SNL’s Take On Gayle King’s R. Kelly Interview Was A Master Class In Wordplay

Photo: Will Heath/NBC
R. Kelly’s CBS News interview with Gayle King was all over the news, so naturally, it is prime Saturday Night Live cold open material. Timely, topical, and a perfect opportunity for Kenan Thompson to bust out his impression of the R&B singer. "People think I'm some kind of monster, so I'm here to remove all doubt. My lawyer was telling me 'no,' but my ego? My ego was telling me 'yes.'" Thompson as Kelly says encouraging King, played by Leslie Jones, not to call him Robert, but to call him “victim.” In this almost missable request lies Kelly’s perspective on the entire interview, but only later do we find out that he doesn’t really know why he’s there. He did say his intention was to remove all doubt — it just wasn’t going in the direction he thought it would.
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When asked to repeat what some of the accusations lodged against him, Kelly essentially says that they think he has a harem of young girls and started a cult...because it looks like he has a harem of young girls and started a cult. With each question King asks, Kelly digs himself deeper and deeper in the hole he somehow still thinks he can explain himself out of. “If I can get through this, everyone will love me again,” he sings to himself aloud in a reflective moment. Each song-filled reflection hilariously highlights his delusion.
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King eventually succumbs to exasperation and ends the interview unsure of why he would have wanted to explain himself on television in the first place. “Now, I humbly await your decision Ms. Jail King,” he offers. Hold up. Jail King? In a moment of perfect wordplay, it all becomes clear. Kelly not only thinks he is successfully absolving himself of guilt in the public eye but somehow in the legal system as well. Only, Gayle King holds no sway in the jail system.
“You’re not the jail king? Then what am I doing here?” he asks indignantly. This is SNL at its best. Sometimes simply changing a person’s first name is all the comedic gold you need.
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