SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE  “Quinta Brunson Lil Yachty” Episode 1842  Pictured Host Quinta Brunson during Promos on Tuesday...
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- “Quinta Brunson, Lil Yachty” Episode 1842 -- Pictured: Host Quinta Brunson during Promos on Tuesday, March 28, 2023 -- (Photo by: Kyle Dubiel/NBC)NBC
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Quinta Brunson Schooled Us All on Saturday Night Live

The Abbott Elementary creator and star aced her first outing as SNL host.

Before we get to the pleasures of first-time Saturday Night Live host Quinta Brunson, let’s acknowledge a truly great April Fool’s Day joke. Weekend Update was rolling along, and Colin Jost couldn’t seem to crack the crowd. He questioned if even Donald Trump’s past supporters gave a fig about the former president’s impending indictment. “I went down to the courthouse today and I was the only protester there,” Jost said, as the screen flashed a photo of him in a red hat holding a sign that read “Let our boy go!” There were a couple titters in the audience, an indecipherable heckler. 

Jost looked to Michael Che in disbelief. Che practically started giggling as he leaned in and confessed, “I told them not to laugh at you for April Fool’s.” Jost then burst out laughing, to the point it took him three days to get out a Ron DeSantis joke. He blushed. He broke a sweat. He said he couldn’t stop shaking. It was a rare chance to see the desperation that lives beneath any comedian, no matter their status. 

Brunson, meanwhile, marched down to her monologue mark looking like a boss in her black bell-bottomed suit. She described her magnificent Abbott Elementary as akin to Friends, “but with Black people.” It was fun to see Brunson out of the classroom, where she could shed some of Janine Teagues’ do-gooder sunniness. “I’m not a filthy whore, but I like to have fun,” she said. (Coming soon to t-shirts and coffee mugs everywhere.) 

Brunson said that simply because she plays a teacher on TV, people now look to her to address and solve the ills of our education system. “Last week when the bank collapsed, no one wanted to go up to the cast of Succession like ‘How do we fix this, Cousin Greg?’” The multiple Emmy winner admitted she now hangs in Oprah Winfrey’s garden and dines with the like of Barack Obama, who shared a video from her phone in which he thanked Brunson’s public school teacher mother for her lifetime of service. She ended her monologue on a serious note, speaking with the gravitas not of Janine but Ms. Barbara: “Acknowledge the work [teachers] do every day, and for the love of God, pay them what they deserve.” 

The Club Velvet sketch was aces, in which Andrew Dismukes and Devon Walker plotted in a club bathroom on how to score some fentanyl-free coke. Brunson popped out a bathroom stall looking like a longer-haired Easy E, promising “My stuff is so white it’s like Gwyneth Paltrow skiing in Utah.” Marcello Hernandez’s dealer countered, “My cocaine’s so pure white it’s like the guy suing Gwyneth Paltrow because he can’t enjoy wine tastings anymore.” Soon the boys were surrounded by promises of whiteness—the best going to Kenan Thompson’s dealer, who boasted “This cocaine I got says stuff like ‘Oops, let me scoot right by you.’” Finally, first year cast member Michael Longfellow, painted up to match the bathroom wallpaper slunk into the scene, pushing black tar heroin that’s uh, so black, it’s “strong and equal and we should give it a chance.”

Brunson had great chemistry with Mikey Day, in a sketch about a fight of gestures between two drivers in traffic. “Eat my butt!” Brunson mimes to Day. After he mimes back that she’s a sad woman, she calls him a little bitch, pointing to his daughter as played by Chloe Fineman, who retaliates by using two hands to suck an imaginary dick, shocking her poor dad. The best shot fired came from Ego Nwodim as Brunson’s mother, popping up from the backseat to mime to Day that he was a white devil. 

Another excellent pairing was Brunson and Sarah Sherman as the Penis Brothers in a bananas sexual harassment sketch in which they tortured Fineman by treating her breasts like bongos in the office kitchen. Brunson shuffled and oozed like George Jefferson, while Sherman threw herself like an oily fish at Fineman’s bosom. It was nonsense, and likely shaved down for time, and the best few minutes of the night.

Shout out to Longfellow, who spent most of his Saturday night in the painting chair. He appeared during Weekend Update as Michelangelo’s David to discuss the Florida controversy over a teacher daring to show a picture of his famous statue to their class. The man wears the pallid grey of ancient statues well! When Che wondered if he could shift his iconic gaze his way, Longfellow howled over the torture of it. Despite Che’s protestations, he was impishly eager to show off his “tiny shiny penis” to the audience. “You Americans are so uptight,” he sighed. “Do you know on the Italian version of SNL, you can show full penetration?” 

Hats off to Marcello Hernandez’s Short King as well; our 5’7 tiny dancer is fast becoming a star rookie. And cheers to Bowen Yang’s midwife Barry’s wigs, which evolved from a Prince Valiant geometric cut to Elvira’s ankle-grazing mane during one sketch. The best Bowen Yang is the one where he’s trying to spit wig hair out of his mouth. Finally, you know it’s a good episode when a Please Don’t Destroy sketch closes the show. My one complaint: No Gregory cameo?!