December 17, 2022 – Austin Butler / Lizzo (S48 E9)

Cold Opening – Trump NFT’s

  • I really knew SNL would parody Trump’s disastrous NFT announcement (which was hilarious in itself), but I hoped I would turn out wrong.
  • Ok, I’m getting few chuckles from the various photoshopped cards with James’ Trump face on them; the one with Biden eating ice cream & James’ Trump melting it with laser beams is particularly funny.
  • It feels odd seeing Mikey’s Trump Jr, especially after that godawful cold open he appeared in last season.
  • Ah, and here’s Cecily. I’m already getting a bit emotional knowing this will be my final time regularly reviewing her, at least for a while. Her Kimberly Guilfoyle is at least a pretty funny impression from her.
  • Surprised this is ending already. They seem to write these cold opens shorter and shorter this season. And I thankfully didn’t have to tear my hair apart sitting through this one.
  • It’s nice to see James getting yet another solo LFNY so soon.

Rating: ***


  • Man, talk about having a deep voice. So, he really does sound like Elvis, without even trying much. Awesome.
  • A decent joke about Austin’s voice being the same before doing Elvis. Even when this bit was done to death before.
  • I’m enjoying the way Austin is handling this monologue, especially when he’s talking about how he grew up homeschooled & is getting good laughs from me and the audience.
  • Very sweet ending message to Austin’s monologue about overcoming his shyness & making his mom proud.

Rating: ***1/2

The Phrase That Pays

  • Ah, James being cast as a gameshow host is absolutely perfect. He’s a complete natural for these utility/glue roles.
  • So far this gameshow feels a bit different than some of the ones we got recently. I’m guessing this was both the result of perhaps different writers & Kenan not being in the role of the host.
  • I’m loving James’ smooth, laid-back performance as the gameshow host and his delivery here, as I expected, is asbolutely perfect for the sketch & enhancing the material given to him. See SNL, THIS is the glue you need moving forward.
  • The “X” gag with Heidi throughout the sketch is pretty funny, especially the payoff at the end.

Rating: ***1/2

A Christmas Epiphany

  • Already, I’m getting massive Schiller’s Reel vibes from this black-and-white, sentimental piece. And this also seems to be our major Austin Butler showcase of the night.
  • Man, this pretape is an absolutely dead-on recreation of both the look and feel of classic black-and-white movies, and Austin is shining very well here.
  • The turn after Austin’s emotional monologue as he witnesses the family eating dinner for Christmas, with Heidi sneakily telling Andrew that there’s a man watching them from the window is absolutely hilarious & well-done.
  • Very funny scared reaction from Marcello.
  • Andrew is reminding me so much of Will Forte with his characterization & voice here, in particular when disclosing that Heidi’s character cheated on him.
  • The contrast between Austin’s emotional monologue & the increasingly dysfunctional family dinner is fantastic.
  • A pretty huge cheap laugh from the suggestive position Austin’s at from the family’s perspective as he’s begging Mikey’s guardian angel on his knees.
  • I love the emotional turn with Chloe as Denise (doing a great old-timey voice, unsurprisingly) and Austin reconciling on Christmas.
  • Great ending with Mikey’s character creeping on the family; Andrew throwing away Marcello & fleeing had me howling.
  • Overall, SNL knocks it out of the freakin’ park with a fantastic Christmas-themed pretape, for not only the second week in a row, but for the second season in a row, as this is up there with An Evening With Pete Davidson.

Rating: *****


  • SNL sure loves to do those Sound of the Music parodies each season.
  • As always, Chloe & Sarah are eerily convincing playing children & their accents are fun here. I also see that Marcello is carving a niche for himself doing quite well in these kid roles already.
  • Longfellow’s bit as the chef cracked me up & the sketch’s general goofiness is fun.

Rating: ***

Jewish Elvis

  • Wow, this is that cut oddball Sarah sketch from the season premiere! Fascinating to see her getting two of her previously cut sketches on the air so soon.
  • Austin’s not only looking hilarious as the Jewish granny in the audience, but is also doing a dead-on imitation & making this man-in-drag routine come off very funny.
  • Sarah is, unsurprisingly, killing it as Jewish Elvis in this delightfully oddball piece of hers. So happy that Sarah has become not only such a spark of life on the show but also became a surprisingly vital backbone to this season as a whole.
  • Austin is having me HOWLING as the increasingly excited Jewish granny in the audience; I never knew he could go so over the top & still make me laugh. I’m pretty much in stitches right now.
  • An overall very silly, solid sketch with a delightfully oddball sense of humor. I don’t know if this one will be one of my absolute favorites of Sarah’s patented sketches this year, but it is definitely memorable.

Rating: ****

Weekend Update

  • I love the Christmas decorations in front of the Update desk.
  • Che’s joke about MTG being his type was pretty funny & thankfully wasn’t extended for too long.
  • Some really funny jokes tonight, even more than usual (although last week’s Update was quite solid, leaving the final commentary aside…), especially the “Weekend Update in Nigeria” joke.
  • Interesting to see Bowen back at the desk, and this Krampus commentary seems to be in his wheelhouse. Fantastic makeup job, by the way, on Bowen as this character.
  • I’m getting some laughs here & there from Bowen’s reliable delivery, but this commentary feels like something Bowen has done already in the past. The ad-lib when one of his horns fell off was great, though. So, kudos to Bowen for handling it like a pro.
  • Interesting to see Heidi doing a solo commentary for what feels like forever. I think since the second episode from last season to be exact.
  • Man, this commentary is bizarre so far, but I’m not sure if that’s in a good way. Heidi is committing very well to the bit, as expected.
  • The quick bits with Mikey did make me laugh, though; I’d say for how random they were. Not one of Heidi’s better pieces behind the desk, though.
  • And now here comes Cecily’s goodbye, coming back as Cathy Anne behind the desk to rant one more time. I was never a fan of this character, but this one feels special to me. So, I’ll get into this one with an open mind.
  • Ah, and here’s Cecily-as-Cathy-Anne doing a meta retrospective commentary on her SNL run. This is a great & emotional idea for a sendoff, especially for such a vital cast member as Cecily Strong.
  • Man, hearing Cecily’s voice breaking is making me really emotional right now & the bit with the photo of Kate & Aidy, her “friends” as Cecily-as-Cathy-Anne puts it was great.
  • The cigarette-lighting moment, finally, after all these failed attempts is a fantastic little detail that gave me a big, warm smile on my face just now.
  • Ah, and now I’m getting even more emotional as Update concludes & Cecily says goodbye one more time to Michael & Colin; seeing Che’s face as he’s holding back his tears is really getting to me.

Rating: ***1/2

White Elephant

  • Great seeing James in another big non-impression role tonight.
  • Austin’s performance after opening the gift is pretty solid & he’s handling the material quite well.
  • Oh, Austin’s sudden mode swing when Cecily playfully takes his gift is reminding me of that fantastic Game Night sketch with Rachel Dratch.
  • Austin’s character’s increasingly childish acts when not being pleased with the game not going in his favor is great & he’s pretty much stealing this sketch.
  • This is how we end the sketch? With Mikey’s random Santa appearance? Thankfully, the rest of the sketch was strong enough for me to not rate it lower than I will now.

Rating: ****

Jennifer Coolidge Is Impressed By Christmas Stuff

  • This short was cut from last week’s show. And, as I and various other fans anticipated, it made it on the air by the next episode.
  • The title is reminding me of some of the quick sketches the late 00s/early 10s SNL era would do, such as the André the Giant & Mark Wahlberg installments.
  • Great straight man reaction from Longfellow as the piano player when reacting to Chloe’s Coolidge thinking he wrote “Jingle Bells”.
  • Wow, surprised this is over already. But it was decent for what it was.

Rating: ***

Please Don’t Destroy – Plirts

  • A PDD short, for the second week in a row? I’m not complaining.
  • The plastic shirt that looks nothing like a regular one, but is supposedly one is a funny oddball idea for a PDD short.
  • Austin is a pretty solid straight man throughout this pretape.
  • Decent inclusion of Devon & Marcello and the increasing absurdist tone is working quite well here.
  • Good use of our obligatory Lizzo sketch appearance of the night; her being in a PDD short was a given.
  • Solid ending.

Rating: ***1/2

Blue Christmas

  • The whole setup with Cecily leaving RadioShack after so many years & having Kenan sending her off at the start, with our newbies of the season standing around them is such a sweet idea for a goodbye.
  • Wow, and now the set immediately disassembles and it is revealed that we are at the homebase stage for Cecily’s final show.
  • Wow, I thought the Cathy Anne Update piece was it for Cecily’s final show, it turns out we are getting a sendoff right from the homebase stage; much like the ones Phil Hartman & Kristen Wiig had in the past. Honestly, well-earned in my view.
  • Fantastic way to utilize Austin’s great Elvis impression by having him sing “Blue Christmas” to Cecily, and the increasing number of cast members singing alongside Austin & Cecily is honestly making me very emotional, even more than I expected.
  • An overall incredibly sweet & fun way to say goodbye to such an invaluable cast member that defined so much of the last decade and more of SNL. Farewell, Cecily.

Rating: N/A (non-comedic segments are not rated)

Cut For Time: Fusion Scientist

  • It feels sad that this is only our second cut sketch to be released so far this season (and the only live one so far), compared to how many we got in particular throughout the previous season. I think the lack of cut material is one of the reasons the number of highly-rated sketches so far this year has been a little lower than usual, especially four-stars-rated sketches.
  • Great seeing Marcello starring in a live sketch, which has yet to happen in the live episodes. I’m also noticing how particularly Jim Carrey-esque lots of his mannerisms are. And I’m also quite pleased to see James in yet another glue role this season. I’m hoping the writers cast him more and more in these. He could easily be the new utility player of the cast if given more chances.
  • Is Sarah supposed to be playing the grandma in this sketch? Either way, her characterization is very funny, especially that you can tell that Austin is amused by her as soon as the camera cuts back to him each time. 
  • I’m enjoying the contrast between Marcello & Austin’s career paths, with Austin being the smarter, more attractive, and more liked sibling, and Marcello being the banished, more forgotten child; the subtle hints of melancholy here are very well-done.
  • Love the string of one-liners from Marcello and his family members; especially the more aggravated he’s becoming. Marcello is displaying some of his solid physical comedy here. In particular when he hits the wall, which was impressively pulled-off by him.
  • I do love the ending with Austin punching down Marcello very easily and the family returning to their dinner as if nothing happened. This should’ve easily replaced that Heidi commentary on Update as it featured a solid Marcello showcase & very well-done, grounded scene of family conflict.

Rating: ****

Segments Ranked From Best to Worst

A Christmas Epiphany

CFT: Fusion Scientist

White Elephant

Jewish Elvis


Weekend Update

Please Don’t Destroy – Plirts

The Phrase That Pays

Jennifer Coolidge Is Impressed By Christmas Stuff

Trump NFT’s


Final Thoughts:

  • A very solid Christmas episode, and, like many in SNL history, had a feel-good, warm vibes in many of its sketches. There were a few great things that worked for me tonight, as well a few pretty good highlights and nothing flopped tonight at all for me. Austin Butler was also a very fun host who surprised me by how silly he could get & how versatile at times he was in the span of just one single episode. I have no problem with him coming back to host. Also, the musical performances by Lizzo, especially the second one were great & perfect for Christmas.
  • This was the final episode for longtime cast member Cecily Strong. Many of you readers know that I always had mixed reactions towards Cecily throughout her run, and at times my feelings were more negative than positive, especially in these last two seasons. But, I’ve always appreciated Cecily’s teamwork and incredible versatility; playing basically ANY role the writers could throw her way to utter perfection. While a lot of Cecily’s solo pieces didn’t work for me personally, I’ll always admire that she performed what she felt was best for her and the audience. Writing these last few sentences is making much more emotional than I ever thought I would be, but I’ve fallen in love with SNL while Cecily was still there, and saying goodbye to her marks a defining moment for me as both a fan & reviewer of the show, such as when we said goodbye to so many performers & witnessed the end of the late 10s/early 20s era of the show recently; my “own” era of the show. So, at the end I say: so long Cecily, and hopefully all goes well in your career. You deserve the success & good luck in your future endeavors. Thank you for the many laughs & memories over the years.

Up Next:

  • N/A. We don’t know who will be hosting when we return after the Christmas break. So, see ya till then everybody & have a merry Christmas & happy holidays!

13 Replies to “December 17, 2022 – Austin Butler / Lizzo (S48 E9)”

  1. I’m surprised you’re so high on The Phrase That Pays. It felt like it was written last minute, there was no explanation. It just felt flat entirely for me.

    1. I’d say there are several things I enjoyed in it: 1) James’ performance as the gameshow host, 2) the sketch actually not being crude/weird fetishes like a lot of these gameshow sketches were these last few seasons, and 3) there were a number bits throughout that I really enjoyed, such as the running gag with the “X”.

  2. Part 1
    This was pretty good. I’m always a sucker for a JAJ as Trump and to be honest, I really wish this was just JAJ talking about his cards though Mikey and Cecily coming in did not hurt the sketch at all

    A nice sweet mention of his mother was nice the monologue in general was pretty sweet as well just like you and surprised how deep his voice is

    Wasn’t really on board with this but a lot of things in this that tickle me James did absolutely fantastic in this role Heidi and the X bit was funny too Punkie was okay in this also did pretty well performance wise this was pretty solid but in terms if the actual sketch it was ok

    Wow 2 years in a row for the show doing an absolutely fantastic black and white parody. I kind of saw the big reveal coming but that does not mean I didn’t absolutely love this many lines from Andrew and Heidi were terrific love the part with Mikey coming in and Austin on his knees the ending was great too

    Like the game show wasn’t on board at first as I thought this was going to be a Bowen Yang sketch and I’m kind of sick of him at this point of his run but his scream did make me laugh. Longfellow was hilarious in this too the song at the end was cute overall this was another good sketch from this episode.

    This was you guessed it yet ANOTHER sketch I was on board at first but got so much better and I’m glad because I was worried this would be the first Sarah Sherman sketch I didn’t like but Sarah did excellent job this overall sketch so good I didn’t even complain or even mind seeing Austin in drag as he was hilarious I guess most likely since their now doing less of that

  3. This was probably my least favorite sketch of the night and you saying that this wasn’t even too too terrible as I kind of like Austin complaining about this gift being stolen from Cecily not else I can really say about this but I still enjoyed it.

    And really sweet Chloe did fantastic in this and I laughed way harder than I needed to at Longfellows reaction as well as his delivery on one Chloe asked him did he write Jingle Bells

    In typical PDD fashion this was excellent like how Marcello and Devon were in this. The beginning of the sketch had me cracking up love with John and Ben. And love that they continue Lizzo story arc with Martin in this as well just seeing Lizzo in a sketch in general.

    Absolutely fantastic sketch great opening jokes from Kenan. I’m not that familiar with the song Austin was singing but he did a great job singing it. Though part of me has to wonder if this was in the season finale instead of the last episode of 2022. It just would have been a great season closer and my only real complaint about this is that the entire cast didn’t come in. I guess they wanted to use Cecily’s closest friends of the cast. But besides that this was a nice beautiful piece and a great farewell to Cecily Strong.

  4. So for we can update first when they cut to the usual of people building the set one with the whole update desk having a Christmas fashion as well as awesome and am I seeing things or did the set have a different wall also is it me or did A) both Colin and Michael’s hair looks a little bit different I guess it was a long week for them and B) it seemed like both Michael and especially Colin we’re kind of bored. Michael did however ended up coming back to his usual self about 5 minutes in Colin on the other hand just seem like you want to be anywhere else you didn’t do his usual smile after saying a joke until about after Bowen’s commentary.

    Speaking of which, Krampus made me groan as I stated previously I’m kind of sick of him at this point in his SNL tenure I almost missed the horn falling off as my phone started getting a notification and it happened almost the moment I picked it up I just kind of like the ending but bones commentary was okay.

    Heidi’s peace did nothing for me as I got more laughs from Mikey then Heidi herself the awkward kiss between him and Colin was funny.

    And here comes Cathy. Her saying she’s going to jail cracked me up and I wasn’t that familiar with the whole cigarette not lighting and I haven’t seen the whole lot of this character of hers but I still think that was sweet. All the meta bits of her with Colin on update and the photos Kate and Aidy. I also loved after signing off both Michael and Colin gave Cecily and a big hug which almost made me cry.

  5. Wow, you were quite a bit higher on this episode as a whole than I was. Cecilys’ goodbye seemed to be the only thing we were in agreement on but my review was so vastly different from yours even I can’t tell. You’d just have to read mine (which I’m sure you will)

  6. My story. Born in 74 in Sheffield, England. Moved to the US is 2006. Watched SNL regularly since Season 40, but have watched most of the ones from, say, Abby Elliott on rewatch.

    So, I say all that for two reasons. One, and the lesser of the important ones, I LOVE MARZIPAN.

    But more importantly, I’ve never been moved by SNL. No dust in the eye, no whimsy nostalgia, until tonight. Dang, I was emotional in Update, Emotional throughout the Radio Shack Send Off, and then at Goodnights. I was Colin Jost throughout.

    Loved the White Elephant sketch. Could have watched an hour of that alone. Liked the PDD sketch merely for the Martin (non-) entry. Austin in drag deserves more sketches if he ever comes back. The Black and White Pretape was solid. I didn’t really get the Sketch Show, etc etc

    I’m going to miss Cecily. Has someone put a Cecily playlist together on Youtube…

  7. I still have to watch the episode in full but I am so happy they gave Cecily the send off she so richly deserved.

    She brought such a vibrant energy to the show that was so unique.

    I’ll always treasure her playing DeMarco, the cop who loved LA LA LAND

  8. While I am happy for Marcelo getting something on the show ,even if it did get cut and while performance wise I absolutely love this as everyone did great especially Marcello, James, and Sarah this overall sketch was pretty decent for me though like I said Marcello was good in this and Sarah was hilarious.

    1. Oh, happy you mentioned him giving off Jim Carrey vibes as I a HUGE Jim Carrey fan I surprisingly didn’t think that as it’s not the first time he gave me vibes from the comedian as he also did in his WU commentary from the Brendan Gleeson episode

  9. I’m clearly in the minority in not liking this one.

    Marzipan? Not EVERY random object is cool and spoofable, guys. Trying to force this into a thing is painful to watch – this might have well been called Desk or Lampshade or Thermostat.

    (And no, there’s no Julio around to spin gold like Sink or Papyrus from that. Just cutesy mugging.)

    White Elephant also didn’t work for me. Partly because of Austin, who simply failed to carry over the charm from Harlow’s similar AA sketch. Nothing against Austin, who wasn’t BAD tonight. He was more just kind of “barely there” I guess.

    Phrase That Pays was also hard to sit through. Austin’s energy just doesn’t work here, I don’t think. There’s no shame in that – some of my favorites just haven’t panned out on SNL. (DeNiro anyone? Acting legend who’s been on camera for 50 years… still can’t read a card or be funny.) It’s not anyone’s fault, of course. But it can’t be underestimated just how different it must be from what these celebrities typically do.

    At least Christmas Epiphany was solid. I wouldn’t put it anywhere near five stars – 3.5 seems right to me. But it was the first and hardest time I laughed all night, so there’s that.

    I’ll save my thoughts on Cecily, whom I love dearly but who definitely stayed past her welcome. At least her sendoff was terrific – Blue Christmas could hardly be a better choice, and everyone was so giggly and playful through Radio Shack that I eventually LOVED the setup.

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