Saturday Night Live‘s holiday episode might still be two weeks away, but this week’s Ryan Gosling-hosted installment was most definitely a case of Christmas coming early.
While the Canadian heartthrob’s opening monologue wasn’t especially inspired — not even with fellow north-of-the-border import Mike Myers offering support — the remainder of Gosling’s episode ranked among the better SNL installments of the last few seasons.
The strictest of viewers might’ve objected to Gosling’s multiple thisclose-to-breaking incidents, but to me, the fact that the Notebook actor was clearly amused by the goings-on merely made the show pass more quickly and enjoyable.
Let’s check in on the best and worst sketches:
BEST: ALIEN ABDUCTION
Hat tip to Kate McKinnon for her guffaw-inducing performance as one of three friends interviewed by NSA agents on account of them all being involved in the first verified case of alien abduction. While Gosing and Cecily Strong cooed ridiculously about being “wrapped in blankets made of pure love,” McKinnon spun a yarn about being forced to urinate into a bowl in front of 40 or so giant-eyed gray creatures. I couldn’t blame Gosling and Strong — along with agents Aidy Bryant and Bobby Moyniahn — for stifling giggles. I was practically crying with laughter throughout.
BEST: SANTA BABY
Gosling and Vanessa Bayer starred in this digital short as a new-to-the-neighborhood adult couple who take their belief in old St. Nick to insane and deeply uncomfortable places. As their state of arousal rose and rose to near terrifying levels, party-thrower Beck Bennett was forced to get his white beard and jacket and play his role in the couple’s twisted fantasy — which brilliantly culminated in Bayer cooing “Cuisinart” into the ear of Old St. Nick.
HONORABLE MENTION: THE WIZ‘S DELETED SCENE
Gosling’s white, dance-impaired Scarecrow crashed into NBC’s The Wiz Live (aka East Oz) and despite attempting to touch Dorothy’s hair (don’t try it!), scored a whole new crew by virtue of his tips on killing wicked witches. Kudos to NBC for allowing that joke about its acclaimed Thursday-night live musical having run for 3 hours — with 150 commercial breaks.
HONORABLE MENTION: SETTL APP
Finally, a dating app for ladies who want to get married immediately — but no longer want to deal with the inconvenience of high standards. Like the male suitors pursuing the women in the ad, the pre-taped sketch wasn’t perfect. But watching Bayer gleefully share, “We’re getting married in April — which is before my sister” was just one of many blink-and-you-missed it zingers from the episode.
WORST: TEENAGE GIRL’S BIRTHDAY PARTY
Nope, I don’t care how hard Aidy Bryant worked at the setup, let’s never again see a sketch build around her randy 15-year-old trying to seduce one of her friends’ dads, k? That said, even my least-favorite sketch of the night managed to make me chuckle, as Bryant’s Melanie blurted out that her octogenarian father “sleeps in a medical bed in our living room” and looks like “a stack of hay with eyes.”