Keke Palmer hosted the first December 2022 episode of Saturday Night Live (featuring musical guest SZA) and wasted no time getting into the impressionistic spirit of the late-night sketch comedy show. Her monologue included her recounting a story about Laurence Fishburne yelling at her on the set of Akeelah and the Bee, as well as advice Aziz Ansari gave her about stepping into Studio 8H, and both stories had her slipping into their signature voices in the retelling.
"When I first got into comedy and I dreamed of standing on this stage, I asked myself, 'Keke, who will you be? Will you be like a Maya Rudolph, Eddie Murphy, Kristen Wiig-type?' And now that I'm here, I can tell you exactly who I am: Baby, I'm Keke Palmer."
But she also used the opportunity to confirm rumors that she is pregnant, making her the rare host to actually deliver news on that stage, which pretty much proves her point of how unique she is.
From there, the actor and singer went on to appear in sketches that included a fictional 1980s soap opera titled Forcington's Ridge; an appeal to other women Drake may have dated, flirted with at a party, talked to on Instagram and then referenced in a song (yes, that is shade for "In My Feelings"); a fake commercial for Arby's; and a music video for cuffing season.
Forcington's Ridge saw Palmer's character got into a fight with Cecily Strong's character. The two were long-time rivals who commented on each other's love lives, the state of their homes, and the looks they were serving, but it didn't take long for things to get physical. This meant stunt people stepped in for the SNL star and host, which led to memorable gaffs when the camera didn't cut away from the stunt to Strong's close-up quickly enough and when Strong kept jerking her head as if she was getting punched, but the punch sound effect stopped short — though whether it was intentional for SNL as a comment on the quality of soap operas was not entirely clear.
In the aforementioned appeal to women off of whom Drake got rich, Palmer led the charge for the "thousands of women" affected who are now unionizing (their name? United Tings of Aubrey). The few who told there stories were characters played by Ego Nwodim, Heidi Gardner, and Punkie Johnson. The former said she left Drake a voicemail once and then became an interlude on his album, while the latter told Drake she was a lesbian and he said, "Me too." Palmer, meanwhile said his "Kiki Do You Love Me song ruined my damn life. That man had the whole internet asking if I was the Kiki, well, yes, I am THE Kiki, just not that Kiki. It was my name first, stop acting like we smashed, give me my $6 million!"
SNL's ad for Arby's saw Palmer as one of four people who were astonished to learn the fast food chain has a deal where you get multiple roast beef sandwiches for only $10, considering supermarkets sell that meat for approximately $11 per pound. Suddenly, they were questioning how that was possible. Kenan Thompson portrayed Ving Rhames, who does voice-over for restaurant, and he tried to pivot attention onto Taco Bell's $5 box, which admittedly also seems like an impossible amount of ingredients for such a small price but doesn't stop anyone from wondering what might actually be in those "meats" Arby's is so proud of having.
In "Big Boys," Palmer, SZA, and some of the women of SNL, including Strong, Nwodim, and Johnson were looking to get cuffed by, well, it's self-explanatory, right? And no, that wasn't a euphemism; they literally meant heavy men, aka guys who can "bring in my groceries in just one trip" and who have "a big old back, a California king, refrigerator stacked" and are "mouth breathers" with "Snickers in his pocket." Obviously that meant the men of SNL were shoved out of the video immediately, although Thompson appeared at the end to say, "We out here, ladies. We're the reason for the season. These bears don't hibernate in the winter. You know where to find us: We'll be shoveling snow in shorts."
Meanwhile, when it was time for SZA perform her originals, she chose her new singles "Shirt" and "Blind." She also came with news: Her next album, S.O.S. will drop Dec. 9.
The episode also featured a very special Kenan & Kel reunion between Thompson and Kel Mitchell, and an appearance by Natasha Lyonne, who was the surprise performer inside a Hello Kitty costume for a sketch in which employees at a Sanrio store learned equally surprising facts about the character. Meanwhile, the iconic '90s duo most recently reunited on the 2022 Primetime Emmys telecast in September, but this time they took part in a sketch about rebooting Kenan & Kel with a gender-swapped lead to become Kenan & Kelly with Palmer opposite Thompson in the title roles, while Mitchell reprised his role in a very dramatic guest star-style arc.
Watch the rest of the sketches from the Dec. 3. Palmer-hosted episode of SNL below.
Saturday Night Live airs live coast to coast at 11:30 p.m. ET / 8:30 p.m. PT Saturdays on NBC.