Kate McKinnon and Billie Eilish Had Themselves a Merry Little Christmas on Best 'SNL' of 2023

December 16, 2023

Photo: Mary Ellen Matthews / NBC

BY Vish KhannaPublished Dec 17, 2023

With some well-written sketches and great performances by host Kate McKinnon and musical guest (and occasional featured player) Billie Eilish, Saturday Night Live said goodbye to 2023 in fine and funny style. Here's everything that happened on SNL this week.

The Cold Open

Heidi Gardner and Bowen Yang appeared as characters hosting something called the 95th Annual Christmas Awards. Categories for the Santies included Most Disappointing Award Given to a 10-Year-Old (the winner: "Gamgam for clothes"), Dads Pretending to Like Terrible Gifts from their Children, and Most Unwelcome Uninvited Guest, for which Mike (Devon Walker) won for bringing his new white girlfriend (Sarah Sherman) home for the holidays. This award show was a funny premise that worked well in every way.

The Monologue

SNL alumnus Kate McKinnon returned to the show that made her famous for her first hosting turn, and she was visibly moved to be there doing a monologue. Expressing some apprehension about how to proceed, McKinnon showed off some past work as a cast member, via photos of her being weird with hosts, and started to sing a parody of "I'll Be Home for Christmas," before being flanked by fellow former cast members Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig, who riffed on Wikipedia entries. Then the trio sang together, which was fun.

North Pole News Report

A killer whale attack in the North Pole led to a local North Pole News report, where an elf reporter in the field conducted interviews with witnesses, like a nauseous Scottish elf played by McKinnon, who would pop up throughout the report. With funny gags about sympathy notes from Christmas icons and social media posts, this was funny.


In this remote ad, disappointed children lamented not receiving a puppy for Christmas, but wee pleased when their parents reveal they got them Pongo instead. Pongo was an amorphous dog-like creature who was neither alive nor dead, and whose inherent creepiness drove the family matriarch, played by Sarah Sherman, to madness, which was amusing.

ABBA Christmas

McKinnon, Wiig, Rudolph and Bowen Yang played ABBA in this informercial hosted by a character played by James Austin Johnson. They promoted a previously unreleased Christmas album, which was so ridiculous that the stars had trouble containing themselves, which made this a joy.

Mortified Mom

At a family gathering, McKinnon played a mom who was self-conscious about the Christmas gifts she gave to her children and whose husband (James Austin Johnson) was a real jerk. McKinnon's self-flagellation increased to disturbing levels, which was dark but worked.

Tampon Farm

In this remote music video featuring Billie Eilish, Rudolph, Wiig and various cast members, McKinnon got to indulge her Indigo Girls/Ani DiFranco folk fantasies, singing a remarkably funny song called "Tampon Farm," which turned out brilliantly.

Billie Eilish

Joined by her brother FINNEAS on piano and a backdrop of her name in the Barbie font, Billie Eilish beautifully sang "What Was I Made For," her contribution to the film's soundtrack. A string section soon joined them, which, along with an intro by McKinnon and the film's director, Greta Gerwig, made this a triumphant and poignant performance.
With a subdued, smooth jazz arrangement, Eilish sang "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." With fake snow falling, this was a lovely and earnest contribution to the festive, proceedings.
Weekend Update

Colin Jost kicked Update off by ridiculing Rudy Giuliani's $148 million judgment and his penchant for flatulence, while Che suggested that Democrats were still clamouring for an Obama administration.

Jost compared Harvard President Claudine Gay to Steve Urkel, while Che invited Rich Auntie with No Kids to the desk. The character was played by Ego Nwodim as a selfish and wild single woman who is horned up and has no patience for her family members and their kids. This was quite good.

Che reported that more teenage boys are virgins because of a skank shortage, while Jost made a silly Van Gogh deafness gag. Ah, the annual tradition of Jost and Che telling jokes they'd written for each other that they were reading for the first time. Oh man, Che upped the awkward ante this year, bringing out senior Black activist Dr. Hattie Davis, who sat in a wheelchair beside Jost as he read Che's racially charged jokes. For his part, Jost finally got Che back this year with jokes that visibly shook him, though nothing was as forceful as Che's Black Widow bit for Jost. Truly uproarious stuff.

Boogie Woogie Santa

At an office Christmas "yankee swap," McKinnon played a character who helped her ailing office mate Winston (Kenan Thompson) receive a cure for his sickle cell anemia, but like his colleagues, he was far too smitten with a singing Boogie Woogie Santa toy and traded for that instead. This one drew the first muted laughs of the night, as it didn't quite land.

Cinema Classics

Kenan Thompson reprised his role as host Reese De'What, introducing a cinema classic on PBS. The film was Meet Me in St. Louis, and McKinnon played Tootie, who was prompted to cry on screen by being informed that her actual dog, Bruce, had died. Sadly, Tootie took the news way too hard to remain functional and the set descended into chaos, which was a bit of gory fun.

Whiskers R We

McKinnon and Eilish appeared together as the strange hosts of a show advocating for miscreant cats with punny names in need of homes. The pair were so silly and may have discovered they were mother and daughter, all of which was sweet and adorable.

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