In leading up to this week’s Christmas show, I sat behind this very keyboard to claim that Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and the Bruce Springsteen would most likely give us the best SNL episode in the history of SNL. A completely outrageous claim, given the 794 episodes produced over the past 40 years. But did I believe what I said? In short, no, not at all. I did what I had to do to get the people fired up. Rally the troops. That’s just journalism 101. And clearly it worked if you’re reading this, so props to me. Now we can take a look at how the show actually went down.
There’s a difference between a show being hilarious and a show being entertaining. Tina and Amy’s efforts, while a combination of both, definitely aligned more with the latter category. The fact that two best friends returned home would have been enough to carry the show by itself. Couple that with the holly-jollyness of Christmas time and you’ve got yourself one hell of a show. Save for a few duds, the majority of the sketches were a wonderful combination of old favorites, fresh ideas, with a little politics mixed in. It was everything SNL should be, evidenced by the 2nd highest television ratings for SNL in the past two years (only behind…Donald Trump). So let’s look at the top sketches in this Christmastime treat.
Meet Your Second Wife
This was my favorite sketch of the night. While the premise was simple, the shock value of actually bringing out elementary school girls was enough to make it kill for the entire sketch. It feels like SNL throws out a new game show every other week but they brought out the big guns for Amy and Tina. And for the people who were offended by this sketch (which obviously there were), don’t expect an apology from Tina anytime soon, as she, like many other comedians, has officially opted out of “apology culture”.
Falling into the 10-1 slit, this was a weird spot to put this throwback sketch, seeing as it was one of the strongest bits of the night. Poehler and the always funny Maya Rudolph reprised their roles as Betty and Jodi to talk about all the bad news going on in the world. This one really struck a chord with me because I feel like I’ve been around adults with these accents, these cadences my entire life. It’s that panicky, non-stop rambling that’s incredibly irritating, yet strangely comforting at the same time.
A Hillary Christmas
SNL wasted no time giving the people what they wanted, bringing out the Hillarys in the first post-monologue sketch of the night. The energy between the pair was terrific, bouncing off each other’s unique nuances of their respective impressions. But the fun didn’t stop there, as Tina Fey reprised her iconic role of Sarah Palin, much to the excitement of the audience. And despite a 7 year hiatus, Tina brought the same sweet natured cluelessness that helped keep Palin out of the White House oh so many years ago.
This was not the Update people were looking for. The Update takeover that everyone dreamed of never quite happened, with Tina and Amy only coming out at the end to deliver the last two jokes of 2015. But it was better that way. It’s not their desk anymore. It belongs to Jost and Che, a fact they proved by delivering another wonderful performance in their quest to revive Weekend Update. They’re looser, more comfortable, and can build off of each other’s comedic energy. Their efforts were only aided by Kate McKinnon stopping by to play “somebody’s mom.” Kate shined per usual, drawing some big time laughs as she unremittingly attacked her baked salmon that clearly stunk up the entire set.
In terms of Republican candidates, Jay Pharaoh is starting to run away with the title for best impression with his ever-more outrageous Ben Carson. At this point, he’s going further from mimicking the actual Ben Carson and becoming more of a Marvin the Martian kind of character (props if you know who that is without clicking the link). As for the rest of the gang, Moynihan killed as Chris Christie, launching off a series of fear mongering statements to get the people behind him. Also despite Killam’s efforts, I think it’s pretty clear that Darrell Hammond is the top Trump and should continue to take on that role going forward.
After opting out of playing “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” in his two music sets, much to the dismay of the entire world, Bruce Springsteen ended the show with a bang, playing his legendary holiday classic to shut down 30 Rock. Santa hats, Bruce jamming on his guitar, and hey look! It’s Paul McCartney! If that’s not a Christmas miracle I don’t know what is.
Merry Christmas everyone! Rest up, and get ready for Adam Driver to open up the new year on January 16th!