“Saturday Night Live” kicked off season 43 this fall with high expectations coming off its most buzzed-about year, which ended with the show winning a record nine Emmys this past September. Enter Tiffany Haddish in episode five on November 11. It wasn’t enough for her to make history as the first black female stand-up comedian ever to host the show, she also delivered a performance that’s already worthy of Emmy consideration in 2018.
If you hadn’t heard of Haddish before last Saturday you’re probably not alone. Haddish most recently starred in NBC’s acclaimed sitcom “The Carmichael Show.” But it was her scene-stealing performance in this summer’s “Girls Trip” that gave her a comedic breakthrough, earning her the admiration of audiences and critics. Pundits and prognosticators are now speculating about whether an Oscar nomination could be a in the cards, not unlike how Melissa McCarthy earned a bid for her standout comedic turn in “Bridesmaids” (2011). Haddish could see her odds increase after raising her profile as a standout host on “SNL.”
Like other comedians who have hosted in the past — like Amy Schumer and Emmy winner Dave Chappelle — Haddish used her opening monologue to give audiences a taste of her stand-up, addressing the sexual assault and harassment scandals that have plagued Hollywood with a frankness and hilarity that most would not dare to try (watch it above). And should Haddish score a Best Comedy Guest Actress nomination next year we know from both her monologue and her “Weekend Update” segment what dress she’ll probably be wearing to the ceremony: the white Alexander McQueen gown she insisted on showing off again after rocking it at the “Girls Trip” premiere.
Haddish was not content just to be a team player; she was front-and-center in almost every sketch. That included “The Lion King Auditions,” which featured most of the cast delivering razor-sharp impressions. She also played a black unicorn and a butt model-turned-movie-critic opposite Leslie Jones in “Get Woke with Tamika.” But the real feather in her cap was getting two-time Emmy winner Kate McKinnon to break in the final feline-based sketch of the episode.
Joanna Robinson (Vanity Fair) wrote of Haddish’s “SNL” performance, “When ‘SNL’ stepped back this week and let first-time host Haddish be Haddish, she delivered a delightful show.” Matthew Love (Vulture) added that she “sells all of it with sheer personality.” And David Canfield (Entertainment Weekly) argued that she “gave ‘SNL’ a vibrant spark.”
The good news for Haddish is that “Saturday Night Live” has done extremely well in guest categories at the Emmys. In the past five years the late-night sketch show has racked up nine nominations for Best Comedy Guest Actress, winning this year for the aforementioned Melissa McCarthy.
That said, “SNL” has yet to hit the halfway mark or announce who’s yet to host the later episodes next spring. McCarthy hosted her winning episode towards the end of the last season, so while Haddish has reenergized the late-night sketch comedy we don’t know who’s to come, or what staff member of the Donald Trump White House they might play.