US comic Nate Bargatze is being praised for the latest edition of Saturday Night Live, which he hosted on 28 October.
In particular, fans of the long-running sketch show are expressing their enjoyment of his “Washington’s Dream” skit, in which he played the first US president.
In the five-minute sketch, Washington (Bargatze) tells his soldiers (Kenan Thompson, Mikey Day, Bowen Yang, James Austin Johnson) his dream for a country with its own “system of weights and measures”.
The scene is a takedown of American measurements and other peculiarities, including lines like: “We are free men! And we will be free to measure liquids in litres and millilitres... but not all liquids, only soda, wine and alcohol. For milk and paint we will use gallons, pints and quarts, god-willing.”
Asked by one of his soldiers (Day) how many litres are in a gallon, he replies simply: “Nobody knows.”
Other targets include American football: “It’s a sport where you throw a ball with your hands.”
The skit is underpinned by surreptitious commentary on the US’s social priorities, particularly when it comes to racism.
”In this new country, what plans are there for men of colour, such as I?” Thompson’s soldier asks, to which Bargatze’s Washington answers deafly: “Distance will be measured in inches, feet, yards and miles.”
The skit, which has racked up nearly 1.5 million views on YouTube already, has been praised as one of SNL’s best at a time when ratings for the show have been in steady decline.
“This skit is an instant classic. I think people will be referencing it as one of the all time best SNL skits for years,” one person commented on YouTube.
”Instantly one of my favourite SNL sketches of all time,” lauded another.
“Not only was this the best sketch of the night, but it’s by far one of the best SNL has put out in years.”
Writing for The Atlantic, Esther Zuckerman commended the show for “leaning into the [Bargatze’s] understated humour, to refreshing effect”.
“Bargatze’s SNL was always going to be a low-key one, simply because of his level of fame; his appearance was never going to inspire fervent adoration... But Bargatze and the show’s writers used the lack of expectations to make some chuckle-worthy observations about the world around them. And that was just enough.”
SNL was recently allowed to return to television even though the Hollywood actors’ strike remains ongoing.
Anyone performing on SNL, from hosts to cast members to guest stars, is performing under a Network Code Agreement (also known as a Net Code).
This is not one of the contracts SAG-AFTRA is striking, the union has explained, saying: “[The SNL cast] are not in violation of SAG-AFTRA strike rules, and we support them in fulfilling their contractual obligations.
“The programme is a SAG-AFTRA non-dramatic production under a separate agreement that is not subject to the union’s strike order.”