SNL‘s First Post-Trump Episode Finds Kate McKinnon Searching for “What Still Works”

Comedy News Saturday Night Live
SNL‘s First Post-Trump Episode Finds Kate McKinnon Searching for “What Still Works”

The first Saturday Night Live of the post-Trump era started off with a surprise: the cold open wasn’t some weak political parody with celebrity stunt-casting. Yes, there’s a clear political edge to “What Still Works”—and not just because Cecily Strong appears as Marjorie Taylor Greene, the absolutely untethered conspiracy theorist and member of Congress—but instead of fixating on D.C. and politicians the sketch broadens its focus to a variety of other matters facing society right now, including the stock market madness from last week, the “debate” over social media and freedom of speech, and, uh, Tom Brady. Given this is the first episode since the Capitol riot, Trump’s departure, and the inauguration, it seemed guaranteed that the first sketch would be more of what we’ve seen over the last four years, with a procession of middling political impressions by former SNL greats or slumming movie stars, with roles for maybe two or three current cast members. Fortunately the show went a different route, and although I wouldn’t call the result great, it’s still a solid premise, with a central joke that delivers every time it’s repeated, and a nice twist at the end. Plus Kate McKinnon does a fantastic job as the “host” of this show-within-a-sketch, playing it very low key and straight-forward. The only egregiously bad part of the sketch is Alex Moffat’s inane Mark Zuckerberg—he gets the robotic Uncanny Valley oddness of Zuck down, but the dabbing seems to be referencing something I’m not familiar with. I’m trying very hard not to oversell anything here—this isn’t some hilarious sketch that you’re going to want to share with others, or anything—but it shows Saturday Night Live might be making some positive changes now that Trump’s no longer dominating all media, and it’s a perfectly fine, inoffensive little bit of comedy. That actually describes the whole episode—other than one outright stinker of a sketch (looking at you, “Blue Georgia”) it was a consistently pleasant return for the show. If you missed it, here’s that opening sketch, with Kate McKinnon in search of anything that still works in our society.

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