CREDIT: Will Heath/NBC

This post was originally published on News Cult in December 2018.

Love It

A Christmas Carol – I don’t love this sketch entirely, but I do admire what it is going for. So many SNL sketches answer the question, “What if this well-known story were … slightly different?” Oftentimes the small change is something that many others have surely imagined before, while other times it’s a little more offbeat, but you can see how the writers got there from the source material. But in this case, Ebenezer Scrooge being visited by one last spirit who just happens to be a male stripper does not really track in any way at all. Thus, the sketch never really comes together on any firm foundation, but I do enjoy watching Scrooge being confused by the total lack of logic.

The first appearance of Cecily Strong’s Gemma accompanied by a meathead boyfriend is one of the best sketches of the decade, but all subsequent appearances have seen significantly diminishing returns. Sleigh Ride rediscovers a bit of the magic, thanks to Gemma and Jason Momoa as her beau confusing Gene’s new girlfriend for his sister and Gemma’s detailed descriptions of her new vagina.

Keep It

first Impression – This filmed piece is quite similar to the Christmas Carol sketch insofar as I have no idea where the premise came from, so part of the fun of watching is attempting to figure out what the writers were possibly thinking. The lunacy almost seems to make sense thanks to Beck Bennett and Jason Momoa committing so hard as the greased-up boyfriend who thinks that being a master hider will impress his girlfriend’s parents and the dad who is so hellbent on being a champion seeker, respectively. This does not represent any version of reality, or inversion of reality, that I’m familiar with, but it seems to somehow work out for all the characters involved.

I feel like I’ve been too lenient on the current era of political cold opens, and this latest scene in the Trump Tower does not change that, but at least it mixes things up a bit and is mercifully short (although in another time and place, I might have said instead that it’s too short)…Jason Momoa’s Monologue has a very haphazard feel to it, but I can’t fault something featuring P-Funk music too hard…A hardened Elf on the Shelf has some important, fairly non-judgmental things to say about kids entering adolescence…The GE Big Boys commercial tickles me with the idea of a dishwasher with a 70-pound door…Them Trumps makes the point that the current First Family probably wouldn’t get away with everything they do if they were black and also that this sort of behavior is not admirable no matter what the perpetrators’ race…Michael and Colin make some jokes that sound like they could have been on any other late night show this week, but they do infuse their own personalities enough to have a winning outing…Aidy Bryant’s teenage travel correspondent Carrie Krum is pretty cool, though far from a budding Stefon…Che becomes a correspondent to talk about the Tushy bidet, which is a fairly amusing change of pace.

Leave It

Rudolph’s Big Night – This is an example of a bad sketch that isn’t completely dreadful, as it has some elements that could have been put to better use. Rudolph going psycho is certainly a premise there for the taking in the legend of the brightly schnozzed reindeer, and Pete Davidson throws himself into it full throttle. It’s one of the few times when he’s playing someone besides himself that’s actually a good fit. But overall, this is a by-the-numbers approach to a “dark” version of a familiar tale, although Santa so quickly putting down a supposedly rabid reindeer is sufficiently shocking.

Khal Drogo’s Ghost Dojo likely means nothing to non-viewers, and I doubt that any Game of Thrones fans will find it funny either…Day of the Dorks is too loud and destructive to say anything significant.

Jason Momoa

On a scale of hosts who are so excited to be there, Jason Momoa is the most excited host in quite some time. But is he the most qualified among those super-excited guests? Enthusiasm can go a long way toward success on SNL, but it can also be a distraction, and that is the case with several sketches in this episode, with Momoa being just too loud and big a presence in a way that throws off everyone else’s timing. That is much less of a problem in the pre-taped bits, as you can edit around that issue. Momoa offers some worthwhile avenues for sketch comedy, but if he is going to return to SNL, he should calm down a bit.

Mumford & Sons

On a scale of musicians whose moment has passed, Mumford & Sons might be survivors. The folk-y rock boom of the early 2010s seems to have faded, although it still exists in its own corner. Plus, it is Mumford’s bread and butter, so they’re going to stick with it no matter how the trends are blowing. As it goes for this appearance, their first number, “Guiding Light,” has me thinking little beyond how it is not 2012 anymore, but their #2, “Delta,” is exactly quite the rise-to-a-satisfying-climax experience. I guess I’ll listen to them for a few years longer.

Letter Grades:

Trump Tower – C+

Jason Momoa’s Monologue – C+

Elf on the Shelf – B-

GE Big Boy – B-

Khal Drogo’s Ghost Dojo – C-

Them Trumps – B-

Mumford & Sons perform “Guiding Light” – B-

Weekend Update
The Jokes – B-
Carrie Krum – B-
Che on Tushy – B-

A Christmas Carol (BEST OF THE NIGHT) – B

Day of the Dorks – C-

Mumford & Sons perform “Delta” – B+

Sleigh Ride – B

first Impression – B

Rudolph’s Big Night – C