After the success of first-time host Keke Palmer, Saturday Night Live turned veteran hosts Steve Martin and Martin Short to steer another successful episode. Martin, only second to Alec Baldwin, is a frequent host of the program, and Short, who was a cast member in the mid-80s, has hosted multiple times. In fact, the duo even hosted together in 1986, along with Chevy Chase to promote their film The Three Amigos. In 2022, the duo has courted a new audience and continue to celebrate their popular and critically acclaimed show Only Murders in the Building and were joined by their other co-star Selena Gomez to open the show. This brief history lesson is only to state the obvious the Martins (Steve and Short) have had a tremendous impact on American (and Canadian) comedy over decades of performing. It also comes as no surprise that they proved, yet again, to be terrific hosts of the show by lending their unique comedic voices.
Best sketch of the night
Just when you think there is no new way to tell Charles Dicken’s classic tale, SNL gives it a bloody twist with “A Christmas Carol.” A delightfully dark and gory interpretation of the story, it’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite moment. From blinded orphans to decapitation by horse, the sketch is a master class in chaotic comedic escalation. The mayhem and Christmas carnage caused by coins is topped with a cherry when it is revealed to be an advertisement for Apple Pay and the tagline “never use coins again.” The annoying academic part of me wants to call it a brilliant commentary on holiday consumer culture, but it was also just bloody funny.
Worst sketch of the night
Perhaps this sketch would have escaped this unfortunate superlative had it appeared later in the episode. In retrospect, the episode was oddly front loaded with holiday material considering that there is still another new episode next week before the 25th. By comparison this one was bland and lacking in energy to the rest of the festive material. Furthermore, as the second holiday themed musical sketch in close proximity, it also felt redundant. The worst part was that it was all in service of a unfulfilling visual gag at the end. It was a train that just really never left the station.
Best update of the night
As if building off of the blueprint of last week’s “Kenan & Kelly,” Martin and Short excavating one of their past projects under a contemporary lens for new laughs in “Father of the Bride.” After a somewhat disappointing pandemic experimental zoom reunion – Father of the Bride Part 3 (ish) – by Netflix, it was amusing to see the veterans return to the material for the fictional 8th iteration. The sketch fused nostalgia and the cruel passage of time wonderfully. Multiple divorces, an impending colonoscopy, and a questionable accent updated the material aided by cameos from original child star-all-grown-up Kiernan Culkin and new addition Selena Gomez.
Most in need of an update of the night
While part of the joke was its own outdated-ness, “Minky” fell flat despite committed performances by Short and Heidi Gardner. It wasn’t that the misogyny of the 90s talk show premise was offensive. In actuality, it may have needed to be more offensive to earn a laugh. It just wasn’t that funny. It felt repetitive and overlong. The absence of Steve Martin didn’t help considering that most of the episode’s success was the unique combination of the comic duo. Garnder’s spinning, spilling, and misplaced adulation for Minky was the highlight, but not enough to sustain the sketch.
MVP of the night: Sarah Sherman
This selection may seem blasphemous considering that this episode was hosted by two comedic legends, but Sarah Sherman really stood out in this episode in subtle ways. Sherman, a second-season featured player, has really come into her own this year. It’s always electric to watch a performer find their footing in the challenging terrain of SNL, like Yang most recently. After holding her own with veteran stars like Cecily Strong, Kenan Thompson, Ego Nwodim, and Yang (in a musical sketch, no less), she gave a perfectly deadpan performance in the Please Don’t Destroy “Chelsea” sketch as the titular character. It’s not an over-the-top performance, but you can see the seething rage in her eyes as the ex-girlfriend everyone seems to hate. In addition, the scene was wonderfully cap-stoned with a violent appearance by Sherman’s own father. The combination of her little orphan boy in “A Christmas Carol” and her slight, yet uncanny, child performance in “A Visit with Santa,” suggests that there needs to be a full sketch with Sherman as a kid next week. Furthermore, and this could prove wrong when the writing credits are listed, it feels likely that Sherman was involved in the writing of the night’s best sketch considering her background in corporeal cringe comedy.
- It sound like the music was too loud during the “Cold Open.” Or mabye I need to invest in a better speaker system. It was difficult to make out some of the lyrics, which was sort of the entire point of the sketch.
- “A Visit with Santa” had such a strong start with Short’s angry energy. However, the premise of Santa trying to score speed feels like it should have been a start instead of concluding the sketch.
- The sketch was also a perfect mix of Short and Martin nearly breaking. Their ability to improv in those moments showed what experienced and present performers they really are.
- With so many holiday sketches, I wonder if there will be any material left for Austin Butler next week.
- Wait... Lizzo is replacing the Yeah Yeah Yeahs next week??? (Update: it looks like Nick from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs is recovering from pneumonia and that is why they will miss their performance.
- The first half of “Weekend Update” was incredibly edgy. The second half, less so. Harris waiting for a “worse bike accident,” the constitution abortion joke, and the World Cup joke were simultaneously the best and worst in terms of taste. They should keep it up.
- I had to look up the Alito reference up because it seemed too ridiculous to be true. And it was actually not an exaggeration!
- It really seemed like Heidi Gardner was having the best time working with Steve Martin and Martin Short. She was radiating joy throughout the episode.
- Too bad they couldn’t get Diane Keaton there.