Chris Redd played Lil Nas X, who has faced criticism from some Christians for his “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” music video — which features the singer sliding down a pole into hell and dancing on the devil’s lap — and a lawsuit from Nike over his sneakers containing a drop of human blood.
“Their whole thing is, ‘Just do it.’ Well, I did it,” Redd’s Lil Nas X said, moments before dancing on Mikey Day’s version of God to, as Fineman’s Spears suggested, “even things out.”
Kate McKinnon showed up in costume as Pepe Le Pew, the character cut from the coming “Space Jam” sequel after he was accused of having “normalized rape culture.” Speaking as the cartoon, McKinnon added: “If you think I am the problem, I have two words for you: Speedy Gonzales. And you didn’t hear this from me, but the FBI is 99 percent sure Yosemite Sam was at the Capitol riots.”
SNL ignored the Internet’s helpful suggestions and enlisted Pete Davidson to play Gaetz, introduced by Fineman’s Spears as a “hot mess” and “full-on sex pest.” After running through the various crimes of which Gaetz has been accused, she concluded, “I don’t know, Matt, I think I can spot a teen predator when I see one. After all, I was on ‘Mickey Mouse Club.’ ”
If the “Weekend Update” anchors appeared in sketches, it might have made more sense to cast Colin Jost in the role — during the segment, Jost aptly noted that Gaetz “looks like a caricature artist drawing of me.” After Michael Che’s brief bit on President Biden, Jost returned to his previous point: “If I could get back to Matt Gaetz for a moment,” he said to the audience’s laughter, “here’s the craziest part of the story to me. A sitting congressman is being accused of child trafficking, and the QAnon people are suddenly like, ‘Nah, I need more evidence.’ That was your whole thing!”
“Weekend Update” brought back McKinnon and Aidy Bryant’s Smokery Farms meat purveyors, a goofy bit more in line with the tone of Kaluuya’s sketches. The Oscar nominee’s monologue showed off his comedic chops — established years ago with his breakthrough role in the British series “Skins,” on which he also wrote, and more subtly exhibited through his more dramatic work.
Noting his accent, Kaluuya stated that, yes, he is both Black and British, and “basically what the royal family was worried the baby would look like.” Often asked whether British or American racism is worse — to which an audience member loudly yelled the latter — he offered, “Let me put it this way. British racism is so bad that White people left. They wanted to be free, free to be able to invent their own kind of racism. That’s why they invented Australia, South Africa and Boston.”
Kaluuya played an assortment of characters throughout the night, including: a doctor hosting a game show on which he tries to convince stubborn family members to get vaccinated (“For $5,000 … will you take the vaccine right now?”); a frat bro convinced mothers should be invited on a Lake Tahoe trip (“This is dope!”); a man forcing a spoken word performance on guests at his half brother’s birthday party (“Half brother, full Facebook friend), and a Nigerian father disappointed in his son pursuing a creative writing degree (“Will you buy a house with an award?”). In a parody of Twitter’s shrimp cereal saga and YouTuber apology videos, he played one-half of a prankster duo.
In his monologue, Kaluuya quipped he “told the best joke of his life” while muted during his Golden Globes acceptance speech — an award he won for playing Fred Hampton, chairman of the Black Panther Party’s Illinois chapter, in “Judas and the Black Messiah” — and noted how far his career has progressed. The actor, who got his start in improvisational theater, wrote a play at age 9 he said was based on the children’s sitcom “Kenan and Kel,” starring SNL cast member Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell.
“And that play led me down a path that got me to this stage tonight, with Kenan backstage right now,” Kaluuya said. “So I just want to take this moment in front of Kenan and the whole world to say, thank you, mum. Thank you, God. And thank you, Kel.”