SNL frequently struggles with its opening monologues and the past few seasons have seen the show retreat to the same well on multiple occasions. That well usually involves the guest host breaking into song, which used to be funny until it became the go-to template for episodes where no one in the writer’s room could come up with a halfway decent idea. That’s why the season finale was right to just let guest host Louis C.K. perform 10 minutes of stand-up. It’s not just funny — it actually allows him to get the show warmed up by reminding us why we like this guy (and why he’s worthy of hosting SNL) in the first place.

Like all of C.K.’s other stand-up, this bit straddles the line between good and bad taste with gleeful abandon. To honor the 40th anniversary of SNL, he takes us back to the ‘70s, when he was instilled with minor racism and child molestation was slightly less frowned upon. It’s dark stuff, darker than what you’d ever see in a typical sketch on this show these days, but C.K. is a master of finding the deeply personal and relatable in material that should be shocking and off-putting. This is honest, bold and hilarious stuff that pushes the boundaries of SNL’s comparatively mild modern standards.

Not every guest host can transform the SNL monologue into a stand-up routine, but this is a reminder that the show should always make the monologue work to the guest host’s strengths. Hopefully, this is a lesson they bring into Season 41.

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