Saturday Night Live’s Christmas episode was largely curtailed as a result of Covid. The long-running NBC series aired a handful of original sketches with host Paul Rudd as well as a Tina Fey co-hosted Weekend Update. But it filled the time with a slew of classic old clips.
Tom Hanks, joining the show in a surprise appearance, introduced his 1991 sketch “The Global Warming Christmas Special,” which featured Hanks as Dean Martin, Mike Myers as Carl Sagan, and Dana Carvey as Paul McCartney.
Vanessa Bayer and Ryan Gosling’s Santa and his elves sketch, from 2015, also aired.
Kenan Thompson, who along with Michael Che were the only current cast members on the show, introduced the clip. “This is one of my favorite Christmas sketches, not only because I love watching sweet, innocent Vanessa Bayer as a naughty elf but I remember how much fun it was being in the office when I told our writers about this idea. That’s what I love about this place, people making stuff that really makes them laugh.”
Earlier in the show, the “Dick in a Box” sketch, from the Lonely Island and Justin Timberlake, was the first classic sketch aired.
Elsewhere, Steve Martin’s “Holiday Wish” was rolled out. The sketch sees the comedian listing all of his holiday wishes, including children singing in the spirit of peace, tax-free cash in a Swiss bank account, all-encompassing power over the universe, a 31-day orgasm and revenge on his enemies. It originally aired in Season 12 in 1986.
Host Paul Rudd introduced the clip. “Saturday Night Live had a huge impact on my life. Like so many others, I idolized Steve Martin. As a kid I would memorize his sketches and perform them for my friends at school. They hated it. I have a vivid memory of the night Steve Martin’s Holiday Wish aired, it blew me away, I memorized it straight away. If any of my friends from high school are watching, you’re going to have to hear it one more time.”
There was also Holiday Pageant sketch featuring Paul McCartney and Martin Short as Caleb and Monty. The sketch originally aired in 2010 on an episode hosted by tonight’s host Rudd.
Eddie Murphy, as an angry elf in sweatpants, was also featured. The “North Pole News Report” from Murphy’s 2019 return, featured the former SNL star raging “Christmas is canceled,” which felt somewhat apt given the situation.
The show closed out its classic clips with Fey introducing “Christmas Time for the Jews” as part of the TV Funhouse strand, with the 30 Rock creator telling a sweet story about how the SNL costume team re-versioned a Juicy Couture sweatsuit into a baby outfit for Fey’s 3-month-old baby.
Rudd returned at the end of the show to thank all of the cast, crew and Charli XCX for working under “such stressful circumstances.” “What a crazy week and an even crazier day,” he said. “I know it wasn’t the Christmas show you expected but that’s the beauty of this place. Like life, it’s unpredictable. Stay safe and have a very happy holiday.”