“Saturday Night Live” writers must love it when old-time recurring hosts like John Goodman come back to the show: They’re comfortable with themselves, they’re familiar with the way the show works and they’re flexible, willing to play a supporting role in a sketch as well as a key character. While America might not have been holding its breath to see how John Goodman would perform hosting for the 13th time, that freed the writers to produce several evergreen (pun intended) Christmas sketches that will probably appear in a future “SNL Christmas” roundup.
The holiday fun kicked off with a song in the spirit of "Santa's My Boyfriend" about wanting Christmas booty, and then segued into a promo for "Guy Fieri's Full Throttle Christmas Special," a bit that was a treat for anyone who watches "The Soup" and for nobody who doesn't have cable, as it was mostly rapid-fire impressions of B-list (and lower) reality-TV stars of the blue-collar Caucasian variety (think Bret Michaels, Dog the Bounty Hunter, and people from "Duck Dynasty" and "Pawn Stars.")
A much lower-budget (and sillier and weirder and maybe funnier) holiday TV promo came for the Hallmark Channel, teasing movies to watch "While you're waiting for food to cook!" Each fake-movie came with an out-of-left-field star (Tony Danza, Dean Cain, "That kid from 'Modern Family'") and had titles like "Skyping with Santa," "Phylicia Rashad's Christmas Nap" and "My Neighbor's a Magi!" Each featured a hilariously poorly Photoshopped version of the star being dropped into the promo.
The show did manage to blend current events and the holidays when Kenan Thompson appeared on Weekend Update as Santa to dispel Megyn Kelly's statements that Santa is white and people just need to get over it (with some slightly predictable jokes about Santa being pulled over while delivering presents and having a white wife because a black Mrs. Claus wouldn't want to live at the North Pole.) Goodman also appeared during Update as Drunk Uncle's uncle Drunker Uncle, who proclaimed, "All I want for Christmas is for my two neighbors not to be Chinese anymore."
A bit that got resurrected (and will probably recur again) involved the blissfully idiotic classroom of children from the Edward Norton episode. In this version, Goodman played a fire marshal, advising children on holiday safety but ultimately the kids excitedly began thinking of ways to "surprise" Santa, like hiding in the fireplace, oven, refrigerator or a dry-cleaning bag. It was a little reminiscent of the famous Mainway Toys bit featuring Dan Aykroyd and the bag o' glass from the early days of "SNL."
Some guest stars came in for a bit called "The Three Wise Guys," where Goodman, Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro played Jersey Magi in track suits going to meet the baby Jesus. It seemed slightly under-rehearsed and the jokes were a little groan-worthy (think gags about construction work and Joseph not being the father of the baby) but just seeing those three guys on large fake camels was heartwarming and the seed of the sketch was cute.
The funniest and weirdest scene involved Goodman, Vanessa Bayer, Aidy Bryant and Kenan Thompson dressed in huge (and it needs to be said--beautiful) snowflake costumes as part of a community holiday pageant. As the adults begin to dance in the manner of a children's theater production, the audience hears their dismayed internal monologue as all the dancers instantly realize that the dance was dumb and embarrassing and that they had incorrectly imagined it would be a lot better (yet continue to grin hugely). "My sister is getting married right now, and I chose to be here," thinks once dancer. Another notices a man in a wheelchair in the audience and envisions him thinking "Thank god my legs can't do that." The dance, of course, was dedicated to Nelson Mandela.
"SNL" has got one more holiday show coming before the year closes out, with Jimmy Fallon hosting and Justin Timberlake appearing as musical guest. If there isn't a bit where Timberlake dresses up as a huge mascot, dances and sings "Bring it on down to ___-ville," it will be a Christmas miracle.
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