“I may look like I was born in a library, but there’s something you should know: Merrick Garland don’t play,” declared Saturday Night Live’s Mikey Day today as the almost SCOTUS Justice.
But it wasn’t all fun and political games on SNL tonight — as you can see in the video above.
At the tail end of a week full of Facebook letting Donald Trump back, more GOP SNAFUs with Rep George Santos (R-NY) and other clown cars, more old classified documents found in Joe Biden’s personal possession and now ex-VP Mike Pence’s house, the release of the gripe filled memoir of former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and more, SNL once again had a wealth of material to satire at its disposal.
However, the kicker tonight was a line that hit harder than any comedy when Kenan Thompson’s FBI Special Agent came back on stage to address the horrors of Tyre Nichols killing by Memphis cops earlier this month.
“Hey boss, when we done playing with your little papers, we gonna head down to Memphis and make sure justice is served down there too, right?” Thompson asked with not a whiff of humor. “I sincerely hope so,” Day’s Garland responded. “Yeah, you damn right, just making sure,” Thompson said to huge applause from the 30 Rock studio audience.
A shattered and battered Nichols died in hospital on January 10, three days after five Memphis cops pulled the 29-year-old African American man over for a traffic violation and a violent confrontation ensued. The now fired Black police officers have each been charged second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression. Under Tennessee laws, a guilty second-degree murder charge has a sentence of 15 to 60 years in state prison.
Late on January 27, a series of vile police body camera and surveillance videos were released showing the assault and beating of Nichols by the five cops just yards from his parents’ home. The real life Garland and the DOJ are investigating what happened, as are various local, and regional law enforcement outlets.
You may not have envisioned the soft-spoken Attorney General as a kick-ass action hero, but in its second show of the new year, the long running Lorne Michaels EP’d series put America’s top cop in that role tonight in its cold open – along with a VP or two past and present and POTUS 44 “Now he’s searching for classified documents and he’s coming for whoever has them,” the kickoff voiceover snarled. “Democrat, Republican, or whatever Trump is now.”
Before that very serious moment referencing the Nichols’ murder, which saved an ofterwise weak opening, whipping his head around for emphasis, Is It Cake? host Day’s AG Garland praised Biden and Pence for “cooperating” with DOJ probes. He also took a swipe at lawyers for the former Celebrity Apprentice host for “putting a horse head in my bed” Godfather style.
“I am the law!” the mock Garland exclaimed sounding not quite Judge Dredd (who used the expression as his mantra in comics and movies) as a pair of digital shades appeared on screen and DEAL WITH IT in old school Amiga-64 font. A briefing by FBI Special Agent Conrad Nance, played by Kenan Thompson followed with details of the search of Pence’s home – and as the skit was certainly starting to run out of gas, there were details.
“Upon arriving at Mr. Pence’s Indiana home, I knew right away this man needed of a friend,” the long time SNL cast member quipped of the uptight ex-VP who has been abandoned by his old pal Trump and almost all of the MAGA crowd as he looks towards a 2024 bid of his own. “When he opened the door, he said, ‘You came’ with a big smile on his face, and he offered to make us pancakes” the fictional FBI agent added.
A joke about Pence having a “Tax Stuff” file full of pics of Shania Twain “cut out from various magazines reflected badly on SNL more than it did Pence, to be honest. A secondary line that “When confronted by this, Mr. Pence said ‘I’m sorry, I’m disgusting,’” only made the whole thing worse even with a Tag follow-up.
Staying in the first in line to the Presidency lane, the cold open then shifted to current Vice Present Kamala Harris and if she had any classified documents at home – which shouldn’t actually be a thing as she is literally the VP and lives in the Naval Observatory in DC. “C’mon now, Joe Biden won’t even give this woman a pen, you think she has classified documents,” said a weary FBI Special Agent Kasey Combs, played by SNL’s MVP-in-waiting Ego Nwodim. “Please!”
Portrayed by the always spot on Bowen Yang, Special Agent Derek Kay was up next with details of the fictional search of Barack Obama’s home.
“Don’t mean to brag, but I was in Barack Obama’s house,” Yang’s Kay in fact bragged to applause. “It was a deal, but it was really fun,” he added with an impression of the ex-POTUS and an extensive correspondence between Obama and Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Fun is ultimately more than can be said of this cold open with once again so much potential and such low voltage delivery.
“We asked him about classified documents and he said he was out of the government game and doing the Hollywood thing,” the skit limped onwards with a Beyonce namedrop that fell hard, so to speak.
Then there was Thompson’s Nichols moment, which left the previous parts of the skit as old news at best.
Hosted for the very first time by Michael B Jordan, the 11th show of the NBC Late Nighter’s 48th season also has Lil Baby as the musical guest for the first time. Just over two months and a bit after global sensation Black Panther: Wakanda Forever premiered, Jordan has Creed III, which he stars in and directed, debuting in about six weeks on March 3.
Next week will see SNL going small screen blockbuster with The Last of Us and The Mandalorian star Pedro Pascal taking on hosting duties for the very first time. Coldplay are set as the musical guest for the February 4 show.