Louis’s finest moments were, unsurprisingly, in his monologue, which began with a two-minute bit on animals.
Here’s how good Louis C.K. is: he started with a “Why did the chicken cross the road?” joke. No one has ever made that joke work in the history of people telling jokes, and yet he turned it into a thoughtful, ribald sequence that played with race, discrimination, ignorance, urban living and the fact that chickens deserve to be paranoid because “the murder rate for their species is 100 percent.” One of the most fun parts of that bit was watching Louis move like a chicken; his head bob, shuffle, and bemused look brought the bit to new heights. Louis is a wonderful mimic and physical comedian; he doesn’t get enough credit for that (and he gets plenty of credit).
Another funnyman, Alec Baldwin, did triple duty on Saturday night, playing Trump in the cold open, and then Bill O'Reilly and Trump again, in a single sketch that sent up both men’s sexual harassment histories (it’s worth mentioning here that Louis C.K. is also the subject of rumors about his own sexual impropriety).
Perhaps the best sketch of the night played with a similar trope: Louis, in a perverted Pop Tate turn, played the owner of a ’50s ice cream shop, determined to get a teenage girl to ask him to the Spring Fling. Less successful were a court case that focused on a single gag, Louis’s long eyelashes, and a commercial where he played a man obsessed with sectionals. But the show scored high marks with a pointed send–up of Pepsi’s disastrous protest ad, where we watch the ad’s creator, played by Beck Bennett, realize his idea is utterly tone–deaf while it is being filmed.
The episode closed with Louis displaying one of his less heralded talents: accents. He and Kate McKinnon played actors at a tenement museum, playing turn-of-the-century Eastern European immigrants. The jokes were supposedly about how racist (against Italians) these actors decide their characters should be, and how inappropriate that is in front of the students watching them, but the biggest laughs came from Louis and McKinnon’s inability to keep a straight face. Louis’s pitiful Polish twang—something between Borat and the whiny, effeminate go-to he uses to mimic most humans, including himself—reduced him and Kate McKinnon to open laughter. It was a mess, but it was a beautiful mess.
Louis C.K. Skewers His Own White Privilege in Hilarious SNL Monologue
Louis C.K. has a history of delivering controversial Saturday Night Live monologues. In 2015, an extended bit about pedophiles — "From their point of view, it must be amazing, for them to risk so much” — led to an expected backlash on social media.
Having told us how he really feels about “lying sack of shit” Donald Trump during an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert earlier this week, there wasn’t much left to say about the 45th president of the United States when C.K. took the stage at Studio 8H for the fourth time.
Instead of going political, C.K. opened on Saturday night with a joke about racist chicken. “Why did the chicken cross the road?” he asked. “Because there is a black guy walking behind him. And he was nervous. He was new to the city, this chicken, and he was like, ‘I feel like he is following me.’ But then he thought if I cross the road, then if he crosses the road, he’s definitely following me. So he crosses the road. And the black guy went home, he's just living his life. And the chicken is like, ‘I’m such a racist.’”
“By the way, this joke is not racist,” C.K. insisted. “Don't be afraid. This is not a racist joke. The chicken was racist.”
After a few more animal-centric jokes, including one about wanting a pet goat so that he could have “a trash can that I can make love to,” C.K. closed out his nearly 10-minute set with a long bit about how he feels entitled to certain things as a white man when he stays in fancy hotels.
He told a story about staying in a hotel and calling the front desk to complain that he hadn’t received his laundry back in less than 24 hours as promised, “like it's in the Constitution that you get your laundry.” When they told him they didn’t have it, he said he “got really mad” and said, “Listen, ma’am, first of all, you can hear in my voice that I’m white.”
“And by the way, I'll defend that right now,” C.K. said as the audience began to groan. “Because look, it's wrong that white people get preferential treatment. It's wrong. But as long as they do, what's going on at this hotel? I'm supposed to get the best because I'm white, which is awful and wrong, but where is it right now?”
As it turned out, after he had gotten the manager on the phone and demanded a “white investigation” into the whereabouts of his laundry, C.K. realized that he never gave the laundry to the hotel in the first place.
And just like that, without actually uttering the words “white privilege,” he explained everything you need to know about it.
Saturday Night Live: Louis CK in top form with redeeming monologue
ouis CK’s latest special, 2017, dropped on Netflix this week. It showcased some of his brilliance, but it didn’t quite live up to his finest work.
In his monologue for this week’s episode of Saturday Night Live, he resurrected a string of jokes that he didn’t include on this latest hour – and probably should have.
“Here’s a joke,” he began, unsubtly, launching into a wandering, hit-and-miss bit about a racist chicken crossing the road. He then went into a strangely long bit about animals that seemed, for a moment, like a deliberately PG-rated set in response to his controversial SNL monologue back in 2015.
It wasn’t to be: the chunk ended with CK saying he wanted to get a goat “so I can have a trash can I can make love to”. Then things really kicked in, with a well-developed series of motel and hotel jokes.
Comedians talking about travelling is a well-worn trope, but this material is CK at his finest – clever, self-aware, counterintuitive but instantly relatable. Who else could complain about customer service with a line about institutional racism?
“It’s wrong that white people get better treatment. It’s wrong. But as long as they do, what’s going on in this hotel?”
The other must-see of the night was a pitch-perfect parody of the now-infamous Pepsi commercial, imagining the clueless white guy who created the ad as he realizes why it is not a good idea, one piece at at time. Clever, simple and effective, this pre-tape took full advantage of both SNL’s timeliness and its network budget, able to realistically recreate an expensive commercial set on a moment’s notice.
Other notable sketches included:
- The cold open, which featured Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump meeting a group of supporters in Kentucky, who continued to support him despite his life-ruining policies. It had a few good lines – “In Trump’s America, men work in two places: coal mines and Goldman Sachs” – but overall, it was like a somewhat unsophisticated take on current affairs.
- The first sketch after the monologue saw CK donning the most incredible fake eyelashes while prosecuting a murder case. His lashes charmed everyone in the court, and it ended with a fantastic payoff. It might be the dumbest sketch since David Pumpkins, and it was almost as well done.
- Bobby Moynihan played a clown arriving for a birthday party, only to discover that CK is a lone 53-year-old who’s hired him for his own enjoyment. It’s awkward and Louie-esque, featuring some sharp lines – “There’s no protocol for whatever this is” – and a supremely dark ending.
- The final sketch, in which CK and Kate McKinnon played actors at New York’s Tenement Museum pretending to be racist Polish immigrants in the early 20th century. The sketch itself wasn’t quite sure what it was saying, but watching CK slowly realize that he has no business doing an accent was well worth it.