Now This Is What I Call A Christmas Episode
It’s funny, I had a bunch of false starts when trying to come up with this introduction as I kept attempting to come up with reason outside of the show as to why I am a fan of tonight’s host. I was surprised to see just how little of Jimmy Fallon’s non-SNL content that I’ve actually watch. I haven’t seen Taxi or Fever Pitch, and barely remember his cameo roles from the movies from movies I know for sure that I’ve seen before. I’ve never seen an episode of his version of Late Night, but I really am a fan. In fact, if I was still watching late night talk shows, his is one of the few hosts who I’ve actually been thinking about giving a chance as my reintroduction to the corner of the late night world.
Back in the day, I remember how some people would complain that they hated how Jimmy Fallon would regularly break while acting in the scene, when that was always my favorite thing about him. He always seemed like he was genuinely having fun and usually broke thanks to someone else who also had me laughing and not just laughing at his own jokes. The way that he and Horatio Sanz used to interact always reminded me of myself and a good friend at work, trying not to laugh while having to handle a severe situation since by default I used to handle stress with laughter.
Though I know Jimmy Fallon also writes, he seems more like an entertainer, which just got me thinking why I’m more lenient toward some cast members over others when trying to work through my issues with the present to outlook on old offensive humor. This might also be when I’m still surprised that Seth Meyers hasn’t won me over more by this point in the challenge, and why I had the reaction I did to Tina Fey’s first homecoming hosting visit. These two feel like writers first, who can be hilarious while performing but I’m willing to bet would bore you to death by being overly focused on the importance of being marketable while treating humor making as a business.
Meanwhile, Jimmy seems more like a person who would just joke about his influences, tell a few stories from childhood making it sound like it came off the top of his head while avoiding the boring business talk. At least that how it feels. Because of this, the writer-first performers now feel their offensive content was more calculated, and they had no issue because it was profitable. These people can seem like they’re changing their point of view to follow the money and would jump right back to be offensive again if it were to be back on trend. You can see this because the sentiment harshness toward others that they now claim to be against is now directed at acceptable targets that will probably change as well within the next decade or two.
Jimmy as a seeming performer first puts out a vibe that he’s more of a fan of laughter and just shares what he feels will be fun without getting preachy or worrying about the target audience. Keep in mind, this is just how it seems to me, and I have no damning evidence, even hearsay that it actually is this way. That said, I’m looking forward to laughing at all of the people I just mentioned above since they will all be making appearances tonight. I am still a fan of them all, I’m just continuing to work through my recent relationship status change to “it’s complicated,” with my first love, comedy.
Now, I will hit play and try to lighten up and enjoy my real-time viewing experience, not that I need any lightening, the above insights just came to me as I sat down to watch the show and saw that Jimmy was today’s host so I thought I would share. Actually, I’m in an excellent mood because I was excited to see in my pre-viewing legwork that not only was the opening sketch non-political but was over the moon when I saw that it was the reunion of my favorite Boston couple and we got to see them all grown up. My only issue with this sketch is their attempt to recreate the VHS home video effect was absolutely terrible, good thing the actual sketch was excellent as usual, and it was great to see Rachel Dratch.
Jimmy Fallon’s emotions during the first part of the monolog only added to the sense of his genuine love for the show and comedy that I mentioned in my intro up above. About a month ago I started to talk about how I heard in an interview that there were three default types of monologs for hosts who they didn’t know how to write for, one, being to take questions from the audience, two, being to have them sing, or, three, to have the wonder the halls. Though tonight’s intro from Jimmy featured two of the three, the fact that singing was always one of his things, and the fact that the backstage area was his old stomping ground, it felt like a fitting start to the night and not like a last minute bit. He was also singing about coming home for the holidays, so it totally made sense.
The Today parody was just meh, but I’ve never been a fan of this parody. I’ve just never seen the real show and was always more into morning talk radio, so I only heard clips from these daytime talk shows, but never got into the genre, not even as a goof, like I did with Maury and Richard Bey. As usual with this sketch, it did get funny when the host joined the scene for the last thirty seconds of the sketch because I laughed out loud when Jimmy as Regis announce he was returning from his retirement and then just pushed Hoda out of her chair. I was a bit zoned out, and this over-the-top action cracked me up.
I’m not a big fan of Christmas music of crooners in general so as far as the music used in the fake Buble duets Christmas album wasn’t all that appealing to me but the impersonations and fake performances were on point and kept me entertained. As did the quick sketch that took place in Jimmy Fallon's dressing room where he talked to Andy Samberg in the mirror who played his own reflection. This sketch was fun both not to the point where it got me to laugh out of my chair. That is until the spit-take toward the end, which is a comedic goto tool that for some reason still works every time.
What doesn’t work for me are period piece sketches. For whatever reason, I will watch and enjoy content from whatever time period that was shot or written during the actual time or from people who lived through the time period. I will also watch documentaries about any time, no matter when things are produced, but when it comes to fiction from any format, I’m not a fan of content that tries to depict history accurately when the author didn’t live through it. Hell, I’m living through the present and don’t think I could accurately describe what it’s like to be alive at this time. Granted, this is a sketch, but it still has the look and feel of a piece that I’d typically avoid altogether, so I don’t even find much joy in the gabs at the old-timey way of life. I wasn’t disinterested enough to be annoyed, I just didn’t love the segment.
Though I tend to hate real deal one-man shows, having stumbled across several terrible shows thinking they’d be more like stand-up, I am a fan of parodies of this brand of stage performance. So I was entertained by Fred Armisen in Half Jewish Half Italian Completely Neurotic. I was also highly delighted by the return of the SNL Christmas band for yet another round of I Wish It Was Christmas Today. I adore this song, I loved every single time that they had it on and don’t think I will ever be annoyed if they were to bring the band back for more.
As I said earlier, I hate crooners, mainly because they remind me of wife beaters and mafia wannabes since most people who still like the genre still have a hard-on for Frank Sinatra and the good-ole-days, so I never took an interest in Michael Buble. That said, I have heard that he’s a pretty funny guy, and I could see that in his earlier performance in his sketch, but, as I also said, I’m not a fan of Christmas music, so I wasn’t a huge fan of him singing Holly Jolly Christmas. At least this viewing is actually near Christmas, unlike most of the times throughout this challenge when the Christmas episode would come up. Plus, as I always say, I’ll take a song that I know and hate over a song that I’ve never heard and am unsure of, especially since Buble’s brand of crooning didn’t really get on my nerves.
The news was fine as usual while at the same time I still had my usual complaints, but I did love the colossal news reunion with Seth Meyers, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, and our host, Jimmy Fallon. As harsh as I’ve been on this segment throughout this entire challenge, when watching the show live, I’ve always known that I could count on Weekend Update for some of the biggest laughs. It’s just hard to get into all of the “current” event humor from seven years ago. I have to admit that I did get the chills and tear up just a bit when I saw all of these anchors together. I’ve spent so much time with all of these characters both while watching SNL when it’s live and throughout this challenge.
This touching moment provided a bit of a boost to my mood, which was extra nice because I’ve already been in a good place throughout tonight’s viewing, but it may be why I liked the Beethoven sketch as much as I did. Then again, the sketch was also pretty funny on its own since I always used to find it funny when a singer would use a song breakdown to introduce their band and being that his band was an entire orchestra, the laugh just kept on coming as the intros got more surreal than they already were from the start.
I think that I shared in the past how I used to do stagecraft back in high school, so just like my interest in sketches that take place behind-the-scenes of films, from having worked in the film industry, I also typically like sketches that make fun of plays. So, I enjoyed the extremely low budget performance of War Horse, even though I’ve never seen the stage play of film.
Up above, I mention how I wasn’t a fan of Christmas music. This is mainly because Christmas is more linked to depression than family when it comes to me and not that I’m a Scrooge. It just becomes a sad day the older you get especially when you have no kids, and probably never will. So, I wasn’t as up for the second Christmas song of Buble’s contribution to the show, but he still did a good job.
As an Atheist, I loved the Jesus sketch because, though cliché, I always find humor in the idea of two teams praying to the say heavenly being for their success, as if their game was the most critical thing in the world that deserves this divine attention. I also like the aspect of how the loser is supposed to react by being ignored by their lord. Granted, this sketch was more focused on Tim Tebow, who I know is super religious, but that’s all I know of the guy, so my mind wondered to what I just shared.
Jimmy Fallon’s goodnights further added to the sentiments that I mentioned in my introduction, with him dressed as a killer bee, thanking as many people as he could sounding genuinely excited while shouting out friends and family which didn’t sound like a forced plug. I have to say, though there were a couple of slip-ups, this was the best Christmas episode that I’ve seen since starting this challenge, and not just because of the cameos. This may even be the first time the cameos felt fitting and not just a shortcut to amp up the live audience.
Whether it was the show or the improvement to my mood in general, I would have no problem if the rest of this challenge would continue to play out this way. Until we find out whether or not this will happen, it’s now time to switch gears and dig deeper into the details of each sketch, as I give you...
The Wicker Breakdown:
This week's show started with a visit from the Boston Teens where Jimmy Fallon and Rachel Dratch reprised their classic rowdy teen characters for an update where now they are adults, married and still up to the fame fun and games. For this reunion, the two tried to sneak into their old high school’s Winter Formal in an effort to recreate their second date. At first, all of the present day students kept goofing on the couple for being so old, but then when they heard Jimmy’s name, they all knew of the two as school legends and then all they wanted to do was hang out and listen to old stories of their school. Of course, with this being the opening sketch, it eventually led to the announcement of, “Live from New York...”
Jimmy Fallon then officially opened the show with a monolog about how happy he was to return to the show to host the Christmas episode. He then danced through the halls of Studio 8H singing Christmas Time (Coming Home Again) song along with the cast a crew.
We then got a parody of Today where Kristen Wiig and Nasim Pedrad played Kathie Lee and Hoda once again for more morning show banter-based jokes. Their guest this time was Jimmy Fallon as Regis Philbin who dropped in for a surprise visit to announce his retirement plan failed and that he’d be back on the air really soon. So soon that he then pushed Hoda right out of her chair and took over.
We then got a fake ad for Michael Buble Christmas Duets which was a phony album filled with Buble Duets with the real musical guest from the night singing alongside our host and the cast impersonating popular singers from this time.
Holiday Party took us back to 1928 where our host and the cast played socialites from the time where Kristen Wiig returned as her character who struggled to fight the urge to steal the spotlight to sing. This time, Jimmy Fallon joined in as a guy who resisted the same call to steal the spotlight with a dance, ruining the festive event in the process.
Half Jewish Half Italian Completely Neurotic had Fred Armisen in the titular role as he put on a one-man off-off-Broadway show on the subject, only to alienate the entire audience with his in-your-face performance.
Michael Buble then took to the stage to perform Holly Jolly Christmas.
Once again, Seth Meyers gave us the news. This week, we got another installment of In The Cage where this time Andy Samberg as Nicolas Cage’s special guest was the real Jude Lay so that he could ask why he wasn’t invited to be part of Sherlock Holmes: Game Of Shadows. Seth was then joined by Amy Poehler for a quick reunion to tell a couple of stories only to be joined by former Weekend Update team Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey so that the four could go on to have a Weekend Update Joke-Off. (Clip 2) (Clip 3)
Ode To Joy took us back in time so that Jimmy Fallon could portray Ludwig van Beethoven who just finished orchestrating a performance and went on to introduce his backup band the same way a singer would in a modern rock concert.
Once again, we went to another play where Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig were two audience members for an extremely low budget performance of War Horse where Jimmy Fallon played the horse by putting his hands up to his head as if they were ears. Kristen and Hader broke up the quirky stage action by adding their input of what they were expecting versus what they got, making it easier to follow the deeper references that I wouldn’t have gotten from not having seen the real play.
Michael Buble then returned to the stage to perform Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.
We then met Jesus In The Broncos’ Locker Room where Jason Sudeikis played the creator’s kid to explain to the team how he wouldn’t be able to help them out on their upcoming game because of prior engagements.
Finally, Jimmy Fallon closed the show by thanking the audience and saying his goodnights.
As I said up above, this was by far the best Christmas episode since I started this season, and the more that I think about it, thanks to sketches like these three that contained my favorite moments of the night, I’m thinking this might also be my favorite show so far from this year. First, I love the Weekend Update Joke-Off because as I said up above, seeing all of the anchors together gave me chills to the point where I started to tear up. Next, I really liked the Update From The Boston Teams because apparently, I’m in the right mood to witness reunions as once again, this one lit up my heart. Finally, to keep the reunion ball rolling, I was a fan of tonight’s performance of I Wish It Was Christmas Today, because I will love this song and everyone involved no matter how many times they play it.