When I see news that Saturday Night Live has released another sketch dedicated to the Mario Kart franchise, I get flashbacks.
I think we all remember the frankly quite frightening episode of Saturday Night Live back in 2021 where the world’s second-richest man and currently the world’s most punishing poster Elon Musk hosted. It wasn’t just unfunny because he was there (although his first-time-speaking-to-humans delivery definitely didn’t help), but it almost felt like every sketch he appeared in was specifically designed in a lab to trigger a fight-or-flight response to anyone who watched.
In particular, we think of one bit. The Wario sketch. A sketch with a pretty funny starting concept (Wario is on trial for killing Mario in a karting accident), and truly piss-poor execution. Weird accents, Fanfiction.net-esque twist, and just generally bare-minimum comedy. When you hear “Mario Kart comedy sketch” and this comes to mind, one can’t help but tremble with fear and experience severe acid reflux.
With that in mind, I think I can comfortably say that SNL has redeemed itself. Its newest attempt at satirising Mario Kart in the show’s most recent episode with Pedro Pascal is a triumph.
Actor Pedro Pascal is best known recently for his portrayal of Joel in HBO’s TV adaptation of The Last of Us. In his first time hosting the long-running sketch comedy show, Pascal addresses the many, many “fancams” that are made of him online in Fancam Assembly, where Pascal plays the principal of a school where students won’t stop making TikTok fancams of him. It rules. As well as that, he did something that many thought was impossible: star in a Mario Kart sketch that wasn’t cringe.
Playing on the lack of narrative in Mario Kart and the deep and enthralling narrative of HBO’s The Last of Us, HBO’s Mario Kart is genuinely a well-executed sketch based on a simple and timely concept. What if something that is traditionally light-hearted and fun was actually serious and gritty? We’ve seen it done before, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done well. Visually, it looks ridiculous yet high quality. The fake review quotes got me. Me likey!
Of course, comedy is subjective, and things that make me go “tee hee” might not make you go “hee haw”. You might’ve even thought the Musk Wario sketch and thought it was the funniest thing you’ve ever seen in your life, and that’s okay. Legally, I cannot stop you from feeling this way, though certainly I wish you didn’t.
But me personally? I think the HBO’s Mario Kart sketch knocks it out of the park.
This story originally appeared on Kotaku Australia