Tom Hanks Saves Halloween on ‘SNL’
In such divisive times, it’s nice to spend a Saturday night with a universally loved father figure like Tom Hanks, who delivered plenty of comforting paternal vibes on this week’s very Halloween-y episode of Saturday Night Live. Between his pep talk monologue and the range of characters he 110% committed to, he proved he’s all of America’s dad, whether yours looks like this:
…or, more like this:
🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸
Hanx (as he’s known on Twitter) gave an outstanding performance, bringing as much energy to his 9th SNL appearance as he did to his very first, all the way back in 1985 (it was the show’s 11th season and the musical guest was Sade; there are only a few clips online, but those include a song from Steven Wright and an appearance from Dennis Miller, so I recommend).
We had no doubt Hanx would head up a solid episode, and he certainly came through.
Debate Cold Open
Hooray, it’s the last debate cold open! Moderated by Hanx (who plays Chris Wallace pretty accurately, with absolutely zero personality), Trump and Clinton face off one final time, and predictably, the actual debate delivered plenty of pre-written punchlines:
“In the first debate I set the table, in the second debate I fired up the grill, and tonight, I feast,” opens Clinton, literally sharpening knives before going in for the easiest kill ever. In homage to Trump’s bad Spanish, there’s a shoutout to Mexican president “Mr. Guacamole — I’m sorry, Senor Guacamole,” and his twin children, Chips and Salsa, which actually sounds like an amazing idea for an animated show.
Of course, Trump’s the main target, and SNL is quick to highlight his questionable sniffling, constant interrupting, and uncanny ability to set Clinton up by highlighting her extensive political history. When he insists, yet again, that literally “nobody” has more respect for women that he does, we cut to literally the entire planet laughing, because duh. But the writers work in a few hits on Hillary, too, like about how she still deflects questions on her emails, and how she’s still just the lesser of two evils. (“Between the two of us, who do you trust to be your president,” she asks, “the Republican or Donald Trump?”)
The best line of the sketch, though, goes to Trump, when listing his celebrity fans: “I’ve even got the best Baldwin brother — Stephen Baldwin.” It’ll be an awkward Thanksgiving.
Because “America is feeling a little nervous these days, and I’m a responsible father,” Hanx take this opportunity to slip into something a little more comfortable (a Mr. Rogers-inspired cardigan) and give our restless nation a little pep talk. Like any understanding dad, Hanx knows we’ve been going through a lot — we’re getting a little darker, and a lot gayer (which is “trill” and “fleek”), we’re in debt and we have too many guns, and everyone can totally smell the weed we’re smoking. But, while China may be more popular now, at least we can take comfort in knowing we’re a strong nation — we’re responsible for the t-shirt cannon, for chrissakes — and we’re all gonna be fine.
(Side note: I’m glad we’ve all decided to pretend Chet Haze-Hanks doesn’t exist, otherwise all this talk about how Hanx is a perfect daddy would seem just that much funnier.)
What starts as just another installment of SNL’s recurring “Black Jeopardy” bit becomes one of the show’s smartest sketches, when game show host Thompson and contestants Zamata and Jones are joined by a Trump hat and eagle tee-wearing Hanx. It’s an immediately uncomfortable moment, as we all tense up in anticipation of the eventual racial punchlines, but over the course of the game everyone realizes they’ve got a lot in common, coming together to distrust Apple’s Touch ID, the electoral process, and skinny women.
When Hanx chimes in to express his love of Madea movies — “I can laugh and pray in 90 minutes” — it’s as heartwarming as it is brilliant, pointing out that A) we’re all human, and B) incidentally, Trump supporters tend to have a lot in common with the people they’re so scared of. That is, until it comes to the final category: “Lives That Matter.”
Halloween Block Party
This lukewarm sketch didn’t make it online (music licensing, since it uses an entire Journey song as a backing track), but you’re not missing much: at a planning meeting for an upcoming neighborhood block party, a family insists they were asked to create and perform an original piece. None of their neighbors remember making this request, but they’re treated to a very spirited preview either way, wherein Hanx, Strong, and Villasenor perform a Halloween-themed ode to abstinence.
Funny New Comedy
Just in time for awards season, CBS is making a desperate attempt to remind everyone it exists with their groundbreaking new comedy, Broken. For fans of Transparent comes this sitcom, an even more lighthearted look at dysfunctional families that’s centered on a clan of adjunct professors who are all diagnosed with depression on the same day. Broken’s got everything Emmy jurors are looking for: an up-and-coming young actress ugly crying, thoughtful musings on our ancestors’ sex lives, mumbled musical numbers. CBS is back, baby!
Welcome to 100 Floors of Frights, everyone’s new favorite scary theme park ride. A trip to the top of a haunted hotel, in an elevator manned by an old-timey guide (Thompson), proves more unsettling than one couple expects when, between ghost brides and cannibal waiters, the mysterious David Pumpkins keeps popping up. Pumpkins (Hanx), basically a Flock of Seagulls backup guitarist who shops exclusively at Halloween warehouse sales, is flanked by two dancing skeletons in full Dia de los Muertos face paint (Day and Moynihan), and his friendly smiles completely throw off thrill-seekers Bennett and McKinnon. “Are we supposed to know who that is?” they wonder, as he keeps appearing throughout the ride. Nope, it turns out David Pumpkins is “his own thing,” and the skeletons are “part of it,” so just stop asking questions and enjoy one of the most ridiculous and fun sketches in recent history.
Day and Moynihan are the sketches true heroes, dancing like robot skeletons in what I hope and assume is an homage to this infamous Halloween hero:
BIG UPS to Josh Kurp for finding David Pumpkins’ suit online — it’s $100, which is either a lot or a steal, and if you act fast you can get it in time for Halloween (please please one of you freaks do this, and send me photos).
Weighing in on the series finale of American Horror Story: Debates, Jost and Che liken the final debate round to a viciously polite Connecticut Thanksgiving, compare Trump to Kramer (because it’s only a matter of time), and point out that, while he may be the most dangerous man in the nation, he’s still only a handful of poll points behind Clinton.
Leslie Jones joins Jost to give her take on Wikileaks, describing her recent hacking like a Real Fucking Hero and laughing off her nudes leak, because let’s be honest, if you want to see her naked all you have to do is ask.
And because we’re not subjected to more shitty opinions than we can handle already, the girl you wish you hadn’t started a conversation with at a party (Strong) stops by to tell Che to get woke, and complain about him “man-terrupting” while she’s “wo-making a point.” Don’t hold your breath to find out who she’s voting for, though, cause that’s voter insemination and it is illegal, okay?
Hanx reprises his role as “Sully” from Sully in this sketch that wonders what the pilot-turned-hero is like in everyday life. Following his years-long publicity tour for Miracle on the Hudson-related media, Sully’s back in the cockpit, piloting a flight to Seattle — or so he thinks, til Captain Alec Baldwin enters (he stuck around past the cold open this week!). After confirming his second-in-command status with the control tower (“But…I’m SULLY”), Sully spends the entire flight trying to bait Baldwin, bragging about the time he met Ellen and nearly losing his mind when a passenger asks to meet his hero — war vet Baldwin. “Have you seen Sully?” he asks, as un-casually as humanly possible. “Oh, it’s about me.”
A Girl’s Halloween
In this beautifully accurate snapshot of a girl’s night out gone bad, three bffs — a cute mouse (Bryant), a cute cat (Stong), and a cute wedge of cheese (Bayer) — prepare for Halloween with the best of intentions:
As they touch up makeup, admire their outfits, and vow not to get too wasted, we flash forward to 4am…
…where they’re scream-crying in the street, makeup smeared, picking fights, puking on pizza, and ruining sweet Bobby Moynihan’s holiday.
America’s Funniest Pets
This sketch does the impossible: it makes cute animal videos kind of unbearable to watch, in this Funniest Home Videos parody where Parisian critics (Strong and McKinnon) narrate sleepy kitty vids with dark, deeply accented existentialism. There’s a bit of a saving grace in Hanx as host Ron Howard (longtime pal / director of his upcoming Inferno).
The impersonation is adorably in-jokey, all jumpy and dorky and cute, PLUS: there’s a dog with his lil tongue hanging out!!
– Check out this cut for time Weekend Update segment, where everyone’s least favorite standup comic Bruce Chandling stops by to tell some Halloween-y jokes. He’s joined by his pal, Paul Cannon (Hanks), a Seinfeld-haired comic who’s super cheesy but still kills with Che:
– And take a moment to muse on this solid point, from the legendary Alison Jones via Ben Schwartz, re. Trump’s comments about his unjust Emmy loss:
“The irony folks is that Alec Baldwin will get the Emmy.”- a quote from casting director Allison Jones in response to the debate
— Ben Schwartz (@rejectedjokes) October 20, 2016
– Poor Alex Moffatt barely got any screen time this week — he had a split second in the background of “Girl’s Halloween”, but otherwise was MIA.
– I kind of skipped through the Lady Gaga songs (I’m sorry! I loved her on American Horror Story! But these were so booooring!) SO I didn’t notice Mark Ronson til the very end, and, has he always looked like if John Mulaney had a little brother who DJs drag clubs? It’s a good look, is what I’m saying.
Next week: host 🎩 Benedict Cumberbatch and musical guest 👑 Solange