WWE superstar John Cena grapples with comedy just fine – see Trainwreck – so his chops as host on last night’s Saturday Night Live came as no surprise. In the best of his bits, he put more than his muscles to use. But those too.
One pre-taped sketch, “The Karate Teen,” featured season newcomer – and weekly scene-stealer – Mikey Day as a skinny Karate Kid wannabe facing off against Cena’s champ. The joke won’t be whether Day gets obliterated, just rather how, and how badly. One of SNL‘s better physical comedy routines in a while.
Cena deserved better than “Science Presentation,” an obvious dumb jock skit with three professors reviewing student projects – Mikey Day’s particle accelerator, Vanessa Bayer’s cloud chamber and football player Cena’s “bananas nailed to a piece of plywood.” The football loving judges play favorites, and Cena does what’s required. Take a look.
“The Dating Show” played with similar expectations of Cena’s hunk factor. As the vacuous emcee of an MTV dating game show, Cena draws the attention of a bachelorette (Cecily Stong) far more than the three bachelors up for grabs (Beck Bennett, Kyle Mooney, Mikey Day). When SNL resorts to a supposedly shocking same-sex kiss, a sketch is in trouble.
Cena had only a small role in one of the episode’s throwaway sketches, a take-off on a fictitious ’70s female cop drama called Dyke & Fats, the title pretty much explaining everything. Kate McKinnon plays “Dutch Plains as Officer Les Dykawitz,” while Aidy Bryant was “Velvy O’Malley as Chubbina Fatzarelli.” Points for referencing ancient TV lore – actress Meg Foster was famously replaced by Sharon Gless early in the run of Cagney & Lacey when CBS execs worried the original actress came across as gay – but “Dyke & Fats Save Christmas” packed whatever laughs it had in its title.
The episode’s best sketch was a digital short seen from the POV of President-elect Donald Trump, a languid, vaguely unsettling bit in which we see the world as SNL imagines Trump does – by turns threatening and fawning, with words and images coming through as if in a half-remembered dream. And when he/we gazed in the mirror, the Trump staring back looks remarkably like John Cena. (NBC hasn’t posted that video as of Sunday morning.)