No big-name surprise guest stars joined anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che Thursday night for the first of four live, prime-time “Weekend Update: Summer Edition” episodes on NBC. But the “Saturday Night Live” spinoff forged ahead with its regular cast and one alumnus in an amusing half-hour that touched on topics both political and pop-culture.
“It’s been a crazy year, these past few weeks,” Jost opened the show, and what with the president alluding to nuclear war with North Korea and deriding Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the S&P 500 declining its sharpest since May 17, and word coming out that special counsel Robert Mueller had the FBI seize documents from Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort — and all this since Tuesday — it was hard to naysay him.
Among the political topics Jost and Che covered specifically were immigration policy — who knew Lady Liberty had gotten so picky about guys, quipped Che — Kim Jong Un threatening Guam, the NAACP’s Missouri travel advisory, and the Baltimore Police Dept. planting drugs on suspects. They also touched on the death of cookbook editor Judith Jones, LL Cool J’s upcoming Kennedy Center Honor, the “Will & Grace” reboot being revived for a 10th season before a single episode of the ninth one had run, and a man who had far too good a time at “The Emoji Movie.”
Former cast-member Bill Hader played short-lived, now-you-see-him-now-you-don’t White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci — excuse us . . . “Da Mooch!” — calling in via FaceTime, and the desk hosted a visit from first sons Eric (Alex Moffat) and Donald Trump Jr. (Mikey Day) as, respectively, a dimwit and a dissembler.
Kenan Thompson played NBA dad and world-class braggart LaVar Ball, whom Jost called a “black Trump, everyone!” And Leslie Jones as herself offered an editorial about exercise, and engaged in what seemed like ad-libbed banter with an amused and perhaps mock-offended Jost.
August has traditionally been the slow part of the news cycle, as politicians and the public go on vacation and the summer movie season is spent. But all the rules have been changed this year, suggesting that unless a nuclear exchange levels Studio 8H in Rockefeller Center, the prime-time “Weekend Update” will have lots to talk about.