‘Saturday Night Live’ Season 48 Episode 5 Recap: Amy Schumer

Photo: NBC/Will Heath/NBC

Inviting Amy Schumer to host SNL is kind of like inviting Geena Davis to host theater class at summer camp. Sure, you’re getting Academy Award–winning actor Geena Davis, but you’re also getting Olympic semifinalist archer Geena Davis. How lucky are you?

Schumer has an Emmy- and Peabody Award–winning sketch show in which her name is two-thirds of the title and she was the first woman stand-up to headline at Madison Square Garden. Like a returning cast member, or former SNL writer and current five-timer John Mulaney, she’s technically overqualified for this gig. Though the previous two hosts — Megan Thee Stallion and Jack Harlow — were required to be onscreen for pretty much the entirety of their episodes as they were also the musical guests, Schumer has even more to do in her role. It brings a well-defined sensitivity that the writers can tap into, the skills to join or lead them, and sky-high expectations. The resulting hodgepodge was more Saturday Night Schumer than Inside Amy Livebut the hosts’ fingerprints were all over several sketches.

Interestingly, the range of ideas throughout the night showed off Schumer’s dueling sketch brain and standup brain at work. The fake commercial for Pinx, a stand-in for Thinx period underwear, was expertly crafted sketch comedy that could easily slip into an episode of Schumer’s show. The sketch in which Schumer’s boyfriend (Andrew Dismukes) can only be tricked into getting therapy when it’s rebranded as “big penis therapy,” however, it felt like a killer stand-up premise that didn’t quite translate to this medium. (Yes, I’m aware of how it sounds for a man to applaud the period sketch and criticize the one that’s more insulting to men.)

If there was a running theme to the episode, it’s the same one that’s haunted most of Schumer’s prodigious output: the nightmare of being a woman. It manifested in jokes about the body horror of giving birth, the injustice and indignity of America’s shifting stance on reproductive rights, and the general shittiness of men. While the episode wasn’t the total knockout blow anyone might have wanted from the host, or needed so near the end of this hellish midterms race, there were plenty of funny and memorable moments to recommend it.

Here are the highlights.

The last time Schumer hosted SNL, it was a Mother’s Day episode that produced a viral hit about giving birth, and the last time she released a stand-up special, she was pregnant. For most people who have not seen her current Whore tour yet, though, this monologue was probably the first chance to see Amy Schumer perform comedy about motherhood since she actually becoming a mother. And boy did she, uh, deliver. I will be thinking about the words “wolverined my FUPA open” for some time to come.

Like the Big Penis Therapy sketch mentioned above, this one also felt like it might have ended up as a stand-up bit. Whomst among us hasn’t been conflicted about whether it’s appropriate to eat while a friend is pouring their heart out over lunch? There are so many funny ideas on top of the central one, though, and it goes to such deranged places, that we should all be glad it didn’t end up any other way.

Obviously, the threat of COVID still weighs heavily on our lives. An alarming number of people are still dying from it every day, and nobody knows whether a new subvariant arises is right around the winter corner — like the one that benched most of the cast and crew on SNL last December. At the present moment, however, for a whole lot of vaxxed and boosted folks, a bout with COVID stinks, but it more or less means a few days of binging House of the Dragon in bed rather than a serious threat, and SNL sure found a funny way to say so.

It’s the sequel to Cecily Strong’s viral hit Goober the Abortion Clown desk piece from a “Weekend Update” last November, and it’s one she probably hoped she wouldn’t have to make. There are clever jokes about Tammy the Truck Driver backing up her truck her “50 years in the past,” but what connects hardest again is Strong’s fourth wall-breaking pathos. “It’s hard to know what to say to make other truckers feel better, even though I have this big giant radio,” she says at one point. I’m sure the truckers she’s referring to appreciate that she’s saying anything at all on the subject.

I wish I could convey in words how much my wife hates these hats and relishes every opportunity to make fun of them — but now I’ll never need to, because this sketch exists.

• The idea of surreal life star and former sex worker Stormy Daniels being “willing to base myself by going into US politics” in the cold open was a nice touch.

• In a flash of set-prep during commercials, as show-lord Lorne Michaels hovered nearby, rookie cast member Marcello Hernandez looked deep in concentration. The focus paid off. All Hernandez ended up having to do in the sketch was look as though he was enjoying some matzo ball soup, but dammit if he didn’t look like he was enjoying that soup more than anyone ever has in human history.

• Some sketches have high-concept premises that take a while to reveal themselves and others are just like “what if three jurors were really silly?” This one, which falls in the latter category, features a yassified courtroom drawing that made me cackle.

• Sing it with me: “Midnights, I stay up — I’m Taylor Swiiiiift.”

• The Watcher parody sketch was pretty funny overall, but Amy Schumer going cross-eyed with ecstasy at the end was an impressive bit of physical comedy.

• Within hours of the final two employees being fired in the Musk-era Twitter sketchcredible reports emerged on Twitter (where else?) that the company realized it had fired too many people on too-important teams, and had started reaching out to lure some of them back. This development was, unfortunately, far funnier than the sketch itself.

• Steve Lacy’s Hamburglar sunglasses look like they’re from the future, or maybe we just live in the future.

• Some pretty solid Donald Trump Jr. burns on “Update” this week, but the highlight of Michael Che and Colin Jost’s news jokes had to be a mock album cover that turned suspended NBA star Kyrie Irving’s favorite antisemitic film into a Boyz II Men–style prom-slaying vocal group. Jokes about the increase in public displays of antisemitism these days are like the “70 degrees in November” of climate change; I hate why they’re here, but I certainly enjoy them when they’re good.

• After the Jets Fans sketch I was dying to know whether “suck my sleeve” is well established in the lexicon of disses women shout at each other, but I couldn’t confirm how widespread the burn is or isn’t with a Google search. Please sound off in the comments if you can confirm it’s a real insult.

• The fake badge in “Big Penis Therapy: a bonus Herschel Walker gag? It felt like it could have been, but it could just as easily have been a coincidence.

• If you blinked at the wrong moment, you might have missed the between-commercials tribute to recently killed Migos rapper Takeoff, who has performed on the show before and been the subject of affectionate parody. RIP Takeoff!

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