For some reason, instead of saving all of their holiday cheer for their final episode of the season, Saturday Night Live has been spreading it out across the month of December. That means the return of old friends, like John Goodman, who has hosted the show thirteen times (only Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin have hosted it more often), yet hasn’t hosted the show since 2001. It’s great to have Goodman back, especially since he was such a staple of the show from 1989-2001, where he hosted once every year and where he created the perfect Linda Tripp impersonation.
The episode began with the expected political skit, this time Obama talking about healthcare.gov, while the signer from the Nelson Mandela memorial signs clearly wrong things behind him. Any time you can get Jay Pharaoh and Kenan Thompson together, it usually works itself into something funny, as did this skit.
The opening monologue didn’t feel as big as it should be. Thompson returned to join Goodman for a song that must’ve been titled, “All I Want For Christmas Is Booty.” The joke’s right there in the name, but it felt like it needed to build to something more, rather than just fizzling out.
One of my favorite recent recurring SNL bits is the Underground Music Festival (R.I.P. Ass Dan!) that makes fun of Insane Clown Posse’s Gathering of the Juggalos, but based around different holidays. With Jason Sudeikis gone, this has turned into Guy Fieri’s Full Throttle Christmas Special, with Bobby Moynihan as Fieri. It doesn’t work quite as well as the Underground Music Festival, but the odd beats are still in there, like the questionable cameos (Mimi from Drew Carey, four Moynihan’s playing the cast of Pawn Stars singing “We Three Kings”) and weird little additions, like turning a fruitcake into a staightcake. (It’s just bacon and cars.) Also, a nice little cameo with Kings of Leon as the Duck Dynasty guys singing “Jingle Bells”— the first time they’ve had those crazy beards since their Youth and Young Manhood days.
Following this was a great yet simple skit in which a community pageant involves adults doing “The Dance of the Snowflakes,” with their internal monologues immediately discovering this is a bad idea. It escalates in a wonderful way, as we learn that some of the cast has hit people with their cars and missed their sister’s weddings to be at this terrible event.
The opening scroll for the next skit, entitled “The Three Wise Guys,” already made me wary, and it was exactly as meh as expected, but with cameos from Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro. Sometimes Stallone and De Niro pull off their Jersey jokes, but half the time it seems like they were both just woken from a nap and dropped off at Studio 8H.
Kings of Leon’s two songs, “Temple” and “Wait For Me,” were quite good, especially since they evoke KoL prior to their “Sex on Fire” days. I also wouldn’t have minded seeing them show up in more bits, since they seemed up for it.
Weekend Update continued its streak of great news stories and fantastic guests. First was Thompson as Santa Claus, explaining that of course Santa is black, would a white man ever wear an all-red suit? Then came the glorious return of Drunk Uncle, with Goodman in tow as Drunker Uncle. The Drunk Uncle skits always follow the same script, with just some different words being thrown in, but man, does it always work. And it is sort of sad to see Drunk Uncle say goodbye to Seth Meyers.
From here on, things were more in the mediocre range. Since doing a Linda Tripp skit in 2013 wouldn’t make much sense, we get Goodman dressed in almost the Tripp costume exactly, but this time as a woman who was fired for being too hot. It’s okay, but watching Goodman in drag dancing to “I’m A Flirt” does save it near the end.
I really liked Nasim Pedrad’s character who was the classroom upstart when she was introduced a few episodes ago, but something was just off in her return. The beats and lines were equally as funny, but it felt like people weren’t hitting their lines at the right time and something was off, especially the audience, who had to warm to the skit.
A nice, quick commercial for Hallmark Countdown to Christmas pretty much nailed the ridiculous nature of the TV movies that air around this time (the kid from Modern Family is “Scrooge Jr.”!) I always appreciate the Turner Classic Movie parodies, this time for The Christmas Whistle, and while it did escalate to some crazy points, I do wish once again it could have gone a little further.
There were also some great truths in the H&M music video starring Pharaoh and Wale, where Goodman buys an entire wardrobe at the store for less than a tank of gas. Everything from the fact that the store has like eight floors, lines to Senegal and that everything is on the floor nailed the clothing store exactly.
A perfect capper to any show is the Donnelly’s bar, with Kate McKinnon as Sheila, the last woman at the bar. It’s always building to Sheila ending the night with some weird way to win over the last man at the bar, this time covering Goodman’s beard with whipped cream and licking it off.
I hope it’s not another twelve years before we see Goodman again, as he’s always such a fantastic performer on this show. Sure, the episode kept going from good to okay, but Goodman is always strong whenever he graces SNL with his presence.