Lizzo has undoubtedly established herself as a star since her 2019 major-label debut Cuz I Love You, and this week’s SNL was the perfect showcase for all her talents at once. She may not have many acting credits, but the person who sang “I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100 percent that bitch” is probably pretty funny. And even in her limited acting work, this actually isn’t the first time she’s worked alongside an SNL star: In 2016, she was the guest star on a few episodes of the Adult Swim cartoon Brad Neely’s Harg Nallin’ Sclopio Peepio, alongside SNL announcer Darrell Hammond. She’s also recently honed her hosting chops with the Amazon show Watch Out for the Big Grrrls, a reality series seeking backup dancers who look like her after not finding any while she was on tour. Tonight she debuted not one but two songs while more than ably handling host duties, proving herself the undisputed star of the show — but, really, how could she not be?
SNL opens with Bowen Yang as the Easter Bunny wishing us a Happy Easter. (“Unlike Santa I don’t use enslaved elves to make my Easter baskets. I get them on Etsy because I support women and their little hobbies.”) As always, Bowen is a delight, and it appears for a moment like SNL might be trying something different for its cold open. But then he throws it over to Dr. Fauci to kick off Easter messages from celebrities and politicians, including Kate McKinnon as Dr. Fauci (“That’s right, I’m still here.”), Cecily Strong as Marjorie Taylor Greene (“I’ve been saying aggressively to all my Jewish and Muslim colleagues: Happy Easter.”), and Kyle Mooney as Jared Leto (“My Easter message this year is positivity. So if you see my new movie Morbius, please don’t review it.”) And of course we can’t have a cold open without James Johnson, so he interrupts the Easter Bunny as Donald Trump. (“The Reese’s egg doesn’t look like an egg but I like Reese, I’m very good friends with Reese.”) This is a lowlight in an otherwise very strong episode, and the problems stem from yet another underwritten premise. What is interesting about the Easter bunny wishing us a Happy Easter? The lack of originality here highlights that this is just an excuse for a parade of impressions, making them come off really flat.
Lizzo comes out for her monologue and says she’s out to break the record for most times “bitch” has been said on live TV. However, she does hate cussing in front of her mom, who is in the audience (and will introduce her second song later in the night). Lizzo explains that at first her mom didn’t like it when she cussed on stage, “but now I’m rich, so she’s like bitch, cuss me out.” Lizzo then addresses “the rumors” that she’s dating every white boy in Hollywood. Apparently, she’s collecting members of One Direction like Infinity Stones, and has even been rumored to be pregnant with Chris Evans’s baby. (“I have no idea where that one started. It could be the TikTok where I said I was pregnant with Chris Evans’s baby.”) Lizzo here displays excellent stage presence, terrific comedic timing, and a willingness to poke fun at herself — key ingredients for what will turn out to be a very funny episode.
I initially rolled my eyes at SNL kicking off with its second straight post-monologue game-show sketch hosted by Kenan Thompson, but was almost immediately proven wrong. Here Kenan is the host of a pretty basic trivia game show with contestants Ego Nwodim, Chris Redd, and Lizzo, which goes off the rails when Lizzo insists JFK airport is actually called Robert Kennedy airport. (“I was just stuck there for five hours because I pet a bomb-sniffing dog and they said I ruined him.”) When Chris chimes in to answer correctly that it’s JFK, Lizzo claims she just said that and that Kenan knew what she meant. When Chris gets $100, Lizzo buzzes in to ask what she gets for answering half the question. Right off the bat, Lizzo is phenomenal, making great faces and reacting quietly as other people answer. Kenan shows how well he can play straight man to an off-the-wall character with a very clear point of view, throwing up his hands hilariously when Lizzo calls him “the Mayor of Gametown.”
In a millennial throwback to the “More Cowbell” sketch, we watch unearthed footage of a Black Eyed Peas recording session for their 2009 album The E.N.D. In an inspired take, Kenan’s will.i.am. underwhelms producers Lizzo and Aidy Bryant with his lyrics. (“Gotta get that boom-boom-boom — yeah that’s what we got so far.”) They try to encourage the Peas to write more specific lyrics, but they’re overwhelmed, until Cecily as Fergie finally offers, “How about something like: People in the place!” This kind of inane unoriginality turns into heightened absurdity when approached with such laser focus, resulting in a sketch that will definitely hit home for the millions of people who, voluntarily or not, heard these songs nonstop in the ’00s.
Lizzo invites her date, Mikey Day, back to her place, but warns him she lives with her grandpa. He’s okay with it, until he sees that her grandpa is the old dancing guy from the Six Flags ads. For those unfamiliar with the campaign, 20 years ago Six Flags flooded the airwaves with an old man dancing to the 1999 Vengaboys hit “We Like to Party.” (The bus in the ad is a reference to the lyric “the Venga bus is coming,” but I digress.) On top of that reveal, we soon learn that Lizzo’s grandma is a Six Flags guy — not the Six Flags Guy, but simply one of an apparently thriving community of Six Flags Guys, who continue to descend on the house until the inevitable finale. This is such a weird sketch it’s almost making fun of sketch comedy itself, but Sarah Squirm sells it by committing hard as Mr. Six, and Lizzo has a lot of funny responses to her date’s mounting incredulity. (Mikey: “You’re still feeling it right now?” Lizzo: “Oh trust me baby, with you I’m not going to feel a thing.”)
Colin Jost: “A video has also gone viral of President Biden finishing a speech in North Carolina and apparently turning to shake hands with an invisible person. Hey, her name is Kamala.”
Michael Che: “Mental-health experts are recommending children start being screened for anxiety when they are 8 years old, because it can be pretty stressful down at that ol’ iPhone factory.”
The studio audience seemed to balk at these and a couple others, but they were really good jokes within a strong “Weekend Update.”
Colin claims that he is constantly turning down people who ask if they can do comedy on his show, but admits he drunkenly said yes to his limo driver, Melissa Villaseñor as Cesar Perez. Cesar immediately burns his nephew, before feeling bad and asking Colin if they can cut that part out. (“Carlitos, I’m so proud of you, amigo. You get a girlfriend whenever you’re ready.”) Cesar then agrees to not do nephew jokes before burning his sister for getting purple hair and then accidentally going at his nephew again. (“That’s the worst mistake since she gave birth to Carlitos.”) This is a tremendous character for Melissa, well-timed and playing to her strengths as a character actor.
Mikey is the conductor of an orchestra that can’t do Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony without a flautist. Luckily for him Chris is here as the manager of the greatest flutist of all time, played by Lizzo. (There’s a gag here about whether it’s flautist or flutist, but it actually is flutist in the U.S. and flautist in England.) Lizzo, who’s been playing flute since the age of 10, shows off her skills, and Alex Moffat is so enraptured by the physicality of her performance he can’t even play his bassoon. Mikey tells her to sit down and play, but Lizzo explains that that’s a tall order, because she learned she could do anything after hearing an ice cream truck, and since that day she’s kept her body moving? I don’t know, I couldn’t quite follow, but then Aidy stands up and asks “What if we all are twerking?” and it just makes sense. It’s a really fun sketch for the end of the night, and it’s always a treat to see Lizzo’s flute-twerk work.
A lot of things came together in this episode, and it’s because the writers kept things simple. You can’t fail with clear premises and specific jokes like we got tonight, especially when they’re built to showcase a personality like Lizzo’s. She couldn’t help but crack up during the Beanie Babies sketch, and Andrew Dismukes’s deadpan stare probably didn’t help. We also got a strong Please Don’t Destroy sketch that incorporated the host, and a couple of big sketches like “Throne Room” that were able to get a lot of people involved, including Aristotle Athari. All together it made for one of the best episodes of the season, if not the best. It’s so rare these days for an episode of SNL to feel like an event, but the energy and commitment Lizzo brought to every sketch made it feel like a party. It’s such a pleasure to see such a fun SNL on an otherwise rough week for New York City.
Saturday Night Live Recap: Lizzo Is 100 Percent That Good