Comedy tonight? The Lavender Tube on 'SNL's fails, the new 'Elsbeth' and more

  • by Victoria A. Brownworth
  • Tuesday March 5, 2024
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Sydney Sweeney and Bowen Yang on 'Saturday Night Live' (photo: NBC)
Sydney Sweeney and Bowen Yang on 'Saturday Night Live' (photo: NBC)

As the primary heats up and political posturing gets entrenched and some amazing college basketball takes over our Saturdays for March Madness, let's take a moment for some comedy, since with the world —and Texas— literally and metaphorically on fire, we could use some laughs.

Like Charlie Brown with that football, we keep tuning in to "Saturday Night Live" most Saturday nights to watch political satire and maybe hear some good music from the weekly guest, only to have that football of fun swiped away.

We should say "hope for" some political satire like we recall from not that long ago, when resident lesbian comedian and multiple Emmy-winner Kate McKinnon played everyone from Trump attorney general Jeff Sessions to Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani to Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren to Long Island medium Theresa Caputo to lesbian cat ladies. To quote Edith Bunker, those were the days.

Ego Nwodim on 'Saturday Night Live' (photo: NBC)  

On March 2, "SNL," with host Sydney Sweeney, went from bad to terrible with not a single funny sketch and a cold open that was just insulting. Look, we get it: Joe Biden is old. In fact, he's four years older than he was when y'all voted for him over the 25 other Democrats who were running for president that year, who included his much younger Vice President, Kamala Harris, and his Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg.

But is that funny? Maybe the first time they did a skit about it four years ago, but now it's just lazy, tedious, unfunny pseudo-comedy. Political satire is supposed to be sharp and incisive and skewer the people in power. This is not that.

Throughout the Trump years, "SNL" did some fantastic comedy. In fact, Melissa McCarthy's repeated portrayals of Donald Trump's first press secretary, Sean Spicer, was so devastatingly spot on, Trump fired him. (

It wasn't just the unfunny cold open. It was the throwaway line in one skit about matching with celebrities in which Ego Nwodim's character says she matched with gay talk show host Andy Cohen, but it's okay because "I like a little fruit with my salad."


Then in another skit, Nwodim, this time playing a high school cheerleader, was again tasked with delivering a cringeworthy line when she tells a basketball player that it's okay, she refuses to use condoms. Ironically, that skit was followed by an ad for HIV PrEP medication.

As we noted on Twitter/X during this show, girls are being asked to have sex sans condoms all the time (so are gay/MSM boys, by the way). And the fastest growing group of people with HIV is Gen Z. Let's not boost a "I'll do it without condoms!" message to the main demographic for "SNL," which is teenagers. Yikes. (

And then there was the whole skit in which the premise is that Bowen Yang, who is gay, is actually straight. "He just plays gay on the show because it's a shortcut to laughs." Later, we see Yang's character having sex with a woman. Why?

This is the point where we say, "Do better," but we aren't sure "SNL" can do better. On the February 24 show, comedian Shane Gillis, who was fired from the show before he ever actually aired when it was discovered he had a history of racist and homophobic messaging, did much of his monologue making jokes about people with Down Syndrome. Though he did have some throwaway lines about gays, too.

Sigh. Kate McKinnon has been funnier in her promos with Jimmy Kimmel for the Oscars than the past few episodes of "SNL" have been in their entirety. This is the show's 49th season. We have grown up on this show. It's not that there's no room for humor in 2024, it's that in the MAGA era we need more than "Biden's old!" and casual misogyny, homophobia and ableism as our punch lines.

Biden appeared on "Late Night with Seth Meyers" with the former "SNL" head writer and was both funny and serious. Biden talked about his age, Taylor Swift, ice cream, Trump and national security. GOP rumors of his advanced dementia are wildly exaggerated.

Losing Lewis
Someone who never failed to be hilarious was Richard Lewis, who died last week after a battle with Parkinson's. Lewis was a staple throughout our youth on late night talk shows. One of the funniest bits ever is Lewis talking about seeing basketball legend and Los Angeles Lakers star Shaquille O'Neal in the locker room naked. Lewis details how he could not take his eyes from Shaq's penis.

At 2:52 on this segment with Conan O'Brien, in which he talks about his long association with "Curb Your Enthusiasm" creator Larry David, he discusses Shaq's penis. We won't give spoilers because each new comment by Lewis as he builds to the end is beyond funny. We defy you to not be crying from laughter at the end.

RIP, Richard Lewis. Thanks for all the laughs over decades.

NYPD blew it
CBS has a new series with Carrie Preston, who previously co-starred in "The Good Wife" and "The Good Fight," as quirky attorney Elsbeth Tascioni. "Elsbeth" brings Preston's character from Chicago, where the previous two series were set, to New York City.

Elsbeth is tasked to be an outside observer for the Justice Department to ensure the NYPD is transparent and not doing bad policing. The NYPD is facing a lawsuit for unlawful arrests and Elsbeth is highly problematic for the department.

The series is, like the previous series, both episodic and with a running storyline. Wendell Pierce, who never fails us, plays a tired and exasperated Captain C.W. Wagner. Carra Patterson plays Elsbeth's cop partner officer Kaya Blanke who is skeptical. "Modern Family" alum and gay actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson, plays an Andy Cohen-esque producer of a "Real Housewives" show "Lavish Ladies."

Other guest stars include Stephen Moyer, Retta, Jane Krakowski and Blair Underwood. It's funny while delving deep into current issues about police corruption and racism and has a lot of queerness. Preston is just mesmerizingly good. "Elsbeth" airs on CBS Thursdays.

Oscar watch
With the Oscars starting an hour earlier this year on March 10, prep your watch party for high tea and hope for some queer wins.

Lily Gladstone in 'Killers of the Flower Moon' (photo: Apple TV)  

We are aching to see Two-Spirit nonbinary actor Lily Gladstone win best actress for her role in "Killers of the Flower Moon," a harrowing story of the murders of members of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma in the 1920s.

Gladstone is the first Native American woman to be nominated for best actress. (

Gladstone goes by both she and they pronouns. She explained in 2023, "In most Native languages, most Indigenous languages, Blackfeet included, there are no gendered pronouns. There is no he/she, there's only they... my pronoun use is partly a way of decolonizing gender for myself." Gladstone identifies as "middle-gendered" and a member of the LGBTQ community. (

Gay actor Colman Domingo is nominated for his amazing portrayal of gay Civil Rights leader Bayard Rustin in "Rustin."

Domingo told Deadline, "It's very important for me, especially after a film like 'Rustin,' that [Bayard Rustin] is pulled out of the shadows of history, and he's taken his rightful place in the center of his own story." (

Nick Offerman, who is always showing people how to be a good LGBTQ ally, called out homophobic hate during his Spirit Awards acceptance speech last week. Offerman won best supporting actor in a new scripted series for his role in "The Last of Us," which we wrote about here a year ago and which makes us tear up just thinking about how beautiful it was. (

Offerman said, "Thanks to HBO for having the guts to participate in this storytelling tradition that is truly independent. Stories with guts that when homophobic hate comes my way and says, 'Why did you have to make it a gay story?' We say, 'Because you ask questions like that. It's not a gay story, it's a love story, you asshole!'"

In sports; on March 2, Iowa Hawkeyes' Caitlin Clark broke Pete Maravich's NCAA basketball scoring record of 3,667 career points with two free throws against the Ohio State Buckeyes. Clark is one of the greatest women's college basketball players of all time. She goes pro next year.

Finally, on March 1, thousands of people poured into the streets in Russia to pay their respects to opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was murdered by Vladimir Putin last month while in detention in Siberia. The line to view his coffin stretched over a mile. It was an awesome sight, given the risks of arrest that each person faced in Putin's dictatorship. May Navalny rest in peace and may his memory be a revolution.

So, for the sublimely comedic and the deeply tragic, you know you really must stay tuned.

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