There’s a fine line between “endearing” and “annoying” when an “SNL” host laughs during sketches. Ryan Gosling teetered closer to the “endearing” side because, god bless him, he tried his darndest not to laugh. But laugh he did. Maybe this is the first time Ryan Gosling has experienced humor? He does seem to appear in a lot of serious movies, so maybe this emotion caught him by surprise? Anyway, we’ll probably never know: Life is full of mysteries. Here is today’s Scorecard…
Sketch of the Night
“Nespresso” (Killam, Moynihan, McKinnon) “How do we even know each other?,” Bobby Moynihan’s Danny DeVito asks Taran Killam’s George Clooney. Here’s a commercial about coffee, yet Clooney takes DeVito on a whimsical tour of the world, while Clooney shakes and bobs his head along the way. As far as I’m concerned, everything about this seems accurate. This is what it would be like to spend time with George Clooney.
Now, when I watch the real version of this commercial, I watch it differently. I know what’s really happening.
“Santa Baby” (Gosling, Bayer, Bennett, Thompson, Bryant) I kind of love it when SNL does something that’s a little closer to drama. This was great: I really believed Ryan Gosling thought he was meeting the real Santa. This feels like a character Gosling would play in a movie. I kind of want to see this movie.
“Close Encounter” (Bryant, Moynihan, Strong, McKinnon, Gosling) This really did benefit from a contagious case of the giggles. Of course, this is the moment Gosling cracked and pretty much never recovered for the rest of the show, but he wasn’t alone at first. If everyone plays it straight, I’m not sure this quite works as well as it did. But, whatever, I enjoyed watching this. Good grief, Kate McKinnon was funny. The more I think about it, the more I can’t blame Gosling for laughing.
“Weekend Update” (Jost, Che, Strong, Moynihan, Gosling) I’m not exactly sure what Cecily Strong’s Glamour magazine character was supposed to be? That was…something? Though, Ryan Gosling as Angelo Skaggs alongside Moynihan’s Anthony Crispino was surprisingly great. And I kind of love how Moynihan keeps pushing Crispino’s eccentricities further and further each time. Jost and Che were good. “Update” is getting better at the little things — like the look on Michael Che’s face after the Isis Cosby joke. Actually, “Update” might be better served if we could just have a camera on Che’s face after every Jost joke.
“Hometown Bar” (Gosling, Strong, Mooney, Moynihan) It appeared Kyle Mooney’s goal in life for the duration of this sketch was to make Ryan Gosling laugh. Mooney succeeded! (Granted, that wasn’t a difficult thing to do on this night.) Mooney seemed to feed off of this, taking his performance up a few notches.
“Santa & The Elves” (Moynihan, Thompson, Bayer, Gosling, Bryant) Okay, okay: This sketch makes so much more sense in the 10 to 1 slot than it did right after the monologue, as it was in Louis C.K.’s show back in May. It’s also weird, it lost a little of the edge, too? I still laughed, but it doesn’t seem quite as shocking for this to run at 1:00 a.m. then at the start of the show.
“The Wiz” (Jones, Zamata, Thompson, Gosling, Pharoah, Che) Who knew Ryan Gosling could do such a good Ray Bolger Scarecrow? Production values alone, this was kind of great. Now I kind of, sort of want to see a The Wizard of Oz, The Wiz crossover event.
“Ryan Gosling Monologue” (Gosling, Strong, Myers, McKinnon, Bryant, Pharoah, Killam, Rudnitsky) It was a funny idea for Gosling to pretend he was from Brooklyn, then be outed as Canadian. And the fun little Canadian holiday song duet with Mike Myers was nice. This was nice. (From the “SNL” Instagram account, I learned Jon Rudnitsky was in the snowman outfit. It’s probably not a great sign that we are almost half a season in and I still have to look up how to spell his name.)
“Birthday Party” (Gosling, Bayer, Strong, Zamata, Bryant, McKinnon) This is basically the same sketch they did with Drake in 2014 (which was Sasheer Zamata’s first show). And, like that one, it’s pretty much the same joke over and over. And, like the first one, Aidy Bryant does everything she can to sell it.
“Settl” (McKinnon, Zamata, Bayer, Jones, Killam, Mooney, Davidson) Everything technically about this was sound, but it all just seemed a little too straightforward. In other words: There didn’t seem to be a lot of originality to this.
“Cold Open: Donald and Melania Trump” (Killam, Strong) It just doesn’t work. Nothing that came out of Taran Killam’s mouth seemed half as crazy as what comes out of the real Donald Trump’s mouth (even though Killam’s Trump is much, much better than it was on the season opener). Plus, once SNL let Trump host, the show is de-fanged as far as this kind of thing goes. It just doesn’t work like that, “Hey, this guy is awful, oh, but please be our guest any time.”
Average Score for this Show: 6.07
Mike Ryan lives in New York City and has written for The Huffington Post, Wired, Vanity Fair and New York magazine. He is senior entertainment writer at Uproxx. You can contact him directly on Twitter.