The Iceberg That Sank The Titanic


Some things never change, and Saturday Night Live is never as funny as it used to be. The latest season has struggled to find a mojo in a post-Trump world, but came up with comedy for the ages in Bowen Yang’s The Iceberg that Sank the Titanic routine that aired April 2021. A deserved viral hit, Yang’s five minute bit isn’t just good for a laugh, it’s profoundly great in that it’s not just a take-down of any one person or thing, but nails a specific idea, the notion of a lack of responsibility, or let’s call it irresponsibility as we experience it day by day in 2021.

Wearing a large chuck of iceberg on his head and deathly white of pallor, Yang takes the stage for the Weekend Update slot as The Iceberg opposite host Colin Jost, showing admirable straight-man chops here as they discuss the anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking. As Jost opens the questioning, the Iceberg notes that ‘This is always a very weird time of year for me’, setting just the right self-regarding tone. Jost’s line of inquiry is rebuffed ‘These aren’t the questions we discussed…I thought you said you were going to be my Oprah?’ complains the iceberg, before launching an attack on White Star (‘You built a bad boat and that’s on you, honey”), the water (‘Did these people get ice-berged to death? No, they drowned’) and constantly down-sizing the death toll, despite the host’s steadfast accuracy with the numbers. The iceberg, you see, is actually here to promote its new album, ’12 tracks, no skips…a hyperpop EDM nu-disco fantasia’ which we get a fleeting taste of before the wrap-up.

SNL’s Trump and general celebrity bashing often feels stale and sell-by-date stamped, so it’s refreshing to see a blast of genuine satire that hits every target. You could see this sketch as being about Trump, or Cuomo, or Gaetz, or Sia, or Megan Markle, or any number of tarnished pop-culture figures, but ultimately what it’s about is the modern trend for ignoring your own complicity in what’s going wrong and talking yourself up beyond the point of ridiculousness. Questions of taste are irrelevant; the target is not tragedy, but lazer-focuses on those who easily give themselves a pass for their involvement in fiascos of any kind. SNL seem to have struggled to know what to do with Yang until now, but on the strength of this one sketch alone, they should be building their next series around his deadpan comic talents.


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  1. Ah, this made me laugh loud! Agree with you on SNL, but I will say it still manages to come up with a couple of terrific jokes every week!

  2. Unfortunately, no SNL over here, but that was a funny skit. I think I’ll be sticking to the John Belushi/Dan Ackroyd/Gilda Radner YouTube clips though. It’s the best I can do.

  3. Yeah, most of the time SNL is mediocre and boring. There’s such a cluttered space now around political satire. But when it hits a home run there’s still nothing like it!

    • It’s been a poor season, and some of the sketches are painful to watch. But there’s no point in getting funereal about it when something like this comes whizzing from the top deck. John Mulaney has brought something to it when he’s guest hosted, but the misses far outweigh the hits right now…

  4. I missed this the first go-round, but watched and you hit the nail on the head. This is SNL at it’s best – not just funny on-the-nose impressions of politicians but when they slyly poke an inconvenient truth about society, as they do here. My favorite recurring morning update sketch right now is Michael Che’s neighbor Cathy Anne, who also just puts the finger right on the pulse of a certain kind of American in 2020/2021.

    • Cool, I know I’m not the only one evangelizing this, but great to hear from other fans. Comedy looks easy when it works, and this sketch could have worked anytime for decades. But by not referencing anything specifically, the result should work for just about anyone right now. Will check out Cathy Anne…thanks!

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