John Mulaney SNL Sketches Ranked: Biden's Halloween, Baby Yoda and Another Mulaney Musical

Jim Carrey and Maya Rudolph cross their finger for big news come Tuesday, while Maya does double duty as Lady Liberty for the latest of Mulaney’s insta-classic New York musical extravaganzas.

The last “Saturday Night Live” before the election hit that topic hard and often throughout the night, but it still made time for another installment of John Mulaney’s New York musicals series.

These are always highlights of Mulaney’s hosting appearances on the show, and this fourth installment, inspired by Covid and the election, was certainly no different.

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Also no different was the continuing absence of some key members of the cast. Aidy Bryant and Cecily strong have only appeared in brief pre-taped segments all season long, making us wonder just where they are and what they’ve been up to. Are they filming other projects? Is Aidy really lost in middle America?

It’s a good thing the cast is so huge right now, but it’s been a surprise to see us five weeks in and we’ve still yet to have this entire cast together on the stage. It’s been good news for some of the new faces, though, as Lauren Holt and Punkie Johnson have been picking up more facetime in their absence.

Poor Andrew Dismukes, on the other hand, remains relegated to very supporting parts thus far. But this sprawling cast can’t possibly stay this big for long, so he just needs to hang in there. We’re still not sure all of these people will stay with the show all season — we’re speculating some post-election (or at the latest, end-of-year) changes.

As expected, Jim Carrey and Maya Rudolph showed up to make their last plea before the election, with Carrey turning in his least over-the-top performance yet as the former vice president. Don’t misunderstand, this is a good thing. Alec Baldwin was nowhere to be found, in case it wasn’t clear which way the show is hoping the results lean.

The biggest surprise of the night for us, though, actually didn’t happen on the show, as one of the night’s strongest pieces wound up on the cutting room floor. Luckily, this is the YouTube era, so we didn’t have to miss out on its timely message, or its timeless humor.

As usual, we’re ranking all the sketches from worst to first, including the Monologue, Cold Open, “Weekend Update” and any sketches that were cut for time but made their way online. We’ll skip the musical guests, because they’re not usually funny — unless Ashlee Simpson shows up. We wrap up with a look at the cast-member who had the strongest week.

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Cinema Classics: The Birds

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We knew a John Mulaney episode would bring out the weird, and this definitely qualified. Already a weird film, this sketch offered alternate scenes that took the bird’s danger to a whole new level, eventually culminating in them attacking people by carrying turtles and hurling bread at Kate McKinnon and John, trapped in a phone booth. And then he tried to kiss her. Again, this was more strange than funny. Probably the best part was Kenan Thompson’s Reese De’What sharing stories about his home life with his incredibly patient wife.

Monologue: John Mulaney

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John Mulaney got off to a slow start here for non-New Yorkers, leaning pretty heavily on Governor Cuomo’s daily coronavirus press briefings for material. It wasn’t until he shifted to a more general tone and suggested his 94-year-old grandmother shouldn’t be allowed to vote that the material got stronger and more relatable.

He got in a pretty clever parallel between her Greatest Generation (“We fought the Nazis”) and his claim that his generation is trying to fight the “new Nazies” if she and hers would just get out of the way and stop voting for the guy they saw between coin commercials.

Cold Open: Biden’s Halloween Message

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This was easily the most subdued performance as Joe Biden that Jim Carrey has given, and we couldn’t have appreciated it more. He’d just been hamming it up way too much. Instead, as he read a modified version of “The Raven,” he allowed his frequent guests like Kate McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton and Beck Bennett’s horrifying Mitch McConnell go for the big laughs. It was an interesting angle, but it proved more effective than Jim making this more like “The Mask” Biden.

In their last appearance before election day, it was clear that Maya Rudolph and Jim Carrey were echoing the anxiety being felt by the left as November 3 looms and the future of America hangs on the ballot. Will it be for more years of making America great or will it be time to see if Trump will actually accept election results that don’t have him winning, and/or a peaceful transfer of power. He’s alluded he may not accept either.

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New York PSA

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Some more New York love, this time with a healthy does of the weirdness that makes the city unique as personified by Kate McKinnon as an eccentric old woman who dances and prances and reenacts “Lion King” with her dog and even lies around topless because — hey, it’s New York. The earnestness of the Covid-era PSA was perfectly executed, with some of its funniest moments coming early on before they acknowledge Kate’s character, letting her do her thing in the background. It might have been even stronger had they left her that way.

Headless Horseman

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So this one went straight for the toilet humor gag (ahem) with John Mulaney asking Beck Bennett’s Headless Horseman if he ever uses the severed head to, well, you know, on himself, so to speak. By the end of the bit, Beck is horrified and Pete Davidson and Mkey Day have joined the conversation. Let’s just say, rather than send them all to hell, things take a different turn. These Puritans said their mind goes there because they’re so sexually repressed. What excuse did the writers have?

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Weekend Update

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In their last shot before the election, the boys went in hard on Donald Trump, starting with his claim that doctors get paid more if they say it’s Covid, then moving on to him stranding his supporters at a rally to the point several were hospitalized for hypothermia to the study that attributes 30,000 cases and 700 deaths to his mask-less rallies. “Politicians don’t typically spend the last week of the election murdering their own voters,’ said Colin Jost.

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It was creepy as hell the last time Kyle Mooney came out as Baby Yoda, and it was creepy again. Probably the funniest part of this was him calling out Baby Groot like it’s time for a “Baby” feud under the Disney umbrella. Okay, we’d actually be down for that, if we’re being totally honest.

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Michael Che thought he had a fun one when he suggested NYPD officers are only allowed to whisper Trump 2020 while choking someone out. They definitely saved some of their darkest jokes for the end of the segment, like what the guy who built a Halloween robot to hand out candy calls it. Yikes!

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Another Uncle Meme

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A funny sketch made even funnier when Pete Davidson and Chris Redd hilariously botched a high-five, cracking each other up. This is a recurrence of a sketch where John Mulaney plays Pete’s uncle who gets turned into a meme that’s making his life miserable. This time, though, Pete was able to turn the tables around when taking a deeper dive into John’s dating profile.

Strollin’

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Disenfranchisement efforts in Texas took center stage in a clever groove piece featuring the cast’s Black members “Strollin’ to the polls,” only to find that all of the polling places are closed except for one (Texas has limited absentee ballot boxes to one per county) and that requires them to stroll down the freeway. It’s a cute and catchy jam that stalls out when they hit the line and then when they finally get to the front only to have frequent foil John Mulaney hit them with the hardest question ever. Ah, voting in 2020. Good luck out there!

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Cut for Time: Democracy PSA

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If we had to lose one PSA, we’d have much rather lost the New York one as this one felt like it was particularly timely with the election looming, as well as a pointed statement about the fear and nervousness of Democrat votes afraid of four more years under Trump. Sadly, it also had some of the best humor and sharpest visual gags on the night. Its absence definitely weakened the overall quality of the show, as a few duds still made it to air.

New York Musical

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We all knew it was coming. It wouldn’t be a Mulaney-hosted “SNL” without another installment of his New York musicals series. This time around, we started in a New York souvenir store during the pandemic (in other words, “not great”).

As always, it was an incredibly intricate, silly and impressive production. This time around, Maya Rudolph absolutely stole the show as a Statue of Liberty who’s seen it all, and she’s still here. And, of course, it ended with another statement about the upcoming election and the hope that there could be a different future on the other side.

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Once again, Kate and Kenan had plenty of big roles on the night, including Kate’s return as Hillary Clinton and Kenan as Reese De’What, but the edge on the night goes to the cast’s current Phil Hartman-like workhorse, Beck Bennett.

He was fantastic as the horrified Headless Horseman, creeped us out in the musical sketch and straight-up horrified us with his purple-handed Mitch McConnell. Easily one of the most versatile players on the show, he’s so often used to play it straight that he can get overlooked, but he can shine as crazy and wacky as the rest of them.

“Saturday Night Live” returns next week with host Dave Chappelle.

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