Eyes are a sure way to tell how invested (excited, even) a “Saturday Night Live” guest host is at the concert.

If you notice that their eyes are blankly looking at the actor they are directed to during a sketch, or if they are shifted to the side, it is because they are fixed on a pointer. So, expect longer than necessary pauses and stumbles as they deliver lines with all the excitement that comes from reading an eye chart.

Some guest hosts are just calling you.

And then there is Simu Liu.

The GTA-raised actor, who helped put and celebrate his hometown on the Netflix map as one of the stars of the beloved CBC-TV series “Kim’s Convenience,” served as the host of SNL on Saturday night. Zero stumbles. Almost the perfect moment. Truck with a lot of enthusiasm, but never too much. Eyes always on the other interpreter. You feel like Liu received the scripts for the sketches weeks in advance so that he could bend over to study them and learn them by heart.

This is clear. Liu, 32, is on, or at least at the top, of the A list. His recent starring role in Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” and its subsequent critical and box office success , is what undoubtedly earned him the coveted work of SNL.

But from the genuine and godly tone he set in his opening monologue, it wouldn’t seem out of place for Liu to argue, “No. Not from the A list. Maybe B-plus. “Because that’s the way Canadians are, hey! No one is as humble as us.

And Liu played with his northern roots early on, acknowledging it no less than four times in a monologue that was unusually short by SNL standards.

“A lot of people ask me how I got a role in a Marvel movie,” he began. “The truth is, I got it (the way) all Canadians get their big break.” (Pause) “By, uh, asking politely.”

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He went on to explain the true origins of that story, which is now part of Canadian entertainment lore and involves him tweeting to the producers of the movie franchise telling them they did a great job with Captain America and Thor.

“‘Hey Marvel … now, how about an Asian superhero?’ At the time, I think the tweet got like 10 likes. That was 10 more than what he normally received. ”

He deviated only momentarily from that Canadian-raised humility at the end of his monologue, when he described a job he had early in his career dressing up as Spider-Man for children’s parties and being reprimanded by a child for not really being the superhero.

“Trevor, if you’re out there,” Liu wondered about that seven-year-old from his past, “you were right. I’m NOT Spider-Man. “Long pause (see above, re: sync).” I’m Shang-Chi, bitch! “

Few could do it without appearing smug and / or arrogant. But Liu received great applause for that proclamation, from the studio audiences, but surely also from those at home, because he has that rare Clooney quality, which gives him a universal appeal and sympathy.

And oh, that smile. Conquer all ages, cultures, genders, and orientations. In fact, Liu could have exploited the pearly whites, robbing cameras like some guest hosts (and cast members) do, especially when they feel like a sketch is going sideways.

But it did not. In fact, it is his composure in one of the early sketches, where he played an army general, that was especially impressive. His character introduced a new weapon called “Dog Head Man” – “played” by a real and docile Irish Setter, wrapped in a bulletproof vest that exposed human arms.

“That’s the best soldier this country has produced!” Liu insisted with a laudable and subtle southern accent, as he advanced towards the military project that consisted of devouring a ham sandwich in one hand, while waving a Bowie knife in his hand. other. .

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Maintaining that kind of deadpan balance may not seem like a big deal. But even veteran cast members Mikey Day and Cecily Strong couldn’t stay together for the entire sketch. Somewhere, Leslie Nielsen was giving Liu a thumbs up.

Props for Liu, too, for keeping her composure and Moderation as a contestant on a game show sketch called “Republican or Not” – no small feat for a Canadian helping to poke fun at the deep division in America.

In all, Liu appeared in seven sketches, including two that were prerecorded. His turn as an annoying vegan, extolling the virtues of cryptocurrency at a family Thanksgiving dinner is especially notable. Seven, plus a monologue, isn’t a bad account for any SNL guest host, actually.

But the show’s decision makers could have done better by more prominently featuring a clever and hilariously recorded sketch featuring Liu and cast member Bowen Yang, where each did their best passive-aggressive effort to overcome the Asian character of the show. other.

Rather than bury it in the show’s final half hour, Yang’s clever backstage scripted swap deserved earlier space and would have done a lot to counter claims by critics that SNL isn’t doing enough to defend diversity.

Still, Liu, a very vocal advocate for diversity in entertainment, is not likely to complain here. As the credits rolled and the music played as the host and cast members hugged and waved from the stage, Liu can be heard announcing – (I swear you can see that smile through his mask) – “¡ This is a dream come true! ”

Which, of course, is a very Canadian thing to say.


Denis Grignon is a professional journalist and comedian from Lindsay, Ontario. Which is in canada,


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