This past weekend, Sea Cliff's own Kate McKinnon finally found herself at "Saturday Night Live" -- for a comic, the equivalent of finding yourself on the stage of Carnegie Hall, only better -- on one of the quieter nights of the year, when the few available viewers aren't expected to pay too much attention, and certainly not much attention, to any missteps a newbie (like her) might be reasonably expected to make.
Under normal circumstances, a nice, quiet "soft launch" like this is usually a good thing. But in this instance, it was an entirely irrelevant thing: McKinnon was comfortable, assured, confident and above all, funny. Those aren't always givens for established stars on this show, much less a new player like her.
She starred in just two sketches, which incidentally happened to be the best two of the night. In one, Taran Killam deftly pulled off an Andy Cohen imitation -- think narcissist with a lot of teeth and a frantic love of the camera -- while McKinnon briefly popped up as Tabatha Coffey, the Bravo personality and hair stylist with the severe bedside manner.
She had Coffey down cold in that one, but the standout of the entire night starred McKinnon as Penélope Cruz, who had to share a couch with Sofia Vergara -- guest host and also very good -- while both lavishly praised Pantene shampoo while tossing their hair. (Vergara got the easy lines and McKinnon got to say what Pantene does not have in it, such as "photomorphogenesis," which came out as "refrigerator.")
"SNL" hasn't yet officially announced McKinnon as one of the newest players. But that's just a formality. After Saturday's very nice start, she's in the club.