Few people in the entertainment industry are as legendary and well-known as John Goodman. He’s become one of those comedic actors that found such immense fame thanks to film and TV appearances in the ’80s and ’90s that he literally doesn’t need to do anything anymore. Yet he still does because he’s John freaking Goodman. What else would he do? Last night’s episode of Saturday Night Live was his 13th time hosting. He’s currently hosted the show the third-most times after Steve Martin (15) and reigning champ Alec Baldwin (16). It’s safe to say that he’s an expert in all things SNL. This time Goodman came with Kings of Leon in their third show appearance. I have no strong feelings for or against Kings of Leon, but I knew they could deliver some solid entertainment. As for Goodman, I knew he could use his endless wealth of comedy to make this a truly entertaining 13th outing.
The Cold Open this week was particularly enjoyable, getting the show off on the right foot. It was the usual current events bit that we’ve all come to expect. This time it was Jay Pharoah as Barack Obama addressing the Affordable Care Act site (again), the Nelson Mandela funeral selfie, and everything else that happened during the week. Now normally this wouldn’t be that memorable, but when you have Kenan Thompson coming in as the Mandela funeral sign language interpreter and Kate McKinnon as Angela Merkel, everything gets better. Thompson didn’t have any lines but his nonverbal actions were spectacular.
The Weekend Update was also on top form last night which made sense considering that next week is Seth Meyers’ last show. Cecily Strong and Meyers were great as always, but it was their hilarious guests that made this bit shine. First we had Thompson come in as Santa Clause. This was in response to the recent Megyn Kelly debacle about Santa and Jesus being white. The result is basically Thompson talking about why exactly Santa is black and why so many people claim he’s white. Trust me, it sounds better than it does on paper. The next guest was Bobby Moynihan as his famous recurring character Drunk Uncle. Drunk Uncle is always great, but this was one of his better outings. As if that wasn’t enough, Goodman comes out as Drunker Uncle. Moynihan and Goodman really bounced off each other’s humor well making their pairing shine.
Last night ended with a segment at Donnelly’s which featured McKinnon as her recurring character Sheila Sovage at another bar last call. This was basically an excuse for Goodman and McKinnon to be as absurd as humanly possible and it worked really well. If anything, this skit was impressive solely because no one involved broke character. Not even Thompson with his hilarious reactions to Sovage messily making out with a whipped cream covered Goodman. It just got crazier and crazier, and it really ended the night on a high note.
I wanted to love the Three Wise Guys skit, so badly, but it just wasn’t that funny. This was one of those rare segments that didn’t feature a single cast member. In their places were Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro with Goodman as the third Wise Guy. Both De Niro and Stallone have been amazing on SNL in the past but this was not one of their better moments. It was awkwardly paced and it didn’t even feel like De Niro was really committing himself to the performance. The material was all there for something amazing, but even the best laid plans fail with poor delivery.
The Guy Fieri Full Throttle Christmas Special basically gave me a mental seizure too. I mean, it’s Guy Fieri. What do you expect? But seriously, this felt like the writing staff tried to shotgun in as many characters as possible without any sense of direction. Goodman was Dog the Bounty Hunter, Taran Killam was Kid Rock, Thompson was Kimbo Slice, etc. My mind was spinning at everything being thrown at me. Not much else to say other than it was a big mess.
Near the end we had a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it pre-recorded segment of Hallmark Channel movie parodies. The only real way to describe this was complete filler. It wasn’t funny, didn’t really feature many cast members, and it was the same disorganized mess as the Guy Fieri Full Throttle Christmas Special segment. Before I could even understand what was being thrown at me, it ended. Thankfully it was mercifully short.
True to his status as a legendary comedian, John Goodman completely stole the show last night. His comfort from decades of entertaining millions gave him an edge that far surpassed a lot of people currently on the cast. There’s a good reason why Goodman has now hosted 13 times and it’s surefire comedic excellence. It really felt that the writers brought their A-game too with other great skits like Goodman in drag claiming he was fired for being too hot and Nasim Pedrad as Shallon, the precocious young girl who will jump into fire to save Santa Clause. “I SACRIFICE MYSELF FOR YOU SANTA!” was easily one of the better one-liners of the night. I did find it a bit strange that there were so many Christmas references thrown in already, especially considering there’s one more episode before Christmas, but I guess that’s bound to happen with December winding down. Regardless, last night was a great show. See you next Saturday for Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake!