SNL MVP: Not Drake, Losers

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No, Drake did not vault himself to Timberlake-like status as the Next Great Saturday Night Live Host last night despite hopes he might be The One. But another fresh face on the Studio 8H set hopefully, probably, will become one of our new favorites. 

Sasheer Zamata made her SNL debut last night. The show didn't address her, nor the controversy over the show's shoddy diversity record, the way they did when Kerry Washington hosted. Zamata merely appeared on screen during Drake's monologue like it was no big deal. Her first words didn't have any subtext at all. She played one of Drake's relatives attending his Bar Mitzvah. "Mazel tov," she said. 

But then she appeared in nearly every sketch during the first half of the show — as Rihanna, as a daughter hosting a sleepover with an embarrassing dad played by Drake, and in the latest parody music video. She never got to show off the comedic chops that won her the job, but that will come with time. Sasheer Zamara is here. 

But hoooo boy, let's get back to Aubrey Graham, the boy from Toronto, "where the rappers are polite and the mayor smokes crack." Everyone decided earlier this week that Drake would become the next Justin Timberlake if he performed passably well. Unfortunately that didn't really happen. Drake was certainly a game host, but he rarely shook off the fact that he's, you know, Drake. He rapped three times. 

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But let's not dwell on that. Drake definitely earned his laughs last night, his first time hosting and second time as musical guest. His Lil Wayne as Steve Urkel impression was disturbing and hilarious and something we'll probably never forget. But his best sketch was probably when he donned a 'stache and a sweater as the sleepover dad. Just look at his awkward dad-ness: 

And those awkward dad moves! Drake is so ready for suburban middle age he's already buying Ovaltine for his kids. And Drake's lips nearly made the MVP list for his Alex Rodriguez impression. But alas, he did not make the cut. Noel Wells, too, finished just outside the rankings, because of the babies.

2nd Runner-Up: Nasim Pedrad

We're always thankful when Arianna Huffington appears on Weekend Update to make Seth blush. A conversation about Hillary Clinton's chances to move into the White House again quickly devolve into cracks about Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan, who looks like "the murderer in the first ten minutes of a Law & Order episode." Everything about Pedrad's hyper-sexualized Huffington is perfect and wonderful and hopefully she'll appear sometimes on Late Night because this could be the last time we see our favorite couple. This may have been Huffington's swan song, and that makes us impossibly sad. 

1st Runner-Up: Kenan Thompson

In an episode that kept threatening to tip the scales into greatness but never quite made it, it was tempting to throw runner-up prizes to anyone from Vanessa Bayer (for her Jacqueline Bissett) to Taran Killam (for his Eminem) to whomever told Beck Bennett and Kyle Mooney to keep their weekly "you probably won't get this" comedy showcase as short as possible. Instead, why not give it to the night's single biggest laugh, which was Kenan Thompson as Rick Ross as the red Teletubby. Also a million bonus points to Kenan for that frighteningly uncanny Reginald VelJohnson. 

MVP: Kate McKinnon

Who could have predicted that the night's best portrayal of affected swagger would belong not to Drake but to Kate McKinnon. Yet here we are! McKinnon's turn as Justin Bieber in the cold-open Piers Morgan sketch set a standard that, try as it might, the rest of the episode couldn't keep up with. In something of a change of pace given McKinnon's track record, it wasn't so much Bieber's voice that she captured but his constantly-posing physicality. Later in the show, McKinnon kicked in high-riding pot dealer in the Nancy Grace sketch, and a Jeanne-Tripplehorn-death-debunking TV personality in the welcome return of "Mornin' Miami." But honestly, she took the lead with Bieber and never relinquished it. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.