SNL: Aziz Ansari and Big Sean – Five Stars (Review)

 Saturday Night Live - Season 42

This episode of SNL was firing on all cylinders from the cold Putin open to to the ending scene where Cecily Strong and Sasheer Zamata sing “To Sir With Love” to former President Barrack Obama, this was, like the Uber sketch, a full five star effort. 

Clearly Aziz Ansari was a good influence on the writing staff this week. Although to be fair, Weekend Update managed to knock it out of the park as usual. Leslie Jones nailed it with a  bit of topical humor so spot on it made your teeth hurt.

Beck Bennett gave Alec Baldwin a rest this week as his Putin, with a little help from Kate McKinnon, ripped the new president and his “cabinet” to shreds. Best gag of the open was the “Afraid because Trump is in charge. Don’t worry, he isn’t.”

This brilliant open then moved onto one of the best monologues ever, on SNL. Aziz was funny, clever and on point with sharp humor that poked fun, and holes, in all the right places.

The first sketch, which starred Ansari, was a brilliant, but sly, lambasting of all those Golden Globes given out to La La Land. Aziz played a man who did not think the film, with its seven wins at the “Globes” was all that good.

Strong and Beck are both “bad cops” who are there to make Aziz’s character see the error of his ways. This one was a crowd pleaser and was very funny. The big finish had Kenan Thompson brought into the precinct for not liking the HBO series Westworld.

“I didn’t like the finale,” Thompson’s character says, “it could have been the premiere.” He is immediately shouted down by the two cops in charge. The highlight of the sketch, above the chair thought the two-way mirror bit, was Aziz’s character confessing that he fell asleep for a moment during the film and missed the few black characters in the movie.

Opting to leave the new president alone this week, the writers took aim and Trump’s “mouthpiece” instead, Kellyanne Conway, played, as usual, by the brilliant Kate McKinnon. As she and The Lead’s Jack Tapper bandy words, the sketch segways into a musical number.

Kellyanne sings about her fame, that she will, if Googled, appear before Kanye and the entire sequence looks like a Marilyn Monroe “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” riff. Although this is not a direct pastiche of that number at all.

“Weekend Update” featured Michael Che at his best and the segment with Leslie Jones was beyond brilliant. Ostensibly about the new film Hidden Figures (A film about the heretofore unrecognized contribution by three black women who ensured that the astronauts in NASA made it to space.) and she then goes on a riff about other black people overlooked in history.

Complaining that all Black History month ever covered was George Washington Carver and his peanuts, Jones’ rant was a comic highlight of the episode. The best bit had to be the invention of the mailbox by a black man. Her line about white people seeing all their letter on the ground was classic Jones.

The Aziz and Bobby Moynihan sketch, Five Stars; about the rating system associated with Uber,  was funny. The driver in the skit, Moynihan, is a Russian and it allowed both the passenger, Indian, and the driver to indulge in a little stereotyping.

The two men wind up bonding over their love of “Black Mirror” and their favorite episode. Both the passenger and the driver earn a five star rating and as Aziz reluctantly leaves the Uber, his new Russian pal runs him down.

Was this sketch cocking a snook at Russian relations, or just Vladimir Putin? Regardless of whether there were any underlying themes in this skit, it was brilliant.

The show finished with a touching tribute to the former president that, sadly, is not available for viewing via YouTube.

Big Sean was the musical talent this week and he was a crowd pleaser both times he performed. Aziz did not appear in all the sketches but he did well in all of the ones he took part in.  One of the highpoint’s had to be that pizza band sketch. The Bookworm sketch was spot on but in spite of the humor felt tacked on.

SNL this week almost felt like a “retro” episode. Harking back to its early days with equal measures of irreverence, gut busting humor and pithy observations the writers knocked it out of the park with this one.