Written by Mark Henely and Melissa Jouben
Saturday Night Live – Casey Affleck, Chance the Rapper, Alec Baldwin and John Goodman
Host: Casey Affleck
Melissa: I’m told (mostly by Mark) that Casey Affleck is very well-liked, perhaps even more well-liked than his brother Ben. I didn’t agree. I thought that while Casey Affleck is clearly a very good actor – maybe even one of the best we’ve got right now – he’s not a particularly likable or endearing fellow. At least not in my eyes. When Affleck came out on the stage to perform his monologue, I saw a man very out of his element and even a little visibly uncomfortable. I was honestly so turned off by the weird energy of the monologue that I was dreading what the rest of the episode would be like. Is this going to be another episode where the host stumbles over all their lines and can’t seem to get their timing down right? Thankfully they followed the monologue up immediately with a pre-recorded sketch, “Dunkin’ Donuts,” that put all my fears to rest. It’s at times like this where I’m very humbled to remember that 10 times out of 10, the people at SNL know what they are doing better than me. They knew they’d have to win the audience over to Affleck immediately in order to make this episode work, and so they had him do what Casey Affleck could do best: play a guy from Boston. After that, if he faltered at all in his performances, I hardly noticed. At that point all I could do was lament the fact that the sketches weren’t… Better?
Mark: Listen, we all know that Casey Affleck is a well-liked character actor, but we also all know that that doesn’t necessarily mean anything when it comes to hosting SNL. Sometimes great actors make bizarre hosts (see: Daniel Craig). But, I think Affleck did a pretty good job. I actually thought the monologue was decently executed (especially for someone who is not a stand up comedian) and I thought most of the sketches hit. And the sketches that didn’t hit almost hit. There wasn’t anything on here, except for maybe the Dunkin Donuts sketch, that could be considered a classic, but there weren’t any bizarre failures either.
Melissa’s Highlight of the Night – Jingle Barack
Melissa: And here I am, picking a sketch in which Casey Affleck has no speaking lines. That isn’t on purpose, I swear. When you watch something that seems as perfectly realized and executed as this sketch, you forget that often times, it was written, shot, and edited within the week. That’s always very impressive, but I was especially struck by that last night. First of all, it’s such an excellent idea to drum up when you have someone like Chance the Rapper on during the Christmas episode. I sometimes get put off by the idea of a musical guest finding their way into a sketch (remember when I complained about Bruno Mars cameoing in a sketch during the Emily Blunt episode?) but this is a perfect example of how you do that. “Jingle Barack” features Keenan Thompson and Chance the Rapper singing and rapping a song about celebrating their last Christmas with Barack Obama in office. The whole song is sort of a loving nod to Run-D.M.C.’s “Christmas in Hollis” and so the video is shot to appear very 1980’s. Doesn’t make a lot of sense for the subject matter since they’re singing about the 21stcentury’s best president, but it was a really good tribute. Leslie Jones also drops by for a verse, and of course she needs to sing about her sexual attraction to Joe Biden. This sketch accomplishes a lot, and doesn’t ever muddy the point. I think it’s the most fun they’ve had making a political point in a while, and I’m always on board for fun political commentary about say, how black lives will be affected by a Trump presidency, instead of thinking it’s cute and fun to dress someone in a skeleton costume and call him Steve Bannon.
Mark’s Highlight of the Night: Dunkin Donuts
Mark: Well-liked character actor, Casey Affleck, is really in his element in this sketch where he plays an “Actual Customer” at Dunkin Donuts. It’s a fun commercial parody where they focus in on Casey Affleck’s character, maybe the most unlikeable, low-class Boston guy to frequent the Dunkin Donuts. Affleck is a great screen actor and this sketch is really a showcase of his abilities. It’s a very good, very shareable sketch.
Low Point of the Night – Mrs. Claus and the Elves
Melissa: I hated these elves the first time they were trying to get Santa to spank their naughty little hinnies, what makes you think I’m gonna like them when Mrs. Claus is the one they’re trying to be perverts with? Please don’t misinterpret what I’m saying right now as kink shaming. I am NOT kink shaming Santa’s elves. I just didn’t find this sketch particularly funny or inspired. Also, Casey Affleck’s elf was kind of over the line. He seemed to go a little too real with his portrayal here and it kind of unsettled me. Like, while the fun of the sketch is “Haha, they’re sexual deviants and Santa/Mrs. Claus are their unwitting doms!” Casey Affleck’s elf seemed to almost want it a little too bad. Considering Casey Affleck has had more than one sexual harassment charge filed against him, maybe he did. Very concerning, and more than a little unsettling.
Mark: Like all of us in this country, I was very upset when I heard that well-liked character actor, Casey Affleck, had allegations of sexual harassment on his record. However, I did not research these incidents before watching the show because I do not like to read bad things about people that I like. I had taken the headlines in via osmosis and couldn’t help but feel unsettled by the idea that a guy who might not know where sexual boundaries are would elect to be a in a sketch where he tries to trick someone into a sex act. I don’t think this is anyway for a well-liked character to behave himself if he would like to continue to be well-liked.
Musical Guest: Chance the Rapper
Mark: When I took over this column, I thought it would be fun to write about the musical guest each week. You know, make easy jokes at their expense. But, each week I find I have nothing to say. This week is the same.
I thought Chance did a good job. I liked when it snowed and I liked his Christmas clothes. Also, his second song was really good. I’ll have to relisten to it sometime.
Melissa: Chance the Rapper! It’s great when there’s an episode and going into it you’re like, “Well, I don’t care about Casey Affleck, but I love Chance.” That way, there’s always something to be excited about going into an episode. As always, it’s hard for me to be eloquent when describing the musical guest since I’m not big on music reviews, so all I can say is this: he was great. I love him.