There is no question that Lizzo is a multi-talented artist. She’s been showered in Grammys, NAACP Image, and BET Awards. She held her own in Hustlers opposite the likes of Jennifer Lopez. She’s proven her talent for comedy in countless tweets and TikToks. As of last month, she’s a reality TV star; as of this week, she’s a size-inclusive shapewear magnate.
Lizzo had already appeared on Saturday Night Live as a musical guest (with host Eddie Murphy) in 2019—but last night, she did double duty as both host and musical guest. The episode’s lineup of sketches gave her plenty of opportunities to show her comic talents, and the immediate social media consensus seemed to be that hers was a high point for the season. I can’t disagree. But I’m probably the only commentator you’ll read on this episode who came to it not with a record deal or a Grammy, but with a decade’s experience playing the flute and several trophies from regional band competitions in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. As such, I have to give Lizzo some very specific feedback: her flute playing in this episode was merely okay.
We first see Lizzo pull out her instrument in “About Damn Time,” her first of two musical numbers. Granted, most flute instructors will not advise that you try to play immediately following a fairly athletic dance routine. But her tone was a little breathy in the few quick lines of her solo.
The flute returned in the night’s penultimate sketch: the DeVry Symphony Orchestra is mere hours away from a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, better known as “Ode To Joy,” but the ensemble’s flautist is MIA. Enter T. Ony Banks (Chris Redd), who may be styled like ’70s Shaft, but who manages the greatest flautist of her generation: Beverly Gags (Lizzo). The conductor (Mikey Day) is dubious about her skills, but in desperation agrees to let her audition. The problem? She can only play competently whilst twerking. The other problem, in my opinion? She’s kind of flat.