SNL Digest: Chris Pratt/Ariana Grande (9/27/14)

Chris Pratt hosts the 40th season premiere of Saturday Night Live.
Saturday Night Live (Photo: Dana Edelson / NBC)

Live from New York, it’s the 40th season of Saturday Night Live!  Chris Pratt brings his goofy energy to the season premiere.

It’s the 40th season of SNL, you guys.  That’s impressive.  In an age when TV actually being “live” has become a curio, it’s really cool to see SNL be a cultural tradition that still finds ways to reinvent itself and stay modern and fresh1.  SNL is in full celebratory mode, showing a cut-down version of a vintage episode of the show at 10pm EDT before the new episode, AND planning a live special in prime time for early next year.  I’m excited to cover the show as it heads into this important milestone.

Here’s what you missed if you didn’t watch live:

Cold Open: NFL in Crisis

In a non-political year, it’s wonderful to have something like this going on to fire up the SNL writers’ room.  Host in the Cold Open!  That means we’re in for a treat this episode!  Aidy getting to kick off the season was also nice – she’s really grown as a team player and it’s nice to see her get the recognition.

I lack the football knowledge to fully get the nuances of Kenan and Jay’s performances here, but the underlying joke was hilarious.


I had a hunch Chris would possibly end up doing a musical monologue.  In his own words, he “may not be as as good a singer as Ariana Grande, I am technically 3 times her bodyweight”, and this ended up being utterly charming and slightly meta.  Anna Faris was there!

“We had sex and a baby popped out”.

Cialis Turnt

“Then ask your doctor if you’re safe to get turnt, because that’s a whole ‘nother thing”

He-Man and Lion-O

Go post this video to your Facebook wall so all your friends see it.  I don’t care that you haven’t watched it yet.  Just do it.

In all seriousness, this was the best sketch at the night, and not even Ariana Grande’s cameo at the end could ruin it.  I was in tears from laughing so hard.

“It feels good like cake – but a different good.”

Vet Clinic

They’ve done this sketch before last season, with Josh Hutcherson, and it was just as funny this time.  I think there’s a combination of the accents, general demeanors, and the horrifyingly specific pet deaths that does it for me.

Weekend Update

I was worried when I read news pre-season that Cecily Strong was stepping down after one year at the Update desk, as she had been my favorite parts during the transition last season.  Then I remembered that I also really missed Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started A Conversation With At A Party and realized this meant that she could come back with no explanation.  And that was okay.

Michael Che was a little rough on his first outing as anchor2.  I also miss the old Weekend Update backdrop, but it was time for an update there too.  LESLIE JONES!!! Also, how great was Pete Davidson in his debut?  I’m concerned he’ll pigeonhole himself in the same way Brooks did, but this was a great first time out.

A few stray lines on this week’s WU:

  • “If you don’t want anyone to see your naked photos, you could just hide them in that new U2 album”
  • “If Neil Grasse Tyson is so smart, then why’d he bite that guy’s ear off?”
  • “And all he had to make us forget about that was paint an OK picture of a dog”

Girls Night

Aidy was this episode’s MVP, as far as I’m concerned, and her exact “Anaconda”-esque affectation in this sketch is why.  Taking the way popular culture (particularly music videos) affects the way we think hookups are supposed to work to its absurd conclusion, I was fully onboard with this sketch, particularly the moments when Aidy/Chris don’t entirely realize what they’re saying.

Bad Boys

Beck Bennet and Kyle Mooney got their comedy start making videos like this for their group Good Neighbor.  They’ve been cultivating this offbeat weirdness and low-key energy for years and their bits last season were some of my favorites.  I look forward to even more work like this all throughout this year.  A CHILD RAN OFF THE SET.

NFL intros

This was another sketch that I was laughing so hard I could hardly breathe, so I’m just going to give you some lines from it in order to get you to watch it.  Also everyone in this sketch changes wigs/facial hair at least twice and it’s magic.

  • “Willie Sampson, Treason”
  • “I’m the Punter, tax fraud”
  • “I OD’d on penis pills”
  • “I sent a picture of my ding-dong to Michelle Obama”

What You Didn’t Miss

  • The Marvel Ad Parody they did had its funny moments, but went one or two faux movies too far (although I would totally go and see Creatures of the Cosmos).  Almost worth it to see Chris Pratt as Princess Leia, though.
  • This week’s 12:55 sketch, with a puzzle video game that’s a little too sexy, fell flat for me.
  • Ariana Grande’s performances were a little too reliant on a backing track (which echoed in the studio – at least fill the 8H performance space with people pretending to play your song) for my liking.
  1. If you haven’t already read it, I highly recommend reading the updated version of Live From New York that came out earlier this fall, just to see how far the show has come and all the crazy things that have happened over the years  
  2. although, admittedly, my first live show I’d have a little trouble getting things out because HOLY SHIT WE’RE LIVE DON’T SCREW UP would be screaming in my head  

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About Ben Smith 252 Articles
Ben has been writing about TV, music, and pop culture in some form or another since 2009, including stints at Mental Floss and Temporary Obsession. When not solving puzzles of some sort or consuming pop culture at a frightening pace, he can be found collecting shiny pieces of the internet at E-mail:
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