With Scarlett Johansson as Katie Britt, SNL Gave Viewers What They Asked For—And Then Some

Of course Saturday Night Live went there.

When someone hangs a piñata stuffed with irresistible goodies right in front of your eyes, and an Aaron Judge size baseball bat to smash it with, what else can you do but swing away?

The cold open Saturday night was always going to feature a parody of Katie Britt describing America’s descent into an apocalyptic hellscape from her spotless, lifeless kitchen–because the laughs were there for the picking.

But credit where it’s due: SNL elevated the bit to memorable status by recreating the Alabama Senator’s weird theatrics and creepy demeanor—not to mention every detail of her startlingly expensive- but banal-looking kitchen—and casting an imported major movie star to assume the role, Scarlett Johansson. (Straight from Colin Jost’s kitchen.)

YouTube player

The result was a sharply written, superbly performed—and remarkably up to the moment–bit of satire. Johansson had the look, of course, with the green blouse and prominent cross necklace. But she killed it matching the eerie voice and mannerisms, and the off-putting undertones of the messaging.

“Tonight I’ll be auditioning for the part of scary Mom,” Scarlett-as-Katie said. “I’ll be performing an original monologue called: This Country is Hell. You see, I’m not just a Senator. I’m a wife, a mother, and the craziest bitch in the Target parking lot.”

The sketch had much to work with from Britt’s own words and bizarre demeanor, but added great touches like her explanation of why she was chosen to deliver the Republican response to the State of the Union Address. “Republicans want me to appeal to women voters, and women love kitchens.”

Scarlett-as-Katie added telling gestures like a hand to her forehead when professing “not” to be performing. (It takes impressive talent for a real actress to be convincing as someone really bad at pretending not to be acting.) And a clever pitch for a QVC-style sale on “bejeweled cross necklaces” suitable for wearing “from the church to the club.”

The timeliness was striking as the sketch caught up with the day’s breaking news that Britt’s entire attack on President Biden for allowing a 12-year-old to be sex-trafficked into the US was a complete fabrication–because the events she cited were 20 years old, took place in Mexico not the US, and under a Republican President, George W. Bush.

“Rest assured” she said, “every detail about it is real—except the year, where it took place, and who was President when it happened.”

Just about as perfect a satirical dissection as could be executed with only two days’ notice.

The show that followed seemed to stick with the tone of the opening in delivering a high percentage of sketches based on pure silliness, from the monologue of host Josh Brolin, which included a riff on his poems to the cast of Dune: Part Two, as well as a strip to his underwear and a bath in ice water; to a sketch about a cat (mechanical rather than a real one) undoing a wine-and-cheese party by biting a boorish guy (Brolin) accompanied by a high fake-blood content; to a truly bonkers sketch about an aristocrat wooing an “Archduchess” with a tower built of glasses of shrimp cocktail.

YouTube player

That one, like several others, was based in absurdist physical humor, which tends to play well with the live audience (Sarah Sherman as the duchess was thrown through a window and smashed over the head with a bottle) though it may have been a distraction for some viewers asking themselves: how did some writer hatch an idea like this?

Though late in the show, the audience clearly loved a sketch about songs cut from the film “Moulin Rouge” because it worked the hugely popular musical guest, Arianna Grande, into the comedy, as she dueted with Bowen Yang (extra credit to him for keeping up well vocally with the powerhouse Grande) on a crazy list of love songs including “Silly Love Songs,” “Do Re Mi,” “Jesus Take the Wheel,” “The Wheels on the Bus,” “Come Sail Away,” “I Will Always Love You” and three versions of “Happy Birthday.”

Again, silly was the night’s theme. (Ego Nwodim’s Lisa from Temecula, remarkably this cast’s only true recurring character, even made an appearance–in the ten-to-one slot.)

Except for two regular features. The songs, which gave Grande a chance to shine, and demonstrate the SNL budget is not proof late-night TV is going out of business. Her first song included truly elaborate special effects, including crashing ocean waves and a snowstorm.

And of course, Weekend Update, which was truncated, perhaps because of all the rest that was going on, and unusually included no on-set interviews with some goofball “newsmaker” (always a popular segment with the audience, but especially the cast, who get to give some over-the-top performances).

Still, Update packed in a high quotient of jokes calculated to surprise the audience that these two guys really were joking about a certain subject.

YouTube player

As when citing Biden’s saying the country is about to find out how much political power women have: “Then he turned to Kamala and said, ‘except you.’ “

And when Biden talked about “shrinkflation” in Snickers bars: “It’s pretty risky for a white guy with a stutter to keep saying the word snickers.

And two jokes based on 92-year-old Rupert Murdoch planning to marry his 67-year-old girlfriend:

“The couple asks in lieu of wedding gifts, send lube.”

And: “The couple is registered at Campbell’s Funeral Home.”

And with that the show heads to hiatus until March 30 (Ramy Youssef host, Travis Scott music guest.)

So if some other bit player in the Presidential race decides to trash their entire career in one television appearance, these are the three weeks to do it.  

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *