When this show was announced everyone joked about how the show as skewing old. And it’s a valid observation; McCartney is a musical icon who’s been a superstar for nearly five decades and Short is as a point in his career where he’s doing voiceover work for Old Navy.
But they’re both also Saturday Night Live vets. Short was a castmember when SNL toyed with the “big name” format and Sir Paul feels like a mainstay. Plus with it being a holiday show, guest stars galore are expected.
Basically, I was expecting big things from the episode.
Phil Hartman – Comedic gold
Chris Farley – Definitely funny, but kinda messy
Norm MacDonald – Funny, but not for everyone
Kristen Wiig – So-so premise saved by performer.
Tim Meadows – Didn’t hate it, didn’t love it, dripping with adequatulence
Darrell Hammond – Funny, but overstayed it’s welcome
Jim Breuer- Crowd pleaser, but a bit obvious
Robert Downey Jr – Brilliant performer, not a lot to work with
David Spade – Trying too hard
Janeane Garofalo – Weird weird, not weird funny
Cold Open – Given the horrific events in Newtown, this was to be expected. But given the context, a chorus of children singing Silent Night was almost haunting. Pretty powerful stuff.
Monologue – This is usually the place (at least this season) I bemoan the musical element of the monologue. But I’ll forgive it this week for two reasons; it’s the holiday season and it’s the traveling monologue. Seeing all those cameos was pretty cool and reminds me how special the Christmas episode of SNL really is. Plus Martin Short is enough of a ham to pull this off.
Rating: Kristen Wiig
Tony Bennett Christmas – I was completely slayed the last time I saw Baldwin do Tony Bennett, which was my first time seeing that impression. This sketch was just loaded with goodness. Having Short play Jerry Bennett was genius. The idea of Bennett performing with Wiz Kalifa and Imaginary Dragons is hilarious. “State Fair sized hemorrhoid.” And the “too blue Jerry” chiding had me weak.
Rating: Phil Hartman
Royal OBGYN – Martin Short knocked this one out of the park. It’s always fun to see Hader as the straight man, but he clearly wasn’t prepared for what Short was doing. The American take on nutty British customs was pretty spot on. Piccadilly Cervix was quite the gem.
Rating: Chris Farley
You’re a Rat Bastard Charlie Brown – This was just perfect. It rang especially true because now that I’m a New Yorker, I see these Broadway ads everyday. Hader’s Pacino is always welcome and McKinnon’s Edie Falco was pitch perfect. I like how Killam’s Michael Keaton is from 1989, but it was still dope. Short’s Larry Charles was actually pretty impressive. And the reaction shots of the kids really sold this bit.
Rating: Phil Hartman
Paul McCartney Performance #1 – I’m hardly the biggest McCartney fan in the world. And honestly I’m not even really a huge fan of The Beatles. So, this song didn’t really impress me all that much. I mean I’m glad he’s still out there and doing it, but beyond that, I was just “eh.”
Weekend Update – This was just an adequate Weekend Update. The bit with Jacob was cool. And while I enjoy the character and find it funny, The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party hits too many of the same notes that Drunk Uncle hits for me.
What Up With That – This is the sketch that everyone’s going to be talking about because of Samuel L. Jackson’s alleged slip up. But this is one reoccurring sketch I’m glad reappeared, because it’s one of my faves. Things that slayed me; Tiny Tim breaking it down, Jackie Rogers Jr, Tim Robinson’s cameo, Grinchina, Keenan’s dig at Fred Armisen and as always Lindsay Buckingham.
Rating: Phil Hartman
Paul McCartney Performance #2 – So this is the song that almost split the internet in half? First off, I like McCartney’s guitar. It was almost distractingly interesting. Secondly, Sir Paul’s grungy/rock voice sucks. And it probably goes without saying, but for me seeing the surviving members of Nirvana (and nearly half of the Foo Fighters) is more impressive than seeing a surviving Beatle.
Restoration Hardware – This was a cool little improv bit that fell a little flat. I enjoyed seeing Fred and Martin riff and scat, but the jokes didn’t hit hard enough for the audience, who clearly didn’t get what they were seeing.
Rating: Norm MacDonald
Pageant Auditions – This was a bit too meta for me. It reminded me of last year’s season finale sketch where Mick Jagger’s character goes to the karaoke bar with coworkers who perform Rolling Stones songs and do poor imitations of Mick Jagger. Martin Short berating Sir Paul was mildly funny. But the payoff came via a cool transition.
Rating: Jim Breuer
Paul McCartney Performance #3 – How can you hate on this? Paul McCartney singing his Christmas song. Plus the kid chorus comes back! How can you get snarky about this? No, I’m serious, I wasn’t on Twitter at the time and I genuinely want to know what the snark was aimed at.
Final Thoughts – This was a good episode. Martin Short delivered. The writers held things together and gave the cast material to work with. It was mildly disappointing that Tom Hanks, Kristen Wiig, Tina Fey and Jimmy Fallon only appeared as monologue cameos, but we did get Alec Baldwin and Samuel L. Jackson.
The next new episode is a month away and features Jennifer Lawrence and The Lumineers. Man, I really hope they play that song that I’m already sick of, it’ll totally take me back to 2012.