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‘SNL’ recap: Emma Stone joins five-timers club; goodbye to George Santos

Actor Emma Stone, who has a buzzy movie on deck (“Poor Things”) and a buzzy TV show on the air now (“The Curse”), seems to never not be hosting “Saturday Night Live.” This week’s episode marked her entry into the Five-Timers Club — her first time hosting was way back in 2010. (Musical guests? Kings of Leon.) Stone is typically as polished and versatile on “SNL” as she is in her movie roles, and her 2023 hosting turn was no exception.

After her monologue, Stone played a baffled game show contestant who wins a live animal (more on that in a moment); a New Yorker who loves getting naked and riding on the back of a garbage truck (who among us wouldn’t?); one third of a musical act at the Pine River Lodge Christmas Tree Lighting show; the creator of truly awful pottery, including a replica of her mother’s vagina; a visionary musical producer for Mama Cass; an Instagram star on a student’s poster; and a spokeswoman for Diet Coke by Olay, a caffeinated cosmetic product.

And in this week’s Please Don’t Destroy video, Stone’s face was subbed in clumsily with an AI-generated mask on top of cast member Punkie Johnson‘s face (trust us, it would take too long to explain).

Through it all, Stone was rock-solid, with great comedic timing, sharp line deliveries, and a truly out-there turn in the Mama Cass sketch. May she return for a sixth time.

Meanwhile, musical guest Noah Kahan broke recent tradition by not appearing in any of the sketches. He performed “Dial Drunk” and “Stick Season.

This week’s cold open was bittersweet. It was, predictably, about the ouster of New York Rep. George Santos from Congress with Wolf Blitzer (Sarah Sherman) introducing a press conference with the disgraced politician. The sad part? It might mean we’ll no longer get to see Bowen Yang’s pitch-perfect portrayal of the, shall we say truth-challenged Santos. The impression went out strong: Santos was defiant, blaming his haters because he’s “a proud gay thief” and “America hates to see a Latina queen winning.” He also belted out a musical number at the piano, an Elton John-inspired song, “Scandal in the Wind.” Yang nailed it all.

In her monologue, Stone reminisced about her times hosting the show — including when she met her now-husband Dave McCary, a former “SNL” staffer — before she was welcomed into the Five-Timers Club by Tina Fey and Candice Bergen. The two presented Stone with a plush Five-Timers jacket and told stories about the special women’s section of the club, calling it “a place to cry.” The short monologue included a joke about John Mulaney‘s resemblance to a ventriloquist’s dummy and a dig at fellow Five-Timer Woody Harrelson; when they find a joint in the jacket, they think it might be Harrelson’s, but a Covid vaccination card proves it isn’t.

Best sketch of the night: A tortoise is the prize on a game show

On the new game show, “Question Quest,” host Joe Vibin (Michael Longfellow) has a big surprise for one of the contestants (Stone): After answering the first question correctly, she’s won a tortoise — one that the host has owned since he was 6 years old. And that will probably live for more than 100 more years. The sketch keeps getting more absurd as the contestant tries to hand off ownership to the other players (Heidi Gardner and Johnson). Longfellow’s hot-and-cold running of the game, Stone’s reluctance to commit to the reptile and Johnson’s complete lack of ability to win the pet from her made it the funniest sketch of the show. A shout out to the tortoise itself, which performed very professionally in its walk-on (slowly) role.

Also good: Mama Cass is good music for dark movie trailers

This is a strange sketch that works incredibly well because of cast member Chloe Troast’s uncanny impersonation of Mama Cass Elliott singing “Make Your Own Kind of Music” and Stone’s portrayal of a hyper, forward-thinking producer who correctly predicts the song will be used in lots of movie trailers. The producer proceeds to act out, in slow motion, a series of trailers including a zombie movie, a film about an avenging prostitute and a biopic of Joan of Arc. Stone’s commitment to the bit and the widescreen effect that transforms the music-studio set make this ridiculous idea soar.

‘Weekend Update’ winner: A cigarette has words for the youth

Longfellow, in another great turn this week, appeared as a gigantic cigarette. You know, the ones that have been taken out of the spotlight by vapes. The cigarette, who repeatedly teased Colin Jost about his alleged smoking habit (“My butt’s been in your mouth a million times”), tried to appeal to young people, suggesting that cigarettes are so good, “They’re dessert for sex.” They also make you look skinnier and cooler than vapes do, with the proof being photos of celebrity smokers (Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor) who have been dead a very long time. The cigarette tried to link vapes to Hitler, which was a lot less funny, but Longfellow’s confident performance carried it over the finish line. In another week with only one “Update” guest performer, it was crucial that this one worked and, luckily, the writing and the performance were on point.


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