“Saturday Night Live” is in a shaky time right now, with veteran cast members having left, but it righted the ship for its best sketch in recent memory on Saturday night.
If you missed the relatively short “Black Jeopardy!” sketch, which didn’t get as much attention as the presidential debate satire, take seven minutes to change that. Hilarious, sharp, and topical, it’s the best comedic take on the current presidential election we’ve seen on TV this year.
“Black Jeopardy!” has showed up on “SNL” before, usually playing up the cultural differences of contestants in a battle of stereotypes. That’s true here, but in a Donald Trump-inspired way: Tom Hanks is the sole white contestant on the game show, wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat.
But it turns out as the sketch goes on that the black contestants and host and the white Trump supporter have a lot in common: a distrust of authority and elections, a love of curvy women and Tyler Perry films, and an ability to get a good deal from their local “guy.”
The delirious, cleverly written sketch insists that we’re more alike than different as Americans. Until, that is, the biting final moment, when the final category shows up: “Lives That Matter.” The black contestants look at Hanks’ Trump voter awkwardly, and he stares silently.
“It was good while it lasted,” Kenan Thompson’s host says.
The sketch, written by “Weekend Update” co-anchor Michael Che and “SNL” co-head writer Bryan Tucker, leaves us to imagine what Hanks’ character thinks about which lives matter, but it’s a pointed jab at how class and race play important – and sometimes very different – roles in shaping attitudes and beliefs around the current presidential election, in which Trump has amassed support among working-class whites.
Interestingly, the sketch also has fans broadly among political thinkers and writers. Fox News contributor Stacey Dash approves:
LOL!! Saturday Night Live: Tom Hanks portrays a Trump supporter playing “Black Jeopardy” https://t.co/BKqh4yBZZx
— Stacey Dash (@REALStaceyDash) October 24, 2016
As does a former Jeb Bush campaign staffer:
This Black Jeopardy skit is as good as folks are saying. We really do have more that unites than divides! DOUG https://t.co/snDKFdL10I
— Tim Miller (@Timodc) October 23, 2016
Slate political writer Jamelle Bouie had some thoughts about the sketch’s meaning:
And the Washington Post summed it up by calling it “SNL’s best political sketch this year.”
Watch the full sketch below: