After the tragic events in Connecticut on December 14th, some festive and funny live sketch comedy was just what the doctor ordered. Thankfully, Saturday Night Live pulled out all the stops with a Christmas spectacular that included a whole slew of guest stars, and it was a night to remember.
Samuel L. Jackson, Paul Schaffer, Tom Hanks, Carrie Brownstein from Portlandia, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Wiig, Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey and many more stopped by Studio 8H to help out host and former cast member Martin Short (though he didn’t need it) and musical guest Paul McCartney for the final SNL episode of the year.
Silent Night – Rather than opening with a sketch as normal, The New York City Children’s Chorus started the Christmas episode with a solemn rendition of Silent Night. This was not only appropriate for the holiday season, but also in memoriam of the lives lost in the tragic shooting of Newtown, Connecticut.
You’re a Rat Bastard, Charlie Brown – Providing more than a twist on the holiday classic A Charlie Brown Christmas, nearly all of the SNL cast members whip out their best celebrity impressions for this adult-themed take on Charles Schulz’s Peanuts characters. It’s creepy just how much Martin Short looks and sounds like Larry David, and Bill Hader is pitch perfect as Al Pacino playing everyone’s favorite blockhead. I’d watch an entire Christmas special like this.
Royal Family Doctor – In the midst of all the silly buzz around the pregnancy of Kate Middleton across the pond, this sketch sees the royal family doctor (Martin Short) educating Ms. Middleton’s doctor (Bill Hader) on the etiquette of dealing with Her Highness’ lady parts. Aside from Short’s outrageous British character, it’s the “appropriate” names given to describe the vagina and Hader’s inability to hold a straight face that really make this one shine.
Weekend Update – Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation with at a Party from Cecily Strong was easily the best part of the staple segment, but the entire Weekend Update was great. From Seth Meyers’ standard skewering of headlines to Vanessa Bayer as a young Jewish boy talking about Hanukkah while simultaneously roasting his family, this was just hilarious. “It’s origami. That’s Spanish for goose.”
What Up With That? – This has become one of my favorite recurring sketches if only for the guest stars who get to sit there and watch Kenan Thompson and Jason Sudeikis sing and dance their asses off, respectively. This time Samuel L. Jackson gets blown off by Thompson, and while some believed he dropped an F-bomb on live television, Jackson took to Twitter to say that he only said part of the word. Thompson improvised a nice line about how that costs them money, and it was all good.
Tony Bennett Christmas – This played out more like a real Christmas special with Alec Baldwin, Martin Short and Tony and Jerry Bennett rather than a comedy sketch. We’re not really sure where the jokes were in this sketch, but at least it was nice to have Baldwin around for a bit doing his solid Tony Bennett impression. It just doesn’t shake a stick at Baldwin’s best Christmas sketch on Saturday Night Live, the Glengarry Glen Ross parody Glengarry Glen-Christmas. In fact, since music rights prevent the Tony Bennett sketch from being posted online, we’ll just post the other video here instead.
Christmas Pageant – Martin Short sings some kind of Christmas song with Paul McCartney not knowing his triangle cue. That’s all that needs to be said. Few people can yell as hilariously as Martin Short (Nathan Lane can give him a run for his money), but the real pay-off comes when McCartney moves right into a live performance of his holiday song Wonderful Christmastime.
Martin Short is no stranger to Saturday Night Live as he was a cast member in the sketch comedy series’ 10th season and he brought his seemingly endless energy back to Studio 8H (sadly, his musical monologue pictured above isn’t available online), and it served as a great reminder that he still has comedy running all through his body. It makes me wish more seasoned comedians and Saturday Night Live veterans hosted. It’d be great if Mike Meyers or Dana Carvey came back again. Regardless, Short was truly a breath of fresh – if familiar – air.
Martin Short – Short appeared in every single sketch of the night with the exception of the Weekend Update. He didn’t take a break like most hosts do in some of the sketches, and he made this my favorite episode of the season thus far. From his great impression of Larry David to his eccentric music personality in the final sketch of the night, he was just an absolute blast.
The Final Word
You couldn’t ask for a better close to 2012 with this barrage of guest stars and a holiday extravaganza that rivaled some live performances that people pay hundreds of dollars to attend this month (I’m looking at you Rockettes). Martin Short should host at least one episode every year, especially if he gets all these old cast members to come back. With a whole month between now and the next new episode in 2013, this will certainly tide over the fans.
January 19th – Jennifer Lawrence hosts with musical guest The Lumineers
Saturday Night Live airs live on Saturday nights @11:30pm on NBC.