What do you do when your live show has to be dramatically altered at the last minute? That’s what the staff of SNL had to ask themselves as the Omicron variant ran roughshod across New York, shattering daily case records almost two years into the pandemic. Mere hours before the show went live, it was revealed that they were sending almost everyone home out of an abundance of caution. (That included musical guest Charli XCX.) Only two cast members, Michael Che and Keenan Thompson, remained. Host Paul Rudd showed up, mostly to get his “Five Timers Club” robe from Tom Hanks and Tina Fey.
The rest of the episode was a mix of pre-taped sketches they’d filmed throughout the week, plus older sketches chosen almost at random. Of the former, there was one where an older, washed-up Pete Davidson goes Robert De Niro towards the end of Raging Bull.
The rest? Well, there was “D*ck in a Box,” the beloved musical number with Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg. (Hey, it’s about gift-giving and there are Christmas trees!) There was Ryan Gosling in a 2015 sketch about elves.
There was a monologue fellow “Five Timer Club” member Steve Martin delivered in 1990 about his various, not terribly gracious holiday wishes.
There was Paul McCartney teaming up with Martin Sheen for a 2012 sketch that also includes outgoing Jason Sudeikis and then-newbie Cecily Strong.
There was the Christmas sketch from Eddie Murphy’s triumphant SNL return from 2019.
And there was, of course, maybe TV Funhouse’s finest accomplishment: “Christmastime for the Jews.”
There was also one sketch that is nowhere to be found on the internet: “Global Warming Christmas Special,” one of Hanks’ favorites, from 1990, in which Carl Sagan (Mike Myers) hosts a holiday show dedicated to the erosion of the planet due to a preventable slow-moving cataclysm that everyone assumed we’d take care of 30-some years later. Hanks plays a very drunk Dean Martin and Dana Carvey whips out his excellent take on McCartney as a babbling maniac. Looks like you had to have tuned in last night to catch it, alas.