If you were to tell me in 2004 that Jimmy Fallon was to become one of the biggest late night stars on television, I would have thought you were crazy. Fallon has always been a funny comedian but I never considered him one of the big stars during his 1998-2004 tenure on Saturday Night Live. His constant laughing at his own jokes got a bit tiresome. Even his movies after his SNL departure were garbage like Taxi and Fever Pitch. Yet clearly there was some untapped talent that I just didn’t see because now Fallon is at the forefront of a new wave of late night hosts that can appeal to a much younger audience. He went from one of the many who wasn’t likely to have much success to one of the few that has become a massive sensation. And he deserves it because Fallon has truly become an extremely talented and funny person. Bring in the ever skilled Justin Timberlake and you have a recipe for an SNL unlike any other. There was no way last night could have been terrible.
Fallon’s return to SNL started off strong with a wonderfully done Cold Open. Aidy Bryant played a woman trying to sell gift wrap, only to be upstaged by Timberlake dressed up as a giant roll and Fallon dressed up as a giant bag. “Dancing Advertising Guy” is definitely Timberlake’s main recurring character now as it happens every time he’s on. It also can be really funny and last night was no exception. Even the audience loved it. The musical back and forth between Timberlake and Fallon was gold as were their wrapping focused parody songs. I don’t know about you but I want to go to Wrapperville now.
Right after a spectacular Monologue by Fallon where he impersonated David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, and McCartney freaking came out and sang a duet, we had the Family Feud Celebrity Edition. Kenan Thompson reprised his now classic Steve Harvey persona and this Family Feud was between celebrities from CBS and NBC. Each person was great but the real stars were Fallon as Jim Parsons’ Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory and Justin Timberlake as Jimmy Fallon. Even Fallon couldn’t handle Timberlake’s imitation of him, hiding from the camera twice to cover his laughter. I also found it hilarious that they had Brooks Wheelan play Brooks Wheelan, someone that no one was able to recognize, which was a little stab at his complete lack of screen time. He has definitely received the short stick of the new crop of cast members.
The Barry Gibb Talk Show made its grand reappearance last night too with Fallon as Barry Gibb and Timberlake as Robin Gibb. The Barry Gibb Talk Show is easily one of the best skits Fallon has ever done and last night was definitely one of the best. Fallon and Timberlake once again killed it with their pairing, and Taran Killam and Cecily Strong were excellent as Paul Ryan and Megyn Kelly. Madonna was there too which was funny but paled in comparison to the actual Barry Gibb stopping by at the end. Any skit that is both hilarious and features two music legends is awesome in my book.
Now I know I usually only do three, but last night’s SNL was so packed with awesome stuff that I would be remiss not to throw in something else I loved. Near the end Fallon and Strong did their own duet of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and it was both hilarious and so beautifully done. What a way to end the show before Timberlake’s final performance.
In all honestly, nothing was bad last night. Everything was either great or not as great but still really good. Doesn’t mean that weren’t a few skits that needed improvement though. One of these skits was a pre-recorded parody of Now That’s What I Call Christmas. It was another one of those celebrity impersonation packed skits that we have seen so many of over this first half. As usual some really worked, like Kate McKinnon as Shakira and Jimmy Fallon as Pitbull, and some not so much like McKinnon as Lorde and John Milhiser as Billie Joe Armstrong. I laughed a bit during this but not nearly as enough as before.
Waking Up with Kimye wasn’t as good this time around either. Its first outing a few weeks back was one of my highlights but last night’s didn’t reach the same high notes. While Jay Pharoah and Nasim Pedrad were great as Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, the segment was too much about how stupid Kim is and not enough about the ego maniac that is Kanye. The Christmas themed “Bound 2” video was a bit too late out of the gate too. Seth Rogan and James Franco already killed it with their parody and even South Park did something about it last week. Now, over a month after the video, SNL came late to the finish line with something subpar. Surely they could have done something sooner.
What a way to end the year! Not only did Jimmy Fallon deliver one of his best SNL performances, he also gave us one of the best shows in recent memory. It was just a laugh riot from start to finish. The writing was more on point than usual, Timberlake showed that he is a natural fit for the SNL stage, and each cast member really delivered. Last night was also Seth Meyers’ last show as a writer before he takes over Late Night which gave a rightfully somber tone to the Weekend Update. Meyers was absolutely spectacular on SNL and I will definitely miss him. Thankfully the Weekend Update is in good hands with Cecily Strong. Meyers can also be happy knowing his ended his writing tenure on the highest note possible. Bottom line, if you had to watch one episode of SNL from this season, make it this one.