With 23 nominations and nine wins in the past two years, “Succession” is certainly the hot television show at the moment. The wildly popular business drama is currently releasing episodes of season three, and this is what led to one of its stars hosting the most recent episode of Saturday Night Live. Kieran Culkin, brother of former child star Macaulay Culkin, has previously had great success in his acting career, but “Succession” has propelled him to new heights. On Nov. 6, Culkin came to 30 Rockefeller Plaza for a hilarious hour and a half. While he has mostly done dramatic acting, Culkin certainly brought his comedic chops last Saturday night.
The night started off with the cold open that lampooned the news. This was demonstrated in a parody of the Fox News show “Justice with Judge Jeanine,” with Cecily Strong doing an over-the-top impression of Jeanine Pirro interviewing guests. A standout of this cold open was James Austin Johnson’s impression of Donald Trump being interviewed. This was the first time Johnson had done his impression on the show and he was fantastic: less cartoonish than when Alec Baldwin did the impersonation, while showing the right amount of buffoonery. Next up came Culkin’s monologue. He started off with fun jokes about “Succession” and his life. Then he talked about his brother, Macaulay, hosting the show 30 years ago and how he got to do sketches with him. He talked about how his brother got lifted up at the end-of-the-night thank-yous, and how Kieran Culkin wanted to be lifted too. Spoiler alert: he got lifted during the thank-yous at the end of this show. It was a fun monologue that set the tone for the rest of the show. It showed that Culkin is a hilarious guy and I was delighted to learn about his childhood.
After the monologue was a sketch about cancelling cable. A man, played by Culkin, called Spectrum cable so that he could cancel his cable. The problem was no one could do that for him and he kept getting transferred to various unhelpful people, including Domino’s Pizza. Most of the SNL cast members were in this sketch and they played different kooky customer service representatives that were all amusing in their own ways, such as getting mad at Culkin’s character when they were wrong, asking security questions about his mom’s virginity or just crying about having an awful day. This sketch felt like a documentary detailing the real horrors of calling a cable company’s customer service department, and that was what made the sketch a standout. Then there was the Dionne Warwick talk show, a recurring sketch. Musician Dionne Warwick, played by Ego Nwodim, hosted her own talk show where she asked celebrities goofy questions that they did not always know how to answer. This was the third iteration of the sketch, with Miley Cyrus, played by Chloe Fineman, and Jason Mraz, played by Culkin, as guests. Dionne’s weird questions ranged from how to get Apple TV to curiosity about why her guests were famous. I have always looked forward to seeing what amusing questions are brought up because I have never known what to expect. Nwodim’s eccentric impersonation really made this sketch a success. This sketch peaked at the end when the real Dionne Warwick came out on stage, presented as if one Dionne was interviewing the other. Looking fantastic at 80, the real Dionne radiated during this sketch, which made a wonderful time for the audience as they got comedy and the chance to see a legend. I believe this sketch flowed very well and I enjoyed the fun performances of everyone on stage.
Another highlight of the night was a sketch about the awkwardness of the men’s bathroom. We heard the inner thoughts of a bunch of confused coworkers as they went about their “business.” Bowen Yang did not understand the weird jokes he was making, Chris Redd felt he was uncharacteristically loud, Culkin regretted picking the urinal right next to Redd, Andrew Dismukes asked about summer plans in November and Alex Moffat thought about how he once killed a man. The different perspectives on this common experience is what made me crack up at this sketch. These are all actors who know how to time their jokes and how to say a normal phrase in a way that destroyed the audience with humor, which is what made this a winner.
Another hilarious sketch was a music video about a guy, played by Culkin, who rode a horse like a skateboard, and it was just as wild as it sounds. This was told in a late ’90s ska punk style song, which featured wind instruments and horns like saxophones and trumpets. We heard about how a skateboarder landed on a horse and skated on that horse to win many races, and how the unlikely duo toured the United States. This sketch was very random and crazy in a way where you wonder how someone came up with it. That is what made me burst out laughing at this sketch and the catchy tune has been stuck in my head for days.
Then the Weekend Update came, where Colin Jost and Michael Che dispensed humorous jokes about the week in news. This is always guaranteed to provide some laughs, but the most memorable moment of Weekend Update was Cecily Strong as special guest Goober the Clown, who had an abortion when she was 23. She talked about what it was like to get an abortion, what the after effects were like and what it was like to talk about it, all while she pulled off clown shticks. As the segment went on, it appeared that this was Strong talking about her own abortion story, hidden behind humor. Everyone, myself included, laughed at the crazy clown hijinks, and our heartstrings were also pulled as we learned about her experience. It was a fantastic segment that showed Strong’s talents and ability to show vulnerability.
This was a night with many hits and very few misses. Culkin rarely does comedy, but he performed like a professional comedian. I did not have many expectations for him, but he absolutely killed. I hope he hosts again in the future, because he really gave it his all. He was not afraid to be silly and was able to make so many different characters believable. That being said, Culkin was not the only person that stood out. As always, the cast and the writers showed off their comedic brilliance. It is amazing how many terrific sketches these people wrote in a week, and I applaud them. This was a wonderful episode, and I cannot wait to see what this show has in store for next week.