Benedict Cumberbatch SNL Sketches Ranked: Roe v Wade v Depp v Heard v Mother's Day

Elizabeth Olsen makes a surprise appearance on a night filled with bizarre music, hilarious physical comedy and a surprisingly touching Mother's Day tribute.

Interestingly, Benedict Cumberbatch’s “Saturday Night Live” return was a night that got better as it went along, with the strongest sketches generally coming toward the back end of the show, while the night’s worst sketch came right after the monologue.

Benedict is one of those actors more known for their dramatic work, but he has proven himself incredibly funny. And, in fact, he uses his dramatic chops to add layers to his comedy work, as put on display here. Benedict can do ridiculous material with such seriousness that it adds a whole new layer of humor.

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Tonight, we were treated to a surprise appearance by his “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness” co-star Elizabeth Olsen, but she was tastefully brought into a sketch in a way that made sense, and also didn’t detract from Benedict as the host. In other words, she wasn’t just shoehorned in for the “look a celebrity” factor.

As usual, we’re ranking all the sketches from worst to first, including the Monologue, Cold Open, “Weekend Update” and any sketches that were cut for time but made their way online. We wrap up with a look at the cast-member who had the strongest week.

As usual, we’re ranking all the sketches from worst to first, including the Monologue, Cold Open, “Weekend Update” and any sketches that were cut for time but made their way online. We’ll skip the musical guests, because they’re not usually funny — unless Ashlee Simpson shows up. We wrap up with a look at the cast-member who had the strongest week.

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Mother’s Day Signs

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This sketch didn’t work the first time they tried it, and it isn’t working any better this time. Aidy Bryant as the mother on Mother’s Day going through a series of not funny and sometimes mean-spirited wooden signs gets old in a hurry because the whole thing just isn’t going anywhere. The commentary is just meh, so it’s really relying on these signs to be hilarious — and they’re not. Only one sign — “You Do” — was even slightly funny. Even the ending, which went for a shock twist, fell flat. Can we finally retire this. We’ll write that on a sign if it will help.

Monologue: Benedict Cumberbatch

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Props to Benedict Cumberbatch for a brilliant allusion to the Oscars fiasco when talking about being nominated for Best Actor. “I didn’t win,” he explained. “I was beat by Will Smith.” He then quickly clarified, “Not physically.” His whole monologue was charming, funny and sweet, with two direct messages to his mother and wife for Mother’s Day, a few digs at himself and his childhood, and the kind of calm comfort we want at this moment in the show so we feel confident we’re in good hands with someone who cares about making it a fun night.

Chain Gang

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This turned out to be a fun twist on the traditional working songs of prisoners, with Benedict Cumberbatch’s felon gleefully revealing that he’s a squealor of the highest order, and even getting treats and rewards blatantly for ratting out his fellow prisoners. The only problem was that there seemed to be on real consequences of his actions, even from his fellow prisoners, who showed nothing but surprise but then just sang along.

Once again, Heidi Gardner was a highlight, fully immersed in character as the warden’s wife. Everything about her interactions worked, but the follow-up was a bit obvious, and again, the chance for some clever humor or angle to end the sketch was missed entirely as it just kind of faded away.

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Recline Toilet

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This brilliant fake ad, simple and brief, was giving us classic “1984” Apple Computer ad vibes, with great work by Mikey Day and the unexpected twist that his students are sitting on toilets to learn the “one way” in which a toilet can properly be used. Enter Benedict Cumberbatch as the cool new thing, and one of the most ridiculous fake products ever presented on “SNL.” It was the way in which he demonstrated the product as much as it was the product itself that made this whole piece work — that and its almost sinister atmosphere.

Chuck E. Cheese’s

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Bowen Yang is creating quite a niche for himself in these dramatic avant garde roles, as here when he portrays half of 1983 British band Reflection Denied. Benedict Cumberbatch displayed a rather lovely singing voice on the chorus of their bizarre ‘80s anthem that appeared to mix existentialism with a pizza place for children in its lyrics.

Yes, this was very weird, but the marriage of the two concepts, and the notion that they were at least trying to fulfill their obligations as the entertainment at a Chuck E. Cheese’s — complete with birthday messages and plugs for the games and prizes — strangely made it work more as it went along. Some of the guests worked and some did not, but we did find ourselves unexpectedly mesmerized from start to finish. It just sucked us into its weird, weird world.

Blue Bunny

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We’ve seen focus group sketches before, but the surly characterizations from Heid Gardner and Benedict Cumberbatch immediately grabbed our interest. Benedict criticizing a corny joke Mikey Day made as one of the Blue Bunny representatives only to be chastised by Heidi immediately set a great tone. From there, each taste took them to the most ridiculously specific memories from the “dust bowl.” Kenan saying, “I just taste ice cream. Am I doing it wrong?”

As always, Mikey is great as the straight man trying to wrangle some sense of rom the nonsense. We’d have liked a little more with Kenan and Melissa Villaseñor as the “normal” people in the taste test, and the ending was a bit tacked on, but it was definitely memorable in many great ways. Heidi, in particular, gave a brilliantly nuanced performance opposite Benedict.

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Cold Open: 13th Century Roe v. Wade

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With Justice Alito citing ancient common law in his draft opinion that’s looking to overturn Roe v. Wade in the next month or so, “SNL” decided to step back into those ancient times by looking at all the other logical and reasonable laws of 13th Century England. Benedict Cumberbatch is joined by men Andrew Dismukes and James Austin Johnson to tackle the abortion issue, while also tossing aside some of the other ridiculous things people actually believed. As a way to show how ridiculous it is to get precedent from these superstitious and uninformed eras, this was a great approach.

We also enjoyed the allusion to the plague, with Andrew pointedly saying that he shouldn’t have to wear a mask because “my body, my choice,” while also deciding that women should be forced to carry a child to term no matter the circumstances. There were a lot of great jokes, including Ceciy Strong playing a 12 year old and Kate McKinnon an “old crone” in her 30s. Packed with jabs at the Catholic Church, believing in witches and the flat earth, and even, inexplicably, the trial of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, this cold open was doing a lot of heavy lifting, but it managed it all surprisingly well.

Weekend Update

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“Tomorrow is Mother’s Day whether you wanted to be one or not,” Colin Jost opened this edition, setting the stage for a full-on attack on the pending overturn of Roe v. Wade. They blasted Alito’s draft statement, including it referencing the 16th Century and even quoting Brett Kavanaugh six times (“One for each beer in the pack”). Jost even managed to tie Roe v. Wade to Depp v. Heard, while Michael Che hilariously said that he learned a lot from the HR meeting he was forced to go to after asking female colleagues about their experiences with abortion. The

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Kate McKinnon was pretty subdued in her impression of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, making fun of her only question purportedly being about people dropping unwanted babies off at fire stations. So her take was you can leave a baby anywhere, so why do you need abortions? “Do your nine (months) and dump,” she told American women. It was a relentlessly optimistic and disturbing commentary that managed to show how ridiculous it can be to even consider the better option is just abandoning or getting rid of unwanted babies after you do your nine.

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Michael Che found himself trying to figure out what constitutes rock and roll when he rattled off upcoming inductees to the R&R Hall of Fame, Dolly Parton, Lionel Richie, Eminem and Carly Simon. None of these things is anything like the other, so it’s just music? They got in another hilarious jab at the January 6 attack on the Capitol, favorite target Spirit Airlines and the Spirit Halloween stores. It was all very spirited, with lots of funny jokes and even better audience reactions, which the boys never fail to acknowledge. In other words, it was edgy like we like it.

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The Understudy

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A perfect piece for Chloe, who is one of the best on the show at impressions — along with the criminally underutilized Melissa Villaseñor. Honestly, were were blown away by how effectively she could embody her female co-stars, with particularly brilliant takes on Cecily Strong and Kate McKinnon. We cracked up at her round table with the other women, and particularly Ego Nwodim’s response (which fits her show personality to a “T”).

Even the reveal at the end of Chrloe’s own understudy was pretty funny. Honestly, we’re not sure why this was the 10-to-1 sketch, as it was pretty strong. Was it just too “Inside Baseball”? On top of that, this sketch featured a fun guest spot by Elizabeth Olsen — and yes, Chloe nails her, too — which you’d think would have scored it a better spot.

Landsdowne House

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A simple sketch, but very funny physical humor throughout. Cecily Strong struck with fainting spells that grew more and more obnoxious as Alex Moffat, as her brother, tried to tell her about going off to fight in the Great War. It was a charming period piece, with Mikey Day once again brilliantly put in the middle of the nonsense as the manservant constant doused and covered in whatever he brings out each time.

From water to wine to “piping hot” soup, even though we know what’s coming, it’s how it comes that keeps it funny. Sometimes stupid humor works when it’s delivered with such conviction and panache. And when it knows how not to overstay its welcome.

Just Like You

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When it comes to recurring sketches, this particular format we can appreciate over and over again. Once again, we get a sweet exchange in the present day with flashbacks to horrors that are all too true. Every time, we’ve been able to relate fully. This time, it was a Mother’s Day theme, with Cecily Strong chastising her teen daughter for getting drunk while flashbacks painted her as far, far worse in her own childhood.

It’s the perfect way to acknowledge that none of us are perfect, but we’re all doing the best we can. “You may not have been a perfect person, but you’re a perfect Mom,” read the tagline at the end. And like every time they’ve done this before, we found ourselves laughing and choked up at the same time.

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If Phil Hartman was “The Glue” of “Saturday Night Live,” an argument has to be made that Mikey Day is at least “The Tape,” or maybe “The Adhesive.” He’s become so essential in holding sketches together with his dry delivery, he was used no less than seven times. He only missed the first and last sketches, as well as “Weekend Update.”

It was an incredible statement to how essential his stabilizing presence helps bring out the funny in those around him, while also stealing moments for himself. But even so, we could not bring ourselves to give him Player of the Week because this was an incredible week for one performer.

Heidi Gardner made the most out of her two appearances, proving herself one of the best actors on the show, but even she could not withstand the incredible tour de force evening had by Cecily Strong. She was on throughout the night, stealing the show in almost every sketch she appeared in.

Not only did she prove herself in embodying great characters, singing and theatrics, but her physical comedy as a woman prone to dramatic fainting spells was second to none. On top of that, she had us laughing and crying in the night’s best sketch, as a mom chastising her daughter now for getting up to far less trouble than she did herself in her heyday.

Kate gets credit (deservedly) as an “SNL” legend in her time, but Cecily needs to be discussed in those same conversations; she just seems to get better and better!

“Saturday Night Live” returns next week with host Selena Gomez and musical guest Post Malone.

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