The Best and Worst of Last Night’s ‘SNL’ with Brie Larson

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Brie Larson, the Academy Award-winning actress who blew critics away in last year’s disturbing abduction tale Room, was surprisingly forgettable on last night’s SNL. The United States of Tara and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World star seemed to fade into the background, while the rarely seen Sasheer Zamata took center stage with a “Weekend Update” commentary on racism and language. See how it all went down last night, below.

“Church Lady Cold Open”

The audience is weirdly quiet for SNL vet Dana Carvey’s Church Lady appearance. The bible-thumping character interviews Ted Cruz (who transforms into his true self) and Donald Trump (“an orange mannequin”).

“New Barbie”

No one wants to play with the new President Barbie, which looks just like Hillary Clinton, because she’s “no fun and definitely a president.”

“Near-Death Experience”

Kate McKinnon’s white trash ranter has a near-death experience, meets an angel named “Keith,” and comes up with increasingly horrid names for her lady parts (“drainer and stainer”) — all while trying to hold it together.

“Baby Shower”

A Stepford Wives-inspired sketch about the dreaded “mom” haircut — “waterfall in the front, but knives in the back.”

“Weekend Update”

Vanessa Bayer’s young student who delivers horrifying news is basically Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy in a dress. Pete Davidson’s sweet, overprotective mom makes a cameo, because she can’t stop stalking him on the set. Sasheer Zamata, who we don’t see nearly enough, made an appearance at the desk to discuss Larry Wilmore’s controversial use of the N-word at the White House correspondents’ dinner. Her delivery is refreshingly natural. She discusses the use of the word in our lexicon (replacing it with McGriddle, because comedy) and says that she finds thinly veiled racist words like “thug” and “ghetto” almost more troubling. “I like my racists easily identifiable,” she quips. If we ignore the word, we’re ignoring history, she explains before ending the conversation with the word in question. Hopefully moments like this remind SNL why it’s so essential to have a diverse cast of players. I just wish they’d let them have the screen time they deserve.

“Kickstarter”

discreet ANNiHiLaTionN, a brand new band formed this summer of “all whites” that “does black-style raps and combines it with actually good music like electric guitars,” has a Kickstarter video.

“Hologram Album”

Nothing we haven’t seen before, but there are some creative impersonations here. Eartha Kitt (Sasheer Zamata) does Rihanna. Lesley Gore (Brie Larson) does Nicki Minaj. Ethel Merman (Aidy Bryant) does Selena Gomez. And hologram superstar Tupac (Jay Pharoah) makes a cameo.

The Worst

“Brie Larson Monologue”

Larson and the cast wish their moms a Happy Mother’s Day, but it’s the start of a forgettable guest appearance.

“Game of Thrones: Jon Snow”

Well this was a missed opportunity. How many times can you play the same joke over and over again? Watch this and find out.

“Quiz Whiz 2018”

No one can remember Ted Cruz’s name, and I can’t remember this sketch zzz.

Musical Guest: Alicia Keys