It was the first new episode of Saturday Night Live in a month, and the writers and cast returned with renewed energy to take on politics and current events in a way that they haven’t in past seasons. Hosted by comedian Louis C.K., who returned for his fourth visit, and with Alec Baldwin returning yet again to play President Donald Trump, the episode was filled to the brim with biting commentary that touched on serious issues like war, race, class and sexual harassment. But even though it took on deep topics, SNL managed to keep viewers laughing.
Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner commercial got harsh treatment
SNL has taken on all of the biggest headlines this season, so it was no surprise that this week’s episode included a pre-filmed segment that roasted Pepsi’s marketing team for its enormous flop of a commercial, which the nation as a whole found problematic, pandering and offensive.
The sketch imagines the writer and director of the doomed commercial (played by Beck Bennett) on the set minutes before filming begins. His sister calls, and as he explains the thrust of the ad, in which Kendall Jenner stops a protest from escalating by handing a Pepsi to a police officer, she tells him it’s a mistake. He asks his sister to put her husband on the phone, and he gives the same feedback. Finally, the writer/director talks to a neighbor and realizes that he’s in big trouble — but it’s all too late.
The skewering of Pepsi is almost difficult to watch, and you almost feel bad for whoever was responsible for the commercial. On the other hand, the sketch makes a strong point: How was it not completely, utterly obvious to everyone that the concept trivialized a number of extremely important and loaded issues of the day, including Black Lives Matter, peaceful protest and police brutality? It’s a tough lesson to learn, but Pepsi needs to know that if it messes up this badly, it might have to deal with a stable of the best comedians and humor writers in the United States.
You know the folks at Pepsi were just praying #SNL would lay off of them this week. No way. LOL
— Group Capt. Mandrake (@purityofessenc) April 9, 2017
#SNL….. I bet the head of pepsi ad agency or their brand manager is somewhere having a shot of coke cola and whiskey…
— Big Tex (@bigtexmarketing) April 9, 2017
Louis C.K. had seriously political punchlines
Louis C.K. was back to host SNL in the same week his new comedy special, 2017 , premiered on Netflix. The comedian, who years ago failed to make the cast of SNL, did an edgy, spot-on 10-minute monologue that didn’t shy away from the political any more than the rest of the sketches. He opened with a bit about whether chickens are racist and ended with a story about a hotel service returning his laundry to him that proved to be a smart, funny look at white privilege.
Louis C.K. has always walked the fine line between edgy and offensive humor, and his monologue last night was a good look at how comics can make a difference politically while still getting laughs.
Who else but Louis C.K. would joke about racist chickens? #snl
— Michael Weinfeld (@mweinfeld) April 9, 2017
Baldwin impersonates Trump and Bill O’Reilly at the same time
There are rumors that Alec Baldwin is going to hang up his Trump wig soon, and some think that he doesn’t have the enthusiasm for the role that he used to. Still, the actor played Trump twice last night, once for the cold open and again in a sketch in which he portrayed both the commander in chief and embattled FOX talk show host Bill O’Reilly in a split-screen interview.
The sketch not only showed Baldwin’s impressive character acting ability — he manages to look creepily like both men he is impersonating — but also included some sharp barbs that targeted both Trump and O’Reilly. Multiple recent accusations of O’Reilly’s sexual misconduct were put front and center, amid Trump’s handling of Syria and health care and his troubling relationships with Russia.
The impersonation of both Bill O'Reilly and Trump by Alec Baldwin on #SNL is genius.
— justtoinspire (@andrewkariz9) April 9, 2017
— StarryMag (@StarryMag) April 9, 2017