First of all, how wonderful was it when the whole cast, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Paul McCartney (!!!) were all on stage to sing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” with Bruce Springsteen? (Also, as someone who has seen Springsteen live 18 times, this was all just so wonderful.) Hey, it’s the Christmas show! When everyone in the cast is in a good mood because they get a nice long break. (And after some of the nonsense the cast and writers were put through this season – ahem, Trump – they deserve a nice break!)
Here is the last Scorecard of 2015…
Sketch of the Night
“Meet Your Second Wife” (Poehler, Fey, Moynihan, Killam, Thompson, Bayer, Bryant, Jones) What a great piece of sketch comedy. Biting, funny and (my favorite thing) it could have aired 10 years ago and still have been great. (In other words: a sketch that doesn’t rely on up-to-the-minute pop-culture references or nostalgia.) I was legitimately surprised when the first punchline hit! This was great.
“Dope Squad” (Poehler, Fey, Bryant, Schumer) Amy Schumer doing her slow-motion apocalyptic action walk made me laugh out loud. This reminded me a lot of the “Natalie’s Rap” Digital Short, even down to the reporter asking silly questions. (Though nothing will ever top Chris Parnell asking Natalie Portman, “If you could steal a smooch from anyone in Hollywood, who would it be?” before getting hit over the head with a chair.)
“Weekend Update” (Jost, Che, McKinnon, Fey, Poehler) Kate McKinnon’s Deenie is aces. Also: I love that she’s just eating baked salmon for no real reason, that’s a nice touch. Jost and Che have been consistently good for a few weeks now. Having Che mock Jost is good shtick. They finally have a working chemistry. Of course, then Fey and Poehler show up for one joke each and those two slide back into their “Update” roles like they had never left and, in comparison, is jarring. Still, Jost and Che are getting better. This is a good thing.
“Bronx Beat” (Poehler, Rudolph, Fey) You know, I was never a big “Bronx Beat” fan when it originally aired. But this one was pretty good! And Maya Rudolph does a pretty good Chewbacca. Who knew?
“Amy Poehler, Tina Fey Monologue” (Poehler, Fey, Ensemble) This was kind of all over the place, but whatever. It’s the holidays and here’s Amy Poehler, Tina Fey and the cast dancing around the stage.
“A Hillary Christmas” (McKinnon, Poehler, Fey) Everyone in this is great. And it was probably a good idea to do this sketch because it will get attention. But that’s the thing, it’s less a sketch and more just, “Hey, look at this: The gang’s all here.” (I’m not sure there was a real reason to bring back Fey’s Palin. I can’t imagine Fey was dying to play her again. But, in case you wanted one more installment, here it is.)
“Hoverboards” (Davidson, Mooney, Bennett) This is strange: it felt like the elements where everything was there. Kind of almost an “in your face!,” “Z-Shirt” type sketch. It just felt like something was missing. It certainly looked like something that was funny, but it never took off. (I almost wrote “it never caught fire,” then realized my accidental pun and was horrified about how stupid that sounded.)
“Movie Set” (Poehler, Fey, Thompson, Zamata) The concept is great. Seriously, this is a very funny concept. But, for whatever reason, it felt flat. Maybe it’s because they’ve done this one before, earlier this year, and it’s probably not a sketch that works twice? The last time, I had to watch it twice to appreciate it. Watching this one again, it’s just not quite there.
“Special Offer” (Killam, Bayer, Rudolph, Poehler, Fey, Thompson) The idea of having Bill Cosby sing “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is funny. But anyway, this sketch felt like a lot of funny ideas that didn’t really pay off.
“Cold Open: GOP Debate” (Hammond, Ensemble) Well, I think it’s obvious that SNL doesn’t know what to do with Trump. Taran Killam played Ted Cruz in this sketch, but I have a hard time believing, after the big announcement before the season started that Killam would be playing Trump, that they’d let Darrell Hammond perform his iconic Trump unless that’s the way they’re going forward. Why remind anyone of that when trying to establish a new take by a new performer? With letting Trump host and now, at least seemingly, the question of who is playing him, SNL really has botched this whole thing. It’s very frustrating.
Average Score for this Show: 5.9
· Tracy Morgan 7.12
· Elizabeth Banks 6.98
· Amy Schumer 6.53
· Chris Hemsworth 6.35
· Ryan Gosling 6.07
· Tina Fey and Amy Poehler 5.9
· Matthew McConaughey 5.78
· Miley Cyrus 5.41
· Donald Trump 4.48
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.