It started off as a serious discussion about Jeff Bezos’ accusation that The National Enquirer was engaging in extortion and blackmail by threatening to expose his private photos. But the discussion didn’t stay serious for long.
In its opening sketch this week, “Saturday Night Live” presented a parody of “Meet the Press,” hosted by Chuck Todd (Kyle Mooney) and featuring the panelists Eugene Robinson (Kenan Thompson), Peggy Noonan (Cecily Strong) and Donna Brazile (Leslie Jones).
Mooney began: “Let’s start with what everyone’s talking about. In a new low for journalism, The National Enquirer was accused this week of blackmailing Amazon C.E.O. Jeff Bezos.”
“You’re all highly respected journalists,” he continued. “So, when all is said and done, what do you think Jeff Bezos’ penis is going to look like?”
“Excuse me?” Jones replied.
The panelists offered various theories (except for Jones, who remained astounded), and Mooney asked what the scandal said about the overall state of the country.
Thompson answered: “It’s disgraceful, Chuck. It’s awful. I mean, this is a clear violation of someone’s privacy.”
“And what about when the pictures do come out?” Mooney asked.
“I will look at them,” Thompson responded. “I will make them into hilarious memes, and I’ll send them to all my friends.”
The prurient subject matter derailed an interview with the commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross (Kate McKinnon), who protested: “I don’t want to talk about penises. I’m one of the guys. I like watching sports and drinking a cold glass of blood.”
And the topic overwhelmed an interview with the acting attorney general, Matthew G. Whitaker (Aidy Bryant), who explained, “I was U.S. Attorney General for three months, and soon, I will go back to my job of breaking up fights on ‘The Jerry Springer Show.’”
Asked by Mooney if her Whitaker had ever been instructed by President Trump to interfere in the special counsel’s investigation, Bryant began to answer.
“I’m going to say something I left out of my testimony,” she said, “and this is going to blow everything out of the water here. Mr. Trump actually called me and whispered to me ——”
Mooney interrupted: “I’m being told that the Bezos pics have actually come out at this very moment,” he said, vowing to devote the rest of the program to the photos.
Virginia State Politics Sketch of the Week
A sketch set at the Virginia state capitol began with Thompson addressing a group of politicians there. “So we’re all in agreement that the lieutenant governor should be encouraged to step down,” he said, adding:
One more quick thing before we get out of here. As you all know, earlier this week, our governor admitted to wearing blackface in college as part of a costume. And then later the attorney general. It’s extremely embarrassing to the state, and as chair of the ethics committee, I have to ask: Has anybody else worn blackface, in college?
One by one, the elected officials posed oblivious questions as each confessed to having worn blackface.
“Does it count if you did it all the way back in the 80s?” Strong asked.
“No, of course not,” Mikey Day answered. “It was funny and cool in the ’80s.”
Thompson corrected them both. “No, no, I’m going to stop you right there, Phil,” he said. “It does still count, and it was never funny or cool.”
Mooney asked, “What if you wore the blackface as a tribute, like an homage to your hero?”
“Who was your hero?” Thompson said.
“Al Jolson,” Mooney answered.
Recurring Premise of the Week
Returning to an idea it introduced in December, “S.N.L.” offered another installment of “Them Trumps,” in which the first family’s life is presented like the Fox drama “Empire,” and the president is Darius Trump (Thompson).
In this episode, Darius Trump is being sped by limousine to his State of the Union address, telling the other passengers in the car that he will push back against the special counsel’s investigation.
“This is America,” Thompson declares, “and even though I’m black ——”
As police lights become visible in the rear window, he is interrupted by an aide played by Halsey, the evening’s mononymous host and musical guest.
“O.K., we’re getting pulled over,” she says.
“Oh, yeah, I knew that was coming,” Thompson says under his breath.
Almost a Sketch of the Week
A sketch titled “Women of Congress” started off as if it were going to be a satire of “Charlie’s Angels”: Nancy Pelosi (McKinnon) leads an action-packed team of female politicians who don’t often get the spotlight on “S.N.L.,” including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Melissa Villaseñor), Maxine Waters (Jones), Kyrsten Sinema (Strong), Ilhan Omar (Ego Nwodim), Ann McLane Kuster (Aidy Bryant), Abigail Spanberger (Heidi Gardner) and Rashida Tlaib (Halsey).
Then, shortly after its opening credits, it ended. Well, maybe another time, ladies.
Weekend Update Jokes of the Week
At the “Weekend Update” desk, the anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che continued to riff on the political scandals that have roiled Virginia over the past several days:
You know, making jokes about the news can get a little redundant for me. But every so often, you see a picture of a governor in blackface and I’m like, This’ll be fun. So first, the governor of Virginia admitted to wearing blackface in college for a Michael Jackson costume — by the way, making it the least accurate Michael Jackson costume possible. That would be crazy enough, but then the attorney general was like, “You, too? Blackface is my jam.” And then Liam Neeson was like, “Blackface? Hold my beer. I didn’t want to bring this up ever before, but I was trying to kill a black dude with a baseball bat. Anyhoo, so my movie comes out Friday.”
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is still refusing to resign after a racist photo from his yearbook surfaced. OK, but if it was in a yearbook, how bad could it be? [The photograph is shown onscreen.] Oh. O.K. So, very bad. I knew it was a yearbook, but I didn’t know the year was 1870.
A bit later, Jost added:
Democrats are now calling for Northam to resign, but the second in line is embroiled in now two sexual assault scandals, and the third in line also did blackface. So at this point, maybe Virginia should take a cue from the Oscars and just go without a governor this year. Or they could just come full circle and make it Governor Kevin Hart.
Black History Month Honors of the Week
When Chris Redd, Jones, Thompson and Nwodim came on stage to celebrate Black History Month and pay homage to previous cast members like Garrett Morris, Eddie Murphy and Ellen Cleghorne, were you expecting a totally sincere tribute?
The segment took a satirical turn with the entrance of Mooney, a white man, who claimed he wanted to support his co-stars but kept interrupting to explain black history to them.
“Did you know African-American contributions to entertainment didn’t start with ‘Saturday Night Live’?” Mooney asked to their chagrin.
“‘To Sir With Love’ was one of the best movies of the ’60s,” he added. “America was surprised to see a black leading man. But we always knew what we were capable of.”
Addressing the other performers on the stage, Jones asked: “Did he say, ‘We’? He said, ‘We.’”