In the second episode after canceling its next season, “Saturday Night Live” returned to portray its host Ellen DeGeneres in the slipshod, delightfully fantastical world of Ellen’s famed chat show.
The late-night comedy platform has been in the thick of changes over the course of the year, with the chief shift being the continued rise of cable news-generation host Chris Hemsworth as host alongside this season’s more veteran names such as Alec Baldwin, Kate McKinnon and Dave Chappelle. Now the show is back to target the news of the week, trolling President Trump for his “Fire and Fury” book tour and poking fun at the administration’s response to the Florida school shooting.
DeGeneres is a longtime face on “SNL,” and even though the show had not used her as host of “SNL” since 2008, she was part of sketches and cameos throughout the entirety of the season that followed. Before taping “SNL” last weekend, she did three segments on the program that chronicled how Trump’s morning Fox & Friends routine contributed to the previous day’s rally.
With the hosting duties, “SNL” reunited the hosts’ famous voices — Kenan Thompson, Beck Bennett, Bobby Moynihan and Chris Redd — for a set of holiday-themed rehashes of their early days in entertainment. The sequence included sketches about growing up in a card booth as a precocious child, a reality show contestant who is ignored by his group of kids, and a trio of blind people in need of “adult supervision.”
After Fey played her “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” role, Moynihan went in for his “Groundhog Day” nod as a recently released convict whose blood-throwing drama onstage seems to be a metaphor for finally getting released. Naturally, he was welcomed by a troll from the 19th century, Billy Crystal.
The cutest element was the chemistry between Baldwin and Thompson. Their characters, an eccentric woman and gay porn star getting old together, appeared earlier in the episode.
“Even my mom thinks I look the way I used to,” Thompson said as his character. He suddenly turned into the titular characters of “As Good as It Gets” with his expansive waist and flops of hair. A few seconds later, when the host stopped by to offer hugs and advice, Thompson’s character said, “You got any new men?” — adding that he was living in “ghetto house” while the host just “tinkered in my closet.”
No one on the episode would let this episode be just about Trump. Last year’s “SNL” staffs staged their own “Handmaid’s Tale” protest in protest of the Trump administration’s reproductive rights policies. Last week, the female cast members wore red in solidarity with the women of “Saturday Night Live” who had been under attack from Trump during a recent Chicago protest. With DeGeneres’ appearance, “SNL” had women hosting the show for the first time in 11 years.
Sunday’s episode concluded with a parody of a business meeting for a company that makes snow showers, sold through a sexual gimmick. Meanwhile, below, the “Saturday Night Live” cast was being talked about on Trump Tower’s elevator.
“Saturday Night Live” is known for its role in the success of the Trump presidency, but just as some Trump supporters brought up criticisms of the show in his tweets in the wake of each new cold open (here’s a sampling), Sunday’s episode was also peppered with Trump-related jokes.
After one last snow shower reveal, the elevator descended, but DeGeneres did not.