‘SNL’ recap: Ryan Gosling can’t stop cracking up as host


Ryan Gosling’s third go-round as guest host of “Saturday Night Live” should have been a victory-lap party after a year’s worth of goodwill that started with his well-received “Barbie” performances, peaking with his “I’m Just Ken” number at the Oscars in March. He even showed up in last week’s Kristen Wiig-hosted episode to prime the pump.

But not everything works out the way you want it to and instead of a party, Gosling’s episode found live sketch after live sketch torpedoed by the host breaking character and trying to hold back laughter. That nervous energy seemed to have infected other cast members who also couldn’t make it through pieces, most notably a News Nation sketch about the dangers of artificial intelligence that goes out of control when it’s pointed out that two audience members look a lot like the animated characters from “Beavis and Butt-Head” (Gosling and MIkey Day). Heidi Gardner, playing the host of the segment, couldn’t stop laughing every time she turned to look at one of them.

Gosling first broke in the cold open, which you could blame on the hilarious returning “SNL” vet Kate McKinnon, but the Gosling giggles continued in a sketch about a man who confides in a new friend that he doesn’t want to get married, one about a man from Tennessee who enjoys talking in a Cuban accent while hanging out at the Cabo Club, a sketch with Bowen Yang about a wacky doctor and surgeon who are really into cookie crumbles, and an “Erin Brockovich” parody featuring Chloe Fineman and Gosling reading off long lists.

What this episode needed was a pre-taped segment where Gosling could shine without the pressure of the live performance, which made it all the more baffling when a title card invited viewers to go online to watch “Papyrus 2,” a sequel to one of the best “SNL” sketches to feature Gosling, written by comedian and filmmaker Julio Torres. It’s a shame that didn’t make it into the episode.

Musical guest Chris Stapleton performed “White Horse” and “Mountains of My Mind” and appeared in a music video called “Get That Boy Back.” There was no Please Don’t Destroy video this week.

This week’s cold open was an alien abduction sketch, the third in a series featuring Kate McKinnon as the loopy and very genital-focused Miss Rafferty and Gosling. Gosling’s character points out that he’s even wearing the same clothes as last time. Along with Gosling and McKinnon, cast member Sarah Sherman joined in as they each explained their alien experience. The term “troll nose” was employed multiple times (it’s describing a male body part) and eventually Miss Rafferty was underneath Gosling’s legs describing what the aliens did to said troll nose.

The monologue was Gosling’s opportunity to revisit the phenomenon that was Ken from “Barbie,” perhaps one last time. At first, he said it was time to break up with Ken, but then Gosling defiantly decided to relive that glory again to the tune of Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well.” Wearing Ken’s fur coat, he relished “that sweet definition of my washboard abs,” before being interrupted by his “The Fall Guy” co-star Emily Blunt, who claimed they had a whole plan to promote their new movie and it didn’t involve “Kenning.” “You’re embarrassing yourself,” she told him, Bluntly. Then she hit Gosling with a breakaway chair. But before long, Emily Blunt changed her tune, singing along about how hard it was to let go of her “Oppenheimer” character Kitty as well. In the end, Gosling declared, “Ken will never die!”

Best sketch of the night: Revenge gets weird in ‘Get That Boy Back’

Three women (Fineman, Ego Nwodim and Chloe Troast) sing about all the ways that they’re getting back at the men who wronged them. But Troast’s character has them all beat with the psychological warfare she wages on her ex (Stapleton), which includes replacing his shoes with a pair a half size larger to make him think he’s shrinking and employing her brother, an ex-CIA operative (Gosling), who’ll sneakily cut his hair and replace his sudoku puzzles with unsolvable versions. The payback keeps escalating until the singer realizes that her ex wasn’t cheating on her after all and they decide to get back together, but not before Troast detaches herself from the wall she was camouflaged against.

Also good: Beavis and Butt-Head in real life

An expert on AI (Kenan Thompson) struggles to get his thoughts out when he keeps noticing audience members who look like Beavis and Butt-Head from the animated series. The Beavis character (Gosling) has a blonde pompadour and is wearing shorts and a “Death Rock” T-shirt, while the Butt-Head character (Day) has a permanent sneer. Were it not for all the giggles, this one could have been great, especially with a final reveal of a group of men who look like the characters from “King of the Hill.”

‘Weekend Update’ winner: Caitlin Clark calls out Michael Che

Cast member Michael Longfellow gave a half-hearted defense of men and weaponized incompetence, but it was the appearance of college basketball star Caitlin Clark that won the night. After “Update” co-host Michael Che delivered a tired joke about how Clark’s jersey was being hung up and would be replaced with an apron, Clark appeared to remind him, “You make a lot of jokes about women’s sports.” Several clips played of Che making fun of women’s college basketball and the WNBA, prompting Clark to ask Che to read some jokes she wrote for him. They included a joke about the Indiana Fever being a sports team — and not something Che gives to women he sleeps with — and a knock on Che’s most recent Netflix special. Given her record for 3-pointers, Clark offered these three pointers to Che: “Be. Funnier. Dumbass.” She then presented him with a signed pink apron. When he said he’d give it to his girlfriend, Clark snapped back, “You don’t have a girlfriend, Michael.”


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