“Saturday Night Live ”recap: Ramy Youssef makes hosting debut in uneven episode

Highlights include Andrew Dismukes tackling cop show clichés, and Bowen Yang going after Tiny Desk Concerts and pretentious podcasters.

Fresh out the box. Stop, look, and watch. Ready yet, get set. It’s SNL in Review.

Our favorite late-night variety program returns, as part of a three-week consecutive stretch of shows, beginning with tonight’s episode hosted by Ramy Youssef. He has a new stand-up special, More Feelings. Travis Scott, who performed back in season 44 when Awkwafina hosted, returns as the musical guest.

Former SNL cast member Jeff Richards is providing some thoughts on tonight’s episode. With Youssef out here as a bona fide stand-up, Richards shares that his favorite stand-ups to host SNL include Dave Chappelle, Zach Galifianakis, Jim Carrey. And Dana Carvey.

<p>Saturday Night Life/YouTube</p> Ramy Youssef hosts 'SNL'

Saturday Night Life/YouTube

Ramy Youssef hosts 'SNL'

There’s obviously been a lot going on since SNL was last on the air — Quiet on Set, Palestine, Ronna McDaniel joining then immediately leaving NBC. Scroll down to find out what lands in the cold open, and what gets regulated to Weekend Update!

Cold Open

It’s Easter, the celebration of the rebirth of Christ. This is the story of the Resurrection. We fade into Sarah Sherman, Chloe Fineman, and Heidi Gardner — all named Mary, seemingly. The stone rolls away and — oh God — it's Trump (James Austin Johnson), and he’s quoting Eminem.

Trump compares himself to Jesus and sells Bibles — people are fine with it. This is relatively standard issue stuff — Johnson is technically fantastic, and his bleak, pop culture-curdled take of late period Trump holds firm. Can cold opens about Trump be funny in 2024? I leave that to you, the reader. (Feels like an obvious choice for a cold open after three weeks off, but anyway.) The Trump/Hello Kitty toast is a fun visual. “Daily Bread!”


Youssef notes the weekend's religious overlap: It's Ramadan, Easter, and the new Beyoncé’. He talks about how the “South” is anywhere 45 minutes from where you are, as he did a show in Upstate New York that was super MAGA. He segues into election talk and how the Biden camp had a man named Muhammad call him back in 2020. Lots of vaguely ageist Biden talk — about him thawing, being confused on the train, etc. He wants the next president to be female, maybe even a trans woman. The audience agrees, but isn’t especially enthusiastic. This is New York: They're liberal... but still Italian.

His prayers are complicated these days. He tells a story about praying on his friend's behalf to stop the suffering in Gaza — free the people of Palestine and all the hostages. This gets a huge audience reaction. Then he brings up his friend’s dog, Mr. Bojangles. Free him too! He’s caught in a custody battle with his human owners.

Jeff Richards notes, “Ramy is an original, a rising next-generation comedian — not unlike Kevin Hart, who also had blown up through TV and now movies.” True, Ramy was in Wish and Poor Things

"Couple Goals"

Oh boy. A game show spoof. (Three-week break!) Bob Dibalda (Johnson) brings out two couples to answer questions about how well they know one another. Ego Nwodim thinks her husband Ramy Youssef’s greatest fear is heights. No! It’s that she will die suspiciously and the police will think he did it due to incriminating texts complaining about her.

We saw this last April when Quinta Brunson hosted. This is the lead sketch? Ouch.

Please Don't Destroy — "We Got Too High" (ft. Travis Scott)

A night out with Travis Scott! We see our boys go full Lonely Island here. They are enjoying their time but get too high — they express their anxiety in song, voice effects and all. Youssef laments a poor choice of words he used earlier in the night, when he said they were going to have "a twisted, rockin' ball" with the rapper. "That's not a phrase, man. I'm really hoping everyone forgot that I said that."

"Immigrant Dad Talk"

Youssef and Marcello Hernandez smoke and talk about their “good” children, as well as their sons! The neighborhood men rag on their silly, modern offspring. (Clearly, Hernandez is becoming the breakout "new" cast member out of his group, right?) Their first guest is Mikey Day, a newcomer to the block. His “Little Flex” son is his best friend. (Conor, played by Andrew Dismukes, has a funny moment where he comes out and kisses Day on the lips.) Our old-school hosts do not appreciate this white helicopter style of parenting. Solid.

Kenan Thompson is decently funny here too.

"Team Captain"

Coach (Kenan Thompson) and team captain (Youssef) try to rally their high school basketball team. They are being beaten, but there’s a reason: Coach accidentally sent the team chat pictures of himself dressed as a cat instead of his wife. Oh boy, furry porn humor. After 20 years of marriage, you have to miss it up sometimes! The opposing team is sending them kitty litter, trying to throw them off. The sketch is Youssef trying to excuse the many embarrassing moments.

Devon Walker’s reaction shots as the coach's son are pretty funny.

"Ozempic for Ramadan"

The last few years of fasting during Ramadan have been tough for this family man (Youssef). But now he, along with Thompson and Nwodim, just stab themselves with needles to get through the month. Recent convert Dismukes uses it to get a 27-inch waist!

Pretty funny spoof of upbeat prescription drug commercials.

Travis Scott performs "My Eyes"

"My Eyes" is from Scott’s fourth studio album Utopia, which came out last year. It features uncredited vocals from Sampha and Justin Vernon. Pretty unexceptional sonic rap song. Not for me.

Weekend Update

Jokes about Trump’s Bible, and the Democratic fundraiser at Radio City Music Hall. Michael Che makes a shocking joke about the Baltimore bridge collapse and Joe Biden, then feigns surprise at the audience’s crowd reaction. (His joke about Ronna McDaniel is relatively Norm-esque!) More jokes about Boeing too.

Kate Middleton made a very sad health announcement recently, which called into question the many conspiracy theories about her that spread online. Influencer Piper Dunster (Fineman) briefly hopped on the bandwagon, as she is a stay-at-home mom who prefers not to think about her kids. All her predictions and endorsements over the years have been horribly wrong (things like supporting George Santos), even going back to her Myspace days when she loved Lance Bass. Not bad.

Flaco’s widow (Sarah Sherman) appears. If you're unfamiliar with Flaco's story, the owl became famous in New York’s Central Park after escaping from his enclosure in 2023 and surviving on his own. However, Flaco hit a building, then died from his injuries, as well as rat poison and pigeon herpes. The widow comes to terms with his death and shocking life choices, roping Jost into things. Celebrities have sex with whoever they want and spouses just have to deal with it, wink. A bit flat.

"Murder Detective"

There’s a body outside of a downtown pizza place. Examiner Ego Nwodim is joined by detectives James Austin Johnson and Youssef. “Poor bastard was just picking up a pizza,” he says. Sims (Dismukes) cracks that he “should’ve ordered delivery,” staring into the camera with aviators punctuating his timing. Badass music plays.

He tries several times, trying to land a laugh. It's a funny take on Law & Order-style network crime procedural one-liners. Sims takes umbrage at Youssef’s pun. The corpse’s widow (Sherman) — again grieving her recently departed spouse in this episode — appears. One last chance to land Sim’s joke! I like this. 

Travis Scott performs "Fe!n" ft. Playboi Carti

A music video for "Fe!n" was released this weekend on Scott's YouTube channel. Playboi Carti pops up for the first time since, I think, season 43 (Tina Fey, Nicki Minaj).

Camerawork aside, pretty bad stuff. 

"Tiny Desk Concert"

Jonah Hughes Band member (Chloe Troast) usually is on the cello, but for today's Tiny Desk Concert she's playing a milk carton. NPR intern Elliot (Bowen Yang) interrupts the performance, asking the musicians to keep the “raucous” down. He’s working on a new podcast on “AI and rural queers.”

“In a divided America, what is music?” he ponders.

I don’t love Yang vamping, but this is a pretty good spoof of public radio pretenses and Tiny Desk.

Final Thoughts

—Pretty underwhelming episode. What did YOU think? Vote! Let your voice be heard. (Any Molly Kearney?)

—Thank you to former SNLer Jeff Richards for his thoughts tonight. Check out Jeff’s latest podcast episode with Andy Dick. On the Old School and Ben Stiller Show star, Richards says: “He is one of the funniest guys — quick and unpredictable and naturally funny. Danny Roane: First Time Director shows many angles to his comedy.” Jeff is performing at the Comedy Cellar in Vegas next week. If you are nearby, check him out!

—Want to read more from me? Yes? Thanks! I recently attended the Mark Twain Prize at the Kennedy Center honoring Kevin Hart. Check out my story for Entertainment Weekly, which features a ton of quotes from the ceremony, including from legendary comedian George Wallace.

—Shameless self-promotion aside, check out this fantastic interview with Sarah Sherman over at Paste. Great stuff!

—If you are in NYC next week, former SNL cast member Siobhan Fallon Hogan is doing a talk and screening of her latest movie Shelter in Solitude! on April 3 at the Gilman Theater on Fordham’s campus.

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