures began to heavily disrupt the schedule.

This Saturday’s edition didn’t start well, with a failed cold open in which Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong came out darkly to introduce New York’s (hugely impressive) Ukrainian Chorus Dumka performing “Prayer For Ukraine.” It probably seemed like a nice gesture, but ended in an inadequate sop, notably when it ended with McKinnon and Strong returning in awkward silence to give a morose mumble of the show’s opening catchphrase, then the camera tilting awkwardly to show a few awkwardly arranged Ikea tealights almost in the shape of the word “KYIV.”

Yeah, no. A well-written biting satire, ideally bringing Beck Bennett back to take over his Putin, would have been far more honoring to Ukraine. Then it all felt even more incongruous when fifth-time host John Mulaney came out to deliver a searing opening monologue about his recent stint in rehab, setting up what turned out to be the most consistently loud (and downright weird) episode since Kristen Wiig. and the golden age of Bill Hader.

This Please Don’t Destroy skit was a perfect accompaniment to what looked like a genuinely courageous piece of writing in the Covid Dinner Discussion (above), in which people at a restaurant dared to say aloud the unspeakable words of the two last years. A positive covid variant felt like such an incredibly wonderful dream, especially given all the new set of legitimate terror we’re feeling now with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which I swear, when he announced that the Pokémon were real, I almost cried. Oh my god, why can’t Pokemon be real right now when the whole world is a fucking shitshow?

Monkey Trial should have been terrible, but Mulaney made it hilarious. Blue River VT dog food was so weird it all came together. The Five-Timers skit was a guest star bonanza with lots of laughs. Even the Faithful Family Reunion skit had a good number of gags. And that Subway Churro musical? I mean, it was spectacular and terrible and damn it, I loved it. Of course, the Nickelodeon sketch went nowhere, but it was hard to care after LCD Soundsystem gave two stellar performances of such incredibly uncommon songs.

But above all, it was the covid positive, Paul Rudd’s sparkling eyes and Pokémon at the White House that gave me real joy in a week where everything seems way too scary.


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