Travis Kelce hosts the most unhinged Saturday Night Live episode in recent memory

Congrats first and foremost to Heidi Gardner for making this happen.
Travis Kelce at SNL

Travis Kelce at SNL. // Courtesy NBC Universal

Saturday Night Live was blessed this week by the guest hosting and comedic stylings of Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.

Announced shortly after the Super Bowl victory, Kelce’s presence marks the one episode per year where SNL risks it all on a beloved sports star—a gambit that has traditionally yielded either full nights where the savvy athlete has recognized their own limitations and mostly appears in pre-recorded sketches, or in a pile-up of scenes where comedians try to keep the energy alive around a tall man reading cue cards. As opposed to an Armstrong, Manning, or (shudder) Brady, this announcement promised the opportunity for Travis Kelce to perhaps breakthrough on a more national scale for his lovable charm, personality, and specific brand of humor—whereas those more established sports royalty, who have previously been granted hosting duties, mostly stumbled through on character archetypes already widely known. Would this show serve as the chance for non-sportsfan America to fall in love with TK?

Yes. Because Kelce’s evening at 30 Rock yielded a chaotic elixir of one part cult of personality to two parts of commitment to the bit. In a season with few early highlights, what a great time to have brought in our local enthusiasm engine to give the comedy team a burst of speed.

Here’s a scene-by-scene breakdown of the sketches that ran on Saturday:

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SNL. // Courtesy NBC Universal

Cold Open: A fairly standard spoof of Fox & Friends, navigating the waters of the recently released text messages around Fox hosts knowing they were lying about Dominion voting system conspiracies. This is mostly a chance for James Austin Johnson to go full tilt with an impression of MyPillow’s Mike Lindell. So little to say about this one, it actually jumps to an OJ Simpson impression and the most just get on with it delivery of “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!” imaginable.

Opening Monologue: Travis Kelce barely bothers to introduce himself before launching into the story of playing his brother (in attendance) at the Super Bowl. Incredible points here for dunking on his own two season dating show—a goof that wrecked his brother.

American Girl Café: As a bit of a dandy in a pink suit, a dapper Kelce plays a man at the American Girl Doll cafe who has brought two dolls instead of any living human children. The staff takes great pains to make sure he isn’t a sexual predator, and the scene leaves the question open-ended of “What qualifies as a creep in this situation?” As the first sketch out of the gate, this really set the tone for a night where Kelce was going to fully commit to some bits, and gave a green light to the SNL writers to take him to weird places.

Please Don’t Destroy – Self Defense: With the first pre-recorded bit of the night, PDD’s boys realize they’re being bullied by their own interns, so they sign up for self-defense classes from Kurt Lightning (Kelce) who teaches them to believe in themselves, or maybe that’s just a trap to beat them up? Either way, there’s an old lady that does violence and we get to see Kelce in the third of many luxurious wigs to come. Travis really lays claim early to the idea he’s going to try out some weird character/accent work tonight, which—well done or not—is always more interesting than a celeb host who prefers to ride it out as themselves for the evening. Not the best Please Don’t Destroy segment of the season, but as you can tell by how early this one aired, they’re coming up in the world. Good.

Mama’s Funeral: Uh. Kecle plays the lover of a woman who has passed away, and he’s sprung for the funeral he thinks she would have wanted. The family is surprised to see her turned into a mummified doll with a pull-string and catch phrase. Not sure what anyone here was thinking, but points for just going this far off the deep end.

Ad for Straight Male Friend: — Bowen Yang seeks a companion that’s less needy than his straight female friends. Maybe the best part of the night here, as Kelce is in his element and Yang takes his own lane and someone unsure what to do around the rest of this energy, twisting it into something magic. A new classic?

Ex-Girlfriend: Heidi Gardner runs into an ex, that isn’t super an ex more than a person she once met. The joke is supposed to be that her excessive tears shoot out of tubes in her arms, but whoever cranked the waterworks never got anywhere near mimicking human tears, rather turning this into a fountainous flood that clearly breaks everyone on set. A delightful disaster; perfect live TV.

Weekend Update: Dilbert encourages the race wars to begin in the wake of Scott Adams’ racist comments this week, and Sarah Sherman’s segment once again piles on Colin, which is always appreciated.

Family Meeting: Parents deliver the news to their adult children, via song, that they’ve become a thruple with a young man obsessed with playing Streets of Rage 2. We don’t really see “Sucre Wolodorsky” being a recurring character, but uh… sure. Travis Kelce is present in the sketch and SoR2 rules.

Hinge Date: Heidi blows off a date she met on Hinge to sleep with Kelce, and Garrett—Yang as the blown off date—shows up in a Stewie Griffin shirt and with murder on his mind. This bizarre incel

Too Hot to Handle: Too Hot for Handle is another chance for accent work and some dirty weird sexuality. Fine? A good point to end on.

NFL Gives Back: Offensive lineman Creed Humphrey drops in alongside Kelce the Older in this cut-for-time sketch, which would’ve easily been a highlight of the broadcast had it hit the airwaves. Bonus points to Gardner for her third sketch of the night paired up with Kelce.

Categories: Culture