Those who follow me on twitter know there’s no love lost between myself and the last few seasons of Saturday Night Live. But, like Charlie Brown and the football, I make a point of watching every week in the hopes of catching a rare flash of brilliance amidst an episode’s usual comedic flotsam and jetsam (Bruno Mars’ “Sad Mouse” sketch remains one of my all-time favorite things SNL has ever done). Suffice it to say, I’m usually fairly disappointed.
Still, I was excited when I’d heard actor-cum-rapper Drake was going to be hosting the first episode of the new year. He’s funny, personable, has genuine acting chops, and with a Jewish mom and Black dad, I was holding out hope for a Drizzy appearance alongside of one of my favorite new SNL characters, Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy, whose humor lies in painfully realistic delivery, rather than contrived punchlines.
Instead, I got this – a “Drake Bar Mitzvah” sketch:
In short, 5 minutes of “Black people are like this, and Jews are like this – comedy!”
Now, I don’t think for a minute the sketch was particularly offensive, or racially insensitive. Not really. Rather, it was just series of well-worn tropes used to minimal effect. In short, it was lame and, even worse for live TV, boring. There’s something to be said for offense and insensitivity – At least those have the capacity to illicit sort of response from a viewer. Lazyness, on the other hand, treats us like we’re idiots conditioned to laugh simply because we recognize the cadence of a joke, even if no joke is present. What’s more, it confirms my worst fears about SNL: That a sumpremely talented cast (and in Drake’s case – host, as well) is wasted on Leno-esque treacle.
“But wait” you say – “Maybe you just didn’t like the jokes?”
Guilty as charged, but in the case of Drake’s Bar Mitzvah, it’s not simply the “jokes” that fell flat. It’s the concept as a whole – a concept born in shallow waters, and content to stay there. After all, it was Drake himself, who – two years ago – played up having a Bar-Mitzvah in his “HYFR” video, which, incicentally, would be right at home alongside Andy Samberg’s digital shorts of the same era:
You know what would have made a funny sketch? If Drake had simply gotten up and recited his original Bar Mitzvah speech (don’t tell me his mom didn’t save it) and invited the SNL audience for light refreshment after the show. Instead, we’re given something obvious and unexciting: a Bar Mitzvah which had already been done much better by Drake himself.
ALL THAT being said, I’m totally calling him “Drakob” from now on.