Saturday Night Live: Drake

[Ed. Note: Jenny Nelson is a writer and student living in New York City. She’ll be taking us through this season of Saturday Night Live.]

Happy New Year everyone! And Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Man, we are just blowing right through 2014. This week’s SNL episode, hosted by Drake, and which I’ll get to in just a second, had a sketch in it about New Year’s resolutions, and I thought to myself how it feels like it’s been forever since the year began. Even though, in reality, it’s been less than a month! Big round of applause for time, everybody. This week’s Saturday Night Live isn’t only special since it’s the first of 2014, though; it’s also special because it’s the first episode with new featured player Sasheer Zamata. Yay! She’s great, and she showed up in this episode a bunch. Let’s discuss.

The show started out with ye olde Taran Killam as Piers Morgan sketch, which has never been my favorite, but the Chris Christie, A-Rod, and Justin Bieber impressions were all relevant and accurate, with each one better than the last. Drake’s appearance in the cold open was unexpected since hosts usually do not show up this early, but also welcome because he was good! What an actor, remember when he was an actor? On Degrassi I mean.

Drake’s monologue was actually a sketch/rap, and it was also good! After addressing that he once starred in Degrassi, and bragging about but also apologizing for creating “YOLO” (dude really is a voice of the zeitgeist, no?), he mentioned how he’s both black AND Jewish and proceeded to dream-sequence his one-of-a-kind bar mitzvah. The bar mitzvah sketch marks Sasheer Zamata’s first appearance, this time as Kenan’s wife, part of the black side of Drake’s family. She’s barely in this sketch but her presence is felt. With Sasheer in the cast, there’s now a black female to play Kenan’s or Jay’s family member in sketches, which is cool but I hope the show always lets her be funny in her own right.

“Before They Were Stars” was not really my thing. Maybe it was your thing? I swear I like hip hop AND TV shows, so that’s not what made it not my thing, if that’s what you’re thinking. Just everybody has their own thing, and this wasn’t mine. That being said, Taran’s Eminen, and Sasheer as Rihanna as Blossom were both alright, (BUT) just not my thing. Also Drake does impressions of both Jay-Z and Lil Wayne, and they’re good, but as a whole this sketch wasn’t my thing.

The “Resolution/Revolution” digital short was a catchy song. Here was another appearance from Sasheer, but I was disappointed that there was nothing funny for her to do in the song, she just sings and is stylish, which fits with Drake but disappointed me since it wasn’t funny and I know she’s funny. I’m probably putting too much pressure on her, oops!

“Slumber Party” was the first non-monologue or cold open sketch that I really enjoyed. Aidy Bryant is an angel, and also sleepovers are crazy! Did you guys see the Bob’s Burgers about sleepovers? I’ve always been intrigued by girls who had to get picked up from sleepovers because they can’t last the night; never happened to me because I am a sleepover pro. Anyways, I thought Aidy and Drake were very good together in this one.

On Weekend Update, Arianna Huffington stopped by and was her usual self, followed by Golden Globe award-winner Jacqueline Bisset repeating her slow descent to the stage as previously seen at the Globes earlier this month.

“Disney World Show” was golden; maybe that’s overselling it, but Drake was immersed in his character and this is where the episode fully hit its stride. At first I felt uncomfortable laughing at Nasim’s character but then was thankful for Drake’s stellar performance as the overly enthusiastic but confused Disney employee. I like him shouting at Disney World patrons about his acceptance Nasim’s “cool” prayer.

We last saw Vanessa Bayer’s poetry teacher in the Miley Cyrus episode. I liked it much more this week than I had previously, perhaps because I knew what to expect, was less alarmed by the way Bayer spoke, and got to relax and enjoy the kids’ poems. Aidy Bryant does a good poem about haters and “Doritos Doritos Doritos!” and Drake was very funny reading his poem about older women; if he ever returns to acting, I know this is a big claim, but I would maybe consider watching the movie or show he was acting in!

The “I Know” short with Kyle and Beck was good, simple, short, quick, etc. Definitely one of theirs that I liked. When Kyle stands up and their’s a pool of blood under him, that’s comedy right there, right? If it isn’t I don’t know what is.

Another returning sketch last seen when Miley hosted was “Mornin’ Miami,” and again I enjoyed it more this time around. I found that I especially enjoy the one-liners that don’t get laughs, i.e. Ed Begley talking “all things casseroles,” as well as Bayer’s asides like, “No show on Thursday because I have plans.” Great job everyone, and friend-of-the-blog Topher Grace even gets a mention!

Finally, in the middle somewhere Noel Wells was Nancy Grace for a minute, and Drake performed music, as you might have already guessed. Not bad, TV show!