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Saturday Night Live recap: Emma Stone fully commits to the bit

The actress gamely joins the famous "Five Timers Club" in a heavily musical episode

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Emma Stone
Photo: Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC

If you need proof that Emma Stone is one of the most fearlessly funny actors working today, you only need to look at her most recent projects: she’s brilliant as the bawdy Bella Baxter in Yorgos Lanthimos’ Oscar-bound Frankensteinian fable Poor Things and alongside Nathan Fielder as a married couple–slash–hosts of an HGTV show in Showtime’s satirical series The Curse.

So, consider her Saturday Night Live hosting gig on the December 2 episode—with singer-songwriter Noah ahan as musical guest—simply a cherry on top of a very funny year for the performer, who, at 35 years old, becomes the youngest member of the Five Timers Club. The exclusive designation is for hosts that have—you guessed it—hosted SNL at least five times, including the likes of Tom Hanks (the inaugural member), Christopher Walken, Alec Baldwin and Melissa McCarthy, among others.


And Stone more than earns her membership card, regularly elevating a celebratory episode pocked by underwhelming writing.


Cold open: Sashay away, George Santos

George Santos Expelled Cold Open - SNL

After “God, finally,” my first thought at hearing the news that the House of Representatives voted to expel everyone’s favorite flamboyantly fraudulent Congressman George Santos was “What about Bowen?!” Indeed, Yang’s take on the disgraced politician has been a standout this season and this swan song–literally–was no exception.


“This whole country has been bullying me just because I’m a proud, gay, thief. What else is new? America hates to see a Latina queen winning,” Santos proclaims at a press conference that, despite protestations saying otherwise, he himself requested. Bowen’s George continues his signature parade of bold-faced lies, including his age (“17 years old”), official titles (“astronaut, protector of the realm, princess of Genovia”) and career moves, announcing that he has a new movie hitting theaters this very weekend. (That would be Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé, of course.)

Then, beneath glittering chandeliers and with a cape dramatically blowing behind him, Santos takes to a grand piano to sing a tribute to himself. “It seemed to me I lived my life like a scandal in the wind, never knowing who to cling to when the law closed in,” he croons, doing his best Elton. Goodbye Congress queen. We hardly knew ye!


Opening monologue: Emma gets emotional

Emma Stone Five-Timers Monologue - SNL

Given the “herstory”-making nature of the night’s episode, you knew that the powers that be would pull out some Five Timer favorites to usher Stone into the coveted club. Doing the honors are Candace Bergen (the first woman to ever host Saturday Night Live back in 1975) and Tina Fey.


And it clearly means a lot to the inductee, who speaks o about SNL is her favorite show and that she even met her husband on-set. “I know he’s pretty camera shy, he’s not a performer, but I’d love the cameras to cut to him,” she says, before the cameras throw to Lorne Michaels. (IRL, she’s married to Dave McCary, who served as a segment director for the show and was a member of the sketch comedy group Good Neighbor.)

Stone tears up as the distinguished duo enrobed her in the club’s signature lounge jacket, that is, until she finds a joint in the pocket. “This must be Woody Harrelson’s jacket,” Bergan quips. But wait, there’s more: a vaccine card. “So definitely not Woody’s,” adds Fey.


Most nightmare-inducing sketch of the night:

Please Don’t Destroy - AI - SNL

For many creatives (including this writer), AI is a futuristic nightmare that is creeping ever more prevalently into our every day. The Please Don’t Destroy trio—consisting of Ben Marshall, John Higgins and Martin Herlihy—tapped into that very creepiness in this digital sketch, where they claimed they had to resort to using advanced AI technology to replace some footage of host Emma Stone that had become corrupted.


Their sit-down with Stone gets frequently intercut with hilariously horrifying scenes of Stone’s face poorly layered over “body double” Punkie Johnson, who unfortunately “knows very little about Academy Award winning actress Emma Stone.” (“Oh! Am I that b*tch from Harry Potter?”) It’s made even freakier when Johnson’s “Emma” and Martin begin to make out. (“You look like a lot of women in my DMs. It’s about to be like that one time in college!”)

“This will get Emma Stone an Emmy” sketch of the night:

Make Your Own Kind of Music - SNL

Stone’s turn as an afro-wearing, Phil Spector-like record producer named Mitch Lester is as brilliant as it is bonkers. The ’60s-era sketch is set during the recording session of Mama Cass’s solo single “Make Your Own Kind of Music,” which Mitch says will start showing up in a bunch of movies in 50 years because “it’s a perfect song to go under a slow-mo montage where the main character snaps and goes on a rampage.” (Indeed, the soaring track has popped up in IRL movies like Free Guy and The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, as well as a Barbie trailer.)


Mitch demonstrates the point by acting out several cinematic scenarios, such as the Final Girl in a zombie movie (“killing” the rest of the record-label reps with a saxophone shotgun) and a powerless prostitute out for revenge (using a flute “sword” to take down the powerful men she services). The sketch goes on too long, but Stone sells it with everything she’s got.

MVP of the night: Michael Longfellow

Weekend Update: Old Fashioned Cigarette on Banning Vapes - SNL

Fellow featured player Chloe Troast was a standout singing in two sketches this week, serving up Cecily Strong vibes as Mama Cass and in that “Fully Naked in New York” music video. But it was Michael Longfellow’s delightfully petty “Old Fashioned Cigarette” that nabbed him MVP status this week.


Joining Colin Jost at the “Weekend Update” desk to discuss Australia’s move to ban nicotine vapes, Longfellow’s cig extolls the virtues of a classic smoke. “NBC probably doesn’t want me saying this directly to kids, but smoking makes you skinny and popular. And for guys, it adds a couple inches!” The comedian’s wry delivery is pitch-perfect for the throwback vice, especially when taking the mick out of Jost. (“You know what they call a cigarette in London?...Say it!”)


Stray observations

  • As a person who may or may not have chugged two cans of Diet Coke while writing this, that “Diet Coke by Olay” fauxmercial–for a facial cleanser that “seeps into your pores and into the river of Diet Coke already running through your veins”–hit a little too close to home.
  • Chloe Fineman and Marcello Hernandez’s secret handshake during the closing credits was mucho adorable.
  • Next week, we have the Tumblr-breaking combination of Adam Driver as host and Olivia Rodrigo as musical guest. And that’s not the only good news: Weird Barbie and SNL great Kate McKinnon will return for the last ep of the year on December 16, with musical guest Billie Eilish no doubt set to make us all weep with a live version of “What Was I Made For?”