Coming down the stretch to Christmas at Saturday Night Live, a dream lineup had been assembled to make for a run of shows that would go down as SNL classics. The first of the three, comparatively, was bound to be the worst of the group when you consider John Goodman (one of the greatest hosts of all time) and the Jimmy Fallon / Justin Timberlake explosion were going to follow it up. However, Paul Rudd is no slouch, and once I realized he would be there promoting his upcoming movie that stars possibly the most beloved SNL cast members of the last 20 years, I knew we might be in for something special.
I knew we might have an appearance of Ron Burgundy and the Channel 4 News Team because Paul Rudd was hosting. What I did not realize was that the random guest stars that always seem to pop up around the holidays would not just be confined to the one Christmas episode this year. It would be a 3 episode star-studded affair. This became evident right off the bat when SNL made their statement on the live broadcast of The Sound of Music starring Carrie Underwood. Enter Kristen Wiig and Fred Armisen, two former cast members that really could never be replaced. They pull out one of their old classic bits that is endlessly entertaining, and I still have no idea why. Enjoy.
If I thought the Cold Opening got the show off to a great start, that was before the Monologue made it perfect. Paul Rudd, a great actor, has always seemed to be overshadowed in his hosting gigs by his musical guests. First it was Beyonce, then it was Paul McCartney. I mean a Beatle and Sacha Fierce?!? How do you compete with that! Paul Rudd was determined this would not happen this time, but there was a threat with One Direction as the musical guest. When One Direction shows up in his monologue, he is determined to make sure he isn't overshadowed by the boy band. So he brings out his man band. Newsteam Assemble!!! Enter David Koechner, Steve Carell, and yes, Will Ferrell. So what happens in the boy band vs. man band showdown? A sing off. What song? "Afternoon Delight" of course, which was brought back to prominence by the first Anchorman film. This show couldn't have been off to a better start. It could only go down from here, right? Yes, yes it could...
It's not that the rest of the show was terrible. It just never reached the perfection that were the first two sketches. Weekend Update brought back two very popular characters, one brand new and one that has been around for a year or so. First was Bar-Mitzvah Boy Jacob who is always fun. It also brought about one of the first blatant references to Seth Meyers's upcoming departure for the new Late Night show as Jimmy Fallon takes over for Leno. (By the way, odds Fallon has a moment of advice at the Weekend Update desk for Seth Meyers in his final episode? I would say high.) The next act, Jebidiah Atkinson, has become an instant classic as he berates and rips apart anything that America holds as beloved. Today's subject of his attack? Christmas stories. Taran Killam can do anything and has quickly become the new Will Ferrell.
The rest of the sketches after the first two were solid for the most part, but nowhere near great. The best of these others just happened to also include One Direction as Paul Rudd played their biggest fan, Dan Charles. The best part of this sketch is watching him talk to all the teen and tween girls waiting in the same line he is in. They obviously don't like the fact that he is there.
Usually the mock movie trailers are my favorite parts of this season. However, this trailer for White Christmas falls flat. The premise was to take a basic movie trailer for a Tyler Perry movie or any other recent Black comedy and swap out all the cast members for the whitest people you can find. Is it still funny? No, it's not. And maybe that was the joke. Maybe it was purposefully stupid. Either way, the only thing worth seeing here is Paul Rudd dressed as a white Madea. Once you see it though, there is not much else to see, besides the confused looks on Kenan's and Jay's faces.
Dark Horse Sketch
Like I have said before, this spot is reserved for the fun, off-beat, surprising sketch after Weekend Update that stands out for its odd-ball comedy. With Will Ferrell in town, they couldn't resist dusting off the greatest Dark Horse Sketch in recent memory: Bill Brasky. If you haven't seen a Bill Brasky sketch, here it is in a nutshell: Will Ferrell and his cronies dawn bad suits and buck teeth and spout out the most random crap they can think of about their dear friend Bill while drinking from over-sized scotch glasses. It is so stupid and so hysterical all at the same time. I wish we didn't have to wait 10 years to see a new one.
This show got off to the best start it could possibly have. Although it fizzled a little in the middle, it ended with another classic and got the holiday season off to a great start. If what I thought before the show is true, and Paul Rudd's turn as hosting would be the jumping-off point for this run of three great episodes leading up to Christmas, then I can't wait to see what kind of genius we have waiting for us in the coming weeks.