Saturday Night Live: Chris Pine & LCD Soundsystem May 6, 2017
Published May 07, 2017Chris Pine was dynamic, singing, dancing, and acting his socks off, while LCD Soundsystem were a stoic, stylistic presence on this great episode of SNL. Here's everything that happened.
The Cold Open
With the news that Morning Joe hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski are engaged, the opening imagined what their MSNBC show might be like if it was full of sexual tension. Played by Alex Moffatt and Kate McKinnon, the couple, who often present a left/right dynamic, bicker flirtatiously over political issues and come dangerously close to making out, while panelists look on in horror at the awkward PDA of it all. The only other joke here featured Alec Baldwin's Donald Trump calling in and pretending he was a publicist touting the passage of the Republican health care plan. When Trump is informed the plan still faces hurdles, he retreats in a tailspin of confusion. For a two-joke bit, this was both a refreshingly light way of addressing the week in American politics, but also a toothless jab at Republicans who have openly admitted they didn't read a bill they voted "yes" to.
This was funny. Host Chris Pine seemed a tad stilted when he first began speaking to the audience and promoting his new film, Guardians of the Galaxy 2. This was some misdirection; he joked about how often he's mistaken for Chris Pratt. In fact, the monologue morphed into a musical lesson about all of the hot young, white actors named Chris (i.e. Pratt, Evans, Hemsworth, etc.) and the ways in which Pine might be different than the rest. The fact that two of them played characters named "Steve" in respective movies didn't help matters. Pine was great in this amusing introduction.
Where in the World is Kellyanne Conway?
A spot-on parody of the '90s kids' show, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, writers figured out a way for McKinnon to reprise her Kellyanne Conway impression and highlight how the Trump strategist, after a year of ubiquity, has essentially vanished from the public consciousness in recent weeks. Detail perfect with a short, punch conclusion, this was good.
Song For Peace
Somehow this strikingly odd riff on Eastern European music and visual aesthetics, which had post-12:30 written all over it, made it into the top half of the episode. Beck Bennett stars in this cold music video, where a Slavic singer/rapper tries to make sense of America with heavy-handed sensitivity and a clock-stopped-in-1997 understanding of hip-hop culture. With support from Pine and Kyle Mooney, this was wonderfully surreal and just long enough to be funny, lose us, and then come back around to being funny again.
Cotton Candy Dance Party
Another inspired bit of silliness, a couple of cops staking out a felon in the making are distracted by a bizarre party taking place in the apartment next door. Pine and Mikey Day are dancing with cotton candy, engaging in a backpack fashion show, and then welcoming guests like Leslie Jones dressed like a pimp, and eventually the suspect himself (Bobby Moynihan).
That Boy Is Mine
The loose, conceptual, '90s-infused sketches continued, with Aidy Bryant and Vanessa Bayer playing corporate execs who need to discuss an HR matter with an office hunk played by Pine. The result is a strange bit of sexual harassment, as the two woman insist he choose a lover between them, making their case with a shrill version of "That Boy is Mine" by Brandy and Monica. A pure, crazed performance feat.
The House Seattle
Mocking the contrived tension of The Real World and Big Brother, this was a classic Mooney/Bennett device that brought Pine into the mix, as three friends/roommates jockey for each other's affection. Out of left field, but amusing.
Over the course of "Call the Police" and "American Dream," the octet that made up LCD Soundsystem were a simmering cauldron of electronic rock tension. In his singing and phrasing, James Murphy was dynamic, while his band conjured a slow-build soundscape. While "Call the Police" was upbeat and "American Dream" was mid-tempo, both songs had an organic momentum, slyly shifting into these hypnotic and alluring new songs.
Michael Che and Colin Jost were armed with solid jokes about the American Health Care Act, drawing comparisons between congressmen who voted for it as blindly as we hit "I Agree" on an iTunes software licensing agreement, and riffing on the bill's designation of "pre-existing conditions." Che also lobbed a great joke about how racist the Cleveland Indians' mascot/logo is, which made the crowd uncomfortable. While the jokes were strong, nothing was as funny as Bayer appearing as the winner of a contest to be the WU meteorologist, Dawn Lazarus. Misspeaking and frenetically nervous, Bayer was a comedic whirlwind here, showcasing her wondrous talents for earnest awkwardness by adopting the weirdo optimistic cadence of weather people. Genius.
A funny way of addressing the pervasiveness of LGBTQ culture, some stereotypically macho auto shop workers slowly admit they're ardent fans of RuPaul's Drag Race, which culminates in an intense lip sync contest between Pine and Moynihan.
The Handmaid's Tale
This attempt to riff on the brutality of Margaret Atwood's book and its recent TV adaptation didn't really work. The point was to juxtapose the horrors of being a woman in this dystopian landscape with the cluelessness of bros, but it didn't really land.
In the only Star Trek-related sketch of the night, Pine does a great young Shatner-as-Captain-Kirk but the premise is that this lost episode of the original series was a cheap crossover for a Catskills-style entertainer named Sal Delabate, played by Moynihan. Cast as Spock's step-brother, Spocko, Moynihan's manic, catchphrase-spouting standup is the focus, who was only upstaged by the stunt casting of Sulu by SNL crew member, Akira Yoshimura, who first played the role back in season one. His lone line cracked the cast up but also highlighted the fact that SNL should cast its first Asian actor sometime soon.