Lin-Manuel Miranda brings Broadway to Saturday Night Live
October 19, 2016
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Theater kids rejoiced on Saturday, October 8, as one of their own hosted Saturday Night
Live. Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Emmy, Grammy and Tony winning composer of In The
Heights and the current smash hit Hamilton took the reins as a first time SNL host.
People were not sure what to expect from Miranda’s episode; would he rap his
monologue? How many references to Hamilton would be made? In the end, it was
nothing short of brilliant. Marc Snetiker of Entertainment Weekly called it “a rare
It was hard to ignore the latest controversy surrounding Donald Trump and so the
episode opened with that. Alec Baldwin was a surprise guest, playing Trump once again.
Miranda’s monologue was heavily influenced by Hamilton, as many expected it to be. He
described seeing Hamilton as escapism – “It’s about two famous New York politicians
locked in a dirty, ugly, mud-slinging political campaign. Escapism!” Miranda remarked.
And of course, he rapped the rest of his monologue. In a rewritten version of Hamilton’s
“My Shot”, Miranda first started on about his approach to hosting SNL – “I’ma go for
broke and do it all tonight”. As Miranda rapped about his photo joining the wall of
greats backstage at 30 Rock, he stopped at Trump’s photo. “And this piece of—“ he
paused, waited a few seconds, and then launched into “Never gon’ be president now”, a
line from the Hamilton song “The Reynolds Pamphlet”.
Most of the sketches Miranda was in did not stray far from the theater, or Miranda’s
own life. This was an episode by a theater person, for theater people. In one sketch,
Miranda and two SNL cast members sang a very off key rendition of “Footloose”. In
another, he played a “cool” substitute English teacher, which connects to Miranda’s past
as an English teacher.
In a Stranger Things parody that explored racism, Miranda played Dustin; on Stranger
Things, Dustin is played by theater kid Gaten Matarazzo. He even played Harold Hill,
The Music Man’s con-man main character, in a sketch spoofing the Wells Fargo Wagon
number in light of recent Wells Fargo controversy.
Even the non-theater related sketches were great, showing off Miranda’s versatility as an
actor who can be both funny and serious. A pre-recorded scene, Diego Calls Home,
showed Miranda in a phone booth in the middle of nowhere, calling his mother. Though
it was mostly in Spanish, enough English words were included to make the scene
understandable. He tells his mother about his new life in North Dakota, including the
new friends he made there.
The final sketch, a scene from a WWII film, was a funny take on a soldier’s last
moments. The soldier, played by cast member Pete Davidson, asked Miranda to get rid
of the embarrassing things in his life, namely his sex toys and “sassy” photos.
The most talked about moment from Miranda’s episode was a pre-taped music video. It
starred female cast members as members of a high school drama production of “The
Crucible.” They break into a girl band pop song about what happens after, at the cast
party. The lyrics are blatantly about sex, though none of it actually happens at the cast
party. There was even a small cameo from Alex Boniello, who led Broadway’s Spring
Awakening last season in the music video; many theater people were quick to point out
this on Twitter. Many theater kids were calling the Crucible Cast Party sketch extremely
relatable. It was definitely one of the high points of the episode.
Miranda said in his monologue that he wrote Hamilton, so only a small group of people
would know who he was. That may or may not be the case, but this episode of SNL was
the highest rated since James Franco hosted in 2008. This may be an excellent case to
highlight more Broadway talent on SNL – theater actors can be funny too!
Miranda says he may never get another chance at hosting SNL, but based on the ratings,
it is safe to say he will be back.