(CNN) — Comedian Chris Rock delivered on his reputation for controversy as host of “Saturday Night Live” this weekend, but musical guest Prince is the one soaking up accolades the morning after for making history.
In a rare TV appearance, the artist performed one long, uninterrupted jam session instead of two songs, a first in the sketch show’s 40-year run. The medley showcased songs from Prince’s studio albums with band 3rdeyegirl and featured guest vocalist Lianne La Havas in what Rolling Stone called “one of the most explosive and most polished ‘SNL’ musical spots” in recent memory.
The performance drew overwhelmingly positive praise, contrasting the mixed reviews Rock received for his second turn as host.
Instead of reminiscing about what it was like to be part of the cast in the early 1990s or how it felt to return his old stomping grounds after 18 years, he dove right into the Boston Marathon bombing, the September 11 attacks and gun control his opening monologue.
He poked fun at the Freedom Tower (“the ‘Never Going in There’ Tower”) as a terrorism target, and said it was only a matter of time before September 11 becomes an excuse to offer $9.11 shrimp specials at Red Lobster.
To some it was humorous, maybe even tame for the comedian who took on the Columbine High School shootings days after the massacre. For others, the monologue didn’t sit so well, especially the night before the New York City Marathon.
Other memorable moments, for better or worse, included a mock diversity training video, “Women in the Workplace,” featuring Rock as a “diverse person,” and a sketch in which ISIS militants compete on on the ABC reality TV show, “Shark Tank.”
This opening monologue by Chris Rock on #SNL is a little uncomfortable. Talking Boston marathon bombing and 9/11.
— Simon Ostler (@SimonOstler) November 2, 2014
No Chris Rock, neither Boston Marathon nor 9/11 jokes never have and never will be funny. Just stop, now. #SNL
— Jennifer (@burritosandguac) November 2, 2014