Martin Short Hosts Saturday Night Live: Watch Video of the Best and Worst Sketches

martin short snl 2012As a fanatic of both SCTV (remember ingenious skits like Half Wits?) and the criminally underappreciated Primetime Glick (check out this wet your pants-worthy interview with Steve Martin), the mere thought of former cast member Martin Short hosting Saturday Night Live‘s holiday special made me as excited as a kid with visions of sugar plums dancing in my head.

While I patiently pondered a possible Ed Grimley sighting, the show presented a wholly unexpected (and heart-tugging) cold open: The New York Children’s Chorus performing “Silent Night,” as a tribute to the victims of Friday’s horrific school shooting in Connecticut. It turned out to be a perfect start to an almost perfect episode.

Short’s piano-hopping monologue (highlighted by a – hooray! – brief Grimley moment) included a semi-hilarious, very adult rendition of “It’s the Most Wonderful (and apparently, the naughtiest!) Time of the Year” along with drive-by shenanigans with Kristen Wiig, Jimmy Fallon, Tom Hanks, Samuel L. Jackson, Tina Fey and — holy mistletoe! — a lip-smacking finale with none other than Lorne Michaels!

But without further ado, here are my picks for best and worst sketches (and in a week this strong, let’s go with the three best, shall we?):

Best: Royal Family Doctor
An instant classic! Short’s fabulous Rupert Smythe Pennington waxing poetic about Kate Middleton’s widely celebrated pregnancy had poor, unsuspecting Bill Hader’s royal ob-gyn (and the rest of us) breaking up almost nonstop. Short’s musings on proper treatment of the “royal ahem” (aka The Governess, The King Maker, Her Downton Abbey, to name just a few) showed off Short in all his shining, energized, over-the-top glory. Inevitably, the epic proceedings reached a royal climax of sorts with Fred Armisen’s Queen Elizabeth (“I’m here to get me Judy Dench washed!”) spread-eagled on the examining table.

Best: You’re a Rat Bas*#%, Charlie Brown
Ready for a “new twist on an old classic”? Sign me up, especially when it includes Short’s dead-on Larry David as Linus (“Why don’t you go $%*% yourself, Charlie Brown!”) and Kate McKinnon’s Edie Falco in Nurse Jackie mode as Lucy (“I have Ativan, do you want that…a little Valium…a klonopin?”). As our host summed up so adeptly, it was pretty, pretty, pretty good!

Best: What’s Up With That?
Like the rest of us, Kenan Thompson’s astonished, then giggle-laden, and ultimately cool-as-a-cucumber reaction to Samuel L. Jackson’s F-bomb (“C’mon now, that costs money”) near the skit’s end will garner most of the chatter. But the delicious, dance-tastic cameo by Short’s legendary SCTV character Jackie Rogers Jr., — in a shiny silver suit, no less! — absolutely made my night. Side note: Does anyone rock a red track suit better than Jason Sudeikis?

Worst: Tony Bennett’s Christmas
On an less-than-stellar night, this skit might have been considered a relative highlight, but in the midst of such a strong, fast-paced show, it felt like a relative clunker. A grey-wigged Alec Baldwin trading barbs with Short and Jay Pharaoh’s be-skirted Kanye West featured a few LOLs (such as Baldwin’s shout-out to their suppository sponsor, “It sure is easy to get down in the dumps when you can’t take one.”), but the bathroom humor ran dry in a hurry. On the plus side, was it just me, or did Baldwin actually sorta kinda sound like Tony Bennett?

What did you think of this week’s SNL? How would you rate Short as a host? Did musical guest Paul McCartney (not to mention the children’s choir) light up your holiday season? Did you love “The Girl You Wish You Handn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party” on Weekend Update? What was your favorite sketch? Sound off in the comments! —Mitch Rustad

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. Gataroo says:

    Really? What up with that? On the best list!? What were you smoking?

  2. KND says:

    My fav episode of the season, pretty flawless if you ask me.

  3. S. from E. now says:

    brilliant episode!

  4. I thought last year’s Xmas episode was better. I was disappointed not to see Amy Poehler among the random cast members during Martin’s opening monologue. :(

    Also, the final two sketches were average at best. The episode was great, and I’m surprised you didn’t mention Cecily Strong as Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party (also, it makes me wish I hadn’t mentioned her every time I decide to write the character’s full name). At first, when Seth started announcing the 2nd guest, I thought Stefon was about to visit and was disappointed, but Girl… is becoming Cecily’s signature character, she’s pretty hilarious. “Did you know there’s homeless people who can’t afford to pay their mortgages?”

    • Tenney says:

      I’m so glad someone mentioned “girl you wish you hadn’t started a conversation with at a party”. Cecily Strong created a great character with that. I love the dynamic between her and Seth Meyers during those sketches. All in all, I think it was a really strong episode. Hands down my favorite was “You’re a rat bast*@d Charlie Brown”, it was great sketch from start to finish and the faces of the kids in the fake audience was hilarious.

  5. Kathy says:

    I love the Holiday Pageant, where Martin and Paul McCartney as Calip and Marty. I laughed at the Royal Family Doctor and What’s Up With That: Holiday Edition. Didn’t care tor the Charlie Brown Da Christmas.

  6. Julio says:

    Alec Baldwin’s done the “Tony Bennett Show” thing before as host. He did it once with the real Bennett as SNL’s musical guest, and the real deal appeared in the sketch as Tony Bennett impersonator, Phony Bennett. Even next to the real thing, Baldwin’s impersonation is pretty damned good.

    This was a superior episode all around. I woke up the wife with laughter at least three times.

  7. Amanda says:

    I am just not a fan of Whats up with that skits. They always seem like unnecessary filler, this was better then most but with Short as host they could have done so much more.

  8. Alex says:

    I pretty much agree with the best and worst you chose. But i wish the first sentence of your article didn’t contain a dangling modifier. Nasty things! Anyway, they ought to get Short back again.

  9. dude says:

    I think the holiday pageant auditions were worse than the Tony Bennett show but other than that, it was an awesome episode. The Kate Middleton sketch was definitely the best.

  10. CJ says:

    It’s kind of funny how SNL is always trying to be as hip and up to date as possible, but every time they have a comedy great from past days host, and use classic characters and bits, they get universal praise.

  11. Jason says:

    The Tony Bennett sketch was hilarious. Who reviews these things? McCartney has just got to stop singing in public. It’s painful. On a side note, interesting how this show was 100% funnier than the Jamie Foxx episode a week earlier. Jamie is most certainly not as funny as HE thinks he is.

  12. Amanda says:

    I actually wish that when they have a great comic like Martin Short hosting they would have a minor musician for musical guest. That way maybe they could have the musician play just once and give the host more airtime.

  13. N says:

    I wanted Ed Grimly!

  14. cyclone says:

    the restoration hardware (i think that’s the name) was the WORST SKIT, i even thought about this column when watching the show and said to myself that they would be hard pressed to find any bad skits and then the restoration hardware one came up.

  15. Karen says:

    Great episode. Though Short’s monologue should have been among the top 3 best skits of the evening. Loved Martin Short, loved Paul McCartney 8with Dave Grohl rocking hte drums), and it gave me some longed-for christmas spirit, in the midst of writing my 5th semester project

    • haukmoor says:

      Not just Grohl, but the surviving members of Nirvana. Members of two of the most influential bands on one stage, now that was awesome.

  16. TV Gord says:

    I’d agree with everything, if only you’d swap The Bennett Brothers (which I thought was very good) with the nails-on-a-blackboard What’s Up With That? Ooo-wee, does that stink every time it’s on!

  17. Kim (@AD76) says:

    I’m so over the “What’s Up With That” sketches. I find them boring.

  18. Ruby says:

    This episode had a palpable energy that was infectious. I have always liked Martin Short but I guess I never realized just how funny he really is. That Royal Family Doctor skit was among the funniest they’ve ever done…right up there with the Will Farrell and his tiny phone in the snooty men’s store skit years ago. And Paul McCartney KILLED it. Very, very good ep. Wish they could keep this up from week to week.

  19. Kara says:

    It would have been perfect if Stefan would have showed up! But “Girl You Wish…” Is funny too.

  20. Lauren says:

    What’s up with that is always hilarious to me. “If you gonna regift me something, it ain’t better be no whack ass glooooooves.”

  21. Maria says:

    Paul McCartney was fantastic, from Cut me Some Slack to the little skit he did before his final number (where he played the triangle and kept asking if he could sing now…).

  22. Jodi says:

    The only way What’s Up With That could be great is if Jason does the running man throughout the whole sketch.
    And I’m kind of disappointed Tom Hanks didn’t reappear after the monologue.
    And lived the Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With.
    But seriously. More Running Man Sudeikis.

  23. Tom says:

    Worst SNL – ever. Even Weekend Update dragged.

  24. Michael says:

    favorite parts were the muscial opening and ending; Seth’s WU remark about Babs W. asking Hillary about her hairdress and Hil should have said I’M THE SECRETARY OF STATE! Also, Short’s English doctor was hilarious and the girl you shouldn’t have started talking to is very funny without being TOO annoying, which, let’s face it, she easily could be.

  25. Ryan says:

    How is NO ONE mentioning Vanessa Bayer’s Bar-Mitzvah Boy? I DIED! That was amazing.

    • Evan says:

      Because in reality, only us Jews got the joke. Because that WAS how we do our bar mitzvah speeches. I was going “Oh my God, that was my speech, my brother’s speech, my cousin’s speech, etc.”

      If you didn’t live it, its not going to have the same punch. Especially when Seth is trying to get the kid to actually go off the speech. You NEVER go off the speech!

      • Nancy kelley says:

        You guys have to be relatives of Vanessa Bayer, because there is no way she comes close to the great ones. None of this cast does, with the exception of Jason Sudekis and jay pharogh, who they under-use for some strange reason. The writers totally suck. Martin Short was hilarious, but then he wrote all his own material, which any host with an ounce of talent is forced to do on this show if they don’t want to bomb

    • Eli says:

      Vanessa Bayer was hilarious, but then she always is.

      • dave baldock says:

        Vanessa is a talented lady indeed…and proving it more each episode..her timing and facial expressions as a young jewish lad are flawless…and hilarious indeed. A bright future for her on SNL..and yes…Seth plays off her character so well too.

  26. Ellen in NYC says:

    My favorite episode in a long time. But then, I’m old enough to remember Martin Short on SNL in contrast to younger people who didn’t know who he was.

  27. Sarabi says:

    The opening monologue, “The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party”, Charlie Brown – all great bits. It was a very strong episode.
    But please SNL, give us more Kate McKinnon!
    Merry Christmas!

  28. Jason says:

    Surprised reviewer didn’t mention the Nirvana reunion fronted by Mccartney. Maybe they didn’t realize.

    Wanted a full Grimley sketch but other then that it was great. My guess is Lorne doesn’t care for the Grimley character because he was during Dick Ebersole’s years running the show.

  29. says:

    seth meyers. never had anyone less funny than the jewish girl from the last show SNL. it was almost eyeball gauging and earlobe forking. hes almost the only good one left. its pathetic. kel was more funny than keenan in the first place. what the hell is he doing in comedy!!??? it’s pathetic..