At a live taping of the WTF podcast in 2011, Marc Maron groused to Bill Hader that most comics had to fight for years to find their voices, while Hader simply knew what was funny about him. Given Hader’s outstanding tenure at Saturday Night Live, jammed full of idiosyncratic oddballs and a rare Emmy nomination, that supposition feels right. Though Hader does some big-name impressions, including a pretty sweet Al Pacino, a lot of his pet impersonations — Vincent Price, Bob Simon from 60 Minutes — are obscure eccentrics, and his best SNL characters hover somewhere between “weirdo” and “freakazoid.” What sets Hader apart, though, is his ability to make his high-status misfits accessible to a wide audience, or to play it straight outright (see Trainwreck). He’ll surely bring that talent back to Studio 8H in his second go-round as an SNL host.

Doing his best to take in the week’s frenzy of White House firings, Anderson Cooper (Alex Moffat) welcomes Jeff Sessions (Kate McKinnon) to talk about FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s exit; Rex Tillerson (John Goodman) to address his own firing by tweet; and Anthony Scaramucci (Hader) and Michael Wolff (Fred Armisen) stop by to talk about White House madness in general. Highlights include McKinnon’s mugging as Sessions, Tillerson shattering a glass when contemplating getting fired by “a guy who used to sell steaks in the mail,” and Wolff’s enigmatic shrugs regarding whether or not his statements are true. As to whether Trump’s pick for head of the FBI could be favorite TV detective Monk, Wolff responds, “It sounds right, doesn’t it?” While there’s a lot of ground covered here, the subject matter feels a bit more focused than in previous weeks.

It’s been four years since Hader’s exit from 30 Rock, and he’s learned some things: SNL likes it when hosts have things to plug, for instance, and some SNL commercials (e.g. one about “toothpaste with crack in it”) are fake. Also, and most interestingly, Hader informs the audience the monologue can be as short as the host wants it. From there, a crew of costumers and make-up artists spring onto the stage to prepare him for the first sketch. It’s not a great monologue, but what a fun transition into…

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Saturday Night Live Recap: Welcome Back, Stefon!

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