How best to describe the star power of Chance the Rapper? He is short-torsoed, goofy-legged joy, goodness and quickness in a Chicago Teachers Union sweatshirt, a lyrical professor, and a kid excited just to be back at the show. He was also the most charismatic host yet of Saturday Night Live season 45. He kicked the whole proceedings up several notches right from his opening monologue, which gave glorious salute to striking Chicago teachers and the Second City he loves so well. As he waxed eloquently–with a neat assist from Kyle Mooney–on his penchant for the likes of Angel over Buffy, Pippen over Jordan, DMC over Run, he built to a rousing celebration of his own second shot at hosting. And the way he made his mark over the whole night, with such energy and joy, even if not especially when he was breaking, one can bet we’ll be seeing this guy walk down those stage stairs at the top of a Saturday night a third and a fourth and a fifth time too.
If Chance brought a delightful cohesion to the evening—I can’t remember another host in recent memory performing in just so many sketches—it served to underscore the cold open’s whiff of staleness. Is Trump fatigue morphing into Baldwin fatigue as well? There he was again, bloviating behind a podium. It seemed like too easy and depressing a shot to go so hard after his diehard rally fans wearing shirts like Cecily Strong’s “Keem Amarica’s Greab Agrain.” Not even Darrell Hammond as Bill Clinton or Fred Armisen, who popped up as Turkey’s President Erdogan, could truly elevate the sketch enough to rival the rest of the evening.
The best sketch of the night? Tis the season so I’ll pick Halloween’s graveyard and the ditty of the damned, where Chance played a resistant member of the undead who didn’t want to share his tale of demise.
Or when I laughed my head off at the sight of a lovelorn Cecily Strong, upside down and digging through the remnants of her spilled purse to close out her tab, after a buzzkill of a kiss with Chance.
Or maybe what I believe was a riff on the old SunnyD commercials, in which Chance and a few of his buddies came home to raid the kitchen for a snack. As Chance rifles through a never-ending option of cabinet snacks, his friends begin to suspect foul play. Cut to a box of Tasty Toaster Tots next to a bloody handprint on the appliance.
Or maybe his befuddled sportscaster Lazlo–a callback to his hockey reporting on a previous episode–who can’t believe the “Upside Down” he’s found himself in while filling in for coverage at an esports event. Shout out to Bowen Yang’s sublime mouth agape captain of shadow gaming.
Or maybe it was his Judge Barry, ruling over First Impressions court. Kate McKinnon is still the only cast member who gets rousing whoops of applause just in her entrances alone. She was the aggrieved plaintiff going after a dazzling Jason Momoa in faux cheetah fur. The sketch ended with Momoa bouncing his nipple chandelier earrings up and down, causing Chance to break with good reason.
It was an evening of riches, none more fun than Chance introducing his own first musical performance, the single off his first studio album The Big Day. His hot pink shirt and grin segued into a home video of his adorable queen of a daughter singing bars from “Zanies and Fools” in her car seat. The song was a barn burner–gold glitter bouncing off the drums, the dancers from tweens to adult a joy, Chance the whole time seeming to go without taking a breath or missing a word. Momoa the stallion returned to introduce Chance doing “Handsome,” with an assist from thee other Stallion, Megan.
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