After an emotional week preparing "Saturday Night Live" in the shadow of Hurricane Sandy, Louis C.K. eased into his hosting duties by telling jokes.
Throughout the episode, C.K. was most comfortable when in his element, performing a standup routine as his opening monologue, and portraying President Abraham Lincoln in the style of his FX hit, "Louie."
In his monologue, C.K. riffed on New York regaining electricity, thanking God the city could go back to wasting enormous amounts of power.
“Today I had like five blow dryers on,” he said. “Turned on the heat and air-conditioning and let them fight it out in the apartment.”
He also recounted a lengthy story of being stuck in the airport with an elderly woman, whom he and a crowd witnessed falling down.
"There’s always one second when no one is helping her yet,” he said of any time an old woman falls down in front of a group. “It’s like a little hesitation when we’re looking at each other. It’s like a game of decency chicken. When you’re not sure it has to be you [to help her].”
C.K. ended up helping the woman, who then latched on to him for several hours because she “didn’t know how" to navigate the airport.
C.K. also starred in possibly the best "SNL" sketch of the season so far, in which he played President Lincoln as if he were his character from "Louie." C.K. as Lincoln awkwardly asks a recently emancipated slave (Kenan Thompson) at a bar how his freedom is going.
The former slave, annoyed that Lincoln is fishing for a compliment, stands up and sarcastically declares: “I want to thank President Lincoln for everything he’s done for me. Especially my new job of shoveling horse [expletive] into a wagon.”
Queue the trademark "Louie" opening credits, except with Lincoln emerging from the subway and eating pizza in self loathing.
C.K. appeared a few more times, as an ice age man and a fastidious hotel employee, but one of the more memorable moments came when the show returned from commercial, and it appeared C.K. had been making the audience laugh during the break. He had to advise them to quiet down before he could introduce musical guest fun.
"SNL"’s cold open took us to a post-Sandy press conference with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (Fred Armisen) and (and his overzealous sign language interpreter) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Christie slams the mayor of Atlantic City for not evacuating (“I’m going to come rescue you and then I’m going to beat you to death. Because that’s the Jersey way.”) and praises (a little too fervently) President Obama’s response to Sandy.
“I’ll vote for Romney, but I’m going to hate it,” Christie says.”
The episode was "SNL"’s last chance to bring back Mitt Romney or Obama before Tuesday’s election. Jay Pharoah’s Obama didn’t appear, but Romney (Jason Sudeikis) showed up briefly on "Weekend Update," where he was still touting his performance in the first presidential debate. Seth Meyers pressed Romney on his pledge to cut FEMA during the Republican primaries.
“That’s like judging a person’s behavior while they’re pledging a fraternity,” Romney said in his own defense.
"SNL" is new next week with host Anne Hathaway and musical guest Rihanna.