The actor seemed positively giddy to be back hosting SNL for the first time in 16 years. After he reprised his role as Brett Kavanaugh in a star-studded parody of It’s a Wonderful Life, Damon took center stage for an endearing monologue about how he grew up watching the late-night sketch comedy series with his father.
What followed was a solid Christmas episode that tasked Damon with playing both a daddy and a daddy, and (sort of) gave him the chance to reprise one of his most beloved film roles.
Without further ado, my picks for the best and worst sketches…
BEST: BEST CHRISTMAS EVER
In this sketch (which followed the same basic formula as Amy Schumer’s “The Day You Were Born“), Damon and Cecily Strong played marrieds sitting down to reflect on a joyous Christmas Day, punctuated by flashbacks to what was actually a hellish 24 hours. Damon earned the biggest laugh as he struggled to build a Fisher-Price playhouse for his daughter while everyone else was asleep. Scenes from a nightmarish family dinner (including Mikey Day as an unrelenting Trump supporter) were also pretty great.
BEST: OSCAR HOST AUDITIONS
The impressions here were hit or miss, but the ones that landed more than made up for the ones that didn’t. Among the very best: Aidy Bryant as Hannah Gadsby, Melissa Villaseñor as Sarah Silverman and Kate McKinnon as Michelle Wolf. And though it wasn’t a great impression, I was nonetheless tickled by Damon’s Matthew McConaughey.
BEST: CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS
Beck Bennett’s Drunk Santa was relegated to the back of the tree, where he met fellow misfit ornaments, including “America’s Mayor” Rudy Giuliani (Kate McKinnon) and a stubborn Harry Potter (Day), who refused to accept that his broken Quidditch broom put him in a compromising position. Best of all was Damon, who played a Good Will Hunting ornament saddled with an unfortunate inscription in the #MeToo era.
HONORABLE MENTION: WESTMINSTER DADDY SHOW
Damon singlehandedly elevated this otherwise forgettable sketch, in which he played an announcer-turned-competitor in a tournament where “any man can be a father, but it takes a hot, middle-aged guy with a big job to be a daddy.” It was impossible to keep a straight face as Damon’s Jerry, sans handler, trotted for Aidy Bryant’s judge.
WORST: JINGLE BELLS
Did anyone else get Treece Henderson vibes from this Cecily Strong showcase? The premise was similar enough: Strong and Damon played a lounge act that shared intimate details about their relationship during a Broadway-style holiday singalong. It was the lone dud to make it to air before Weekend Update.
Someone at SNL is determined to keep doing this sketch until it suddenly becomes funny. It last made it to air when Sterling K. Brown hosted and his character insisted that Shrek was the best animated film of all time. Here, it was Damon who got upset when a fellow dinner guest (played by Leslie Jones) declared that rock band Weezer hadn’t put out a decent album in years. The cue card reading was most obvious here, and took away from whatever energy the sketch had.
What were your favorite sketches this week? And what missed the mark? Watch all of the highlights above, then grade Damon’s hosting stint in our poll.