SNL: Charli XCX, Paul Rudd, Ego Nwodim (CREDIT: NBC/Screenshot)

This Paul Rudd-hosted episode of Saturday Night Live was supposed to feature Charli XCX as the musical guest, but instead there was no musical guest. (Although Charli did show up in a pre-recorded sketch!) Changes were made at the last minute, but the show had to go on, so it did go on! There were some new bits, but several of the sketches were classic Christmas-themed selections, along with new intros from Rudd and/or Tina Fey, Kenan Thompson, and Tom Hanks.

Rudd was in town presumably to promote his new flick Ghostbusters: Afterlife (which also features some SNL alums in its cast) and his new Apple TV+ show The Shrink Next Door (which also co-stars an SNL alum). But I also must mention that he has a recurring voice gig on the terrific new Netflix show Saturday Morning All Star Hits!, which stars and was co-created by current SNL cast member Kyle Mooney.

In the spirit of persevering, I will stick with the reviewing plan I had for this episode, which was to list the sketches in order from least Christmassy to most Christmassy. I’ve determined this according to the number of times we hear spoken in the sketch the word “Christmas” (or its derivatives, like “Christmassy,” “Christmastime,” etc.). I have included in the counts those Christmases spoken in the intros.

A Holiday Wish + Paul Rudd Intro (0 Christmases): Shockingly, this mainstay of SNL Christmas specials doesn’t feature a single utterance of the word “Christmas.” Mr. Famous Steve Martin does say “holiday” a lot, though. So I guess we can watch this sketch anytime between Thanksgiving and January 6.

Five-Timers Club Cold Open (1 Christmas): Not a whole lot of Christmas discussion to start off the show, as instead the focus was more on Mr. Rudd joining the ranks of the Quintuple Hosters, a few of whom stopped by to welcome him in. All-time long-time cast member Kenan Thompson was also on hand. Will Kenan one day also become the most frequent host of all time? Maybe he’ll pull that feat off while also somehow remaining in the cast.

Home Goods (1 Christmas): Not a whole lot of Christmas discussion in this commercial parody either, although the holiday vibes were very much there. But you know, the suffocating kind. Unless you’re ready to have kids, in which case it’s not too suffocating! I wouldn’t mind if my kids had grandparents who resemble Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon characters, although my parents certainly aren’t like that. Something I’ll have to look for in potential in-laws then…

Weekend Update (2 Christmases): Colin Jost looks a lot like Tina Fey… Ha ha, I’m just kidding! But you probably knew that already. That was the ACTUAL Elizabeth Stamatina Fey. (Colin was elsewhere). Anyway, I definitely had a healthy laugh from the joke about the player kicked by Urban Meyer somehow being returned for a touchdown.

Christmas Pageant + Kenan Thompson Intro (2 Christmases): Martin Short and Paul McCartney get to goof off with each other. Aren’t they lucky?

North Pole News + Tom Hanks Intro (2 Christmases): One of the best SNL sketches of the past few years (Christmassy or otherwise) doesn’t include too many specific mentions of the word “Christmas,” perhaps because everyone is too worried about the loose polar bear. Or maybe it would’ve just cost too many gumdrops.

D*** in a Box + Tina Fey and Kenan Thompson Intro (3 Christmases): A relatively small number of “Christmases” uttered, but hey, it’s just a few minutes long. And it’s clear that these guys love their ladies with all their everything, so no need to underline it.

Santa and His Magical Elves + Kenan Thompson Intro (3 Christmases): Not a whole lot of “Christmases” in this sketch, but plenty of “Santas.” Oh, yeah, plenty of that good ol’ Saint Nick.

One Direction Fan + Paul Rudd Intro (3 Christmases): All the mentions of Christmas actually happen during the intro here, but I most want to mention that we get to see a pre-Ouija: Origin of Evil Lulu Wilson alongside Paul at one point: huzzah!

An Evening with Pete Davidson + Paul Rudd Intro (6 Christmases): Raging Bull does not, as I recall, have anything to do with Christmas, but now it has inspired perhaps the best SNL Christmas sketch of 2021. Clever!

“The Christmas Socks” + Paul Rudd Intro (8 Christmases): Some people celebrate Christmas with the family that they were born into, while others celebrate with the family they found, like T.J. Rocks and the Junkyard Boys. And you know what? It looks like they’re having a great Christmas.

Now That’s What I Call Christmas + Tina Fey Intro (10 Christmases): Lack of musical guest performance, so let’s reach back into Santa’s SNL sack for a musical sketch from the past.

Christmastime for the Jews + Tina Fey Intro (11 Christmases): I think this is the winner in terms of most Christmases uttered per minute, which makes sense when “Christmas” (or “Christmastime,” as it were) is in the title and the chorus. It’s worth remembering that “Christmastime for the Jews” originally aired during what was perhaps the best SNL Christmas episode of all time. It was 2005, Jack Black was hosting with musical guest Neil Young, and we were treated to the likes of Lazy Sunday, the first appearance of the Two A-Holes, Jack’s King Kong theme song, and the Spelling Bee sketch with Will Forte. So many laughs!

Global Warming Christmas Special + Tom Hanks Intro (15 Christmases): How appropriate that by far the most Christmassy sketch is the best SNL Christmas sketch of all time. It’s been inexplicably left off the Christmas specials for years, and until now it’s been pretty much impossible to find online. But now that’s finally been rectified, and we can now all get back to greeting each other with our Mike Myers-as-Carl Sagan and Dana Carvey-as-Paul McCartney impressions!

The next new episode of SNL will probably air in January 2022, but we don’t yet know who the guests will be. What are you gonna do!