Cecily Strong Bids Goodbye to 'SNL' with Tearful Final Episode

December 17, 2022

Photo: Mary Ellen Matthews / NBC

BY Vish KhannaPublished Dec 18, 2022

Austin Butler was a dynamic and great host, Lizzo charmed as she usually does on Saturday Night Live, and, in a day-of surprise, Cecily Strong appeared in her final episode as the longest-running female cast member ever. Here's everything that happened on the last SNL of 2022.

The Cold Open

James Austin Johnson appeared as Donald Trump to tout the much-maligned NFT trading cards that the real deal launched earlier this week.

After a slideshow of sillier cards, Mikey Day appeared as Donald Trump Jr. and did some business before introducing DTJ's fiancée, Kimberly Guilfoyle, whose unhinged mania Cecily Strong truly captured. After Johnson did one of his Trump lists, this fair open wound down.

The Monologue

ELVIS star (and Daniel Romano lookalike) Austin Butler made a low-key entrance and almost immediately made a joke about his deep, husky voice. Butler discussed his upbringing and being homeschooled with his sister, who was in the audience, and broke out a Gollum impression for his beloved, late mother. This lent the monologue some surprising emotional heft and got the audience on Butler's side as he welcomed us to the show.

The Phrase That Pays

James Austin Johnson played the host of this game show, which featured Punkie Johnson, Butler and Heidi Gardner playing contestants. This Wheel of Fortune ripoff was very complicated, with many blank letter spaces — though, much to his fellow contestant's chagrin, Butler's Troy had some unlikely success in this amusing bit.

A Christmas Epiphany

In this remote, an old-fashioned black-and-white film was depicted, featuring Butler in the lead role of a depressed drunk, seemingly reflecting upon his miserable life while also inadvertently terrorizing a family dinner. Meanwhile, the family members in question were having a quarrel, and then this It's a Wonderful Life send-up ended with a bizarre twist.


With a Sound of Music aesthetic, this live infomercial for marzipan — helmed by an always near-breaking Kenan Thompson — spent a lot of time making fun of the gross confection that is marzipan in a rather surreal manner. Culminating with a musical number, it was weird and good.

Jewish Elvis

At a retirement home, some grandmas and a granddaughter attended a special show by Jewish Elvis. Butler, Cecily Strong and Ego Nwodim played the grandmas, Chloe Fineman played the granddaughter, and, most uproariously, Sarah Sherman played Jewish Elvis. When Bowen Yang's Burt, the home's director, came out to interrupt the show, things spiralled out of control, and was a surprising way to incorporate the King on a show hosted by Butler.


On a set designed like a bedroom, Lizzo sat on the side of a bed, seemingly alone, and began belting out "Break Up Twice" before a camera panned out to reveal a full band on stage. The homage to Lauryn Hill's "(Doo Wop) That Thing" could not match the power of its inspiration, but made for compelling television.

In keeping with the fact that this was the Christmas episode of SNL (and the final one before the holiday break), Lizzo performed a festive version of "Someday at Christmas," which was brought the house down.

Weekend Update

A downcast Colin Jost went in on Donald Trump's NFT fiasco in a humourous manner, while Michael Che ridiculed the arrest of disgraced crypto exec Sam Bankman-Fried.

Before long, we encountered a heavily made up Bowen Yang, who appeared as the evil holiday figure Krampus. It turned out that Krampus was a sensitive, child-eating queer icon, whose makeup malfunctioned and whose self-esteem could use a boost.

Michael Che made a R. Kelly joke and a better one about how racist the GOP is. Heidi Gardner appeared as Colin's Great Aunt Pat, seemingly not for the first time (it was the first time). After insisting upon a kiss on the lips from Jost, Pat heavily dry-fondled Mikey Day's penis and seemingly got more and more drunk. This was ridiculous.

Later, on this Grand Central Station edition of Update, Cecily Strong appeared as her recurring character Cathy Anne to announce that she was going to prison for various gross and heinous crimes. As this bit progressed, it seemed that Strong herself was announcing her departure from Saturday Night Live. A mid-season departure that made headlines a couple of hours before showtime, Strong's emotional embrace with Jost explained his sad expression earlier.

White Elephant Gift Exchange

At a game-like gift exchange, things went a bit awry when the rules of the event got to Butler's Shawn, who was bitter to have a gift he loved stolen right out of his hands. A chaotic ensemble piece with no real point, this was the first real stinker of the night.

Jennifer Coolidge Is Impressed by Christmas Stuff

Chloe Fineman did a spot-on Jennifer Coolidge impression for this remote about the holiday season, which was an amusing way to cash in on the star's White Lotus-inspired high profile of late.

please don't destroy: Plirts

The cash-strapped pdd boys tried to rope Butler into investing in their line of plastic shirts, or Plirts, which led to chaotic pitches, horrible side effects and a kiss from Lizzo. Funny stuff.

Radio Shack

Kenan Thompson appeared as the manager of a Radio Shack, which was a ruse for the show to bid an emotional, tearful farewell to Cecily Strong, featuring Butler as "Casual Elvis," who led a lovely version of "Blue Christmas." Initially a duet between Butler and Strong, Thompson and the rest of the cast joined them, for a tastefully bittersweet singalong that will be a memorable moment in the show's history.

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