It's beginning to look a lot like a Christmas episode of Saturday Night Live, and as SNL closed the books on the 2010 half of its 2010-2011 36th season, some of these sketches looked just like others, a dude was sort of Dude-like, while not being dude enough, and I learned that pre-Tweeting sometimes can be just as effective as Re-Tweeting.
Let me explain that last part. ESPN's Bill Simmons has a fairly successful habit of using Twitter to reverse-psych out certain sports teams and athletes (the 21st century version of the Sports Illustrated cover jinx!). So when President Barack Obama held a public bill-signing on Friday for the tax-cut compromise with Republicans, I went to Twitter to predict an SNL cold open about it.
We all were rewarded as the show opened with a political sketch in which none of the political figures uttered a single word! Silence is golden. This was Silent Night, Holy Night of comedy golden. Kenan Thompson had to dress up as Frosty the Snowman, sure, but instead of hot air and dead punchlines, we watched as Obama (Fred Armisen), Hillary Clinton (Vanessa Bayer), Rahm Emanuel (Andy Samberg), Nancy Pelosi (Kristen Wiig) and Joe Biden (Jason Sudeikis) dreamed on Christmas Eve of the headlines they'd love to see in their future stockings. Short and sweet. Thank you. A Christmas miracle.
In the monologue, Jeff Bridges acknowledged it was his first time back at SNL as host since 1983, so almost as long as it took to make another Tron movie. Bridges tried to prove he's not as much of a Dude as the Dude is, but more importantly for the zeitgeist that is Internet peer pressure in 2010, Bridges welcomed a guest to the stage: Cookie Monster! You may recall Cookie Monster posted an SNL audition tape way back in November. Bridges strapped on an acoustic guitar and he and the Muppet sang "Silver Bells." Does it take extra time to clear the rights to a Christmas carol?
While you consider that, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg (Samberg) wanted to thank everyone for Time Magazine naming him Person of the Year, but Julian Assange (Hader) had other ideas. Too soon for another WikiLeaks sketch? You'd think so, but 1) Assange was so much in the news this week as he was granted bail and released, making his case publicly to the mainstream media, and 2) Hader has tapped into an impersonation, which while not anywhere near spot-on, is nevertheless right on the money for the cartoonish villain we've been led to believe he is.
Same goes for the return of The Miley Cyrus Show. The too much of a good thing argument is superseded by the fact that Miley Cyrus made news for getting caught sucking on a big old salvia pipe. Good news, though, for featured player Bayer. She seeks out advice from her guest, Nick Nolte (Bridges), to recover from the media scandal. Paul Brittain gets a role on tape working with Cyrus on an after-school special to say no to drugs.
About this week's SNL Digital Short. It's no "Dick in a Box." It's not even "I'm on a Boat." But with Akon, John McEnroe, Blake Lively and Jessica Alba, and a title/chorus/hook like "I Just Had Sex," this thing is viral. Think of this as the sequel to "Jizz in my Pants," or as the first track on The Lonely Island's next CD, thus ensuring that Billboard's top-selling comedy act of 2009 and 2010 will be selling records into the future.
Back to our inevitable newsmakers making news making comedy sketches portion of the show, Fred Armisen stepped into the role of Larry King to lampoon King's final CNN show, with one more show, featuring Jermaine Jackson (Thompson), the Judds (Wiig and Abby Elliott), and via satellite, Dogg the Bounty Hunter (Bridges). King asked plenty of bad bone-headed questions, as he was wont to do. Which makes him a tough target to lampoon.
This continues with the return of the Underground Underground Records parody of the current Insane Clown Posse's Christmas toy drive video, which came out a few weeks ago. In SNL land, it's time for "Crunkmas" and a festival, with Sudeikis and Nasim Pedrad hosting, and the return from the dead of Ass Dan (Bobby Moynihan). Why are C. Everett Koop and Third Eye Blind there, too? Jay Pharoah makes his lone appearance in tonight's show on tape as MC George Castanza.
Eminem and Lil Wayne were both musical guests this week, for some reason? I know Lil Wayne joined Em for the track "No Love" on his new "Recovery" disc, which meta fun fact, samples a song that itself was sampled successfully in a recurring sketch on SNL.
Weekend Update had some topical jokes, too.
Kenan Thompson played Michael Steele, who made his case to repeat as chairman of the GOP.
Can someone explain Taran Killam's impersonation of Brad Pitt? And why is he pretending to be the weatherman? Also featuring Abby Elliott as Angelina Jolie with an obvious Christmas gift (pictured).
The Weekend Update segments ended with a holiday message from Seth Meyers' three closest friends in the world. Roll it!
Oh. Wait a second. Got the tapes mixed up. Let's try this again, this time with Snooki, Stefon and Gov. David Paterson.
What next? You liked that switcheroo, didn't you. Although the one thing does remind us all of the other thing, I will agree with Seth that Paterson, Stefon and Snooki brought guaranteed laughs each time they showed up on Update in 2010.
That was so much fun, let's do it again. This time, flip it and reverse it, because sorry new crew, but making a Hanukkah version of "It's A Wonderful Life," introduced via Turner Classic Movies' Ben Mankiewicz (Hader), just isn't going to cut it, and even the cameraman knows it because he drops his camera to look at the floor in disgust. That's what happened, right? Right? Sudeikis as a young Jimmy Stewart is passable enough, but things devolve fairly quickly into schmuckery.
Now remember season 12, episode 8? Of course you don't. You're 18. But Dana Carvey knows, Dennis Miller knows, Jon Lovitz knows, and Kevin Meaney most certainly definitely knows! And Santa knows most of all. Very naughty, SNL. Very naughty.
Having a play on Punk'd in 2010, and putting it on the Sundance Channel, calling it Jeff'd, is an odd choice. Especially since their idea of Jeff Bridges pranks aren't, well, ummm…On the other hand, it does give most of the cast a chance to pull out more celebrity impersonations (Sudeikis as Sam Elliott, Abby Elliott as Maggie Gyllenhaal, Thompson as Forest Whitaker, and Samberg as Billy Bob Thornton especially!), plus bit parts for newbies Killam and Brittain.
Eminem returned to do a song with some guy who was not Lil but got to rap alongside him anyhow. And then he gave way to Lil Wayne for him to do a song. This is multiple weeks with more than the standard two SNL songs, in case anyone else is keeping count.
We're at that weird end of the night period, and what's weirder than introducing the concept of gift wrapping to the Wild West? Wiig and Bridges teamed up to provide the service in a general store, as Hader the storekeeper sold his customers (Bayer, Moynihan, Sudeikis) on his cousin "and her special friend" on their service. He's going to shoot stuff out of his fanny.
Time for one final holiday message, and SNL turns to the Kardashian sisters (as played again by Bayer, Elliott and Pedrad) to do the dishonors. Just focus on that one part, in which they remind us why they're famous. One of them made a sex tape with the brother of a formerly famous singer (who's now by the way sorta famous again by doing a reality show of their own, thanks to Vh1). That's it. For that, they get to be famous enough to be parodied on SNL. I miss the days when we looked to Tarzan, Tonto and Frankenstein myself. At least those freaks were fictional.
Well, that's it. Time to close the books on 2010.
See you in 2011, SNL!