SNL Digest: Aziz Ansari (1/21/17)

©2017/Will Heath/NBC

Aziz Ansari brings almost too much energy to a spotty episode of SNL.

I’m most familiar with Aziz Ansari from his work on Parks & Recreation as Tom Haverford, but he’s been having a very busy few years since that show ended.  His book Modern Romance was a bestseller, and his new show that he wrote and starred in, Master of None, is prepping season 2 and won an Emmy for Aziz’s performance in season 1.  With all that, he’s a perfect host for SNL.  Unfortunately, the episode he presided over felt uneven throughout, with Aziz’s energy serving some sketches well while bringing others down.

What You Missed:

Cold Open: A Paid Message from the Russian Federation

Beck Bennett’s wonderful Vladimir Putin has been one good thing in this terrifying hellscape that’s emerged after Election Day.  Bringing Kate McKinnon’s Olya into this was great.


Amongst all his credits, I kind of forgot Aziz started as a standup.  This was a nice reminder of his skills there.

Beat the Bookworm

Aziz is wonderful as smug characters that get their comeuppance, and this was great (although it felt like it just ended rather than fully resolving)

Police Interrogation

This had shades of The Beygencey from a few seasons ago, but once this turned into a mix of the hype/backlash for both La La Land and Moonlight, I was back in.

Broderick & Ganz

Aziz’s tendency to start and stay at an 11, volume-wise, undoes the build this could have ad, but it’s otherwise a nice sketch

Weekend Update

  • Michael Che on Michelle Obama and the Women’s March was everything.  I’ve really come to appreciate his voice on the Weekend Update panel
  • Leslie Jones talking about Hidden Figures and black history was oddly inspiring.
  • “or…and hear me out…no, it’s not.”

Sexy Talk

Melissa Villesenor is bad at sexy talk.

Five Stars

This was a nice little Black Mirror-ish plot in miniature, and then it referenced that. There’s a nice punchline at the end here.

Pizza Town Band

This was super weird and completely did it for me as someone who remembers the Rockafire Explosion and when they became the Charles Entertainment Cheese House Band

What You Didn’t Miss:

  • The “Conway” video was a fine rendition of “Roxie” from Chicago, but I’m not really sure it did anything for me joke-wise.
  • Similarly, the “To Sir With Love” at the end was nice, but felt oddly placed in the show as a closer and felt a little more “variety show” than SNL tends to go.

    A Brief Word From Our Sponsors:

    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:
    Contact: WebsiteTwitter