Cold Opening – A Christmas Message From Donald & Melania Trump
- This cold open ends up being the third & final appearance of Taran’s Trump, as SNL would recast the role later in the season. I have rather mixed feelings due to SNL yanking the impression away from Taran so quickly, while the impression is not good in general, I could see what Taran intended with it. And now being familiar with both Trumpwin (*shudder*) and James Austin Johnson’s take on Trump makes this poor attempt of an impression by Taran pale even more. I could say this was the first sign that Taran’s relevancy and leadership of the show was beginning to die out slowly as the season progressed, leading to his eventual firing, and then replaced by Beck as one of the two leaders of the cast (alongside Kate), a position he would remain in for the upcoming five seasons.
- A very lame (yes even for Trump) premise with Trump’s whole naughty & nice list. And these lines were not funny to laugh at then, and most certainly not now too.
- Cecily, much like last time, provides my only laughs in this cold open, and serves to stabilize this rather shaky open with her underrated utility player abilities, which are sadly both under and mis-utilized.
- Oof at the very poorly-aged bit with Hillary begging Trump to be the Republican nominee.
- Pretty tepid, dull political humor in general, at least this was shorter than anticipated.
- Awkward entrance and energy from Ryan as he enters the homebase stage. I recall some worrying already about how he’ll do as the host tonight, which seems funny in hindsight considering how beloved his two hosting stints will turn out to be. I’m guessing he’s just nervous, which is coming off as more endearing than worrisome here.
- Isn’t Ryan Canadian, why is he claiming to be a New Yorker?
- Aha, so it turns out that he’s lying at the beginning here.
- So, a Q & A monologue? When was the last time we had one in this era? I guess the writers were really worried, geez.
- Mike Myers! The audience is going wild over his entrance here.
- Some good lines from Ryan & Mike about Canada, this monologue feels more endearing than funny, which is quite fine by me.
- Now, this turns into a musical monologue, good that we weren’t bombarded by many so far into the season.
- Solid solo tap dancing from Mike here, I guess the man’s still got it after all these years.
- An overall solid, charming monologue, Ryan is already coming off promising here.
- Good commercial spokesmen delivery from Kate at the start, as much as SNL utilized Kate throughout her tenure, her underrated commercial spokesmen delivery is the most underutilized of her talents in my view.
- A pretty solid product reveal, and a clever premise for this fake ad.
- Taran is stealing this entire commercial, with just the way he looks here.
- I love Vanessa’s disturbed look after the awkward, slightly disgusting kiss from Taran, her ability to display so many emotions with her looks alone were always really a bit underrated to me. And knowing a certain upcoming classic later tonight, I still feel my point stands clear regarding her underrated versatility and solid dramatic chops.
- Oh, here comes an absolutely legendary, iconic SNL sketch.
- Right from the beginning, Kate is absolutely fantastic in this sketch. Her casual, untidy look and demeanor sets the tone for what we’ll be getting into with this sketch.
- Already, Ryan is struggling not to bust out laughing after Kate’s perfect delivery of her first line “Wow, what floor were you guys on?!” and knowing how the sketch proceeds, makes this observation even more hilarious in hindsight.
- Kate: “They just stared while I peed. I don’t think I was dealing with the top brass”.
- Kate’s outstanding in this sketch, her reliable, always on-point delivery is really shining throughout it, her delivery of “Yeah, little different for me” absolutely slayed me.
- Ah, everyone is starting to slowly break and fail not to from Kate’s hilarious portrayal here, props to Cecily, showing her professionalism when trying to keep it straight, and stabilize the sketch, for the second time tonight.
- And now Cecily’s starting to break, her face when trying not to laugh is absolutely hilarious, probably the funniest trying-not-break-face after Vanessa’s.
- Great ending with Kate’s whole questioning about if the physical examination will have “any knocker stuff”, you could even hear what sounds probably like Ryan giggling even more after the sketch ended.
- An overall true SNL classic. A damn shame that in this era, an era with barely any unnecessary recurring characters, that this bonafide classic will be made recurring for no good reason, and be absolutely buried INTO THE GROUND. If you’re familiar dear readers with my Liev Schreiber review, which contains a tired sequel to this classic, then you know my feelings about this sketch becoming recurring.
- fyodoren: Here’s an all-time Christmas piece, beloved by all and with good reason. It’s the peak moment of a classic episode, probably my favorite of the past 10 years, and a great showcase for Gosling.
- I can’t overstate how much I love this dark concept, and how well it fits Ryan’s and Vanessa’s skillsets so well. You can tell it’s building to something unsettlingly funny from how earnest they are about Santa.
- Everyone’s building this up so well, in fact. I’m often critical of Beck in utility roles like this, where he tends to overextend his intentionally small parts. But sometimes (particularly in pre-tapes) he does very solid utility work, as he’s doing here by slowly feeding the silly atmosphere and not overwhelming it. See Grow-a-Guy for another example of Beck doing great work off to the side.
- There it is, there’s the turn: “Santa doesn’t drink… he has to drive the sleigh,” from a clearly off-balance Ryan, which gets great, QUICK reactions from everyone. And we’re off.
- This goes into hyperdrive with Ryan & Vanessa just going batshit over meeting Santa. They’re really going all-in here, even before their disturbing, Tarantino-esque dance scene. Ryan, a wildly talented dramatic actor who understands ironic comedy, is just killing it with his (weirdly-placed) intensity.
- Can’t discount Vanessa, who’s helping steal the show all sprawled across the couch. LOVE that this has turned into a Tarantino scene.
- Beck continues to kill it now as a terrified Santa.
- “Well get me a chair!” That delivery is just too much for me! Ryan spent most of the live sketches tonight breaking, albeit in totally forgivable fashion. He was charming and self-deprecating about it, and to be fair he was given a whirlwind of absolute silliness (Close Encounters, Slumber Party, Anthony Crispino) to deal with. Here he’s PHENOMENAL at playing on the border between intensity and slapstick funny.
- GREAT ending with the real Santa approaching, then taking off when he sees what’s going on inside.
- And thus closes a true highlight, if not the best overall moment, of Season 41. Just a perfect sketch that sits right alongside Twin Bed in setting the standard for modern Christmas sketches. What perfecting writing, casting, and execution. The epitome of a ***** sketch.
- The return of this horny girl character from Aidy, a role that she could play in her sleep at this point of her tenure. I find these to be serviceable and reliable for some solid laughs, mostly due to Aidy’s always strong characterization, delivery, and natural charisma.
- Already, Ryan is coming off pretty solid as the cheesy dad, even when he’s not as natural in this role as Drake surprisingly was. Ryan’s coming off quite believable here, and is showing some natural charm as the dad still.
- This is pretty much following the same format as the first one, but I’m still enjoying this as I know that this character won’t be run into the ground like how Ms. Rafferty was.
- And here comes our obligatory character break from Ryan, his face while trying to keep the sketch going is absolutely hilarious and is infecting me with tons of laughs. Ryan’s breaking is more endearing than annoying, as there’s no self-indulgence involved here, no vanity, nothing that indicates a ”look at me!” behavior unlike the likes of Fallon, Sanz, and Leslie in more recent years.
- Great pratfall by Aidy towards the end, some solid physical comedy work here that I wish we saw more of throughout Aidy’s tenure.
Musical Performance – “Smooth Sailin”
- Jesse Nathan: Already, I’ve got a feeling I’m gonna like this.
- It’s kinda hard to understand what Leon’s saying. Granted, his mic sounded perfectly fine, but the words just sounded like complete gibberish when he sang them.
- Why is the female backup’s singer mic turned up just as high as Leon’s?
- Leon’s dance moves are a bit too stiff.
- I like the saxophone during the “smooth sailin’” part.
- Good drum fill.
- Matter of fact, every instrument sounds great here.
- Leon and the woman singing with him actually sound great together.
- Did Leon say SNL near the end? I’m honestly having a bit of a difficulty trying to figure out what he just said.
- As usual, some very solid long-form story breakdown/commentary from Colin & Michael over various topics such as Planned Parenthood & Obama’s (infamous) statement about ISIS not being a threat to America.
- Here comes Cecily attempting to make a one-off character commentary behind the desk.
- This Cecily commentary seems like a variation of Kristen Wiig’s FAR more memorable relationship expert commentary that she did back in her days in the cast.
- Cecily’s performing this well, like the professional that she is, and is doing a solid job with her characterization and cadence, yet this is mostly washing over me with few chuckles sprinkled throughout.
- Interesting to see a joke about The Wiz Live! considering the sketch that we will be getting in the post-Update half of this very episode.
- That ISIS Cosby joke is not only hilarious, but is one of my favorite Update jokes from this era.
- Great to see the return of Bobby’s Anthony Crispino, being joined by a similarly-traited correspondent played by Ryan. I’m always happy to see our host either in the cold open or behind the Update desk.
- Ryan’s doing a spot-on and hilarious impersonation of Bobby’s Crispino, I cannot tell if Ryan is a big SNL fanatic and was quite familiar with Bobby’s character, so he easily nailed the characterization, or that he was pitched this idea earlier in the week, and decided to nail the impression in the days that followed. I would predict that it was the former rather than the latter.
- And here comes the memorable tea kettle sound bit in this commentary being done flawlessly, and in sync by both Ryan & Bobby. This commentary is killing me so far.
- Ha! And now we get actual tea kettles, thus making this commentary somehow even more memorable than it already was before this ending came about. A great end to a great Weekend Update.
- Ryan would later do another commentary next time he hosts, that one with Alex Moffat as a variation of his memorable Guy Who Just Bought A Boat, I do recall also loving that too, and it helps that GWJBAB is near the top of my favorite Weekend Update characters of all-time.
- Interesting to see Ryan Gosling playing himself in this, and geez he’s already fighting hard not to break as soon as Kyle starts speaking with that squeaky voice of his.
- Kyle’s “we only watch the trailers!” gave me a pretty solid laugh, Kyle’s surprisingly pulling off this bully role quite well, yet in a pathetic subtle manner.
- Some fun dance moves from Ryan, the girls in the crowd are going crazy here, and I cannot lie that I’m enjoying the view too.
- I did NOT need to see Kyle shirtless in this sketch, I find him cute at times, but we did not need to see his skin in this sketch, thank you very much…
- Good turn with Kyle’s bully character suddenly starting to cry and admitting that he was just missing Ryan around the town, this was back when Kyle playing pathetic characters wasn’t all that he does on the show.
- An ok ending with the magazine headline, a fitting capper to this sketch, and instead of coming off as suffocating to the material, it complements it.
- A solid George Clooney from Taran, I do like how Taran not only tries and nails the voice of the person he’s impersonating, but even tries to look just like him, and in certain parts here, he looks just like George Clooney.
- A perfect, no-brainer casting of Bobby as Danny DeVito. And I like how quickly he became recurring after debuting in the last episode. A much better wig & makeup combo on him this time too. The Napoleon costume he’s wearing is quite the funny visual.
- This commercial feels odd, yet in a funny way. I do know it’s spoofing a real-life commercial with Clooney and DeVito, but I haven’t seen it. So, you could say those involved in this SNL parody did a pretty solid job in capturing the essence of the original ad from what I’ve heard about it.
- Bobby’s frustrated DeVito in contrast to Taran’s calm, collected, and silent Clooney is a very solid driving force to the whole commercial.
- Good ending & tagline.
The Wiz Live!
- Great costumes and set design to this whole sketch. I really think the set designers & Costume makers at SNL deserve far more credit for their hard work, even if it is just the usual routine in these past 47 years at 8H.
- Che in a sketch!
- Good voice, characterization from Ryan, and it’s good to see such a serious, dramatic, consummate pro of an actor like him get silly on SNL. It reminds me of how awesome it was to see Daniel Craig & David Harbour get silly in their season 45 hosting stints.
- Solid straight man reaction from Ryan in response to Sasheer’s question at the beginning.
- Great response from the cast to Ryan’s “so much color” remark. Even when the “flying monkeys” bit felt a bit tacked-on, yet Ryan delivered it flawlessly like one would expect from him.
- Pretty solid ending musical number, quite catchy and a fun way to end a fun, harmless sketch.
Musical Performance – “River”
- Jesse Nathan: Oh, so now Leon is playing a guitar this time. I kinda like that.
- Leon’s voice in this song is reminding me of some other famous singer, but I can’t put my finger on who exactly. My best guess is John Legend.
- Great harmonizing between Leon and his backup singers on the chorus.
- And now we have the one on Leon’s right singing solo. If this was gonna be the case, then why not have her be Leon’s co-singer?
- Good bridge, though it feels a bit repetitive.
- Can’t think of anything else to say about this performance, which might be a first in my coverage of this season’s musical performances. Oh well.
Santa and His Magical Elves
- No, no, NO! OH NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!
- While I do not have the seething hatred that some have against Anderlette, I most certainly did NOT need to see this sketch back, especially after how great this episode has been doing since the monologue.
- What’s with the VERY lengthy, awkward pause earlier in the sketch? Someone forgot a line?
- OH, GOD. As per usual, I’m very bored by this sketch and getting pretty much ZERO laughs, not even a single chuckle.
- (*sigh*) Boy, this sketch is just BRUTAL. Even more so than usual, and not even Aidy’s walk-on at the end as Mrs. Claus could save nor steal this sketch for me. Just end this episode now SNL, please…
In Memoriam – a photo of SNL wardrobe crew member Jenna Krempel marks her passing
Cut For Time: Cool
- John: Thank you to Blood Meridian for kindly asking me to review this cut for time piece. Very unexpected.
- I’m a big fan of these anti-comedy sitcom homages from Beck and Kyle, and compelled by the long-and-winding history of them – over six seasons, only half aired, and the first and last were cut. It was the last one, “Cars,” which helped get me back into SNL on a regular basis, but it was far from the only gem in this series.
- Right from the start, Ryan Gosling is just as natural as Beck at the intentionally stiff line readings, not Overdoing For laffs the way some hosts might.
- The parody wheel for this version landed on “Family Matters,”, but the genius of these is they can cover an entire sitcom genre, not just one show.
- Good entrance for Kyle, who is perfect at this Urkel-esque part, done in the most enervated style.
- I love how well Beck and Kyle play off each other, such a strong team in the years before they, or SNL, started to put them into separate spheres of the show.
- Underrated sight gag goof of the stain on Beck’s shirt becoming much bigger in-between scenes.
- I also have to praise the wardrobe people, as they absolutely nail not only Kyle’s Urkel look, but also the acid wash style for Beck.
- Everything with Beck and Kyle as they set up Kyle’s machine is absolutely wonderful – Beck plays up the sarcastic doofus lead to a tee as he reacts to Dougie’s big transformation into Stef…er…”Dou-get.”
- As always, these are worth multiple rewatches to enjoy the completely absurd cutaway shots – my favorite is the llama (I hope he met his friend backstage).
- Beck’s mustard trousers and purple striped top are the equivalent of the show giving me an acid flashback to 1992.
- Of course we get to the out of nowhere disillusionment Beck feels toward his now cool friend, and it’s just as good as you’d expect.
- The brief and beautifully synchronized bad dance sequence with Ryan, Beck and Kyle leaves me wanting more. Maybe if Kyle’s Netflix show gets a second season…
- Bobby nearly steals this entire piece with his deliberately horrible reading of, “He was drunk DRIVING,” and staring into space.
- Great visual moment of all the party guests just shiftless, frozen at the door.
- Beck’s reading of, “Oh yeah, because you only care about being…cool,” is arguably his best moment in 8 seasons at SNL. Give the man an Oscar, I don’t care.
- Wonderfully flat ending and rushed, nonsensical credits.
- I love this, and I could watch it many times over. If you can, please try to watch all of these shorts, difficult as NBC/SNL made this due to the first (and my favorite), Wing, only being available on their site.
- Thank you again to Blood Meridian for giving this piece some well-deserved coverage, and for their efforts with this blog. And if Kyle is leaving the show this weekend, thanks for your 9 years of service.
Segments Ranked From Best to Worst
Santa Baby / CFT: Cool (tie)
The Wiz Live!
A Christmas Message From Donald & Melania Trump
Santa and His Magical Elves
- A pretty strong, fun episode, with lots of great, memorable sketches, including three bonafide SNL masterpieces (Close Encounter, Santa Baby, and Cool), the three are particularly standout all-time SNL highlights. And aside from the fucking wretched final sketch and a weak cold open, EVERYTHING worked for me and no other sketches received a rating below three-and-half-a-star. Contributing to the episode’s quality was our host Ryan Gosling, who aside from his giggling, provided some standout strong performances (particularly in Santa Baby) all night long and came off very charming and likable. I look forward to his second and (sadly) final hosting stint so far when I reach season 43.
- I would finally like to thank the magnificent John for writing up the review for the hidden Beck & Kyle masterpiece Cool, which happens to be amongst the many things that we both love from Beck & Kyle throughout their tenure. I sure wasn’t disappointed by how eloquent, detailed, and filled with brilliant insights that were presented so thoroughly and concisely it was. And I’d like to thank the always-excellent fyodoren for his brilliant, sharp breakdown of the classic Santa Baby short. I cannot be more proud of both these guest reviews and hope for more soon to come.
- Chris Hemsworth returns to 8H with musical guest Chance the Rapper.