If you’re a fan of Fox’s hip hop soap opera Empire, then you’re quite familiar with this week’s guest — and probably anticipating a slew of Cookie Lyon spoofs. Academy Award-nominated actress Taraji P. Henson has been doing her thing for ages in films like Baby Boy, Hustle & Flow, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Tonight she takes the SNL stage for the first time — and hopefully not the last. Henson has energy to spare, so dig in below for a look at her Studio 8H debut.
“Hillary Clinton Election Video Cold Open”
Potentially more of Kate McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton is something to get excited about on the day that the real Hillary Clinton is set to announce her presidential bid. Darrell Hammond reprises his role as “First Dude” Bill Clinton. Since Hammond has taken over announcer duties, we could be seeing a lot more of him soon.
“Taraji P. Henson’s I Made It Monologue”
For the white folks who haven’t heard of Empire yet. Leslie Jones hilariously puts the breaks on things with her “made it” confession.
I guess I’ll take a cheap shot about an adult diaper over one about two guys kissing, pooping, farting, or dumb women… SNL is really mixing things up!
“I was Rudy.”
“Game of Thrones”
Team Ray-Ray Baratheon!
I wasn’t excited to see Jacob The Bar Mitzvah Boy. The character doesn’t have the same power since Meyers left. But then Billy Crystal made an appearance as Jacob’s dad — and the terrible jokes and awkward silences run in the family. Michael Che’s bit about white people rioting the only way they know how, “without consequences,” didn’t skimp on the truth.
“Hollywood Game Night With Taraji P. Henson”
If only because this could be the new “Jeopardy” sketch that we’ve all been missing and that SNL can’t quite get right yet.
“Vlog With Taraji P. Henson”
Kyle Mooney gets fewer lines for a second try at this Vlog sketch, but Henson steals the show so it’s ok.
“Sesame Street Promo”
While I haven’t had a chance to sit down with Empire yet (I know, I know), I have a general idea about Henson’s character Cookie from the show. I’m not sure if I missed any great in-jokes, but I was entertained by her snatching a cookie from the original Cookie Monster.
“Their Own League”
If you’re a woman in “Their Own League,” a spoof on the film starring Lori Petty (who I’m jazzed about seeing in OITNB season 3), you can play baseball — but not if you’re a black woman. “While our husbands are away, we’re the racists,” says McKinnon’s character to Henson and Leslie Jones’ characters. There have been a lot of jokes centered on race tonight, but this one tackles it in a smarter way. The addition of Bobby Moynihan in drag as the sketch’s red herring was a nice touch.
I’m down with Henson’s Nicki Minaj, but that’s about it.
Kate McKinnon does her best Liza (the funniest part of the sketch), but something is off. I don’t even remember how it ends a few minutes after watching it.
It would have been nice to leave audiences with something to chew on regarding race in “Their Own League,” but SNL ends the night with this goofy Voltron-inspired moment where Henson’s robotic part has extra ‘tude.
Musical Guest: Mumford & Sons