Hits and Misses: Rating Drake's Performances On Saturday Night Live

Taking a look at the highs and lows of Drake's performances as host of Saturday Night Live last night.

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Image via Complex Original
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Drake hosted Saturday Night Live last night, inadvertently overshadowing the arrival of new cast member Sasheer Zamata, in part by basically acting his ass off. Drake has a chameleonic way with performance, and he's definitely got some stagey, theater kid vibes—which SNL had no problem playing up in a series of performances that included a Disney World game show host, suburban slumber party dad, Live Action Roleplayer, and morning TV show anchor.

From hairpiece to hairpiece and wig to Wiig (just kidding, she's no longer with the show) we took a closer look at each Drake performance and put it through Complex's official computers to determine, based upon a multitude of variables, if it was a HIT or a MISS. Here are our 100% objective, definitive determinations. Sorry, no other opinions allowed.

Cold Open As A-Rod: HIT

Drake stole the skit while talking with "Piers Morgan" about how there's no way he could have been caught texting steroid orders, because: "Those texts are very misleading. Like, have you ever heard of autocorrect?" Best part of all was his emulation/exaggeration of A-Rod's facial tics. And, not a bad sketch for SNL, either. [This would not sustain.]

Drake's Bar Mitzvah Opening Sketch: HIT

After introducing the show, Drake introduced himself by going over the basics: he's from Canada ("Where the rappers are polite and the mayor smokes crack.") He was on a TV show called Degrassi High, in case you didn't know. He coined "YOLO." ("I'd really like to take this opportunity to apologize....") And of course, he's black and Jewish. After this revelation, we shift into a flashback sketch of his 1999 Bar Mitzvah, which includes a "WASSSUP" joke, pictured above (for the '90s babies: click). There's a song involved, (courtesy "DJ Mordecai Jones") with some obvious jokes about being both black and Jewish like "The only purple drink we drink is purple Manischevitz." Obvious, not especially hilarious, but well-acted.

Drake as Lil Wayne as Urkel on Family Matters: HIT

Quick and obvious, but still pretty funny, Drake plays Lil Wayne playing Steve Urkel on Family Matters as part of an extended series of sketches playing off Drake's sitcom history, including Eminem on Felicity, Rihanna on Blossom, etc. Drake/Lil Wayne/Urkel shoots open the fridge with his gun [rappers, am I right?] and says, "Did I do that?"

That said, nothing in this sketch is as funny as Kenan as Sway: "If you're black, you know me from the Wake Up Show. If you're white, you know me from this hat." Kenan could do to improve his Sway voice, though. There's a very deliberate "Sway" cadence he doesn't quite capture.

Drake as Jay Z on Mr. Wizard: MISS

Drake's Jay impression is so terrible no one even GIF'd him making a science class-style volcano on an episode of Mr. Wizard while wearing a Yankees cap. 

Drake, Playing Katt Williams, Interviewed by Nancy Grace: HIT

Not to put too fine a point on it, but no way Leonardo DiCaprio gets a Best Actor nomination in 2014 after Drake's tour de force performance as troubled funnyman Katt Williams in a two-minute SNL clip. This is inarguably the show's high point, and Drake's Williams impression is fully rendered. Lee Strasberg himself couldn't have crafted a better performance.

"Resolution Revolution" Rap Song About Giving Up Drinking Before Giving In To Drinking: MISS

The material here was pretty thin as-is, and although Drake gamely goes along with the weak bars they give him to rap (what song is this supposed to imitate anyway? What current rap does this sound like?), the joke is kinda whatever and his performance, while on point, is ultimately forgettable, relative to the strong material elsewhere.

"Resolution Revolution" Cutaway to Drake, Cosplay Enthusiast: HIT

I'm sorry, if you think it's not funny to see Drake dressed up like a wizard shouting about "Elvin Death Potions," you have no soul. 

Between-skit Drake images: HIT

Drake As Dad At His Daughter's Slumber Party: HIT

This was a really weird sketch about junior high student who was secretly 26 and doing anything she could to sleep with her friend's dad, played by Drake. Drake killed it, despite the sketch not really being all that funny, by joking about All Natural PB&J sandwiches actually being called "ANPB&J" and looking like what he will probably actually look like in 2024.

"Started From The Bottom"/"Trophies" Performance: HIT

Zero surprises here, just a solid performance of one of last year's most dominant songs, "Started From the Bottom," and a transition into "Trophies." Not a home run, but a solid base hit. Maybe it was even bobbled by the left fielder, so Drake was able to slide into 2nd.

Staring Into Space At the End of Trophies: MISS

It was like that very special episode of Degrassi, when Wheelchair Jimmy's best friend committed suicide and so Drake did the entire show as a monologue, talking to God. (There is no such episode of Degrassi.)

Drake As Host of Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular at Disney World Orlando: HIT

A very strange sketch, but Drake is so devoted and committed to his character—from his short shorts to his blue polo, his character's earnest attempts to do his job in the face of adversity/absurdity—that you can't help but appreciate his Glee-like enthusiasm. This is not a guy who thinks he's too cool for anything, and it's why, even with sub-par material, he's kinda carrying the show on his back at this point.

Drake In Detention With a Nose Ring: MISS 

Technically, the nose ring is a hit, but this skit will just cause you to zone out. The joke is that, while Drake is playing a tough kid in detention, he's always hitting on older women. That's it. That's literally the entire joke. "With you everything's a blur/When I look at the pornos I search for mature."

Drake Performing "Hold On We're Going Home" and "From Time" With Jhene Aiko: HIT

If you aren't a fan of some of Drake's lyrics on songs like "Hold On We're Going Home" and "From Time," it'd be hard to blame you. Both tracks can seem weirdly condescending, and it's easy to find them off-putting. But in this context—and particularly after the solid but unspectacular "Started From the Bottom"/"Trophies" run through earlier—Drake and Jhene, give or take an out-of-tune moment, present a nicely subtle performance, bathed in blue light and looking like an intensely flirtatious live-action jazz album cover from the '60s. (Wonder where they got that idea.)

Drake as Trey, Co-Host of "Mornin' Miami" Early Morning Talk Television: HIT

Up with his performance of Katt Williams and a manic Indiana Jones Adventure employee, Drake's performance here seems to really capture an essential truth at the heart of Drake-ishness. Smarmily enthusiastic, it halfway feels like he's just really a nice guy, and the other half feels like maybe he's trying to sell you something. Then the camera goes off, he reverts to playing with his coffee mug, and your suspicions are confirmed.

All in all, Drake was a really committed host, and it showed in his performance. SNL's skits were maybe more miss than hit. But Drake proved he's still as much of an actor as he's ever been, gamely pulling through on even the most dire material with a grin on his face.

Oh yeah, one more.

Hug With Jhene Aiko: MISS.

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