Pop Culture
Bowen Yang steals SNL playing the iceberg that sank the Titanic
Saturday Night Live's cold open on April 10 featured Kenan Thompson, Ego Nwodim, Kate McKinnon and Alex Moffat as newscasters with different perspectives. (Joshua Carroll/The Washington Post)
BySonia Rao
April 11, 2021 at 2:47 a.m. EDT
Another weekend, another “Saturday Night Live” episode stolen by Bowen Yang.
When Yang appeared on “Weekend Update” two weeks ago to urge viewers to “do more” in wake of the uptick in anti-Asian hate crimes, he said he would rather have been doing his character, gay Passover bunny. He got his wish for a silly role Saturday night, returning to the desk for the 109th anniversary of the Titanic’s demise to play the iceberg that sank the British luxury liner.
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“This is always a really weird time of year for me,” Yang said to Colin Jost while donning a full iceberg costume, his face full of caked-on white makeup. He played the iceberg as a celebrity with a scandal in his past, throwing a fit when Jost asked about the incident — “Sorry, I think my publicist was very clear, I’m not here to talk about the sinking” — and insisting he has tried to move past it.
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“Okay, fine, you want to do this? Let’s do this,” Yang said. “First of all, you came to where I live and you hit me. It was midnight, I was chilling, then I hear this Irish cacophony behind me … And before I turn around and go, ‘What?’ half my [behind] is gone — which was my best feature — and I’m literally injured. But all anyone cares about is that, like, 40 or 50 people died or whatever.”
It was closer to 1,500 people, Jost corrected him, to which Yang replied, “Why are you attacking me? You said you would be my Oprah, Colin.” He said he came on the show to promote his “hyper-pop EDM new disco fantasia” album called “Music,” featuring the single “Loverboy.” The autopsy said the Titanic passengers drowned, Yang continued, but “nobody is canceling the ocean.”
“Hey, White Star Line, you built a bad boat,” he said. “It didn’t work out. That’s on you, honey.”
Yang’s character was among the strongest moments of an SNL episode hosted by Carey Mulligan, the English actress who received an Oscar nomination for “Promising Young Woman.” She began her monologue with an anecdote about how Americans often mistake her for Michelle Williams and riffed with her husband, Marcus Mumford of the band Mumford and Sons, who jokingly crashed his wife’s episode to ask if the producers had booked a musical guest yet.
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They had — Kid Cudi, the rapper who made notable wardrobe choices of a T-shirt adorned with the late SNL alum Chris Farley’s face and a floral, spaghetti-strapped sundress for his two musical performances. (Some on Twitter considered both outfits to be a tribute to the late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, given the recent anniversary of his death and Cudi’s history of speaking out about mental health.) Cudi also appeared in a musical sketch with cast members Chris Redd, Pete Davidson and surprise guest Timothée Chalamet about the “weird little flute” in rap songs like “Mask Off.”
“We got the fits. We got the flow. We got the 808s. We got the Xanned-out tempo. We got that drip, drip, drip. We got that brut,” they rapped. “The only thing that’s missing is that weird little flute.”
🔥 Weird Little Flute 🔥 pic.twitter.com/5DFMIYE51c
— Saturday Night Live - SNL (@nbcsnl) April 11, 2021
Mulligan appeared in two sketches that capitalized on her reputation as a period actress: one that cast her as the dense wife of a British lieutenant during World War II and another parodying “lesbian period dramas” such as “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” and “Ammonite.” She also played a woman in a pharmaceutical commercial whose irritable bowel system leads to an explosive episode in her son’s school bathroom, as well as a girl with a crush on her male classmate (played by Kate McKinnon).
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In a newsier moment, “Weekend Update” touched on newer developments in the allegations against Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) when Jost, referring to the Venmo payments to young women reportedly described as for “tuition” and “school,” jokingly referred to Gaetz as “the only congressman actually helping with student loans.” Michael Che also criticized Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s recent criticism of corporations and executives weighing in on Georgia’s election bill, adding: “Coincidentally, ‘stay out of politics’ is also Georgia’s new rule for Black people.”
The cold open was about a midday Minnesota newscast with two Black anchors (Kenan Thompson and Ego Nwodim) opposite a pair of White anchors (McKinnon and Alex Moffat), all discussing the Derek Chauvin trial. “Look, y’all seem like good people,” Thompson’s character said in frustration to McKinnon, who stuck to what was portrayed as a rosy view of potential outcomes, and Moffat, whose character continually expressed opinions like, “I just think protests should be nonviolent.”
Looking for news they could discuss in congruence, McKinnon’s character mentioned they had “lost royalty yesterday,” to which Nwodim responded, “Yes, the rapper DMX died.” McKinnon clarified she was referring to Prince Philip, who died Friday at 99. Nwodim remarked, “Girl, Prince been dead.”
SNL also briefly paid tribute to both DMX and Anne Beatts, one of the comedy show’s original writers, who died Wednesday.
Read more:
SNL kicks off Daniel Kaluuya’s episode by diving into Matt Gaetz, Lil Nas X controversies
SNL invites Maya Rudolph’s Kamala Harris and Martin Short’s Doug Emhoff to host a Passover Seder
SNL dreams up a Fauci-hosted game show where contestants vie for the vaccine
Sonia Rao is a pop culture reporter. She attended Boston University and wrote for the Boston Globe before coming to The Post in 2017. She officially joined the features department in 2019.
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