It’s rarely mentioned, but SNL is weirder today than it’s ever been. That’s one of the best and most defining aspects of this so-called “rebuilding” phase—its increasingly avant-garde identity, its move away from the punch line and toward the more amorphous pleasures of tone, performance, and premise. The best skits from last night’s episode, a serviceable installment hosted by Cameron Diaz, didn’t traffic in the laugh-out-loud moment, but in the off-kilter, Kids in the Hall–like absurdity that has become the backbone of the show’s sensibility.
Kyle Mooney and Beck Bennett are, in many ways, the main proponents of that sensibility. The two made their bones in their Good Neighbor sketch group, and, since their promotion to SNL cast in 2013, they’ve churned out strange digital shorts that are entirely different from the slapstick, Samberg-led videos that preceded them. Their latest is “The Fight,” an amateurish home-footage recording that follows Chris Fitzpatrick (Mooney), a high-schooler intent on taking down Andy Rydell (Bennett), a bully and “toy soldier being controlled by the mainstream.”
Bennett also reprised one of the great impersonations in SNL history—his tour de force impression of an office boss trapped in a baby’s body. As always, this is a master class in physical comedy, with Bennett’s waddling and toddling in fine form.
Other highlights from the night included “Back Home Ballers,” an amusing song about the pleasures of returning home for the holidays, and Cameron Diaz’s strange, hilarious solicitation of phone sex in “Night Murmurs.”