The 2021 return of Saturday Night Live featured first-time host John Krasinski ’01 and musical guest Machine Gun Kelly for a refreshing episode on Jan. 30. Krasinski was originally scheduled to host in March 2020 to coincide with the release of his film “A Quiet Place Part II,” but his hosting debut was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The episode began with a cold open of cast member Kate McKinnon playing herself as a host of the talk show “What Still Works,” which was stylized as a nod to the almost surreal nature of recent world events. McKinnon was joined by other cast members in segments “Government,” “Stock Market,” “Social Media,” “Vaccine Rollout” and even “Tom Brady,” which featured Krasinski as the titular Super Bowl star.
Following the opening credits, Krasinski walked out onto the stage and delivered his monologue. He likened his excitement for hosting to how his daughters feel about Paw Patrol, before cast members Alex Moffat, Ego Nwodim and Kenan Thompson interrupted and referred to him as Jim Halpert from Krasinski’s run on The Office.
The three actors exclaimed that people’s pandemic-binges of The Office have made them emotionally attached to Krasinski as Jim. They then urged Krasinski to kiss Pam, Jim’s love interest and eventual wife throughout the series. Some might have thought that Jenna Fischer, the actress who plays Pam, would have come out and made an appearance, yet Saturday Night Live fans got something better: Pete Davidson.
Davidson walked onto the stage next to Krasinski and told him to just “kiss Pam.” Krasinski looked into a side camera, gave a typical “Jim Halpert look” with a half smile and a shrug directly into the camera, and passionately and hilariously kissed Davidson, much to the roar of audience approval.
Immediately following the monologue was the show’s breakout sketch of the night, “Blue Georgia.” Krasinski plays a Georgia Sheriff that brings his nephew Davidson, a student from New York City, to a stereotypical Southern restaurant in Georgia. Krasinski is greeted by a waitress played by Aidy Bryant. Viewers anticipate an issue to arise perhaps involving having an outsider in the town, but the dining experience is not the conflict they might have expected. Instead of cultural conflict, uber-liberal restaurant-goers introduced themselves with their pronouns, defining “southern hospitality” as something that consists of openness and acceptance. Diners cheered as individuals mentioned those protesting for Black Lives Matter downtown, and all rallied behind kicking a Trump supporter with a Make America Great Again hat out of the restaurant.
Davidson’s character shares with other restaurant-goers that he’s Jewish, waiting to be received with some sort of antisemitic comments, only to be embraced and for them to discuss how Georgians’ love goes as far as to elect Jewish people, in reference to newly elected Senator Jon Ossoff.
Some other honorable mentions of the night included “Ratatouille” and “Pandemic Game Night,” which showcased Krasinski’s charming and goofy talents in absurd situations, such as having a rat control him while having sex, and being arrested for storming the capitol during an evening with friends.
But, not all of Saturday Night Live's Jan. 30 sketches were winners. Some of the night’s lows were “The Loser” and “Subway Pitch.”
“The Loser” featured Krasinski as the cooler college kid defending his younger brother (Andrew Dismukes) from bullies. The sketch repeated the same joke in different variations, where Krasinski tries to talk about how Dismukes is still cool even though he hasn’t kissed a girl and has inverted nipples, but the sketch begins to feel tired and unoriginal in its repetitiveness.
“Subway Pitch,” which was set in the boardroom of Subway, caricatured executives trying to reinvigorate their brand. Long-time employees Krasinski and Beck Bennett are dismissive of their new co-worker played by Dismukes, who wants to introduce Protein Bowls — bowls filled with the inside of the sandwich minus the bread — to the menu. Despite its comedic potential, the sketch’s tendency to lean on jokes about the Subway brand, such as the Five Dollar Footlong and the former controversial spokesperson Jared Fogle, felt lazy and uninspired in the end.
For a first-time host, Krasinski appeared to feel incredibly comfortable in his Saturday Night Live episode, always coming in with perfect comedic timing, reinforcing that he is a multi-faceted force to be reckoned with in Hollywood.
Rebecca Carcieri is an arts & culture editor. She is a senior from Warwick, Rhode Island studying political science.