Ego Nwodim deserves Emmy nomination for scene-stealing ‘SNL’ characters, including ‘Lisa from Temecula’

Even though Ego Nwodim joined “Saturday Night Live” in 2018, in many ways, this current 2022-23 season is her breakthrough year. In fact, I’d go so far as to say she deserves her first-ever Emmy nomination for Best Comedy Supporting Actress. And it’s all thanks to steak.

The sketch in question, “Lisa from Temecula,” aired February 4 with first-time host Pedro Pascal (one of the best hosts of Season 48, for what it’s worth). Nwodim plays the titular woman who shocks her sister’s friends at dinner with her obsession over “extra, extra well-done” steak. “I’m about to tear this thing up,” Lisa declares when she starts cutting into the blackened piece of meat. Soon the entire table is shaking under the force of her knife and fork, and the cast members all completely break character, “Debbie Downer”-style. Watch the sketch below.

Our fingers are crossed that Lisa becomes one of Nwodim’s recurring “SNL” characters, a list that includes political commentator Candace Owens, U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar, Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, music icons Diana Ross and Dionne Warwick, and actresses Eartha Kitt, Tiffany Haddish, Halle Bailey and Whoopi Goldberg.

TV critics were quick to bestow praises upon Nwodim’s “Lisa from Temecula” performance. Jesse David Fox (Vulture) raved, “Lisa showcases one of Nwodim’s greatest strengths: wholly committing to a character who has the dumbest, smallest game possible.” And Donald Liebenson (Vanity Fair) highlighted the actress’s “all-in commitment and delivery on instantly quotable lines.”

Another stand-out Season 48 sketch for Nwodim is “Classroom” from the Megan Thee Stallion-hosted episode. She takes on the role of a substitute teacher who assumes her class is full of “dumb” students until she learns they’re actually an Honors Physics class. “Sometimes the teachers are the ones who are dumb,” she realizes. Throughout the scene, Nwodim hilariously gives her students detentions every time they correct her, then she pulls the fire alarm in order to leave the class early.

SEE Emmys spotlight: Bowen Yang (‘Fire Island’) is hilarious, heartbreaking and deserving of recognition

The actress makes a rare appearance on “Weekend Update” during the Christmas episode in order to give holiday tips as chaotic shopper Mary Anne Louise Fisher. “I’m one of 27 children, so I got a lot of shopping to do, and I need to do it fast, and I need to do it crazy,” Nwodim tells Michael Che. “That’s all me,” she brags about why the Ross stores always have merchandise on the floor. The character gets big laughs when she puts on a neck brace and explains, “They think you’re wounded, but only you know your neck is strong as hell.”

We could keep mentioning stand-out Nwodim moments all day long, but we’ll end by highlighting her character Mrs. Shaw, the upstairs neighbor in the recent “Exorcism” sketch. Host Jenna Ortega plays a young girl who’s been possessed by a demon, but all the noise is cutting into Mrs. Shaw’s eight hours. “I’m getting my sleep tonight,” she announces as she conducts the exorcism herself and uses her husband Frank (Kenan Thompson) as the new vessel.

At last year’s Emmys, only two “Saturday Night Live” supporting players reaped nominations: Bowen Yang and Kate McKinnon. That number was actually down from five in 2021, when those two plus Thompson, Aidy Bryant and Cecily Strong all received bids as regulars. Will Ego Nwodim receive her first-ever Emmy nomination this year? Stay tuned.

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