It’s the holiday season, and it wouldn’t be entirely complete without the SNL Christmas episode, hosted this year by Amy Adams with musical guests One Direction. Sure Amy isn’t quite as epic a comedian as Jimmy Fallon, who hosted this time last year, but the X-mas episode this year was quite festive and funny on its own, with the host, guests, and cast putting on some really great performances. I thoroughly enjoyed this latest SNL episode, and I especially enjoyed the fact that plenty of cast members (and even some special guests) got their time in the limelight throughout the night’s sketch portions.
The show started out with a premise that actually really excited me. The opening showed Taran Killam playing Sam Smith in ‘Sam Smith’s Christmas Special,’ which was bound to be hilarious. Much to my surprise, the video cut out and instead went to our first surprise guest of the night, Mike Myers reprising his very famous Dr. Evil character, as he discussed the topics of North Korea and the aborted release of James Franco’s The Interview. It was quite the surprise moment, definitely wouldn’t have expected them to get Mike Myers in for a cameo, but the whole moment totally worked and it was a fun 1999 throwback at the least. I’m curious about this though; is it weird that I really wanted to see the full Sam Smith Christmas Special? I hope not, but anyway, Amy Adams came out for her monologue soon after and was quickly followed out by Kirsten Wiig, who was none too happy with Amy and the casts’ lack of ‘holiday spirit.’ Yes, Wiig was back for her once quarterly visit to the show. She’s there so much you would think she wants back on the cast, and in all honesty Lorne Michaels would love that more than anything. Wiig and Adams had a nice rapport, talking about the meaning of Christmas, and finished the song Amy started as a duet.
After the monologue, the show then rolled into two absolutely brilliant pre-taped bits that set up the night fantastically. The first was a commercial for a new Asian-American doll whose identity and skills are left to the imagination for fear of not being politically correct. The commercial narrator hilariously went back and forth with a young girl playing with the doll about the opaque nature of the doll’s back story, letting the girl know when she wanted to name it Kiko that it was solely her idea, and when she wanted to put an oriental rug in her blank doll house that it would be “her funeral.” The best part at the end was when they introduced the premise that she could at least be a chef and introduced her poodle, and the girl wondered aloud if that was all because she would want to cook the dog and eat it. The look on Vanessa Bayer’s face as she closed the girl’s door and walked out of the room was priceless. Overall, it was a really well done sketch to open up with. The next skit was a Christmas take on the popular podcast Serial. I’ve never heard Serial before, even though I’ve heard plenty of discussion about it, but I kind of knew Cecily Strong was extremely on point with her take on the narrator of the series, as she investigated the myth of Chris, the toy giver. The seriousness of Strong and her counterparts, especially Kyle Mooney playing Chris, made this skit perfect. It was a clever way of tying in a popular series with the Christmas theme, and while I didn’t know if the interpretations were accurate, it was funny enough that it didn’t matter to me whether or not I got the joke. It was just good for me.
The Girlfriends Talk Show made a return, and while it provided a few hearty laughs, it is a bit retread at this point. I understand the show works best with some running gags, but I tend to be of the thinking that fresh, new ideas are the ones that hit best. Up next was a bit of a play on the old Lonely Island sketches, this time with Jay Pharoah and Pete Davidson bringing a little life to a boring Office Christmas Party. This skit ended up bringing a little swag to the show, as the party got a little out of hand. It was definitely one of the most fun moments of the show, with equal amounts of energy and laughs. Everything to this point was very fun, but hit different beats, and this was the first skit to bring an upbeat Christmas theme to the episode, and ended up being a great ending to the first skit portion of the night.
After a performance from the popular boy band One Direction, it was time for Weekend Update, where Jost and Che picked right up on the story discussed in the cold open about Sony and The Interview. While they shared turns reporting the news, Che took the spotlight by addressing North Korean leader Kim Jung-Un in a monologue. In typical tongue and cheek fashion, he called out the communist dictator on some of his public idiocy, addressing him numerous times as Kimberly and comparing him to himself by the flack they get on Twitter. When Che runs with harsh political humor like this, he almost always nails it, and this monologue was no different. Later on, they continued with the theme as Bobby Moynihan came out dressed as Kim Jung-Un in a bit that Jost immediately played as being in poor taste. It was funny to watch Jost not run with it as they showed Moynihan with red targets on his chest, before he scurried out after less than a minute. Overall, Update did really well with this topic in a lot of different ways. Later we saw a visit from Update’s favorite songbirds Kat and Garth, played by ex-cast members Kirsten Wiig and Fred Armisen, who played their typical scene. It was nothing new, but there’s something to be spoken about the comedic chemistry these two have, and watching them perform together again was good enough for me to enjoy an old bit.
There were a decent amount of standout sketches in the latter half of the episode, which was fantastic to see. The Tenderfield’s online card skit was fantastic because it really went places I would’ve never expected it to. Taran Killam played the hell out of his part in this as the father of a family who has fallen apart, but is still keeping a happy holiday façade. The Singing Sisters skit was good in a similar fashion, as it just got really awkwardly funny, until a completely ludicrous twist kind of made the weirdness of the skit worthwhile. One of my favorites of the night actually never got to air, but was released online as bonus content. It included Pete Davidson professing his love to Amy Adams solely with cue cards, while getting sidetracked with others thoughts in the process of revealing his cue cards. It was clever and fun, while being really odd at the same time. There’s been a lot of odd and awkward humor on SNL of late, but skits like these are really working for me, especially with a guy like Pete who plays awkward roles so well. I definitely wish this skit could have aired live, maybe in place of the Cuban Christmas skit that didn’t really do much for me.
With this festive Christmas episode, SNL completed its final program of the year 2014. It was a year of transition, of ups and downs, but it still keeps going strong, while bringing the laughs on Saturday nights. After a few weeks’ hiatus, SNL will be back mid-January with Kevin Hart as host, with a musical act to be announced at a later point. Here’s to hoping 2015 will be a great year for SNL!