Daniel Kaluuya SNL Sketches Ranked: Lil Nas X Gives God Lap Dance, Matt Gaetz-Gate and More

How is it that two of the three sketches cut for time — which we’ve revived here — are among the best sketches of the night? Talk about missed opportunities!

The cast and crew of “Saturday Night LIve” must have been really optimistic about this week’s runtime as there were three sketches cut for time.

Thankfully, YouTube resuscitated them, so you can see them below ranked among what did make it to air. You’ll also note that two of those cut sketches are among the best the night had to offer — or didn’t have to offer, as the case may be.

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This week saw Daniel Kaluuya prove himself not only a capable dramatic actor (which we already knew), but a confident and impressive comedic performer. His presence clearly elevated the production team and the cast, as this was a much stronger episode than last week.

We also got to see newcomer Andrew Dismukes in his first leading role, going toe to toe with the Golden Globe winner while holding a tiny dog. You know, as you do!

Chloe Fineman’s Britney Spears showed up again for the cold open in the night’s most topical piece, tackling Lil Nas X’s controversial Satan twerking, everything Matt Gaetz and even Pepe Le Pew getting canceled. Don’t worry, there was plenty more Gaetzgate left for “Weekend Update,” too.

As usual, we’re ranking all the sketches from worst to first, including the Monologue, Cold Open, “Weekend Update” and any sketches that were cut for time but made their way online. We’ll skip the musical guests, because they’re not usually funny — unless Ashlee Simpson shows up. We wrap up with a look at the cast-member who had the strongest week.

Scattergories

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This was more strange than funny, but it was funny watching Kate McKinnon being an obnoxious petulant mom-child after her family opted to play Scattergories than Rummikub. Really, that’s all this was. It was just a showcase for Kate’s comedy timing, and yet we’ve seen her go further with these temper tantrum roles before, so even that left us a little unsatisfied. And it definitely didn’t earn the “surprise” ending for the whole bit. There was a funny premise underneath this, but it wasn’t executed to its full potential.

Cut for Time: Beanie Babies

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Pulled from dress rehearsal footage, we’ve seen this exact setup before, only this variation appeared to be coming about 25 years too late, focusing on Beanie Babies and their “cute” tags. Daniel Kaluuya’s writer, though, was speaking of his pain through these tags and it was all from the point of view of his “victim complex,” as Aidy Bryant put it. These are cute enough, but this one didn’t really deliver anything new. Perhaps it could have been framed as how the Beanie Baby craze actually ended, and it might have had a little more punch.

Half Brother

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Daniel Kaluuya is Kenan Thompson’s heretofore unknown half-brother in this sketch that makes it clear that sometimes it’s better to not get to know new family. If you thought electric bass players were getting a bad rep, you’ve seen nothing until you’ve seen an upright bass player and his slam poetry almost-ex-wife horrify a casual dinner party by oversharing and then definitely OVERSHARING!

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Dog Park

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A bit of a goofball sketch, but Andrew Dismukes first major leading role in a sketch and he did a pretty good job of going toe to toe with Daniel Kaluuya over the most ridiculous thing ever. Don’t ever do a dog voice for someone else’s dog. Apparently, this is a bit touchy. A silly premise, but the group did a good job of leaning into the silliness to make it feel important to them.

Cold Open: Oops, You Did It Again

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“SNL” took on equal opportunity cancel culture — as well as the hypocrisy of one side claiming only the other seeks to cancel things — by inviting Lil Nas X (Chris Redd) and Pepe Le Pew (Kate McKinnon) to Britney Spears’ (Chloe Fineman) talk show. Okay, Warner made the decision on Le Pew, but he’s definitely been canceled by the left. And news for Kate, Speedy Gonzalez was canceled years ago already.

Chloe is still a little nerves-ridden throughout these sketches, even as she’s delivering a very fun take on the pop princess. She just needs to settle down a bit and she should be fine. We appreciate that she plays Brit with her quirks, but also with a savvy intelligence, as when she took down Pete Davidson’s Matt Gaetz for his alleged misdeeds with teen girls.

The material wasn’t as sharp as the impressions, though of course Lil Nas X giving God a lap dance is the pandering highlight … followed by Pete trying to relate to both of his fellow guests and both of them being horrified at any association. All the pieces were there for hilarity, it just didn’t quite come together as well as it could have.

Even Lil Nas X had a critique:

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Monologue: Daniel Kaluuya

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Daniel was surprisingly very funny and casually comfortable delivering a comedy monologue. We love that his Auntie from Uganda was repping in the audience, and his pointed commentary about racism in the UK, Australia, South Africa and the US (but especially Boston) was timey — “I’m what the Royal Family worried the baby would look like” — and sadly, timeless.

He spoke about being muted at the Golden Globes and shared a sweet story about how he got his start in acting at 9 years old performing in a live stage play about “Kenan & Kel” and now he’s live on a stage with Kenan Thompson. With nothing special but his delivery and material, this stands as one of the best monologues of the season.

Viral Apology

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By this point, we’re all probably getting tired of celebrity YouTubers apologizing for their past and current misdeeds, continuing to do terrible things and then apologizing again, and then getting called out for their apologizes seeming insincere — Kyle Mooney and Daniel Kaluuya nailed the whole movement in this parody of the Cinnamon Toast Crunch saga that then moved beyond that to encompass all the insincere apologies and problematic people with huge platforms.

And we have to give credit to them for not reducing it to the most stereotypical reasons for apologies, keeping it in the realm of surreal parody without lessening the impact of this strange, strange subculture of YouTube celebs and their constant stream of sorry.

Frat Trip

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This was a pretty cute sketch about a group of frat boys trying to plan an epic party for Mother’s Day weekend, and then bit by bit the moms are injected into the party until they finally show up on a Zoom call. Mikey Day was great as the last remaining anti-moms holdout, while the other guys slipped back and forth from frat bro nonsense to loving, thoughtful sons. A clever and well-conceived sketch, this one came together with just the right mix of testosterone and heart.

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Weekend Update

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Colin Jost is taking the Matt Gaetz scandal personally, because he looks like a caricature artist drawing of Colin Jost and “believes only voters should have to show ID.” He also can’t believe that a sitting Senator has been accused of child trafficking and QAnon isn’t ready to condemn him? “That was your whole thing!” Colin said. It’s as if … it was more about targeting political opponents than the issues they claimed to care about!

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Who better to give advice on a vegetarian Easter dish than Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant’s recurring characters who come on and gag at the horrific smell of meats in their overflowing basket of plenty, as well as assuring us that their fine meats only come from animals who are real jerks — not those cute ones that go viral online. These animals are Grade-A jerks!

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The boys then moved on to the 50th anniversary of Starbucks and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine mixups. “But the good news is, now your shampoo might cure Covid.” Then Colin found himself delivering another Matt Gaetz punchline — funny but awful — and even he was ashamed. Later, Michael Che got in a good one about naked rock climbing while Colin warned us about robots killing vaccines on airplanes — which was just another way to knock Spirit Airlines. From there, they got even naughtier!

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It’s been awhile since we’ve seen Alex Moffat’s “guy who just bought a boat,” but he’s still the same lamebrained dink he’s always been. The banter with the audience was fun — from the ladies, too — but otherwise this was just a creative exercise in clever misogynistic wordplay, sprinkled with the expected commentary about how awful he is in bed. It’s as one-note as Drunk Uncle, but not nearly as funny.

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Heidi Gardner’s 106-year old oil heiress was a lot more aware of what was going on than we gave her credit for. She played the role to the hilt, opposite her 20-something husband (Mikey Day). She certainly seemed in her own world, excited about having custard, hay and offering hard candies, but then the whole bit wound up even dirtier than the boys’ jokes earlier. And we didn’t see it coming!

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Will You Take It?

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The second vaccine game show in a row, “SNL” must know there’s a limited shelf-life on this premise, so they’re milking it for all they can. This time, Daniel Kaluuya plays a host trying to convince his family to take the Covid vaccine … which is a thing actually happening around the country.

This one managed to be a statement about general reluctance to take the vaccine, as well as reluctance in the Black community, with some great terrible reasons presented by the panel, apparently confirmed for some reason when Daniel’s doctor character introduced them to his girlfriend (also a doctor).

Also, we’d like to again talk about how great it is that “SNL” can have a sketch featuring (almost) all Black characters as there are now four Black people in the cast. They’ve come a long (slow) way since Garrett Morris had to play every Black character in the original cast, and cracked jokes about how lame that was back then!

Cut for Time: The Hero

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The dramatics of this cut-for-time sketch were perfect, as was Chris Redd’s growing horror as he realized bit by bit just what he’d signed up for. His reaction wouldn’t have worked nearly as well had not everyone else in the sketch played it so straight this could have been yanked from a dramatic Vietnam War film. It’s a shame this one got cut, because it was a great little piece of comedy.

Cut for Time: Salt Bae

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It was the absurdity for us that elevated this sketch to the next level, both in gross-out humor and in Cecily Strong’s final pose as she enjoyed the attentions of Beck Bennett’s silent-buy-sultry Chef Salt Bae. Everything about the sketch was ridiculous, which was entertaining enough, but when they pushed it even further, they found magic and hilarity. How are some of the night’s best sketches winding up on the cutting room floor?

Proud Parents

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A scathing look at how the arts are dismissed in this money-obsessed country as not worth pursuing, coming through Ugandan parents Daniel Kaluuya and Ego Nwodim (so perhaps not as American as all that). We loved the other parents trying to argue the virtues of art … at least until a very fun twist in the end.

Daniel and Ego were fantastic as the horrified parents of Chris Redd’s aspiring artist who has dreams of following his passion into creative writing, considered by many to be one of the most useless degrees because it doesn’t guarantee you a high salary. That is what it’s all about, right?

Not only was it great commentary, but some great commentary, all the way to the perfect closing lines and delivery from Daniel and Ego. Every exchange was right on the money from the entire cast in a perfectly crafted sketch that was funny and had something to say about society. That’s where comedy shines brightest.

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PLAYER OF THE WEEK

First of all, let it be known that we would watch Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant in a variety show tomorrow — or any other kind of show together. They have so much fun sharing the stage together, and it’s absolutely infectious.

Mikey Day also had a strong week, showcasing a little more diversity than the straight men he usually gets saddle with, but also plays incredibly well. Chris Redd had a couple of good roles, and of course we are thrilled for Andrew Dismukes that he got to get up front and center with a major leading role in a sketch.

But this week’s MVP has to be Ego Nwodim, who was hilarious with all sorts of indignation at the thought of taking a vaccine, her son wanting to be a writer, and Daniel Kaluuya daring to tell her what her dog is saying.

She got to mix it up a little opposite Beck Bennett’s Salt Bae as a salivating customer way too excited to slap some guy’s meat, proving that she can do more than the indignation bit. But she does the latter better than anyone in this cast right now It always lands!

“Saturday Night Live” returns next week with host Carey Mulligan and musical guest Kid Cudi.


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