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Saturday Night Live recap: Michael B. Jordan takes a swing at a knock-out hosting debut

Strike! This week, a unionized group of post production workers at Saturday Night Live authorized a strike in an effort to expedite negotiations on their first contract, which they say has stalled in talks. This group, which unionized with the IATSE-affiliated Motion Picture Editors Guild last year, is responsible for post-production on pretaped sketches, like music videos and commercial parodies. The authorization has not yet become an actual strike, so it will be curious to see if the show relies on pretapes they have been keeping in their back pocket, or how episodes will be structured with this strike looming. But the show, as they say, must go on.

This week's episode is hosted by Michael B. Jordan, who cut his teeth on TV before breaking out in Hollywood. Today he is the heir to the legendary Rocky franchise; Creed III, which he also directed, comes out in March.

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- “Michael B. Jordan, Lil Baby” Episode 1837 — Pictured: (l-r) Musical guest Lil Baby, host Michael B. Jordan, and Heidi Gardner in Studio 8H during Promos on Thursday, January 26, 2023 -- (Photo by: Rosalind O’Connor/NBC)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- “Michael B. Jordan, Lil Baby” Episode 1837 — Pictured: (l-r) Musical guest Lil Baby, host Michael B. Jordan, and Heidi Gardner in Studio 8H during Promos on Thursday, January 26, 2023 -- (Photo by: Rosalind O’Connor/NBC)

Rosalind O’Connor/NBC Lil Baby, Michael B. Jordan, and Heidi Gardner on 'SNL'

I am joined tonight by former SNL cast member, Denny Dillon, who — similar to Jordan — has weaved between movies, traditional TV and HBO over the years. She is currently co-starring in M. Night Shyamalan's Servant, which airs on Apple TV and costars Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under).

Dillon says, "Jordan is a superhero kind of performer. Not only has he created superheroes like Kilmonger in Black Panther and Wakanda Forever, but also in animation. The same gravitas he brings to the screen he has in his voice."

She adds: "As a quarterback on Friday Night Lights, I felt his heart as well as his strength. Having early HBO in my TV background – six years on Dream On – I was a fan of The Wire. Jordan brought vulnerability to his drug-dealer role. Not an easy feat. He's compelling and versatile. He moves effortlessly between movies, network, and streaming. I look forward to seeing him do comedy."

SNL in Review hive - arise!

Cold Open

A new sheriff is in town: Merrick Garland (Mikey Day). He's chased Jan. 6 insurrectionists and now he's investigating Joe Biden and Donald Trump's classified document scandals. "Merrick Garland don't play!" says Day in a nasally whine. He's playing up the Attorney General's dorky librarian affectations, punctuating his assertions with a whiplash sound. Kenan Thompson, Bowen Yang, and Ego Nwodim play special agents assisting the case. Yang's character humblebrags about meeting Barack Obama — and does a solid Lin-Manuel Miranda impression. This is the highlight of the cold open! "F around and find out!"

The sketch ends with a moving moment referencing the release of new videos out of Memphis which revealed police brutally assailing Tyre Nichols.

Honestly, this may be one of the strongest cold opens I have seen this season.

Monologue

"Tonight Michael B. Hosting, Michael B. Joking… Michael B. Vulnerable!"

The host references a pretape he shot this week, which was the same location as one of his first acting jobs on All My Children! He discusses a recent break-up, and a photo of him that went viral. Not ideal, but luckily the iconic Michael Jordan crying meme supersedes any searches for "sad" pictures alongside the actor's name on Google.

Chloe Fineman comes out to flirt with Jordan, and Heidi Gardner and Ego Nwodim also join. The latter just threw on a wedding dress! Punkie Johnson says she "be curious" when the actor points out that he thought she was gay. "Even vegans have cheat days, right?" she jokes.

Jordan says he can take himself too seriously, so he's looking forward to trying live comedy. Compared to traditional TV or even movie and streaming productions, Dillon notes: "Saturday Night Live is another kind of epic beast. Being funny with the electricity of performing live calls for extraordinary powers. Jordan has shown us he has them. I began my television career with SNL and am forever grateful for the plunge into the volcano. It demands danger in a performer, wild risky acting like Aubrey Plaza displayed sensationally last week."

Good Morning Today

Chloe Fineman and Kenan Thompson introduce the segment, "Cuisine With Francine." Sarah Sherman plays Francine, who missed yesterday's show after getting caught on a rollercoaster for 19 hours. Now, she looks insane with her face paralyzed after hours of wind burn.

The placement of this segment at top of the show is a signal of the show's faith in Sherman's brand of comedy. She's able to make grotesque body humor seems charming and appealing. Indeed, her Francine is an impressive display of physical comedy. She is joined by Jason (Jordan) who was also on the rollercoaster. Funny ending.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest canceled more than 16,700 flights over several days in late December. While a massive winter storm caused the initial cancellations, the company's outdated software systems turned what should have been a normal problem into a disaster. Now, the airline is trying to make amends.

Towel guys

This is a fun showcase for Marcello Hernandez, who is joined by Kenan Thompson as two towel guys at a Punta Cana resort. Almost like a passing of the torch. They are visited by various guests. Check this out if you want to see Marcello at the center of a scene; it's really built around his comic energy. Michael Longfellow is also funny as the awkward guest from New Jersey. This could be a fun recurring sketch!

State Farm

Jordan plays Jake from State Farm, who slowly usurps a man's family. Mikey Day plays the cuckold husband who slowly becomes aware of his wife's betrayal and goes insane. I like that this becomes a horror movie trailer. Really fun twist with Andrew Dismukes. "He is not a good neighbor!"

Street Fighter voiceover

Jordan and Bowen Yang are recording the grunts and sound effects needed for fighter video games. While Jordan is solid, Yang's silly takes lead him astray. We have seen this before.

Lil Baby - "California Breeze"

This was included on Baby's third studio album It's Only Me, peaking at number four on the Billboard Hot 100,  the highest-charting song on the album. Solid melody, and heartfelt I guess but this isn't for me.

Weekend Update

Colin Jost compared Donald Trump being reinstated on Facebook "with guardrails" to reopening Jurassic Park, while Michael Che compared Taylor Swift fans to Jan. 6th insurrectionists.

New York is expected to be the most expensive rental market in the country – Che's new doorman Carl (Kenan Thompson) is here to comment. "Hey Che," he stops him, before relaying a story about an embarrassing encounter. Six cats are looking for Che!

Vanilla Frostys are back at Wendy's! Angel, the Girlfriend in Every Boxing Movie (Heidi Gardner) is back to discuss. It's been a minute! I think this is her first appearance at Update since 2018. She begins, as always, frantically talking about her boyfriend's desperate addiction to boxing and the health threats that poses. His latest fight? Against Creed. Adonis Creed (Jordan) joins her – he wants to take her kids to her sister's! Cute.

Male Confidence Seminar

Andrew Dismukes is playing a variation on Tom Cruise's Frank T.J. Mackey character in Magnolia, an 'alpha' giving sad men tips on speaking to women. He's got a scarf and rings, the whole package. Well until a worker from Nu Water (Jordan) sits in and mocks his forehead. The facade quickly melts, as the attendees (played by the male cast members) follow Jordan.

Palm Springs bachelorette party

Vince (Jordan), a fireman (male stripper), joins a group for a fun night of debauchery. However, his wife (Gardner) shows up, blowing the buzz. Hijinks ensue. This is a funny companion to the male confidence sketch - this time, Jordan is joining the female cast members. A reversal! "Push, push, push!"

Lil Baby - "Forever"

This was produced by Fridayy, Bizness Boi & Fortune. It's a fine love song; that's about it!

Toyota commercial

Andrew Dismukes and James Austin Johnson are the King brothers — this is a good moment to recognize the versatility of both these cast members. Off highway 8 exit 260! But there's a problem with the left lane. It's the Overstock Sell-o-thon! They hate trendy chains encroaching on their lot, and have a lot of animosity against Raising Canes. Johnson's daughter says their plight is a "funhouse mirror" reflecting the American dream.

One note: This episode keeps reminding us how jacked and hot Michael B. Jordan is.

Falling down

Michael B. Jordan keeps falling while the music plays – with Andrew Dismukes as a witness. He falls again and again walking around 8H. It consumes him. Very silly and weird. The Kyle Mooney 10-to-1 slot is being filled.

Final thoughts

—Well, how did we feel about this one? Vote here or weigh in below.

—Thank you to Denny Dillon! Go watch her in Servant! She shares: "This was a different experience for me completely. I was featured in the Stephen King's The Outsider on HBO so I had dipped my toes in the ominous world but M. Night has his own signature of dark. Once while shooting in Philadelphia a crew member remarked 'Denny, you're really funny.' And Lauren [Ambrose] said "Denny's been funny for a long, long time.' Made my day."

—Happy 45th anniversary to this classic episode!

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