If you’ve ever wondered what happened to those teens who fainted when they saw Elvis Presley back in the 1950s, Saturday Night Live has your answer. They’re in a retirement home in Florida, still throwing their panties on the stage for… something resembling Elvis?
Leave it to Sarah Sherman to take a hackneyed premise like “Jewish Elvis” and turn it into a raucous, gross and hilarious affair. Ego Nwodim, Cecily Strong and this week’s guest host, Austin Butler, are grandmothers in the audience of their home’s evening entertainment with a granddaughter played by Chloe Fineman. Props to Butler for going all-in on his Jewish grandma character that might actually be more over-the-top than Mike Meyer’s Linda Richman.
Sherman cranks up every Jewish stereotype, frankensteining old Borscht Belt jokes with an absurdist Elvis impersonation that gets funnier as it gets further and further away from its source material. At the same time, the horny old ladies get even hornier; Butler’s granny rips open her robe to reveal Elvis’ catchphrase, “This Is a Zizzaster!” displayed across her ample bosom. And in case the thought of her throwing her enormous soiled briefs on the stage isn’t gross enough, the retirement home director (Bowen Yang) enters to graphically describe a ruined toilet.
No description could do this sketch justice. It absolutely fails on paper, but Sherman and Butler commit so hard to their cartoonish roles — Elvis constantly mugging to the camera and Granny Lois mauling her idol in front of the crowd — that it becomes surreal.
Sherman’s signature style combines cringe, gross-out humor and anti-comedy that’s softened by her impish grin and manic energy. It can be off-putting, but that’s kind of the point. Like Andy Kaufman, like Tim and Eric, like SNL itself when it first debuted in 1975, it’s a rebellion against the boring mainstream comedy around them. Now that SNL is part of the establishment it once railed against, it’s truly exciting to see someone like Sherman putting a little bit of that old punk vibe back into the show.
So, how’d Butler do? Grade the episode below, then light up the comments.