Saturday Night Live recap: Nick Jonas pulls double duty as host and musical guest

Saturday Night Live recap: Nick Jonas pulls double duty as host and musical guest
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Nick Jonas Describes His Life from A to Z — and Shows Love to Brother Kevin

Nick Jonas works his way through the alphabet.

Happy weekend, Conehead hive. Our run of five straight episodes of Saturday Night Live gets rounded out tonight with Nick Jonas pulling double duty as host and musical guest.

Jonas appeared alongside his brothers and bandmates, Joe and Kevin , as musical guests in 2009 where they performed "Tonight" and "Video Girl," also appearing in the "The Oldest Jonas" sketch. They also performed together in 2019. In 2016, however, Nick performed "Close" and "Champagne Problems," appearing in the "Huge Jewelry" sketch as well as the "Pool Boy" short. So he's not a novice to Studio 8H.

He is the latest host to also serve the show's musical guest — a rich subset of episodes, if you're into that sort of thing. So tonight will be notable in a few ways.

Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

I am joined this week by former SNL cast member Matthew Laurance. This week was the 40th anniversary of Laurance's costar Charles Rocket infamously dropping an F-bomb during the goodnights of the Charlene Tilton episode. Standing right behind Rocket during the impromptu moment, Laurance describes his on-stage reaction to the obscenity — which almost certainly was his cast's nail in the coffin — as "unbridled joy that something so out-of-the-box had happened."

"Immediately after the show there was a lot of discussion… there was a lot going on internally with [producer] Jean Doumanian and the censors and NBC," he adds. "Nobody knew what was going to happen. You have to remember, we had — and they still have I am sure — NBC censors in the control room during every show. Run throughs, everything. It was like all hell broke loose. Nobody knew what to do. We all felt like there were going to be big repercussions for it. There was no doubt about that."

Let's see if Nick Jonas can bring a similar level of unpredictability and excitement tonight!

Cold Open

And now a message from Anthony Fauci — Kate McKinnon is returning as "America's voice of reason." There is a lot of confusion around getting the COVID-19 vaccine. So Fauci has opted to host a game show. The panelists are U.S. Governors Gavin Newsom (Alex Moffat), Andrew Cuomo (a recurring character for Pete Davidson!), and Gretchen Whitmer (Cecily Strong).

Heidi Gardner comes out, making the case that she works IT for OnlyFans right now so she's an essential worker. Whitmer turns her down. Ego Nwodim is next as a pretend granny. She's going out on a date and wants the vaccine. Melissa Villaseñor is pregnant, but Cuomo has no clue if she qualifies. Bowen Yang lives in New Jersey and is pretending to smoke to get the vaccine. And Aidy Bryant returns as Senator Ted Cruz. He is fresh off CPAC, and doing a stand up routine on his Cancun scandal. "Freedom!" she awkwardly cries. Eh? And Mikey Day is an 85-year-old; he does not understand the Internet, which is required to set up an appointment. This was a good idea, but poorly executed. After last week's instant classic with Chloe Fineman, this felt like a slog.

Matthew Laurance says: "Kate is a genius, an absolute genius. Probably in the top five of any cast member overall, of all these years of the show. I love Cecily when she's on. But Kate to me is a league of her own."

Monologue

Jonas comes onstage with a bright orange jacket, and a grey turtleneck. His brother Kevin is in the audience. He asks if "Mmbop" was one of their songs. (It was not!)

Matthew Laurance says, "I've always loved the Jonas Brothers. I'm excited for him to host. I think they're really talented."

Jonas performs a tribute to Broadway, which has been dark for a year due to the pandemic. McKinnon and Kenan Thompson join him, as do Beck Bennett and Strong. They're singing "Drink With Me" from Les Misérables, a stage show Jonas has been in. Don't worry, Cecily has her weekly song in, already. Pretty weak start to this episode.

Workout Mirror

Chris Redd and Day are preparing for a workout together. Jonas is the mirror hologram trainer. "Swole is the goal," he says, intense bro vibes. McKinnon is Shannon Delgado, trapped inside the mirror. She was rude to a fortune teller, and as punishment was inserted into this. "I'm Team Shannon. I hope she's okay," says Redd.

"She does stretching I guess?" Davidson shows up as the gatekeeper Azule. Shannon gets Day to liberate her, swapping places with him. I like the weirdness here. And it's a full story — beginning, middle, end.

Murder Show

Fineman leads a chorus of female cast members who self-medicate at home alone watching streaming murder shows. They harmonize about wanting a high body count, going down the rabbit hole by listening to podcasts. And binging these shows while Zooming with mom. This was clever and on-brand; I know a lot of female friend group chats that will be sharing this one. Jonas returns to sing about cult shows. And the kicker: Villaseñor gives a heartfelt "screw you guys" when they don't co-sign her love of cooking shows.

Cinderella

It's a reimagined ending for Cinderella. The homely stepsisters (Strong, Villaseñor) and nasty stepmother (McKinnon) mock the classic heroine (Fineman) when her prince (Jonas) comes over, presumably to rescue her. He brings out the "Monopoly token" shoe. Turns out it belongs to Gus Gus (Bryant), a mouse. SNL is pioneering this Disney-sex lane, following their Ratatouille sketch from a few weeks back. Not super memorable — this has a few good one-liners, but I personally do not love bestiality humor.

Bachelor Party

Mickey (Bennett) is getting hitched. He is celebrating with his buddies in the woods when two strippers arrive with pizza. He begins a song about the timeless tradition of "getting hard" with his bros. This is funny, as that is a very real, peculiar male bonding ritual. "One night away from our lame ass lives." Then they'll never discuss it again. "Boner/ Boner/ Boner next to my friends!"

Nick Jonas — "Spaceman"

Jonas sings his new single, the lo-fi, COVID-19 lockdown inspired "Spaceman." The disconnection and ennui we have felt over the past year is certainly real. Does he knock this one out of orbit? Is it out of this world? (Sorry, space metaphor.) Not a banger like "Jealous."

I asked Matthew Laurance whether his kids are Jonas music fans: "They're not. They never have been. They're 17 and 14 and they're totally into rap. It's the only thing they listen to."

It was nice to see Thompson and Redd introduce Jonas. BTW, who is watching their new show on NBC?

Weekend Update

Colin Jost opens the segment comparing Democrats passing the essential COVID-19 bill to him getting drunk and spending a lot of money. And Michael Che laments Democrats never get mad like MAGA supporters — this is misplaced.

Meanwhile, Jost kills several jokes about Senator Cruz. "Ted Cruz is always the Kill, in F, Marry, Kill" is hilarious. He also slams the Disney disclaimers being placed over The Muppet Show by wondering if Gonzo finally has sex with the chicken. (Recurring theme!) Brutal!

Thompson returns as Lavar Ball, the enthusiastic ultra NBA dad. He previously played him a bunch in 2017 and 2018. This is a fun showcase for Thompson, though Ball really had his moment a few years ago. And I LOVE, LOVE Kenan talking about his chocolate shoe. "Chocolate, caramel, nuget." Brings me a lot of memories — who remembers Cooking With Randy & Mandy from All That?!

Next up: Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (Strong) appears to discuss her latest horrific actions. Strong also played her in last month's cold open. Her sneeze is an instant meme/TikTok/gif/whatever. One time she sneezed and no one said bless you, so a demon entered her. (Shout out Patient X from Exorcist III.) MTG is like a modern Drunk Uncle here.

Jost had an especially caustic performance tonight, and both of the commentaries were very lively and fun.

Viking Voyager

A bunch of high school seniors are on their graduation trip. Day and Gardner are scheming to sit together. Hormones are raging. Kyle Mooney recently won a giant stuffed version of Joe Gardner, the Jamie Foxx character from Pixar's Soul. He doesn't care who he sits with, he just wants to get wet. They keep calling him Cuck. Hilarious. They captured the vibe of teenagers very well here — Heidi especially lands this. I could feel this moment, I remember it well.

The Dionne Warwick Show

Nwodim returns as Dionne Warwick with Punkie Johnson as her producer — this gets a nice applause welcome from the audience. Her first guest is The Weeknd (Thompson). "You gave me vertigo," she tells him. "Why are you from Canada?"

Jonas then appears as himself. "Explain yourself." He is the most boring judge on The Voice, despite appearing alongside John Legend. He has to clarify which songs are his, and not his brother's. Gotta love when celebs take some good humored hits about themselves. Andrew Dismukes appears with a loud bird.

Davidson is back as his bud Machine Gun Kelly. She finds him too scary and he is dismissed. The sketch ends with audience member Lauren Holt winning tickets to tomorrow's Dionne Warwick Show episode. Nwodim has a strong Martin Show energy in her performance here.

Nick Jonas — "This is Heaven"

Kevin Jonas introduces his brother, who sings this skyward-themed track. I am not sure he can carry the R&B mood here, but love the solo sax work. That's a nice touch, without a doubt undoubtably. Still, the audience is crazy about Jonas here.

You think about the music legends that have graced SNL's stage over the years, true artists. No cosplay. Imagine being feet away from, say, Prince. Matthew Laurance remembers "Nobody outside a select group knew who he was at that point. It wasn't like Prince as we know him… My favorite thing during the whole year, there were great parts being in that cast as difficult as it was but the musical guests were incredible. Friday, during soundcheck, we would all go down to the studio, and some of them would do a complete song, some would come out and make sure everything was okay. I remember Prince coming out, like 'Who is this guy?' He was very tiny and pretty eccentric even back then."

Hotel bar

McKinnon is attempting to flirt with Jonas. They have been in lockdown for a while and are rusty. They perform magic tricks. This is charming and human. McKinnon tends to go broad these days, but mostly she keeps it endearing and offbeat. They dance to "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and contemplate whether the city will bounce back from the pandemic. I like this.

Final thoughts

— What did we think? Comment below to weigh in, or vote here.

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— Thank you to great Matthew Laurance for his contributions tonight. Here is some additional backstory on Rocket's F-bomb incident: "There were factions on the cast, within the cast. I hung out a lot with Charlie and Gail Matthius and Denny Dillon. Ann Risley, also. My absolute favorite people on that show. Nobody had any idea he was going to do this, obviously… It's hard for people now to remember how big Dallas was. It was almost bigger than any single thing going on now, or in the last few years. We didn't have cable, or all these other channels. That show — "Who Shot J.R.?" — there's no way to describe how big it was… that particular [SNL episode] with Charlene Tilton hosting, who obviously was on Dallas, they had a brilliant idea: who shot CR? Through all the sketches during the night, a scope would come up on the screen when Charlie was onscreen. It would follow him around. And at the very end the gun went off and he grabbed his neck and went down. Then we came back for the goodbyes. There I was behind him, and when he said what he said, I couldn't believe he said it. Immediately it brought me joy because of all the things that had happened during that year so far. I was overjoyed that something that huge had happened. People have to remember now, you still can't drop an F-bomb on live TV. People have done it but back then, this was unheard of. A live show, even though it was late at night… When I watch the reaction of everybody else: shock, oh-my-god faces, except Eddie [Murphy] of course who then began to laugh. That whole scene was just remarkable, an audible gasp from people in the audience."

Maya Rudolph is hosting next month. Woo hoo!

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