It’s hard to believe season 43 of Saturday Night Live has already come and gone. With the loss of head writers Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider, this season had more ups and downs than season 42, but overall produced plenty of memorable characters, sketches, and moments. Here is a look back at a few of my favorite episodes.
1. Episode 18: John Mulaney
This former SNL writer turned stand-up comedian delivered arguably the best episode of the season, with a strong monologue consisting of his joke-packed stand-up, which also happened to be part of his new Kid Gorgeous Netflix special. Most SNL hosts who are also stand-ups deliver a monologue that can sometimes drag on for way too long, but Mulaney’s hit the sweet spot.
This was one of the first and only episodes of the season that didn’t have a few sketches that made me wonder how in the world they made it off Lorne’s desk and into the lineup. Each sketch was tight and well-constructed, with solid premises and jokes that made the sketches funny past their premise.
Without a doubt, the award for best sketch of the night went to “Diner Lobster,” where a customer (Pete Davidson) dares to order lobster at a diner. This leads to the one lone lobster in the tank (Kenan Thompson) breaking into song, in a Les Miserables-esque reboot.
This sketch may be one of the weirdest the show had seen the whole season, which proved one of the many reasons it was so great. The premise was weird and unexpected, but it was built off the very real possibility that some weirdo would buy lobster in a diner. We’ve all seen the dark, gross, and frankly sad lobster tanks in restaurants, but what would happen if we actually took the plunge and ordered the lobster? This sketch, apparently.
2. Episode 19: Donald Glover
Is there anything Donald Glover/Childish Gambino can’t do? Apparently not, since being a kickass SNL host has just been added to the list. While the monologue didn’t get off to the strongest start, (essentially the premise being Donald Glover was bitter he never got cast on SNL) the episode quickly picked up with super strong sketches and jokes that continued to land throughout the episode.
Sketch of the night went to “A Kanye Place,” in which a group of friends must remain quiet in order to survive in the likes of the horror movie A Quiet Place, but keep getting distracted and reacting loudly to all the weirdness Kanye is posting about on Twitter. This sketch paired a movie parody with Kanye’s antics, and the result is a funny and sadly, kind of true reflection of how we react to the crazy celebrities spout on social media.
I usually take a bathroom break during the musical guests, but Childish Gambino’s powerful performance of his new song “This is America” proved to be one that I was glad I didn’t miss.
3. Episode 16: Bill Hader
SNL legend Bill Hader hosted episode 16 of season 43, and while only a few sketches from the night were able to hold their own through the whole sketch, Hader’s genius with characters and performing carried the bulk of the episode.
I don’t want to make it seem like Hader’s episode wasn’t a success at all. Sure, the overall tone and feel of the show may have felt a little lacking, but there were definitely sketches worth watching again and again, including a new installment of The Californians.
The sketch of the night was, though not quite a sketch, without a doubt Hader’s much-loved Stefon character, which made an appearance during “Weekend Update.” I’m sometimes wary of recurring characters because often the quality of the writing can go down significantly when the character is brought back, but Stefon proved that wrong.
The SNL city correspondent kept his recommendations funny and fresh (New York’s new hottest club is “Stand Clear of the Closing Doors Please”). There was not a dull moment during Stefon’s much-anticipated return to the show. I miss him already.1