Anticipation was high for last night’s Eddie Murphy-hosted Saturday Night Live, especially among aging fans who remember when the young and strikingly talented Murphy ruled not only that show, but seemingly the whole damned world. As it turns out, Eddie’s still got it, even when occasionally hemmed in by some pedestrian writing and heaping helpings of nostalgic old favorites. For the curious, Murphy brought back Mister Robinson, Gumby, Buckwheat (competing on The Masked Singer, naturally), and, perhaps surprisingly, TV pitchman-pimp Velvet Jones. (Every performer has a favorite.)
But the best sketch for those looking to catch a glimpse of the live-wire charisma of Eddie Murphy on Saturday Night Live had to wait until the very last sketch of the night. Murphy wasn’t always handed the best or most suited material to work with back in his 1980s SNL tenure, but damned if he didn’t always find a way to make it pop, and this sketch—with Murphy as a disgruntled Santa’s elf, of all things—harnessed that old magic better than any of his affectionately recreated hits. As the brash and pissed-off elf worker Kiddle Diddles (he didn’t pick his name, dammit), Murphy broke into an on-site (at Santa’s smoking workshop) elf news report to tell everyone, in no uncertain terms, just what global warming-starved polar bears are capable of, especially when Santa cheaps out on the Jurassic Park style perimeter fencing.
Recounting the carnage he saw inside the bear-ravaged workshop (“Bears was poppin’ elves in their mouths like Skittles!”), and holding up a severed, candy cane-striped elf leg to the straight-laced elf reporter Donnie Chestnut, Murphy’s enraged and panicked elf put the blame squarely on Santa, coining “#SantaKnew” to spread world of the cover-up. There was nobody better in SNL history at jolting sketches alive by sheer force of talent, commitment, and personality, and Murphy kept this sketch striking sparks throughout, demanding to know just what “the fat man at the North Pole” is going to do about this elven apocalypse, considering that, as he put it in furious summation, “We’re defenseless, and we’re small, we’re adorable, and we’re chewable!” Don’t wait another 35 years to do your thing, Eddie.