The Christmas holiday edition of Saturday Night Live usually offers something special for viewers and cast alike — from the big-time surprise celebrity cameos, to Christmas cheer, to the now-traditional post-SNL all-skate on the rink outside 30 Rock at Rockefeller Plaza. Add in a host who’s not only a cherished member of SNL’s family but also the most important cog in NBC’s late-night past, present and future not named Jay Leno. Plus the show’s most charismatic musical guest who’s been suggested by all corners as a worthy full-time cast member in his own right — and responsible for an award-winning, Internet-game-changing Christmas video seven years ago (SEVEN YEARS AGO!) with “Dick in a Box.”
You knew Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake together again would be special. You’d knew it’d be fun. But would it be funny? Does that last question even matter?
To the recap!
They bring JT’s most popular recurring SNL sketch out of the gate in the cold open, this time with Fallon as they tag-team rap battle Aidy Bryant in bringing it on down to Wrappinville. They’re professional rappers, you see. Professional wrappers. Wrap battle! The wrapping starts to tear apart when Bryant tries to join the fellas to deliver the “live from New York, it’s Saturday night!” pronouncement. Foreshadowing. There will be cracking up tonight. From Fallon? Shocking, I know.
For his monologue, Fallon also reminds us: “I’m going to be the new host of the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” With Jay Leno. Hahaha hohoho. Fallon has earned Grammys by impersonating musical greats and proposes to sing an all-star edition of “Joy to the World” with David Bowie, Bob Dylan and Sir Paul McCartney, with Fallon playing all of the parts. Until Macca himself strides onstage! With a CitiBike joke! Sir Paul and laddy Jimmmy duet on “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.”
No fake ad in the fake ad slot.
Celebrity Edition Family Feud hosted by Steve Harvey (Kenan Thompson), with CBS vs. NBC. For CBS: Jim Parsons (Fallon), Ashton Kutcher (Taran Killam), Jon Cryer (John Milhiser), Alyson Hannigan (Noel Wells). For NBC: Timberlake as Fallon — it gets double meta as JT skewers Fallon, followed by Thompson’s Harvey saying, “You need to calm down. I mean, I’m not that excited about this show, and they’re pay me!” He said it. Also playing for NBC: Jane Lynch (Kate McKinnon), Ice-T (Jay Pharoah), Brooks Wheelan as himself! What do you do? Thompson asks Wheelan, delving deeper into SNL making fun of itself. “I’m on Saturday Night Live” “I doubt it.” When can we see you on it? “I mean, sometimes, not a lot, but cool.” JT’s Fallon has Fallon dive under his podium to avoid cracking on camera. But the #1 answer on the board to being sexy is to be Justin Timberlake? I mean, c’mon now. Too meta.
“(Do It On My) Twin Bed.” That’s followed by a pre-taped music video with the SNL ladies playing themselves, singing about bringing their boyfriends home for the holidays — to their childhood bedrooms. With a rapping bridge by Fallon. With actual 7th grade photos of the cast members. This will get passed around a bit. It’s great stuff. And yet. An interesting move for a show that’s highlighted its own lack of a black female presence.
Speaking of which, we’re not going to see any black ladies on SNL until Jan. 18, 2014, at the earliest, when Drake is both host and musical guest.
If there’s something Fallon and Timberlake are best known for collaborating on within SNL, it’s the Barry Gibb Talk Show. So, of course, they were doing that again. But also kicking it up a couple of big notches. Not because of guests Megyn Kelly (Cecily Strong) and Congressman Paul Ryan (Taran Killam) but because of Madonna as the third guest, playing herself?! Yep. That happened. Why is Madge putting teeth in her teeth in the middle of this sketch, though? What in Australia’s wild kingdom is this? What do they say about Chekov’s Teeth? We don’t see the teeth, do we, but we do see the real Barry Gibb! Not that the howling audience knows how to process this development. Madonna’s response to all of this is to be very 2013 about it, pulling out her phone and snapping a photo from behind to post on Instagram. Yep. That happened, too.
Ladies and gentlemen, Justin Timberlake. “Only When I Walk Away.” Insert your own “Entrapment” or Yeezus jokes here.
Kate McKinnon gets a chance to shine as legendary tennis great Billie Jean King, appointed by President Obama to be an American ambassador to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. In spite of the Russian anti-gay politics. Put that in your Putin and smoke it.
Jimmy Fallon plays himself at the Update desk to promote his big NBC move a second time this evening, but alongside outgoing NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Big changes coming for them in 2014. And also the guy at the Weekend Update desk, Seth Meyers, who is taking over “Late Night” in February when Fallon takes over “Tonight.” Is that why they’re all wearing maroon ties? Maroon 3 is no Maroon 5. I guess they couldn’t get Leno to New York in time for this, right? Right?
12:28 a.m. on the coasts. Time to get crazy. Or Kimye.
The “Waking Up With Kimye” morning show spoof returns with Jay Pharoah as Kanye West hyping up his baby mama, Kim Kardashian (Nasim Pedrad). With a performance by the in-hour family Kardashian Kristmas Karolers. KKK. You get it. And a video Christmas card to lampoon that other music video the real-life Kimye dumped on us. You mean SNL hadn’t lampooned this already? Oh, right. That was James Franco and Seth Rogen getting to that joke first.
The rest of the show is fun but not funny, per se.
Scaling back the weird and wacky for the holidays, are they?
First, a pre-taped “Now That’s What I Call Christmas” ad spoof, with Michael Buble (Fallon), Shakira (McKinnon), Zooey Deschanel (Wells), Alan Rickman as his Profesor Snape (Fallon again), and DMX (Pharoah), Guns N Roses (who is Axl?, Brooks Wheelan is Slash), Andrea Bocelli (Bobby Moynihan), Alanis Morrisette (Cecily Strong) with Billie Joe Armstrong (Milhiser), Lorde (McKinnon) and Harry Styles (Fallon), Pitbull (Fallon). Very well executed but not egg-nog-satcly LOL.
Next, “A Christmas Carol,” with Taran Killam as Scrooge, Kenan as Ghost of Christmas Past, Moynihan as his former boss, Bryant, McKinnon, and Fallon as young Scrooge as flamboyantly gay. Everybody dance now. Wheelan as Ghost of Christmas Present brings him a happy ending, though.
And then SNL leaves us with a cold opening to a sketch duet with Fallon and Strong on “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” followed “12 minutes later” with an imagining of what happens after their romantic hook-up. Men and women are different, y’all. The sketch makes an abrupt about-face to end cute?! Um, OK.
Once again, Justin Timberlake. This time on the guitar. “Pair of Wings.”
Only two minutes to 1 a.m. as they break for commercial. So. No last sketch for 2013??? Instead, Chris Rock is standing there for the good-nights! A last-mninute replacement for the missing Madonna? At any rate, Merry Christmas! See you in 2014!