John Goodman! He’s SNL royalty. The actor with the gravelly baritone has hosted the series 13 times, and is most famous for his cameo as Linda Tripp during that whole Monica Lewinsky thing with the Clinton administration. Last week’s episode ended with a Bill Brasky sketch (the first one in 15 years), so Goodman seems like the logical choice to continue the old-school SNL vibe. Kenan Thompson had the most screen time with our host, and two special guests dropped by to share the stage. Goodman has the chops, the versatility, and the presence — but despite all that, this week’s sketches were largely one-note creating some weird timing issues and average returns. See what you make of Goodman’s appearance, below.
“Obama Mandela Cold Open”
Kenan Thompson takes on the role of the phony sign language interpreter from Nelson Mandela’s funeral service and gesticulates with abandon.
“Dance of the Snowflakes”
Sometimes simple is better, as in the case of this community playhouse holiday pageant. The inner monologue of our dancing snowflakes becomes progressively weird and anxious (“On the way here, I hit a man with my car. I didn’t stop because I thought this was more important.”). A total existential crisis ensues.
“Three Wise Guys”
Oh hi, Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro. Goodman joins the guests as the “Three Wise Guys,” traveling to meet baby Jesus. These kings aren’t your average royal subjects. The “King of Sanitation in Bayonne, NJ,” the “Furniture King of Massapequa,” and the king who “does a little of this, a little of that, don’t worry about it,” brought the grandpa jokes full force. The timing is a nightmare, but the sketch feels decidedly old school and gets in a few good zingers.
“Weekend Update: Santa Claus & Drunk Uncle on Christmas”
Santa is “black as hell,” and all Drunk Uncle’s Drunk Uncle (Goodman) wants for Christmas is “for [his] two neighbors not to be Chinese anymore.”
This one goes out to all you John-Goodman-in-drag lovers. Beck Bennett busts out some sweet dance moves to cap things off.
Nasim Pedrad’s classroom ringleader is back, and this time she’s taunting Goodman’s fireman with ludicrous suggestions about fire safety — including sacrificial death by fireplace. Despite a botched line and weird cut, this one still has its charms.
If only to see Goodman do “fat guy in little coat,” but with skinny jeans.
Goodman’s Vernon Crotcher and McKinnon’s Sheila Savage are the last two at Donnelly’s bar with “zero more choices.” The lonely duo spray whipped cream facial hair on each other and go wild. The “Last Call” sketches always bring the nihilism.
“John Goodman Song Monologue”
John Goodman tells us he stopped hosting SNL after 2001, because he had to work dammit. The actor performs a Blues Brothers-style song with Thompson (sorry, Dan Aykroyd) about… ass. “All I Want for Christmas is Booty” would have been funnier if the duo played more off each other.
“Guy Fieri Christmas Special”
This pre-recorded segment was an editing disaster — and it wasn’t all intentional. Kate McKinnon does a great Big Ang (Mob Wives) impression, but the rest of the crew’s caricatures didn’t cut it.
“Hallmark Holiday Countdown”
For the record, I’d probably channel surf watch Elf with a Shelf and On Dasher on Danza out of morbid curiosity.