SNL #39.9 RECAP: Host John Goodman, musical guests Kings of Leon

John Goodman has hosted Saturday Night Live for 13 times. Thirteen times! And it was just Friday the 13th! How could we be so lucky?

And yet, hard not to believe that this episode of SNL would not be overshadowed by news about casting for SNL, stunt cameos on SNL, and looking past the live broadcast to the following week’s show. On the other hand, or still on the same hand depending on your perspective, the show in its 39th season is becoming increasingly stronger when it’s not live through imaginative, focused and hard-hitting pre-taped vignettes. So. With all of that said, to the recap!

We open cold with President Barack Obama (Jay Pharoah) explaining his actions at Nelson Mandela’s memorial in South Africa — the handshake with Cuba’s Raul Castro, the selfie cell phone photo with the Danish prime minister and any flirting that may have taken place before/after said selfie — but we all know the star of this sketch is going to be the interpreter for the deaf who wasn’t well-versed in actual sign language. Kenan Thompson’s performance as the interpreter reminds me of every single time our improv group played the interpreter game onstage, which is just how easy and simple it is, while also how must deaf people feel about it? Never you mind, because we’re onto Kate McKinnon again as the German leader Angela Merkel who wants her own selfie with Obama. And anyhow, opening your SNL with the two black guys in the cast leading it is a surefire way to downplay that whole WE’RE HOLDING FINAL AUDITIONS FOR BLACK LADIES SO PLEASE STOP YELLING AT US ABOUT IT discussion thread. Hahaha hohoho.

For John Goodman’s 13th time hosting, he just wants to sing a song for his lady during the monologue. And Kenan Thompson is here for that, too. Just because? Just because. This is a good a time as any to remind you as it reminded me that Goodman co-starred in the Blues Brothers 2000 movie. If he wants to sing, “All I Want For Christmas is Booty,” so be it. Do you think he likes big booty? C’mon now. Don’t lie.

Fake ad in the fake ad slot!

Guy Fieri was just in my neighborhood. Like a five-minute walk from my apartment, visiting a restaurant my friend Brendan works at in Astoria to film a segment for an upcoming Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. I could tell you a whole lot more about that, but instead, focus in on Bobby Moynihan’s devastatingly good Guy in this “Guy Fieri’s Full Throttle Christmas Special” promotional parody video. With a slew of stuffing, provided by impersonations of Kid Rock (Brooks Wheelan), Criss Angel (Kyle Mooney), Bret Michaels (Taran Killam), Kimbo Slice (Kenan THompson), Mimi from Drew Carey (Aidy Bryant), Verne Troyer’s Mini-Me (John Milhiser), Dog the Bounty Hunter (John Goodman) and Big Ang (Kate McKinnon), and the Duck Dynasty guys (Kings of Leon), plus Pawn Stars (all played by Moynihan). Bobby kills it. Kate demolishes it. I’m moons over my hammy over all of these hams right now.

This sketch is made even more so delicious immediately thereafter in the ensuing commercial break. Well, at the very end of this commercial break. When the Food Network bought ad time for an actual Guy Fieri promo spot. Winner winner, chicken dinner!

Why this community theater inner monologue about four middle-aged adults doing the “Dance of the Snowflakes” is the selected YouTube clip is, well, I’m sure someone is having an inner monologue about that decision. With Goodman, Vanessa Bayer, Aidy Bryant and Kenan Thompson.

That’s immediately followed after another ad break by a live promotion for the upcoming movie, Grudge Match, starring Sylvester Stallone and Robert DeNiro.

People watching this live last night rushed to Twitter and Facebook to let us all know how BIG and IMPORTANT it was to see surprise cameos on camels — CAMEOS ON CAMELS is my new favorite recurring SNL sketch idea, BTW FTW! — that they rushed to do so before seeing if anything memorably funny happened during the sketch, “Three Wise Guys.” It’s the old New Testament tale of the Three Wise Men visiting the baby Jesus, but they’re wise guys from modern-day Long Island and New Jersey. And they’re Stallone, DeNiro and Goodman. Get it? Got it? Good. Something something Jesus what’s his last name. “Christ, I don’t know!” Some good lines and fun with Biblical lore, wrapped up in big-name cameos on camels.

Ladies and gentlemen, Kings of Leon. This is “Temple.”

Weekend Update

A Slate columnist suggested we didn’t need a white Santa Claus to have a “white Christmas,” and Megyn Kelly from FOX News denied that reality. So surprise, it’s Kenan Thompson as black Santa with a soon-to-be widely-quoted notion about “secret Santa.” And if you thought the gay reindeer was Rudolph, you’re in for another surprise.

Bobby Moynihan’s Drunk Uncle returned to the Update desk to talk about the holidays, and to introduce us to his uncle, Drunker Uncle (John Goodman). Side note: Has Drunk Uncle always referred to himself in the third-person as “Drunk Uncle,” or is this a new development? Discuss. I’m a big fan of pretty much everything Moynihan does, and this is no different. Even if or especially because they sing one of my go-to karaoke songs. Get outta my dreams!

Just when your parents thought it was safe to turn off the TV after Update…oh wait, that’s why they do that? It’s time for the final half-hour of SNL.

In New York City, sometimes the local news makes hay over a woman who’s so hot she gets fired from her job because of it? Strange but true. So this sketch actually takes that complaint to trial in the courtroom, with Goodman in drag as Jenaveve Lazarra, the too-hot woman, Cecily Strong as her attorney, Beck Bennett as the boss-man defendant and Taran Killam as his defense lawyer, plus Kenan Thompson as the judge. It’s all just heightening your suspension of disbelief. Along with the revelation that Beck Bennett really has a liking for physical comedy. Bring on the dance moves. Let’s get physical.

Nasim Pedrad gets one more chance to have fun in the name of her childhood friend by recurring her “Shallon” character, a school student who’s the bad girl when outsiders visit class with safety tips. This time around, it’s firefighter Capt. Lemkee (Goodman) with fire safety advice. Pure. Simple. Naive like Shallon’s fellow students, who spin the grown-up’s words around on him.

The live studio audience lost steam on this Hallmark Channel “Countdown to Christmas” spoof on celebrity TV movies such as “Skyping with Santa” and “On Dasher, On Danza.” Perhaps New Yorkers and visitors to our fair Apple of Big already have seen so much “reality” TV and stunt casting and those fake show billboards by Channel Thirteen that this is all too close to being true already. Yeah. We believe this dreck is possible. What’s the joke?

Once again, Kings of Leon. This is “Wait For Me.”

Usually SNL starts a Turner Classic Movies spoof with an introduction, but not for “The Christmas Whistle” with Kate McKinnon doing some sort of Kate Hepburn, Goodman as the dad and Nasim Pedrad and Kyle Mooney as their children. Times are tough for this family, but if every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings, just think of how many times a whistle whistles when someone is just being watched by an angel? You don’t have to think about it. Just listen. The left-turn of the sketch isn’t so right.

Do you suppose H&M loves this next sketch or really loves this pre-taped bit?

H&M sells you on the notion of cheap chic. SNL takes this notion over the top with a rap by Jay Pharoah with Wale (for real). Nice touch having the mannequins come to life as Nasim Pedrad, Kate McKinnon and Noël Wells.

It’s 12:53 a.m. on the East and West coasts. Close enough to five-to-one and last call for SNL. Which means another “Last Call” sketch for Kate McKinnon’s recurring bar drunk, Sheila Sauvage. In previous weeks, she has drunkenly hit on and made out with Louis C.K. and Vince Vaughn. Here, she sprays shaving cream onto John Goodman’s face before licking it off of said face. Would you like to see them 66? “Which is the two of us upside-down watching television?” Yes. I might like that. Thanks.

That’s it. Good night! Next week is Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake. You know what that means. No. Seriously. You probably know what that means.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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