Watching SNL this past Saturday, with host Martin Freeman, I came to realize one of the reasons why I truly love this show. Over the years, regardless of the cast, the writers, or the guest hosts, SNL has always had a knack for oddball comedy that has kept it interesting and relevant. This week was no different, as we got to see host Freeman and the rest of the cast play some really out there stories and characters, which helped keep me interested and entertained despite the fact that I really didn’t know much about the host. It was a solid episode for the comedy serial, and I’d like to take some time in recapping the episode to highlight the kinds of skits that really made this episode interesting.
Starting out the night after Freeman’s monologue was a pre-taped musical number about Sump’n Claus, the pimp-like Santa Claus who’s always there to hand out some cash to those who make Santa’s naughty list. Not only was this number clever, and seemingly out of nowhere, but it also got inexplicably dark, which really contrasted well with the upbeat nature of the song. Kenan Thompson seemed like he was having a hell of a lot fun playing this character and it was just generally fun to watch. Right after that, we got to see the kind of oddball comedy Freeman is able to pull off, as he starred opposite Leslie Jones in a skit about two people getting married with everyone in attendance protesting the nuptials. Freeman and Jones were hilarious in the way they played off all of the negative remarks about their wedding, swaying back and forth between aggression and passiveness towards their naysayers, and overall the beat of the sketch really worked for me. It was another one of those classically random SNL skits that sort of come out of nowhere, but work because of their randomness. Even though I had no real frame of reference for Martin freeman’s acting work, this sketch won me over and I was able to dig into the show from there on out.
The sketch that this episode will probably be most remembered for on the internet will be the pre-taped sketch titled The Office: Middle Earth. The sketch was exactly what you could expect it would be from the title, a spoof on the comedy show The Office, only set in Middle Earth and starring Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit characters in the roles seen on the show. I don’t know where the hell the writers got this idea from, but it was brilliant. The whole skit was hilarious start to finish for me, even though I never got into any of the Lord of the Rings movies, and that’s a testament to the writing. They hit all the classic The Office beats flawlessly, Freeman was great as Bilbo/Jim, Bobby Moynihan played a hysterical combo of Gandalf/Michael, and Taran Killam’s Gollum/Dwight was legitimately the funniest thing in the entire episode. I can’t applaud this skit enough, it was so out of the blue, but everything about it worked and I have a feeling it may go down as one of the classic skits of the season. It really just reminded me of what SNL does best; come up with messed up, weird ideas and totally deliver on the execution. Well played SNL writers!
Continuing on the theme of highlighting the pre-taped skits of the night, the last true gem of the night I want to highlight is the infomercial-like sketch for St. Joseph’s Christmas Mass Spectacular. The thing I loved about this infomercial was how ridiculously accurate it was at describing a Catholic Christmas celebration, including the newly atheist teen Devin, Pastor Pat who sings the mass at rapidly changing speeds, Mr. Drubbler the sweaty-handed peace wisher, disorganized organist Linda, over-enthusiastic teen soloist Bethany, and so many more! These seriously are great caricatures of a typical mass gathering in my observations, and because of that, this sketch was a home run to me. It was topical, cynical, and just realistic enough to be truly hilarious. With all of these great bits coming before Weekend Update, the episode was easily a hit, and coasted to the end well. Weekend Update managed a few good bits and jokes, like Cecily Strong’s ‘One Dimensional Girl from a Male Driven Comedy,’ even though I have to chastise their decision to incorporate a Sasheer Zamata guest spot. The reason why newbies Leslie Jones and Pete Davidson have been hits on the Weekend Update desk is because they have great stand-up presences, and are able to deliver jokes well in or out of character. I feel like Sasheer is a much better character actress than a stand-up comedian, and her attempts at doing a stand-up style bit on Update felt way too awkward and forced for me to get into it. The writers need to understand which actors are best to use in what kind of rolls, and just stick to putting them in skits they can flourish in.
Overall, this was a fun episode of SNL, filled with a lot of random-yet-hilarious material, and was a great showcase for Martin Freeman to promote his upcoming movie The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. This coming Saturday should be the true Christmas episode of the season, hosted by Amy Adams with musical guest One Direction. If past Christmas’ are any indication, I’m sure there will plenty of surprises in store for us, so I’ll be rushing home by 11:30 Saturday night to tune in.