‘Saturday Night Live’ Review: Season 39, Episode 9 with Host John Goodman

By December 16, 2013
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Saturday Night Live - John Goodman Bumper

It’s been 12 years since John Goodman hosted “Saturday Night Live.” In fact, Goodman actually hosted once a year from 1989-2001. So his return for a 13th appearance as host of the late night sketch series was a welcome one. But did the holiday infused show deliver the goods for everyone who has been waiting for Goodman to come back? We take a look at the night’s sketches below.

The Best

Guy Fieri Christmas Special – Easily one of Bobby Moynihan’s best impressions, anything with Guy Fieri on “Saturday Night Live” is comedy gold. Moynihan might be better at being Fiery than the real personality at this point. Making this even better is Moynihan’s appearance as all four of the main characters from “Pawn Stars” along with appropriate Fieri-themed Yuletide joy from plenty more white trash pop culture stars (including Kings of Leon as the guys from “Duck Dynasty.” Pure hilarity, but we’re wondering what Noel Wells was doing in this sketch.

H&M – When Jay Pharoah delivered a parody music video for the catchy and goofy viral song “The Fox” with host Kerry Washington, it was one of the night’s highlights. Well, he’s done it again, this time taking aim at the the clothing stores of H&M who have trademark clothes that are always far too small, and made in only the primary colors. Complete with mocking of the clothing sizes and general state of every single store in malls across the country, Pharoah hit another home run.

Too Hot – Longtime fans of “SNL” and know that John Goodman spent plenty of time in drag as Linda Tripp during the relevant times when Monica Lewinsky was making headlines. It was hilarious to see him in a wig and dress again, especially being part of a lawsuit focusing on his character getting fired for being too attractive. I’m just glad the use of an R. Kelly track in the sketch didn’t keep it from making it online.

The Average

Dance of the Snowflakes – For the first half of this sketch, I felt like the people in the snowflakes watching this as what seemed like a really dumb sketch unfolded. Thankfully some funny moments surfaces later as the inner monologue of these pageant participants got a little more ridiculous (especially for Aidy Bryant). Plus, Kenan Thompson’s surprise boner helped (which isn’t a sentence you hear too often).

Christmas Whistle – I know the sound of the Christmas Whistle was part of the joke, but damn was that annoying. Honestly, it was a bit disappointing of an end to the sketch when the sounds turned out to be from an off-screen, choking supporting character. The bigger issue is that these TCM sketches are missing the stellar introductions from Darrell Hammond, Jason Sudeikis and/or Bill Hader.

Three Wise Guys – This sketch isn’t particularly original, but having Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro appear to get in Italian wise guy mode was still a fun surprise. It’s not a bad way for these two to promote their Christmas Day comedy Grudge Match. We just wish they would have been a little better at reading the sketch cards and timing their lines right. De Niro did much better than Stallone, but they were both good enough for some laughs.

The Worst

Shallon – We’re not entirely surprise to see Nasim Pedrad’s precocious Shallon recur since first appearing in this season’s episode with host Edward Norton, but this version fell flat on its face with John Goodman. It wasn’t entirely Goodman’s fault, though he flubbed more than a couple lines, which never fails to take the impact out of a joke and distract the audience. They should be accepting of mistakes like this because it’s live TV, but it’s almost like they get scared for the performers and imagine Lorne Michaels screaming at a TV in his office. Anyway, Shallon just didn’t bring the laughs this time despite a successful first run.

Hallmark Holiday Countdown – This just felt like a lazy attempt at a filler sketch. Logistically, though it would have been harder to have different “film sets,” this would have been infinitely funnier if the cast did impressions of each of these C-list actors in a short excerpt from each of these faux Hallmark Channel comedies

Obama Mandela – There was no way the writers weren’t going to use this headline making story from the memorial for Nelson Mandela, but they went in the most obvious direction possible. The real-life story was infinitely more entertaining than this parody of it. Not even an appearance by Kate McKinnon as the wiretapped German chancellor could save it. Plus, it’s not the first time they’ve spoofed sign language interpreters in a similar fashion.

The Weird

Last Call – In this third appearance of a sketch that feels like a kindred spirit to the Bill Brasky clan, Kate McKinnon keeps the spirit alive, even if the joke is getting a little old. We will say that it was all worth it to see McKinnon make out with the whipped cream topped bear that John Goodman donned.

Weekend Update

Seth Meyers and Cecily Strong knocked Weekend Update out of the park this week. It’s been solid all season, but it felt like every single story from the duo landed perfectly. Dare I say that this might have been the best all around Weekend Update segment of the season? I just might.

Santa Claus – Take that, Fox News. Megyn Kelly came under fire recently for reiterating that Santa Claus was definitively white (just like Jesus Christ, as she says) in a debate as to why the Christmas idol couldn’t be black. Sure they tried to say it was tongue in cheek (because Fox News is best known for their sense of humor), but “SNL” fired back by having Kenan Thompson appear as Santa Claus, who is actually black. It’s surprising to learn why it’s more convenient for people to think that Santa Claus is white. It all makes sense now.

Drunk Uncle on Christmas – Aaron Paul may have joined Drunk Uncle earlier this year for some fun, but it’s hard to beat John Goodman popping up as Drunk Uncle’s appropriately Drunker Uncle. It’s always best when Drunk Uncle tackles a specific holiday, and he actually makes us want to try Instagram-crackers. Sadly, again we were reminded that Seth Meyers was leaving “SNL” again as Drunk Uncle gets a little sad that this will be his last Christmas with the Weekend Update host. But at least we have a new drunk version of Billy Ocean’s “Get Out of My Dreams” to sing at parties.

The Host

It was certainly good to have John Goodman back, and he was right at home in Studio 8H. He seemed to have a little trouble with the cue cards that put a damper on some jokes, but when he was on, he nailed it (see Too Hot and Drunk Uncle). That monologue made for some really good fun, especially knowing that Goodman joined the Blues Brothers many years ago, and has even performed with them on “SNL” in the past.

The MVP

Saturday Night Live - John Goodman - Drunk Uncle

Bobby Moynihan – Between Drunk Uncle and the Guy Fieri Christmas Special, this was a great night for Moynihan. It’s always a win when you’re dominating a sketch with one of your staple impressions and then make it even better but appearing as four other characters. His appearance in the failed Shallon sketch even incited the one worthy laugh out loud.

The Final Word

This episode was certainly an improvement over last weekend’s somewhat disappointing run with host Paul Rudd (though it wasn’t his fault). It’s clear Goodman knew what he was doing, and it was just great to have him back. We hope he gets back to hosting once a year again, or at least every other year. Soon enough he’ll hit 15 episodes, which means we’ll get a whole slew of guest stars like Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin to come celebrate his entering the prestigious club. More Goodman is never a bad idea.

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Ethan Anderton
Some of his favorite films include Ghostbusters, The Empire Strikes Back and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, while his favorite TV series include LOST, Mad Men, 30 Rock, Parks & Recreation, Arrested Development and Saturday Night Live.