Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, and Emma Thompson Help Explain What Your Mom Is Really Saying on SNL

Like when she tells you, “You look tired.”

Saturday Night Live - Season 44

In honor of Mother’s Day, and the annual Saturday Night Live Mother’s Day episode, a beloved, blazered trio took the stage on Mother’s Day eve: the guest host Emma Thompson and the SNL alumni (and Wine Country costars) Tina Fey and Amy Poehler (who’s making her directorial debut with the film). Their mission: decode “motherspeak,” the sometimes obtuse, indirect, and uncertain language used by moms everywhere (moms, we love you, promise), and introduce the Jonas Brothers, the evening’s musical guests.

All three actresses are mothers of two: Poehler, of Archie and Abel Arnett, with her former husband, Will Arnett; Fey, of Alice and Penelope Richmond, with her husband, Jeff Richmond; and Thompson, of Gaia and Tindyebwa Wise, with her husband, Greg Wise. Gaia, Thompson mentioned at the beginning of her introduction to the evening’s episode, was in the audience at SNL that night.

In the segment, the trio pass punchlines back and forth, taking turns at playing the mom and mom-decoder.

“When your mom tells you…” Poehler begins.

“You look tired,” Thompson says, momlike.

“What she means is…” Fey chimes in.

“You look bad,” Thompson says. (Cue a hearty laugh from the audience.) They go on to decipher particular dialects of maternal language, including Philadelphia mom, Boston mom, and British “mum,” who uses “splendid” the way Hawaiians use “aloha,” according to Thompson—that is, as a catchall for pretty much every emotion and sentiment.

Of course, Thompson, Poehler, and Fey were not the only moms who were highlighted during Saturday night’s episode: Pete Davidson brought his mom-slash-roommate onto “Weekend Update” and, after the show, introduced her to one Jon Hamm. The Davidson matriarch also appeared on last year’s Mother’s Day episode, along with the moms of much of the rest of the cast. Amy Schumer, whose first child was born just last week, hosted that year.