Sure, after another day of a partially closed federal government and one more example of young white men behaving terribly in a viral video (this time at the expense of a Native American Vietnam veteran), some viewers may have tuned to a returning “Saturday Night Live” for a now-traditional political recap in the cold open.
“SNL” obliged such expectations with an opening that involved Alec Baldwin’s President Trump in a shutdown-themed “Deal or No Deal”-inspired sketch with Kenan Thompson’s Steve Harvey along with various congressional players of the week that included Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Kate McKinnon), Sen. Chuck Schumer (Alex Moffat) and, for the first time, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Melissa Villaseñor).
But the sketch’s later reference to the NCAA Champion football team and its White House-hosted fast food buffet hinted at what would be the show’s feel-good moment of the week when Pete Davidson appeared dressed in Clemson orange with a White Castle box of “hamberders.”
After appearing only briefly on the show’s previous episode on Dec. 15 — which aired the same day Davidson posted a message on social media that led many to be concerned for his safety — Davidson played a larger part on this week’s installment, which was hosted by “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” star Rachel Brosnahan and musical guests Greta Van Fleet. Davidson even addressed the scare during a “Weekend Update” segment.
“As you know, I’ve had a really crazy month and I want to talk about something that matters a lot to me,” Davidson began after being introduced by “Update” anchor Colin Jost. This immediately led, naturally, to Davidson’s discussion of the new Clint Eastwood movie “The Mule” alongside fellow comic and “SNL” alum John Mulaney.
“I have been spending time with Pete to try to show him that you can have a life in comedy that is not insane,” Mulaney began. “A sober, domestic life.”
“And after observing John’s life, I publicly threatened suicide,” Davidson replied. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t make that joke, but it is funny,” he added.
The two comics then recapped “The Mule,” which Mulaney described as a “superhero movie for old people” and overall sounds a lot stranger than anything the week’s cold open could have imagined.
The genial, funny results of the segment had social media calling for Mulaney and Davidson to star in either their own buddy comedy or become this generation’s “Siskel & Ebert.” Given their chemistry on “Update,” either result seems likely to help bring about a more amusing, even somewhat heartwarming reality than the one we enjoy now.