Actor Ryan Gosling poked fun at the popular “Ryan Gosling saved jazz” meme in his Saturday Night Live opening monologue. Gosling made his second career appearance as SNL host for the show’s season 43 premiere, with Jay-Z serving as musical guest.
Gosling was nominated for an Oscar for his performance as jazz musician Sebastian in Damien Chazelle’s acclaimed musical La La Land. Despite the movie’s charm and popularity, some criticized it for whitewashing the jazz world by casting Gosling as the proponent of pure jazz and actual real-life black musician John Legend as the shameless sell-out who represents everything the purists hate. Jokes about Ryan Gosling “saving” jazz ran rampant in the weeks after the film’s release, highlighting what some saw as director Chazelle’s attempt to appropriate black culture.
For his SNL monologue, Ryan Gosling ran with the “saving jazz” joke, taking it literally and in the process poking fun at his own performance in La La Land and mocking the whole idea of a “white kid from Canada” rescuing the most influential of American musical forms from obscurity. In the video above, Gosling deadpans his way through a clever routine where he white-splains jazz to the audience, finally being joined on-stage by La La Land co-star Emma Stone for the big punchline.
A very smugly knowing, apparently delusional Gosling sits down and pretends to play the piano while giving a history lesson on how jazz spread from “Nerlans” to “Chicagy” and finally all the way to “NYC City.” Gosling’s well-known tendency to break up on-camera comes back to get him here, but he heroically manages to pull it together and continue the bit. Kenan Thompson then comes out to try and end the madness, explaining to Gosling that he didn’t really save jazz and people were only being sarcastic about that, but Gosling remains oblivious and goes on with his lesson.
After a bit of interaction with the band where he admonishes them for playing loud jazz over his explanation of jazz, Gosling is joined by Emma Stone, who initially seems to be chastising him for his delusional belief in his own jazz savior-hood until it’s revealed that she actually believes the two of them saved jazz together.
Naturally, Gosling also works a few mentions of his upcoming movie Blade Runner 2049 into the bit, as well as a Harrison Ford name-drop. Ryan Gosling’s likable personality and skillful light comic touch are on display in what is overall a well-crafted, effective monologue bit with a solid pay-off.
In addition to Gosling’s monologue and Jay-Z’s music, Saturday Night Live‘s season premiere also included a joke about Avatar‘s use of the Papyrus font the return of Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump. Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot is set to host next week.
Source: Saturday Night Live
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