SNL With Jimmy Fallon: Best and Worst Skits?

Jimmy Fallon took the reins of Saturday Night Live this week, and with a team of special guests — Jude Law, Rachel Dratch, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, Chris Kattan, and Horatio Sanz among them — delivered a fun, funny episode in which even the jokes that didn’t work were buoyed by an innate zaniness and a willingness to try something fresh and unexpected. [Update: The show scored its best overnight ratings since last May’s season finale.]

Here are my picks for the night’s best — hard to narrow it to just two — and worst sketches:

Best: Weekend Update Joke-Off
In a stroke of comic genius, Poehler, Fey, and Fallon got behind the anchor’s desk with Seth Meyers and lobbed punch line after punch line about a strip club offering free lap dances to patrons who donate gifts for needy children. (The buzzer sound-effects were pretty amazing, too.) SNL should be required to wrangle guests for a joke-off every single week, no? My personal fave (from Fallon): “Unlike the strippers, the toys must not be damaged.”

Best: Today Show With Regis Philbin
Kristen Wiig was hilarious as usual as Kathie Lee Gifford in the fourth hour and 45th minute of NBC’s boozy morning-fest, brutally mocking costar Hoda Kotb’s sex life — “We need a price check on Double-A batteries! Winning!” shouted Kathie Lee (who followed with a self-amused, whispered “Charlie Sheen”), speculating that Hoda’s new beau was strictly mechanical. Things only got better when Fallon’s spot-on Regis Philbin joined the action, and ended long before the jokes had run out of steam. That’s winning, indeed.

Honorable Mention: Jimmy’s Mirror
Fallon looking into a mirror and speaking to his younger, more toussled self (Andy Samberg). I loved the way Fallon gamely mocked his talk-show persona and the way that gig requires him to be a fan of everything from Steven Segal to loaves of bread, and the “Rainbow Connection” duet was pure magic.

Worst: 1920s Holiday Party
Hey, they can’t all be winners, right? And this bit about a married couple tormenting their party guests with their “singing” and “dancing” skills was a dual failure of concept and execution. Luckily for SNL, Fallon’s sheer gameness helped elevate the similarly weak setup in the War Horse sketch.

What did you think of this week’s SNL? What are your picks for best and worst skit? And how would you grade Fallon as host? Sound off below, and for all my TV recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Lauren says:

    Jimmy killed it last night. One of the best episodes this season…if not THE best. (And as much as I like a fair amount of the current cast members, it made me miss Jimmy’s seasons of the show.)

    My favorite was probably a toss up between Weekend Update (the entirety of it) and the Michael Buble Christmas CD with Jimmy’s Bieber and Russell Brand impersonations…not to mention Abby Elliott’s bang on impersonation of Ke$ha.

    • krissy says:

      Agree with everything you said!! Loved Abby as Kesha!!

      • Captain says:

        Her impression of Ke$ha was weak. The make-up department did a good job of making her look like Ke$ha but really her mannerisms and speech were nothing like her. Simply pretending to be drunk isn’t enough for a good impression. I’ve never thought Abby was that talented of a performer, she’s pretty which seems to make up for her sub-par performances but after seeing her spot-on Kirsten Dunst in last week’s New Years Eve sketch I thought “maybe she’s good a impressions after all” she’s not, it was a one-off.

    • Daniel says:

      I was not the biggest Fallon when he was on the show due to his frequent breaking–which he admits to doing–but last night was a great show. It was so nice to see THE SONG again!

      • Ruby says:

        Funny, everyone I know adores Jimmy precisely because he did break so often. Never realized there were people out there with sticks so far up their butts that they expect utter perfection out of SNL cast members.

        • DJ Rogue says:

          Expecting “utter perfection”? No. I LOVE it when Hader occasionally cracks up as Stefon. Note the usage of the word “occasionally”.

          Fallon (and to a slightly lesser extent, Sanz) took breaking to ANOTHER LEVEL. Frankly, it’s really not funny if someone begins cracking up hysterically at their joke before they get to the punchline. Has nothing to do with expecting perfection. Just the ability to tell a damn joke.

      • Daniel says:

        Bill Murray broke on SNL.

      • Julie says:

        If you’ve ever watched The Carol Burnett Show, you’d know that breaking can be one of the funniest things to happen. Whenever Tim Conway broke Harvey Korman, it was comedic gold. The Elephant Story. The Dentist. The Oldest Fireman Alive. Look them up on YouTube. It doesn’t get better than that. Burnett herself and Vicki Lawrence were great as well. They all broke all the time because they were THAT funny. People call Lucille Ball the greatest female comedian. I vote for Ms. Burnett.

        • Jamie Helton says:

          When SNL first started, the cast specifically set out to NOT do what The Carol Burnett Show did and break character. To them, that was the worst sin imaginable. Yes, there were an occasional time that happened because it was live (The Carol Burnett Show was taped, but kept the breaks intact), but the cast tried to cover when they could. That’s called being professional. One of the funniest moments from the Eddie Murphy days was when he was doing a sketch as a brothel manager late in one episode and Joe Piscopo was just off camera doing his best to make Murphy break up. Murphy held it together as long as he could, then finally (comedically) yelled at Piscopo. The audience was in on the joke, so it was great. But simply laughing at your own jokes time and again is amateurish and soon becomes tiresome.

  2. Dwayne says:

    I knew when they first announced Jimmy would be hosting that it would be epic!! I just never knew how epic!! I was rolling most of the night and actually wasn’t starting to nod my head by Weekend Update. The time just seemed to fly by! I think Jimmy basically saved that holiday party sketch cause with Kristen by herself it just about always bombs. Yeah for the best sketches tho…yea there were just too many!! Jimmy is always full of energy and I think the show definitely portrayed that!

  3. Jen says:

    Last night was so fun! Besides the ones you mentioned, I loved the Buble duets album….Tim Tebow sketch…. one of the best SNLs this season!

  4. Alex says:

    FANTASTIC episode. I liked that the spotlight was completely on Jimmy Fallon and that he was the star of every sketch (except the weird football locker room one at the end).
    Weekend Update Joke Off was definitely the best, even one of my favorite SNL moments in recent years.
    The Michael Buble duets bit was hilarious- especially enjoyed Taran Killam as Justin Bieber.

  5. Lauren says:

    Loved it! Best episode of the season hands down. Jimmy Fallon is so joyful and puts everything he’s got into all of his work. I’m not sure what it says about the current state of SNL that part of what made this show so great was the appearance of many former cast members.

  6. carol says:

    The Michael Buble Christmas Duets cd had me screaming, especially Gaga as a tree, and as a Patriots fan, I loved the Tebow sketch as well.

  7. Ed says:

    In the opening sing along, when they all gathered at the stage at the end I SWEAR that was Britney Spears to the right of Jimmy dancing. Am I wrong???

  8. Joanne says:

    Best episode of the season… Jimmy, Horatio, Chris, and Tracy were so awesome… And the Michael Buble Duets omfg was HILARIOUS

  9. Joline says:

    Slezak – how could you NOT pick the Michael Buble duets sketch as one of your favorites? It was not only the funniest thing last night, but one of the funniest segments of the year.

  10. adam says:

    i thought the worst sketch was the weird orchestra one…they just introduced people…i didn’t understand it at all…maybe i wasn’t paying enough attention

  11. Craig says:

    Beethoven introducing his band was spot on

  12. kristin says:

    Loved last nites episode!! Easily the best of the season! The problem so far this year, i think, has mostly been bad writting. Last night, you could tell they were going all out for Jimmy. LOVED the Tebow sketch as well as the Michael Buble sings Christmas songs. I was waiting all night for the “Barry Gibb talk show”..wish they could’ve got Timberlake for that!….even had that “barry gibb talk show” theme music stuck in my head after he mentioned it in the mirror sketch!

    • Micah says:

      I love the Barry Gibb sketch, but I was glad they didn’t do it last night. Best saved up for JT’s hosting gigs… Fallon’s in the building, anyway, anytime.

      Agreed on the bad writing… if I were a conspiracy theorist, I’d submit that so many episodes have been awful because they were either focused on writing Fallon’s episode, or they were tanking the rest of the shows so he would shine (can’t have the alum and current NBC ‘star’ paling in comparison to the rest of the season, after all). Only if I were such a theorist, though.

      • Volcfom says:

        Well, the credits mentioned that Tina Fey contributed to the writing this week, so that’s why it was better. (But conspiracy theorists probably missed that bit of info.)

    • jennrae says:

      Did I hear wrong, I thought they mentioned the Barry Gibb Talk Show during the mirror sketch and implied it was going to be a surprise later in the show?

      • Amy says:

        Jimmy said it was going to be a surprise later in the show, and Andy said it was cut because Timberlake couldn’t make it. enter spit take

  13. cj says:

    this cast’s strength is definitely impressions. thus the bublé duets were great. and jimmy was INCREDIBLE as russel brand.

    i TOTALLY CALLED all four update hosts coming on. poehler was already there as evidenced in the opening sketch, it was a no brainer.

    good episode! not as good as melissa mccarthy i’d argue, but better than most this season.

  14. Kaitlyn says:

    Best episode in years! :D Russell Brand was perfect. “Don’t make me sing – Don’t make me dance.” Kristen’s dancing was gorgeous.

  15. Hannah says:

    Seeing cameos from the old cast members reminded me of how funny the show used to be and how much it has slipped over the past few years. Even Tracy Morgan and Chris Kattan silently dancing was funnier that most bits these days.

  16. Rhonda says:

    I loved “Beethoven’s Band” and seeing Will Arnett skating in the background during the goodnights! Plus Jimmy in Belushi’s bee costume was hilarious!

  17. Linda says:

    I died when the show started. Rachel Dratch then Amy Poehler. I went: This is gonna be the best show ever!!! And to me it was! The Weekend Update joke-off with Tina Fey & Jimmy Fallon against Seth Meyers & Amy Poehler was brilliant. I think it’s time they bring Amy back to host!!

  18. Nell says:

    I loved it when Tina went in to kiss Jimmy and he put his hand on her shoulder to stop her and mouthed, “No”. I miss Tina and Jimmy enormously, anyone remember the ‘Grease’ sketch they did? ;)

  19. Carl S says:

    Horatio Sanz did not look like he wanted to be there. Considering that he was fired rather than leaving on his own might be a clue. Overall though the mood was upbeat and Fallon seemed to really enjoy his return.

    Some of the jokes continue to go by too fast for the audience. One time was when Sudeikis as Jesus said “Dad bless you”, and it was followed by dead silence. It may not have been that good of a joke, but it was worth at least a few chuckles.

    • Jason C says:

      I got the same vibe from Tracy Morgan and I was surprised he appeared on stage with Chris Kattan considering he went off on him in his book. They must have had a long talk before the show, or he just did it for Fallon.

    • amy says:

      Horatio Sanz and Jimmy Fallon are still super close, It makes sense he was there. Norm MacDonald hosted after being fired. People get over it.

  20. MC says:

    loved last night’s episode – and how they brought back most of his characters/skits. i wish Maya Rudolph was also there so they could do Wake Up Wakefield again.

  21. Justin says:

    The best skit of the night was the Michael Buble duets, hands down. I think I watched it about three times.

  22. TheFinalMan says:

    Just watched the episode. The “Don’t Make Me Sing” skit was definitely weak like you mentioned. I was also let down by the “Christmas Time is Here” song. It seemed like Jimmy Fallon and Chris Kattan were doing it wrong. Isn’t Jimmy supposed to fake play the piano-parts and Kattan turn his head side-and-forward repeatedly? Loved bro-Jesus and the criticism of Tebow.

  23. boomsadness says:

    I’m still probably dead because of Weekend Update. And Will Arnett happily skating in the background was awesome.
    So great to see so many people back! :D Hope Jimmy will be nominated for Emmy for this

  24. diane says:

    The Michael Bublé Duets was hysterical. The silliness of Fallon as Russell Brand was the best!!

  25. Tom says:

    I would say an average episode. We are so used to the show not being that funny that even a small improvement seems epic.
    The more I see Kristen Wiig, the more I realize she really only has one character that she uses for every sketch.

    • Rowan says:

      I agree about Kristen Wiig, she does recycle characters and I think that as a sketch-comedy performer she’s played out, but I do not agree with you about the episode. It has become rare for me to laugh in sketch after sketch, but I did last night. Yes there were a few clunkers, but that’s happened in every episode since the first season in 1975. This season has had a bunch of really good episodes (finally!) but this episode was the best among them.

    • DJ Rogue says:

      Oh God, Tom. I’ve known that for such a long time. Hence, the reason I shake my head when people say she’s funny.

      • Motny says:

        I don’t think it’s fair to say that she’s not funny. For me she’s at her best when she’s doing stuff that’s more nuanced and less loud and in your face. The vulnerable subtlety she’s able to accomplish (outside of sketches) is really difficult. I feel like her style is better suited for indie movies.

    • Tracey says:

      Thank you!! Every single thing Kristen Wiig does is the same, just a different costume!! I don’t see the mass appeal of this woman. She’ll start a sentence and finishes by mumbling under her breath. AAGGHH! Drives me crazy!

  26. Ruby says:

    I was just super excited that Horatio Sanz was back! I was really hoping they’d do that skit where they’re snobby clothing store workers, because that’s the best sketch SNL has ever done, but oh well. It was fun anyway.

  27. Buffy Freak says:

    The Don’t Make Me Sing sketch was bad. But right there with it was the War Horse sketch. The Buble duets album was the highlight for me. Speaking of Buble, does anybody else get kind of uncomfortbale watching him sing? Don’t get me wrong, he’s got a great voice but his facial expressions and tics are kind of strange…

    • AJ says:

      Those two weren’t terrible. In my opinion, the weakest one was the Half Jewish Half Italian one. I liked the rest though and thought this was the best this season. I am a huge Jimmy Fallon fan though so I might be a little biased.

  28. chloe says:

    That was the only decent show this year. Ugh, bring back Jimmy, Tina and Amy, and FIRE the unfunny Seth and Kristen.

  29. sam says:

    best ep of the season imo. also, i happen to be a fan of the “don’t make me sing” lady, and while this sketch wasn’t the strongest one from that canon, i didn’t think it was the worst of the episode. actually, i can’t think of one sketch that was so uncomfortably bad that i could call it the worst. they were all funny, with others just being funnier than the skit before.

  30. raftrap says:

    Great episode. Where was this Jimmy Fallon ten years ago?

  31. unpopular opinion says:

    I thought the joke off was weak, only a few were funny and the sound effects were a noisy distraction.

    Glad JT wasn’t there. Every appearance, he pulls out the same characters. Street advertising mascot, check. Barry Gibb talk show, check. I guess I should say two note. After Dick in the Box, he went around for a year bringing it up, like “remember that time I was funny on a cool show?”. Sick of him.

    War Horse made me laugh. Horse being played by a person, a person being played by a puppet. Absurd. Or is it?

    In total though, a pretty decent show and nice to see some of the old cast.

    Don’t make me sing.

  32. Rick says:

    That was the best episode in a long while, in my opinion. Jimmy Fallon is ridiculously likeable and funny. I agree that the “Holiday Party” skit was useless, but everything else was solid. I loved that Fallon made fun of himself with the “I’m a huge fan” lines in the mirror skit with Andy Samberg, as I noticed he always says that to guests on his show. The Hoda/Kathie Lee skits are always a hoot. Fallon’s impressions overall were pretty amazing. I don’t think he’s the greatest singer, but he doesn’t try to make a living that way. And anything with Tina Fey in it wins right away, so Weekend Update was a success.

    On another note, did Michael Buble screw up the words or verses on his last song of the night? He looked like he was about to burst out laughing or was drunk or something.

  33. Michael says:

    The only one on here that didn’t think the clouds parted because of last night’s episode. It was okay at best for me.

    • Josh says:

      The clouds never part for SNL, but it’s fine to say it was a solid episode. Mr. GrumpyPants.

      • Michael says:

        I’m not grumpy! *grumble*! Mr. AssignsPantsToCommentersPants

        • tripoli says:

          You aren’t the only one. I was pretty disappointed. I usually find Fallon quite funny and was expecting more from his hosting gig. Not that he was bad, just really terrible skits. Jimmy’s obvious joy at being there, along with the awesome appearances from past cast members, is what made it somewhat enjoyable. Plus Jude Law was a nice surprise. I shudder to think of how awful this show will be once Wigg, Hader, and Meyers, realize they can do better elsewhere.

  34. Steph says:

    Best: Duets, Tim Tevow, and Weekend Update; Worst: Don’t make me sing and Beethoven’s band. Both went on too long.

  35. Sam says:

    The worst sketch was The Barry Gibb Talk Show…because IT DIDN’T HAPPEN!!!

  36. DJ Rogue says:

    Now that i’m done commenting on everybody’s comments, lemme say that i’m not a fan of Fallon’s at all, but last night’s ep was probably the best in a long time (which probably says more about the show than Fallon).

    The highlight of the night for me was Fallon, Sanz, Kattan and Morgan’s semi-annual Christmas song (wait, can I say that word here?). Even though i’m not a Fallon and Sanz fan, I used to like it when they’d perform the song back in the day. Glad they put the band back together one more time.

    • raftrap says:

      I wasn’t expecting the Christmas song neither, or better yet the Weekend Update extravaganza, both big surprises for me, also I completely agree with your comment about breaking.

  37. Jules says:

    Sorry for Jimmy, but I zzzzz half on it!
    Not quite was I expected, too much of Kristen wiing bad/boring sketch…
    It’s suppose to be the Host to shine..and I tought with Fallon back-he/they use his best old sketch to make this night more enjoyable…
    But maybe it’s my problem, I don’t enjoy as much/don’t like the wannabes -not as good as the old gang
    [Carvey,Myers,Nealon,Sandler,Hammond……..and rest in peace-Hartman…) thoses was the great days…but now, whatever the host cannot shine,struggling in boring sketches and not funny comedians

  38. Greydon says:

    The only thing I have to complain about…was the joke off. They had the newer male and female teams together…But when I saw Amy and Tina come in I was lie…please bring in Dan Akroyd and Jane Curtain too. They didn’t, and I was disappointed. But it was a good show.

    I find it sad…that SNL had to rely so much on Jimmy and the guest alums to make the show. Shows you that the glory days are gone.

  39. readmyblipps says:

    diane – u and I are in sync!

    I think SNL should have a Homecoming show around Halloween to showcase the old bits. Even though I loved last night’s episode, I feel like Lorne & co. are leaning on the veterans too much and not allowing the newer cast members and writers (and sr. cast members, Armisen, Wiig and Thompson) to grow. Sudeikis owns!

  40. TMZ says:

    The Buble Christmas CD was the funniest sketch. Fallon was great in it, but Armisen’s Thom Yorke was even better. I think you have to be a huge Radiohead fan to get how much he nailed Yorke’s on stage antics. Not sure why all the hate for Wiig. I think that she nails it 95% of the time. Her Kathie Lee was particularly strong this week.

  41. Cay says:

    Living in Boston and not being a Patriots fan but being a huge NFL fan in general, I thought the Tebow skit was hilarious. I’ve watched it twice and it just gets funnier!

  42. Alice says:

    Boston Teens! I loved seeing Sully and Denise. Tommy, tell me you got that!

  43. Batman says:

    I found the Tebow sketch to be in very poor taste. SNL has seldom attacked a purely religious view before and this was out of character for it.

  44. Mike says:

    I agree completely on the Tebow sketch being completely inappropriate and in very poor taste!

  45. Wow, it must be great never to have seen any comedy except within the last five years, everything is apparently funny.

  46. Sarah says:

    I loved the episode, it was great to see some of the vets back. I was watching some old episodes last week and happened to see the Hugh Jackman/Mick Jagger episode in which Jimmy and Mick Jagger did the mirror sketch, so it was great to see Jimmy and Andy do the sketch last night.

  47. megs says:

    Aw I loved the war horse sketch! It was so dumb and ridiculous- just my kind of humor. I was cracking up when Jimmy came “galloping” out.
    I dont know if the monologue would count as a sketch, but it was completely perfect, and set the mood for the whole night. The goodnights were adorable as well.
    I was wondering which classic Jimmy character they would use, and the Boston teens were a little unexpected but definitely welcome.
    Jimmy talking to “himself” in the mirror was epic. I always thought Andy was brought in to kind of be the “new Jimmy” and I guess I wasn’t the only one lol.

  48. Tibs says:

    And it was funny to see Will Arnett skating with the others at the end of the show (even if he tried to stay out of the spotlight…)

  49. Dwayne says:

    The whole show kept me laughing. the Duets sketch killed me. Especially during the M.I.A. part!! LMAO!!

  50. sarah says:

    I rarely watch SNL anymore, I only watch when there is a host that I like which is rare BUT last night was great it was the Old SNL that I loved and would watch every week. I loved it from start to finish, the only one that was okay was the Tim Tebow but it was still good, Taran Killam is funny!
    The best skit for me was Michael Buble’s duets I laughed so hard, my stomach hurt!