It’s safe to say that Amy Schumer is having a good 2015. She’s the star of an awards-winning Comedy Central show, has her first HBO comedy special airing next week, and wrote/starred in the summer cinematic hit Trainwreck. And yet, she’s still overtly gushing about the chance to host Saturday Night Live. It’s a testament to the power and importance of the show that someone that doesn’t really need to host really wants to host. Lead up to the show led to inevitable speculation: How much of the Inside Amy Schumer sensibility would seep into the show? Would SNL neuter her persona or let it loose?
The answer? Schumer definitely did her own thing, even if the actual number of pure sketches was low. An extra-long monologue and “Weekend Update” reduced the overall number of segments, but there was still plenty of strong material tonight overall. Here are the three segments you absolutely need to watch from this week’s episode.
Amy Schumer Monologue
Is it cheating to put the monologue here? Possibly. When a stand-up hosts SNL, it’s not unusual for this segment to be a highlight. But why punish Schumer for excelling in her wheelhouse?
This was a freewheeling monologue ranging from Hollywood sexism, drinking with Hillary Clinton, and having to bathe her niece. The through line? Schumer’s uncanny ability to make the profane palatable to the masses, or at least the audience watching a sketch comedy show. Mocking the women in the crowd not into Bradley Cooper for having a “golden vagina” shouldn’t have evoked an enthusiastic response, but in 2015, that’s something that absolutely happens. It helps that she’s body-positive while still insisting her body is akin to a Lava Lamp under her dress. She’s a fiercely intelligent comedian, and this helped showcase her to a larger audience while also setting the stage for her energetic contribution to the episode.
Kyle Mooney has carved out an interesting spot within the pre-produced world deploying mumblecore characters that ostensibly wouldn’t work in live sketches. This sketch proves that type of character can work, provided that the sketch itself is slightly odd, and that someone with Schumer’s energy can carry the momentum.
There’s a lot to like here: from the grainy, faux-SD4:3 aspect ratio camerawork, Aidy Bryant’s constant interruptions, Schumer’s increasingly egregious puns, and finally, Vanessa Bayer’s character punctuating the ridiculousness of it all. (“I was worried about sending my daughter to this school, because it’s just an office building.”) This is pure silliness from start to finish, but there’s nothing wrong with that when it’s executed on this high a level. Everyone onstage understood the nature of the joke, which made it very easy for the audience to lock into its wavelength.
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Weekend Update: October 10, 2015, Part 1
This was an extremely long iteration of “Update,” and while you can normally associate “long ‘Update'” with “weak show,” this wasn’t a case of this trying to make up for weak material elsewhere in the episode. But while most aspects of “Update” really worked this week, one in particular truly stood out.
Last week’s episode avoided any and all references to gun violence. Yet tonight’s episode featured multiple segments addressing this issue, none more potently than the back-and-forth repartee between “Update” hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che. For more than a year, these two have struggled to find their rhythm as hosts of this SNL institution. Well, tonight, they found it, almost fully formed, in their combined takedown on recent events. There was a palpable energy to their interactions, and a forward momentum that has been sorely lacking during their tenure. It will be interesting to see if they can carry this forward. For the show’s sake, I hope we will eventually look back upon as the moment “Update” started to truly soar again.