When you’ve got Jimmy Fallon hosting Saturday Night Live — and Justin “bring it on down to Wrapinville…” Timberlake hanging around Studio 8H as musical guest — expectations are going to be high. And that brings me to the good news and the bad news of this week’s installment.
On the positive side of the equation, there was a palpable excitement coursing through the episode: The punch lines seemed sharper; the regular cast seemed more energized; the special guests (Paul McCartney! Barry Gibb! Madonna! Outgoing NY mayor Michael Bloomberg!) seemed more surprising; and Fallon and Timberlake brought a winningly goofy energy to every sketch in which they participated.
My only complaint? Why can’t SNL operate at this heightened energy level every week? Sure, not all hosts are created equal, but the Fallon-fronted episode was like a comedic space shuttle compared to the slapdash bottle rocket that was last week’s John Goodman-hosted catastrophe.
Anyhow, back to happier subjects! Let’s recap the week’s best and worst sketches:
BEST: BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE
Fallon and Cecily Strong offered up a lovely rendition of the flirty carol — and then, after a “12 minutes later” chyron — the duo began singing a very different tune. There was Strong, trying on Fallon’s hockey Jersey and wanting to know when he’d make good on his barside promise to go antiquing. There was Fallon, wondering if he ought to call a cab and delivering the hilarious lyric, “Can you take the trash when you go?” Topped by an unexpectedly sweet ending, this proved to be one of the more charming sketches in recent SNL history.
BEST: “(DO IT IN MY) TWIN BED”
Not at all sweet, but just as funny, this pre-taped bit found the women of SNL bringing their boyfriends (including a rapping Fallon) back home to their childhood bedrooms, where a very small mattress proved to be “the only option where we can get it poppin’.” Packed with amazing lyrics (“just shirt, no pants, like Winnie the Pooh”), visuals (Cecily’s old cat eyeballing the action) and randomness (“now it’s a whole thing with Jean”), this one’s an instant holiday classic.
HONORABLE MENTION: BILLIE JEAN KING ON WEEKEND UPDATE
Kate McKinnon slayed it as she described the Olympic delegate’s plan to protest Russia’s anti-gay policies at the Sochi Olympics. “There is no demographic in this world that gives less of a flip than 70-year-old lesbians,” she growled. “All I need to survive is a clean canteen and a sweater.” I was gasping with laughter by the the time BJK got down to describing women’s tennis as having “the primal grunts of two she-beasts with arms like the masts of a pirate ship.”
CRAZIEST: BARRY GIBB TALK SHOW
Fallon and Timberlake brought back this recurring sketch — with Madonna (or maybe a Madame Tussauds wax figure of Madge?) as one of the guests — and it was Rated B…for Bananas. Honestly, I could only understand about two-thirds of what Fallon’s Gibb brother was saying, but I did howl when he threatened to stuff a nine-iron down Paul Ryan’s throat and carrying him around like a golf bag.
WORST: GAY SCROOGE
The Ghost of Christmas Past takes the classic literary character back in time — where he realizes he was a mincing queen. Somewhere between concept and execution, this one got very, very stale.
Your turn! What did you think of Fallon as SNL host? Grade the episode in the poll below, then sound off in the comments!