It turns out that comedian John Mulaney wasn’t the only “Saturday Night Live” alum returning this week.
Stiller was briefly a cast member in 1989.
It was an imaginative cold open — with strong use of A-list talent.
The sketch began with Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, played by Beck Bennett and Kate McKinnon, remarking on the exceptionally bad week they and their allies in Washington had experienced.
“The important thing is to stay calm,” Bennett said. “In a couple of months, the president will be back to normal.”
“How’s that?” McKinnon asked.
“Because it will be me,” Bennett replied.
Soon after, Stiller walked on stage, introducing himself as Cohen, “attorney at law, and also sometimes not at law.” He went on to express disgust at having recently had his office and hotel raided by the FBI in connection with multiple inquiries, including the Stormy Daniels affair, saying that the raids were “a complete violation of attorney-criminal privilege.”
Stiller acknowledged that the recent headlines had been problematic. (“I’m Donald Trump’s lawyer! I’ve got a whole hard drive that’s just labeled ‘Yikes!'”) But he remained loyal to the president, whom he called “the smartest, kindest, sexiest, least colluding man on this planet.”
Finally, Stiller was sent to an interrogation room to meet with De Niro, who immediately strapped him to a lie-detector machine. It took a couple of seconds for this part of the sketch to settle in with the audience. But eventually it hit: It was a recreation of a scene from the 2000 comedy “Meet the Parents,” in which Stiller and De Niro both starred, except that this time, De Niro was playing Mueller instead of an overprotective father.
The sketch even included lines lifted straight from the movie. There was Stiller saying, “You can milk anything with nipples.” And De Niro responding: “Really? I have nipples. Can you milk me, Mr. Cohen?”
— The Return of John Mulaney
Mulaney made his highly anticipated hosting debut for “SNL,” a show for which he was a writer for five seasons, creating among other things many “Weekend Update” sketches that have since become canon.
His opening monologue was a proper stand-up set that showcased his talent for dry, sardonic humor. He talked about aging: “I don’t like any new songs. Because every new song is about how tonight is the night.” He added: “I want to write songs for people in their 30s called ‘Tonight’s No Good. How About Wednesday?'”
On a related note, he expressed feeling left behind by modern technology. “The world is run by robots,” he said. “And sometimes they ask us if we’re a robot. Just because we’re trying to log on and look at our own stuff.”
He added: “You spend a lot of your day telling a robot you’re not a robot. Think about that for two minutes and tell me you don’t want to walk into the ocean.”
— ‘Weekend Update’ Jokes of the Week: Michael Cohen Edition
The hosts of “Weekend Update,” Michael Che and Colin Jost, went to town on Cohen’s headline-grabbing week. Here’s a sampling of the greatest hits:
“Authorities first became suspicious of Cohen when they found out he was the lawyer for Donald Trump.” — Michael Che
“This does not look good for Trump. If being black has taught me anything, it’s that when the feds come kicking in your door, they’ve got something.” — Michael Che
“It’s amazing how we keep hearing ‘historic’ in reference to things that are happening during Trump’s administration, and none of them are positive. Historic has become a polite way of saying, ‘unbelievably terrible.'” — Colin Jost
“These Trump stories are so random and insane, I feel like a contestant on ‘Chopped.’ ‘What the hell am I supposed to do with all these ingredients?'” — Michael Che
“President Trump responded to the claims in Comey’s memoir calling him a leaker and a liar, which coincidentally is also the name of the video the Russians have.” — Colin Jost
— ‘Weekend Update’ Deskside Bit of the Week
Your mission, should you choose to accept it: Find a character McKinnon can’t play. This week, she portrayed Fox News host Laura Ingraham, who has found herself in hot water recently after having taunted David Hogg, 17, one of the survivors of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
McKinnon revealed some of her new sponsors, which included Carl’s Sr. and Malaysian Airlines: “Caught in a scandal and need an escape? Malaysian Airlines.”
Overall, she was defiant: “I will continue to defend the First Amendment. That’s my right to bully people without being bullied in return.”
— Sketch of the Week: A Song of Angry Crustaceans
Why would anyone ever order lobster at a New York City diner? Or any seafood, for that matter?
And with that one simple premise, the “SNL” writers produced one of the best sketches of the season. A diner patron played by Pete Davidson really wanted some seafood after winning a lawsuit against Bumble, a dating app, for giving him zero matches.
After some initial pushback, the server relented, and out came a defiant Kenan Thompson, dressed as a 40-year-old lobster in a tank, singing a spirited parody of “One Day More,” a song from the Broadway musical “Les Misérables.” (“Who am I? And why am I condemned to boil alive? When all that I have done is live my life?”)
But Davidson was defiant. He wanted his lobster. It was on the menu, after all. This meant more “Les Misérables,” including a parody of “Do You Hear the People Sing?” by a group of revolutionaries at the barricades. (“When the churning in your bowels matches the burning of his shell, you’ll know why lobsters in a diner never sell!”)
— A New Sound for Jack White
We’re filing Jack White’s performances this week squarely under “What Was That?”
And we like Jack White.
His first song was “Over and Over and Over,” from his new album “Boarding House Reach.” It was a bit strange and disjointed — but this is Jack White, after all. By the end, it was a runaway freight train.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.