If Emmy producers were hoping to stanch criticism of having two straight dudes – SNL‘s Michael Che and Colin Jost – as hosts tonight, the opening song & dance starring Kate McKinnon and Kenan Thompson about “solving” Hollywood’s diversity problem must have seemed like a good idea. Score one for good intentions.
The musical number – Ricky Martin, Tituss Burgess, RuPaul, Sterling K. Brown and others also joined in – was built around the “we solved it” conceit (“we gave you that one show, who can forget the amazing Sandra Oh?”) but seemed obvious and without bite.
At least it had the effect of easing the way and setting a low bar for Che and Jost, who had come under some criticism lately for seeming overly blase about the gig (“Eh,” said Jost when asked by the L.A. Times if he liked awards shows). The Weekend Update duo’s opening monologue – as light on laughs as it was on Trump, who it mostly ignored – didn’t do much to suggest any particular passion.
Michael Che Defends 'SNL Weekend Update' Partner From Writer's Scorn
At one point, Jost acknowledged the “hundreds watching at home,” then made a crack about senior center viewers.
Che, who last season on SNL finally found his voice somewhere between fury and bemusement, came close to that sting tonight when he expressed joy over sharing the stage with so many talented people in Hollywood “who haven’t been caught yet.”
Less on point was his remark that “the only white people who thank Jesus” on awards shows are Republicans and ex-crackheads. Better was his joke that “black-ish is how I was asked to behave tonight.”
Jost had his best line in an extended riff about Netflix, noting that the service’s Emmy dominance scares network executives more than anything besides hearing, “Sir, Ronan Farrow is on line one.”
Generally, though, the jokes were subpar even for an iffy edition of Weekend Update. “Roseanne canceled herself and was picked up by white nationalists” went one, and another likened Laurie Metcalf getting an Emmy nomination for Roseanne to a cop getting nominated for a BET Award.
Maybe they’re just warming up for SNL’s debut later this month. Here’s hoping.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.