Recap: Saturday Night Live with John Goodman and Kings of Leon (with video)

SNL John Goodman Kings of Leon

John Goodman host Saturday Night Live for the 13th time tonight with musical guest Kings of Leon.

Goodman hosted once in each of the 11 seasons from 1989 to 2000. The last time Goodman helmed Saturday Night Live was during Season 27 (2001-2002) when Ja Rule (!!!) was the musical guest. Based on the video of Goodman promoting his appearance on the show with Taran Killam, I thought tonight’s episode would be much better than it was. It was unfunny and tired for the most part, with the best sketches (Last Call, H&M) closing the show.

Here’s my sketch-by-sketch recap of tonight’s episode.

Cold open

The show started with Jay Pharoah’s Barack Obama wanting to address Americans about the healthcare.gov website. First, though, he wanted to address the “series of unfortunate events” that transpired at Nelson Mandela’s memorial (the selfie with the Danish PM, the handshake with Raul Castro). When he got to talking about the health-care website, Kenan Thompson came out as the man who made up his own sign language at the Mandela memorial. It’s nice to see SNL tackle current events in these cold opens that are actually current; they haven’t done that nearly enough this season. A gag that ran out of steam pretty quickly. Video via mediaite.com.

Monologue

A song. Another song in the monologue. This one, host John Goodman says, is dedicated to his family who he’s away from too often because he’s in Monsters University and Argo and a propaganda film that teaches schoolgirls how to stretch. The song is “All I Want for Christmas is Booty” and Goodman is joined on stage by Kenan Thompson. Video via DailyMotion.

Guy Fieri’s Full Throttle Christmas Special

Bobby Moynihan’s Guy Fieri is so good and this is just over-the-top enough to be believable: yeah, Fieri totally has Mimi from Drew Carey over for Christmas! And Dog the Bounty Hunter (Goodman) and Big Ang from Mob Wives (who I’d love to see Kate McKinnon reprise soon) sing Christmas carols for his guests, which include Bret Michaels and Verne Troyer.

Christmas Pageant

Four adults do a Dancing of the Snowflakes: Goodman, Vanessa Bayer, Kenan Thompson and Aidy Bryant. They’re all enthusiastically dancing and participating, but a voice-over/internal monologue by each of them reveals they all think this is “dumb and humiliating.” I’m with them on this one.

Three Wise Guys

Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro join Goodman (and three camels) as “Three Wise Guys” on their way to see Jesus (“Jesus? Is he Latino?” asks Stallone’s Guy. “I hear it’s not even his,” De Niro’s Guy says about Joseph.) It’s a funny setup that was horribly executed. It seems like a total missed opportunity; it could have been a new Christmas classic, but they seemed unprepared and uninterested in being on those plush camels. Video via mediaite.com.

Weekend Update

Santa is black, Megyn Kelly, but Mrs. Claus is white – says Kenan Thompson’s Santa Claus. He was on Update and was asked why he was OK with a white guy taking all the credit for his work? It’s not that I’m OK with it, just something I’m used to, he answered. Video via mediaite.com.

Drunk Uncle was back on Update. When’s the movie coming out? Moynihan’s Drunk Uncle laments kids not leaving milk and cookies for Santa anymore. Instead, he says, they leave “almond milk and Instagram crackers.” Among the other Drunk Uncle jokes tonight: “We got Black Friday now? Barf. Wasn’t February enough?” “Is this tinsel grass-fed?” When Seth tells Drunk Uncle he think he’s too drunk, Drunk Uncle introduces us to his uncle, Drunker Uncle (Goodman): “All I want for Christmas is for my two neighbours not to be Chinese anymore.”

Wrongful termination

John Goodman (in drag) as a woman claiming she was fired from her job at an art gallery because of her looks. Defence’s opening argument: “I mean…” The sketch started off rocky but got better as Goodman’s character took the stand. Isn’t it true you took ecstasy at work and bragged about it to your co-workers, the defence asked? “I plead naughty,” she answered. The sketch ends with Goodman being asked to demonstrate the dance her boss would ask her to perform because he “needed it.” It’s a testament to Goodman’s comedic chops that this worked.

Via nbcsnl.tumblr.com
Via nbcsnl.tumblr.com

Fire safety

A firefighter speaks to a classroom of kids about how to be fire-safe during Christmas. Stay away from the fire. Simple enough rule, right? But then what happens to Santa when he comes down the chimney. Is he in danger? Goodman’s firefighter tries to backtrack but it’s too late: the kids are gonna hang out by the fire on Christmas Eve and touch it, too! Nasim Pedrad’s first appearance in this episode was as the trouble-making student Shallon, who also appeared on the Edward Norton episode of SNL just a few weeks ago. It’s just an OK character that I feel has also overstayed her welcome.

Hallmark Channel movies

Not a sketch so much as a edited stock footage. No SNL castmembers were on this pre-recorded bit about Hallmark Channel movies, like Elf with a Shelf with Dolly Parton, or The Christmas Nap with Phylicia Rashad, or some other thing Dean Cain or Tony Danza or Rosie O’Donnell. A screenshot of each movie via SNL‘s Tumblr.

The Christmas Whistle

A Turner Movie Classic about a magic whistle that’s blown when someone is thinking of you. And it gets blown. And blown. And blown. And the neighbours are angry, and sleeping people wake up. Turns out the whistle was swallowed by someone who choked on it. Headache-inducing and unfunny.

H&M

A great digital short with a rapping Jay Pharoah singing about H&M’s inexpensive but shitty clothes. This should have been moved way earlier in the show. Much funnier than almost everything on tonight’s episode. Video via Tumblr available in Canada/outside U.S.

Last call

A new fixture as the end-of-night sketch, a man (the host) and woman (the ultra game Kate McKinnon, SNL MVP) are the last two people in a bar that don’t want to go home alone. It’s a game of how-long-can-you-go, as in nothing’s a deal breaker: you found a peanut in her teeth even though this bar doesn’t serve peanuts? Fine. “I choose you, out of 0” other guys here, McKinnon’s woman says.

I’d say John Goodman was pretty game, but there were so many things that felt repetitive tonight. Shallon appeared on the Edward Norton episode; the monologue featured a song again, but this one kind of didn’t go anywhere past the punchline/chorus: “All I Want for Christmas is Booty.” While the H&M pre-recorded sketch was the best, the pre-recorded Hallmark sketch was the worst, although it may be unfair to consider it a sketch since no one appeared in it. I’m going to forget about a lot of these sketches tomorrow, and that’s not what a 13-time host deserves. Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro was the greatest surprise and quickly turned into the greatest disappointment of the night.

Kings of Leon sang two songs that were not “Use Somebody” or “Sex on Fire.”

In Canada, you can watch most of the sketches on Global’s website, usually as of Sunday morning. 

At 13, Goodman is still two shy of Steve Martin’s 15 SNL hosting gigs and Alec Baldwin’s record 16. Goodman will be seen in the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis, due out in select cities on Dec. 20, and Dec. 25 in Montreal.

Jimmy Fallon hosts next week with musical guest Justin Timberlake. It’ll be the last episode of the year and Seth Meyers’ last episode ever before he starts hosting Late Night.

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