The 'Les Mis' Lobster Sketch On 'Saturday Night Live' Was A Broadway Dream & A Diner's Nightmare
Saturday Night Live is known for its biting political and social comedy, but John Mulaney's episode set out to answer one of life's minor social mysteries in a major way. What kind of monster orders the lobster in a diner? The answer can only be explained, apparently, by way of show tunes. Saturday Night Live did a Les Miserables parody that was truly bizarre and complete with baritones and barricades.
Set at Big Nick's Greek Diner — which is doubly funny as neither diners nor the Greeks are known for their crimson shellfish — the sketch started with a simple premise. A patron, played by Pete Davidson, decides on a whim to order the lobster. Why not? It's on the menu, after all. "The time has come," Mulaney's waiter character announced. "We've got an order for one lobster." Then the song commenced, not so much a celebration, but a plea to diner-goers everywhere to follow that unspoken rule and never order lobster. Then the lobster's daughter offered herself up as a sacrifice. It was a whole thing.
Seriously, do you ever wonder why lobsters are always sitting in tanks in diners? They're not happy. They're not like coastal supermarket lobsters that fight each other and still think they have a chance to escape to freedom and survive. The lobsters in the diners are just sad. They may be surviving in this inner city safe haven, but they're not living. They've already given up. You know you're not in for a good time. It's depressing — and what better way to express that existential ennui than with the songs of Allain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg? Big Nick's Diner is going to make your lobster ordering experience a good time with production value and bizarre.
Why this song? Why this musical? Why lobster? Try as you might to connect Jean Valjean with crustaceans, it's not a pun. It's not even that deep of a metaphor. This sketch doesn't make a whole lot of sense, and it doesn't matter a bit. Sometimes with SNL, the weirder the better.
Honestly, as a writer, the powerful feeling that comes with getting to come back and host must be the ultimate dream. This show is for the Les Mis lobster haters. Let's be real, Bill Hader's fan favorite SNL character Stefon (who Mulaney co-created) has definitely ordered lobster at that diner en route to the secret club in the basement.
Pete Davidson could barely keep it together at lobster Valjean.
Fans of Mulaney may already know that the comedian is a huge Les Miserables fan himself. Don't let this deadpan tweet fool you.
Please enjoy this throwback saga that was captured by Mulaney's wife, Annamarie Tendler, in 2012.
"He is currently singing along to the original cast recording of Les Mis," she wrote in the first caption. "I am sitting on the couch and this is what he is doing. It is as amazing as it looks. "Heart Full Of Love sucks" — John Mulaney.
Just the fact that the lobster's song was a parody of "Who Am I," not the slightly more recognizable "One Day More" — which, yes, have the same tune, but leitmotifs are not the point here — proves that this sketch came from devoted fans. The show also included a parody of "Castle On A Cloud" and "Do You Hear The People Sing."
Saturday Night Live has done a lot of theatre-related comedy lately, with references to Legally Blonde: The Musical, The Music Man, and Sunday In The Park With George. Lest we forget the epic "Crucible Cast Party" with Lin-Manuel Miranda last season.
At the end of the day, the Les Mis songs saved one lobster's life. He won't feel any pain. He'll live to croon one day more.