Tonight”s “Saturday Night Live” host Martin Short is no stranger to the show. After all, he was a big part of the show”s 10th season cast. That cast is unusual in the show”s history: Made up of many seasoned comic veterans brought in by then-producer Dick Ebersol after the departure of Eddie Murphy led to a domino effect of other repertory players either leaving or being fired, it was as much a presence in the writer”s room as onscreen. As such, Short (alongside other cast members such as Billy Crystal and Christopher Guest) had tremendous power to help shape what they did each Saturday night. A lot of those elements were pre-produced, which gives that tenth season something in common with the current thirty-eighth installment. So it makes a sort of sense to have Short join this particular cast on this particular night. That”s a bit of a stretch, to be sure. But it”s something that also feels right as I look at the ratio of live-to-taped segments then compared with now.
A Tony Bennett Christmas: And the hits keep coming, with Alec Baldwin reprising one of his great recurring impressions. Short soon joins him as Tony”s younger brother Jerry “The Barnacle” Bennett. The two interview Jay Pharoah”s Kanye West, still wearing his leather skirt from the “12/12/12” Concert this past week. Kanye has to hold up a box of suppositories for an unfortunate product placement segment. (“It”s sure easy to get down in the dumps when you can”t have one!”) What felt like the first of many segments turns out to be the only one, which makes the overemphasis on gross-out humor all the more curious. Short”s propensity towards breaking mid-sketch didn”t help, either. Having a parade of stars is great. Having sketches that are actually funny should be the priority, however. [Grade: B-]
It”s time for that up-and-coming musical artist Paul McCartney to take the stage and perform “My Valentine”. It”s a very pretty song, but come on, Paul! You only wrote a good chunk of THE great rock and roll songs of all time. Why not bust one of those out? My guess? He”ll perform twice more tonight, and this is the “whatever Paul wants to do” installment. But hey, Joe Walsh gotta eat, so we have him backing up McCartney on acoustic guitar. So that”s something! [Grade: B]
Weekend Update: To mark the last night of Chanukah, Bar Mitzvah Boy Jacob appears to tell Seth the story of the holiday. I think Vanessa Bayer has portrayed this character before in-sketch, but never on “Update”. Rather than actually converse with Meyers, Jacob simply reads off his speech from his Bar Mitzvah, complete with corny jokes always delivered in the same cadence. (“But don”t tell my parents I said that!”) My biggest takeaway from this? Bayer could play Luke Dunphy”s stunt double on “Modern Family” should “SNL” work out for her. Afterwords, Cecily Strong breaks out The Girl You Wish You Hadn”t Started A Conversation With At A Party. This iteration of the character seems to specialize in dropping entire syllables from words (George Washington founded ‘Merica, apparently) atop good ol” non-sequiturs (“This is origami. That”s Spanish for ‘goose”.”) and the usual racism (“Can I do a minstrel show really quick?”) thrown in for good measure. Given the cavalcade of stars there tonight, I can”t believe none got behind the “Update” desk. Are Fey and Fallon just straight-up drunk already backstage? If so…I want to go to there. Still, this was a pretty energetic “Update” overall, even without the Hosts of Update Past dropping by. [Grade: B+]
Restoration Hardware Reunion: “Hey,” said the writers of this sketch, probably, “Let”s not sleep for three days, improvise a scene, record whatever we say, and then just stage it inside a Restoration Hardware.” It”s unclear why anything is happening at any point: Why is one a James Cameron impersonator? Why does one live in a field? Why do they each have $6,000 in spending cash? And here”s the most important question of all: How do I get those four minutes of my life back? [Grade: D]
Best Sketch: “Kate Middleton”s Pregnancy Exam”