In 2019, Saturday Night Live aired a sketch that dared to ask, “What would a grim and gritty take on Sesame Street look like?” The answer was Grouch, which put David Harbour’s Oscar into a Joker-inspired urban landscape. It’s one of the funniest sketches the show has done in recent years.
It’s a formula that could be revisited with the right set of elements, and last night the show did exactly that. With host Pedro Pascal appearing in the middle of The Last of Us‘s acclaimed first season, the time seemed right for another riff on video games and complex dramas. And thus, viewers everywhere got to see Pascal in a Mario costume.
The sketch leans into the dissonance of trying to fit the most familiar elements of Mario Kart into a grim, gritty prestige drama package. Pascal gives it his all, which only adds to the comedy; at a time when promotion of an actual Super Mario Bros. movie is abundant, it’s even more surreal.
It feels like the production design team really put their all into answering the question of “Just what would a dystopian Mario Bros. world look like,” which is a fine thing. It’s a good window into what might have been.
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