'SNL' always gets a lot of mileage out of celebrity impersonations, but it really shines when it take those impersonations and puts them into truly strange and unusual new circumstances, forcing you to look at your favorite (and least favorite) stars in a brand new light. Last night's mid-season premiere took the usual formula and milked it for all that it was worth, resulting in the best sketch of the night: a look back at the TV careers of various hop hop artists before they hit it big.
Hosted by Sway (played by Kenan Thompson in a big hat), the fictional show at the center of the sketch sets out to examine the roles that your favorite rappers played before they stepped behind the mic. Of course, it's all just an excuse to recreate iconic (and awful) TV shows with celebrity impersonations replacing a main character, but you can't argue with the results. After all, how are we going to complain about a sketch that has guest host Drake playing Lil Wayne playing Steve Urkel on 'Family Matters'? There's also Taran Killam doing a solid Eminem (guest starring on 'Felicity') and Jay Pharoah pulling off 2 Chainz (who once starred in his own Disney Channel show). If you ever wanted to see the 'Blossom' opening titles recreated with Rihanna (played by new cast member Sasheer Zamata), this is your chance!
All in all, it's funny stuff. Then again, it's hard for 'SNL' to screw up a premise like this.