Even when it’s at its best, modern SNL is rarely shocking. Funny, strange, silly and clever, sure. But shocking? Nah. The show doesn’t seem to set out to offend every week. So when the show broke out a fake commercial that depicted 50 Shades of Grey star and guest host Dakota Johnson joining the radical terrorist group ISIS, jaws rightfully hit the ground. Who approved this? And could they start approving more sketches?
In a pitch-perfect parody of a certain kind of military recruitment ad, the fake commercial features Johnson and her father (the always reliable Taran Killam) arriving at the airport. She’s leaving for some kind of important trip and he’s sad to see her go, playfully suggesting that she hang around for another year. Tears are shed, looks of love are shared ... and then her ride shows up. Yep, it’s ISIS terrorists in a truck, with a mounted machine gun and everything.
Then that treacly music kicks in and you suddenly really can’t believe what you’re seeing.
The scene really works because Johnson and Killam play it so very straight, never indicating that the joke is coming until it appears out of nowhere. It’s a one-note sketch, but that one note is so perfectly built-up and executed so well that it’s worth it. And at under two minutes, it gets in and gets out before it can overstay its welcome. This scene showcases a show that is willing to go that extra crazy mile, and a guest host who is willing to do anything for a laugh.