Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

John Mulaney brings more Broadway to SNL with the crabby glories of "Souvenir Shop"

Back row, from left: Lauren Holt, Kenan Thompson, Beck Bennett, Alex Moffat, Melissa Villaseñor. Front row, from left: Kate McKinnon, Bowen Yang, John Mulaney, Maya Rudolph, Chloe Fineman, Mikey Day
Back row, from left: Lauren Holt, Kenan Thompson, Beck Bennett, Alex Moffat, Melissa Villaseñor. Front row, from left: Kate McKinnon, Bowen Yang, John Mulaney, Maya Rudolph, Chloe Fineman, Mikey Day
Screenshot: Saturday Night Live

Every time former Saturday Night Live writer, current stand-up star, and comedy-musical theater impresario John Mulaney hosts (and Saturday was his fourth time in three years), he’s haunted by the ghost of a lobster. That’s “Diner Lobster” to you, as the weirdo musical sketch about a forlorn, Les Misérables-singing crustacean from his first hosting stint became an instant classic, setting the stage for another elaborately tuneful NYC complaint sketch with each return engagement. And while not perhaps as fresh as that diner lobster, last night’s paean to questionable underpants bought at a Times Square souvenir shop was another all-out, over-the-top lament about those little gross, odd things New Yorkers like Mulaney and the SNL cast have to deal with every day.

With Pete Davidson once more playing the catalyst, here by requesting to try on the unwrapped “I Heart NY” briefs hanging in Mulaney’s tourist trap, the walls of the dingy store opened wide. Singing Times Square, off-brand, copyrighted characters did an ugly kick line in their soiled uniforms to the tune of “Luck Be A Lady Tonight.” Kate McKinnon’s mournful Bubba Gump Shrimp mascot sang a heartbreaking, “Where Are The Crowds?” Guest all-star Maya Rudolph channeled Elaine Stritch as the tarnished-but-standing Statue Of Liberty, defiantly telling everyone, “I’m Still Here.” Chloe Fineman’s “Super-Spreader” mask-less lady from Westchester shook her stuff, and presumably some COVID droplets, with gusto to the tune of “Hey, Big Spender.” The less said about the “diddler on the roof,” the better.

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After all was sung and done, Mulaney’s clerk brought things home to those underpants (“Remember, they started this whole thing,” he recalls to Davidson), attempting to craft a suitably grubby metaphor for all New York’s infectious, sketchy, unwashed glories. It’s gross and will probably give you pubic lice, but, dammit, it says “love” right over the crotch. And isn’t that what America is all about? Maybe. There’s even a little “One Day More” reprise from Kenan Thompson, having swapped his lobster getup for a stained and spattered Times Square Minion, as the motley cast reminded everyone that this election hell-season is nearly over, and to vote on Tuesday. Or is it Wednesday? (It’s Tuesday.) None of them are going to—they’re New Yorkers—but you should get to the polls with a song in your heart, you crusty bastards.

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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