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Kristen Wiig hosts ‘SNL’ with Help From a few famous friends

The latest Target advertising campaign features Kristen Wiig’s “Target Lady” character from “Saturday Night Live.”  (Target)
By Dave Itzkoff New York Times

Despite her claim that her fifth time hosting “Saturday Night Live” would not be celebrated with a parade of celebrity guests and other “SNL” alums wishing her well, Kristen Wiig turned her opening monologue into just that as she marked this milestone with help from Paul Rudd, Matt Damon, Ryan Gosling and other famous pals.

Wiig, an “SNL” cast member from 2005-12 who was joined on this weekend’s broadcast by musical guest Raye, began by saying hello to members of the house band. Before she could get much further, she was interrupted by Rudd, who sat in the audience wearing the jacket he received as a member of the show’s hallowed Five-Timers Club.

Rudd told Wiig he had “heard a rumor that you might be doing one of those five-timers sketches featuring awesome celebrity cameos.”

“So is there, like, a script or something I could look at for that?” he asked.

Wiig replied, “I’m sorry, I don’t think we’re doing one of those.”

But she was halted again by Paula Pell, the “Girls5eva” star and former “SNL” writer. She told Wiig that the jackets were not all that special anymore, adding, “They basically hand those out to everybody like free maxi pads.”

Sure enough, Wiig’s next interlocutor was Damon, also wearing a jacket, even though – as Wiig pointed out – he had only hosted “SNL” twice.

“But Lorne said the first time I hosted was so good it counted for three,” Damon explained, “and then, second time, not quite as good. That only counted for two. But by my math, that’s five, baby.”

Lorne Michaels, the “SNL” creator and executive producer, was shown hanging out with Jon Hamm, Fred Armisen, Will Forte and Martin Short. They too were receiving jackets, even though several of them didn’t meet the qualifications. (And Hamm somehow hasn’t hosted since 2010!)

Damon tried to persuade Wiig that her accomplishment was meaningful, telling her that she was the youngest five-timer (actually that was Emma Stone, she said), the first female five-timer (nope) and the first Frenchwoman to earn it.

“I’m not a Frenchwoman,” Wiig said.

“You kind of seem French,” Damon replied.

Several of the celebrities began to serenade Wiig, and just as she began to sing along with them, the camera cut to Michaels, now bestowing a jacket to Gosling, who is slated to host “SNL” next week.

“I haven’t even hosted three times yet,” Gosling said. “It seems unfair.”

‘SNL’ nostalgia of the week

With Wiig as host, it was hard not to feel a yearning for a certain type of sketch that she and her castmates pioneered in their era, in which loose premises were dreamed up mostly to allow the show’s performers to play crazy characters who didn’t fit into sketches of their own.

That was basically the setup for a segment that is ostensibly a retirement party for an accountant played by Kenan Thompson but is really just a showcase for bizarre personalities played by Armisen (as a lascivious co-worker carrying on affairs with a security guard), Wiig (as a soft-spoken woman on oxygen) and Forte (playing an inscrutable figure who can only be described as having Will Forte energy).

‘Mad Men’ knockoff of the week

Could you imagine Hamm as a high-ranking corporate executive, wearing a stylish suit while he works in a New York office from some bygone decade? Wouldn’t that be wild?

If nothing else, that idea (which we really think has greater potential) provided “SNL” with an excuse for Heidi Gardner to revive her character of a flirtatious but bumbling secretary, joined this time by a like-minded and equally clumsy colleague played by Wiig. There are no surprise cameos from Elisabeth Moss or John Slattery, but there is a breakaway desk that doesn’t quite break away when Wiig backs into it.

Weekend Update jokes of the week

Over at the Weekend Update desk, anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che riffed on the coming presidential election and on the earthquake that shook up the New York area Friday.

Jost began:

Well, yesterday everyone in New York pretended they felt an earthquake. Just admit it, you thought it was wind. This earthquake was actually the best possible disaster. It was kind of like the time I saw my dad in the shower: It was a little scary, there was no permanent damage, but I’m going to remember it for the rest of my life.

At a campaign rally, former President Trump said he would debate President Biden any time, any place. And then he pointed to an empty podium on the stage. And now Trump and Biden are both polling 80 points behind the podium. In a new interview, Donald Trump also claimed that President Biden was high on cocaine during the State of the Union, saying he was all jacked up at the beginning, by the end he was fading fast. Huh, it almost feels like Donald Trump knows exactly what it feels like to be on cocaine. You know, like at the beginning, you’ve got a lot of energy (the screen showed video of Trump at a rally, dancing to the disco song “Y.M.C.A.”). But then by the end, you’re fading fast (the screen shows video of Trump stumbling over his words during his speech at a rally).

Che continued:

Donald Trump said at a rally that he would make Nov. 5 Christian Visibility Day. Wait, I thought that was called Ash Wednesday. The Florida Supreme Court has allowed the state’s six-week abortion ban to take effect, so now Florida’s only remaining method for ending a pregnancy is roller coasters.

Weekend Update characters of the week

Marcello Hernández continued to lampoon people’s reactions to Friday’s seismic event by playing the earthquake itself dressed, with satirical simplicity, in a mortar board depicting a New York City skyline that jiggled fitfully when he moved his head. He boasted of the chaos he had caused while downplaying his roots in New Jersey: “I grew up there but I moved to the city,” Hernández said. He also picked a fight with Monday’s expected eclipse, played with similar gusto by Thompson.

Wiig mostly avoided revisiting characters she played during her “SNL” tenure – she only does that now when she’s getting the big bucks from Target. But she did return to Weekend Update as the sassy but oblivious film critic Aunt Linda. In this guise, she offered her reviews of summer movies like “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” while pretending to confuse Jost with past Update anchors like Seth Meyers, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, and being surprised that Che was there at all.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.