Drake was game for a round of Black Jeopardy and just about anything else Saturday Night Live threw at him last night. For most of it, the rapper/singer/songwriter had better game than the NBC show itself, his ease with acting — let’s not forget this Canadian is a former Degrassi kid — saw him through more than a few laughless bits. Give him credit then for winning Black Jeopardy, which played off the rapper’s Great White North roots and polite nerd demeanor. Sample joke: Asked to name the comic who “was crazy in the ’80s with his raw and delirious routines,” Drake’s hipster-dreaded dude sailed right over Eddie Murphy to land on Rick Moranis. Check out the clip above.
In other sketches, both SNL and Drake went the full-on weird route, with funny reduced to an occasional side road, notably in an early sketch in which Drake and cast member Jay Pharoah played unhelpful desk agents at a rental car place, with honeymooning customers Vanessa Bayer and Beck Bennett annoyed that the car they’d reserved isn’t available. You’ve seen this done better on Seinfeld, but the bit did give Pharoah another excuse to do a variation of his strangely accented effeminate man. His attempts to turn “that was unbeknownst to me” (or rather, “that was un-ber-nernst to me”) into a catchphrase seemed futile.
Maybe the character arrived too quickly after Pharoah’s similarly limp-wristed Ben Carson, who showed up in the episode’s cold open as a possible Vice President for Donald Trump (the peerless Darrell Hammond). Bobby Moynihan as Chris Christie didn’t even bother trying to keep up.
Drake’s best bit was a digital video called “Drake’s Beef,” in which the ever-pleasant Canadian nice-guy politely interacted backstage with various SNL cast members, only to fantasize a vicious rap over some imagined slights. To the affable Pete Davidson: “You skinny as hell and you make me mad/You think you’re funny, huh?/Well you ain’t Josh Gad.”