Chance the Rapper made the most of his opportunity to host Saturday Night Live last night, a solid, confident turn for his first time at the gig. The show itself was, well, here’s hoping the Thanksgiving break provides cast and crew a chance to regroup and refresh.
Despite a few highlights – a missing-you love ballad to Barack Obama, Pete Davidson’s Weekend Update riff on his rift with Staten Island – this Thanksgiving episode left a lot on the table.
Let’s start with the tastiest. “Come Back, Barack” was a music video starring Chance, Kenan Thompson and first-year cast member Chris Redd as smooth ballad crooners De-Von-Tré. What begins as just another broken-hearted plea for a lover’s return soon reveals the true object of all that longing. (Watch it above.)
Weekend Update was, once again, left holding the sexual harassment bag (right-wing conspiracies aside, the show clearly hasn’t figured a way to turn groping and rape allegations into sketch comedy gold, and let’s be thankful it hasn’t tried).
So the harasser-mocking has been left to the Update anchors Michael Che and Colin Jost, the latter having this week’s best punchline on the subject: “More than a dozen women have now accused actor Jeremy Piven of sexual assault spanning more than 30 years. The allegations were revealed in the shocking documentary Entourage.”
Watch that clip below, but first take a look at the week’s best Update performance, this one coming yet again from a newly revitalized Pete Davidson, whose self-deprecating, confessional laments have given him a profile lacking in his early stoner phase.
Here he is talking about his very real feud with the home borough he shares with Jost, and why Staten Island understandably favors one native son:
Upending the usual host pattern – strong monologue, weak sketch work – Chance the Rapper did some fine comic acting last night. He even passed the teleprompter test, a pitfall that’s undone hosts with far more experience.
Here’s Chance as a basketball announcer with no use for – or even familiarity with – his latest assignment, ice hockey:
Chance, Thompson and Redd re-teamed as another musical trio in Rap History, with the very old school Soul Crush Crew showing their age. Familiar territory for SNL, but nicely done:
A few Thanksgiving-themed bits were featured last night, though none are likely to show up on any of those Holiday specials in years to come. Best of the lot was “Wayne Thanksgiving,” in which millionaire Bruce Wayne (Beck Bennett) holds his annual holiday gathering for the less fortunate, only to get an earful from residents of a minority neighborhood (Chance, Thompson, Redd, Leslie Jones) about the Bat brutality plaguing the community.
The show’s host also appeared in “Family Feud: Harvey Family Thanksgiving,” a one-joke bit that Thompson’s overused Steve Harvey routine couldn’t save.
Not much better was “Career Day,” with Chance and Mikey Day as high schoolers way too excited by their dads’ career day presentation (maybe they should have gone the embarrassment route).
And no amount of enthusiasm could turn Chance’s opening musical ode to Thanksgiving into a holiday classic, try as the host might.
Still, it was better than “Porn Pizza Delivery,” the dregs of the evening. Less said the better. Happy Thanksgiving.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.