Drake pokes fun at Rob Ford, welcomes Sasheer Zamata on 'SNL'

Drake on 'SNL.'

Drake on 'SNL.'

Marianne Dowling, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:30 AM ET

RATING: 3 out of 5

You can take the rapper out of Toronto…

Drake’s hometown wasn’t far from his mind when he hosted the first Saturday Night Live of 2014 - and the proof was in his very first zinger.

"The city of Toronto,” he said. “Where the rappers are polite and the mayor smokes crack."

There you have it. Roughly two months after Rob Ford’s crack scandal made Toronto the butt of every joke on late-night TV, the rapper added one of his own.

Drake worked double duty as host and musical guest, but he wasn’t the only person in the spotlight last night. The new year brought a big casting change with the debut of Sasheer Zamata, SNL’s first African-American female cast member since 2007. Unfortunately, this milestone show was lackluster overall, but it wasn’t for Drake’s lack of trying. His Degrassi training came in handy.

Here are the highlights:

COLD OPEN:

What do New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez and Justin Bieber have in common aside from slipping credibility and likeability? They were all lampooned during a Piers Morgan spoof on SNL. Drake showed he could do a decent impression of A-Rod, even mimicking his lip-smacks, while Bobby Moynihan seemed to have more fun playing a large, embarrassing politician who wasn’t Rob Ford. But the star of the sketch was Kate McKinnon, whose Bieber grabbed his crotch and mugged to the camera with ridiculous Tiger Beat poses throughout the interview.

MONOLOGUE:

It’s hard for Canadians to hate a guy who’s so clearly proud of his roots. Drake laid out his Canuck cards right at the top of his monologue, which served as a short history lesson of the rapper; a Drake 101 for his American audience. This included a shout out to Toronto with a Rob Ford joke before pointing out he’s a Canadian, a former star of a Canadian teen soap opera, and the proud son of a Jewish mother and an African-American father. The second part of the monologue involved a flashback to his Bar Mitvah, where he rapped about bagels, matzo balls and Kanye West. It kind of dragged a bit, but he somehow managed to rhyme “Rihanna” with “Hanukkah,” so that’s something.

BEST SKETCH: HIP HOP CLASSICS BEFORE THEY WERE STARS

Kenan Thompson donned a very tall hat to play MTV host Sway (the guy Kanye West yelled at during a live radio broadcast) and introduced never before seen clips of hip hop stars in TV roles made famous by other actors. Rihanna (Zamata) stood in for Mayim Bialik as Blossom, twerking and smoking during the theme song, Flavor Flav was the voice over for Fred Savage’s character on The Wonder Years and Lil Wayne (Drake) shot up the Winslow’s kitchen as a dreadlocked Steve Urkel on “Family Matters.”

WORST SKETCH: SLEEPOVER

Aidy Bryant played an over-amorous sleepover guest who hit on her friend’s nerdy, doting dad, played by Drake. Usually, Bryant is hilarious playing precocious kids, but her flirting in this sketch – where she described spending a lot of time on her back – was more creepy than funny. By the time it’s revealed she’s actually a 25-year-old who had been in a Vicodin coma, it’s too late. Drake’s bushy ‘80s mustache was funny though.

CLASS ACT: During the thank yous at the end of the show, Drake put his arm around new cast member Zamata and especially thanked her on her first show. Nice touch.


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