‘Saturday Night Live’ Review: “Martin Short”
It's the 'SNL' Christmas episode, and this year the special host is Martin Short, former 10th season cast member and a guy who knows a little something about being on the 'SNL' stage. But how did he do?
This week's episode opens with a children's choir sweetly singing 'Silent Night,' and there's really not much to say about it. It's a nice little change from the typical political cold opens, and with the tragic events of this week, it feels especially comforting. Well done, 'SNL.'
Martin Short is full of energy, passive-aggressively mocking the crowd for being there instead of volunteering in a soup kitchen. Paul Schaffer, who played piano for 'SNL' for five years before working for David Letterman, takes the stage, and Short obviously breaks into song -- this one is about how Christmas isn't just about shopping and presents, it's about getting frisky with your loved ones. It's cute, but can they have their hosts do anything except for sing in the opening monologues lately?
But holy crap, you guys, Kristen Wiig, Jimmy Fallon, Tom Hanks, Samuel L. Jackson, and Tina Fey are all hanging out in the halls while Short sings! It was too awesome to see Wiig with her Dooneese baby hand. We all miss her so much.
A Tony Bennett Christmas
Yes! Alec Baldwin shows up after all to play Tony Bennett in this mock-up of a Tony Bennett Christmas show. Short plays Tony's little brother Jerry, and Jay Pharaoh plays Kanye West in that ridiculous leather kilt Yeezy was wearing at the Sandy benefit the other night. Pharaoh does a frighteningly excellent Kanye impression. The chemistry between Baldwin and Short is great, and when talk devolves into hemorrhoids and constipation, it's delightful.
Kate Middleton's Pregnancy Exam
Martin Short plays a representative of the royal family bringing Kate Middleton to see a pregnancy doctor, played by Bill Hader. Short is there to instruct Hader on how to interact with the royal duchess and her royal "ahem." Short's outlandish British accent is the stuff of classic 'SNL' -- it's over the top and wacky, but he's so dedicated to it. The sketch is sort of B-level, but picks up when Short starts talking about the duchess' "ahem" wearing a hat, and how Hader should tip his hat if that's the case. And the nicknames for vagina are hilarious! "Her Downton Abbey" and "Piccadilly Cervix" were particularly inspired. A pop-in by Bobby Moynihan as a weird palace guard and Short discussing "the royal butthole" round out the sketch with extra silly, enough to make Hader almost crack. Fred Armisen caps off the sketch as Queen Elizabeth, showing up for a gynecological exam and throwing his legs in the stirrups. Amazing.
You're a Rat Bastard, Charlie Brown
Al Pacino (Bill Hader), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Jason Sudeikis), Edie Falco (Kate McKinnon), Larry David (Martin Short, totally nailing it), Forrest Whitaker (Kenan Thompson), Kristen Chenoweth (Nasim Pedrad), Michael Keaton (Taran Killam), and Fran Drescher (Cecily Strong) are in the provocative stage play "You're a Rat Bastard, Charlie Brown." These pre-recorded bits with loads of celeb impressions are always fun, and while some impressions don't quite work (Pedrad, Thompson, and Killam don't hit the mark as well as others), Martin Short's fantastic Larry David and Sudeikis' weird Philip Seymour Hoffman more than make up for it.
Vanessa Bayer shows up as Bar Mitzvah boy Jacob, here to teach the story of Hanukkah. Bayer's little Jewish kid is so adorable, I just want to squeeze her to pieces. Of course, Jacob gets distracted from the story of Hanukkah with his own opinions about baseball, his brother, and his mom's love of shopping.
Cecily Strong reprises her Girl You Wish You Hadn't Started a Conversation with at a Party character, and I love it, but I'm kind of sad that this is a 'SNL' holiday episode and there's no Drunk Uncle or Stefon anywhere to be found. But damn it, Cecily Strong is so good at this character -- almost too good at it. It's the little things, like saying "trajesty" instead of "travesty," and not leaning too heavily on a faux-drunk slur. "I gotta show you this thing my friend Trevor made. He's gay but he only sleeps with women. It's origami. That's Spanish for goose." Bravo, Cecily Strong.
What Up With That? Christmas Spectacular
Samuel L. Jackson, Carrie Brownstein (!!!), and Bill Hader as Lindsay Buckingham are guests on a very special What's Up With That? It's been a long time since we've seen this sketch, and I think 'SNL' has gotten a strong grasp on making sure audiences don't get tired of the same sketches over and over because What's Up With That wouldn't work as well if it were something we saw more than twice a year. Martin Short shows up as an elderly dancer in the vein of someone who never let go of Studio 54, Nasim Pedrad is a weird little female Grinch character, and Tim Robinson keeps dancing across the stage as a beach bum Santa. It's almost like a Stefon night club in there.
And did Samuel L. Jackson just curse twice? Yes. It seems he was supposed to be cut off before completing his F-bomb, but the timing didn't work out, and then he followed it with "That's some bulls---." Thankfully, Kenan Thompson thinks fast because his "that costs money" line didn't sound rehearsed, and was hilarious.
Restoration Hardware Reunion
Kenan Thompson introduces a moment when two friends (Fred Armisen and Martin Short) run into each other at Restoration Hardware and catch up on each other's lives. The two have tons of quirky info to share, like Armisen's 25 bagels a day diet and his hobby where he shows up to parties pretending to be James Cameron. Short's stuff is equally funny, like writing a World War II book when he doesn't even know how to write, and working as an actor for EMT trainees.
Cecily Strong and Jason Sudeikis are hosting auditions for a community center Christmas pageant. Martin Short and musical guest Paul McCartney play Caleb and Monty, respectively. Caleb sings and Monty plays the triangle, and there's a whole to-do over how Monty shouldn't be allowed to sing, ever, and then he misses his cue to hit the triangle. It's so awesome to watch Martin Short yell at Paul McCartney like he's an incompetent idiot. Short exaggerates his emotions so fantastically, and it's rare that we get a host who puts this much effort and energy into every single sketch.