If you’re a particular sort of Nerd Of A Certain Age, the number 151 carries a special totemic significance: Counting the enigmatic, buggy Mew, it’s the number of mostly-ferocious cartoon cockfight beasties populating the original Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue, a.k.a. the number that kids in the early ’90s were required to trap in a tiny, lightless ball if they officially wanted to “Catch ’Em All.” It is also, on a purely, extremely, can’t-emphasize-this-enough coincidental note, the number of Not-Ready-For-Primetime Players who’ve trod the boards at Saturday Night Live over the last 44 years. And, well: You can see where this is going, right?
Massive amounts of kudos are in order to Vulture writer Bethy Squires, who spent god-knows how many hours on this piece of inspired, stream-of-consciousness time wasting, attempting to make some kind of solid rationale to fit one of each of the 151 first-generation pocket monsters to a current or former member of the SNL cast. Some of Squires’ picks are genius—Pete Davidson is a sentient pile of Grime, obviously, and casting Kristen Wiig, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler as the god-like Legendary Birds is a natural fit. Others feel more left-field or just generally ineffective—but really, where would you try to fit Patrick Weathers or Denny Dillon into your personal Pokédex? Others border on arbitrary, or even a little cruel: We can’t say the laugh we got out of seeing right-wing anti-comedy “pundit” Victoria Jackson paired with the inherently worrisome Jinx was an especially kind one, for instance.
What’s fascinating, though, are the little links and logical leaps Squires builds throughout the piece, whether casting members better known for their writing than their stage performances as shelled monsters (like Fred Wolf as Omastar) or mapping Dan Aykroyd, Mike Meyers, and Will Ferrell—each of whom anchored a particular era of the show—to members of the beloved Bulbasaur evolution line. Even with often-glib explanations, it’s a staggering amount of effort aimed at an incredibly narrow audience, and we have to applaud the work spent on something this wonderfully dumb. Wspecially when we hit the destructive, generally awful, but undeniably powerful No. 150, Mewtwo, whose somewhat obvious reveal acts as the punchline of the entire piece.