Published Dec 16, 2018Matt Damon was an excellent host, and Mark Ronson and Miley Cyrus paired up for two cool musical performances, one of which included an unexpected and timely cameo. Here's everything that happened on Saturday Night Live this week.
The cold open
In It's a Wonderful Trump, Alec Baldwin's President gets to travel through a world where he was never elected to the White House. This takeoff on the Jimmy Stewart classic was funny (see Beck Bennett's out and proud DJ Pence) and rich with cameos by Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, and even host Matt Damon, each reprising their respective SNL roles in the Trump saga. All rather topical, but timely for the season too.
On his second stint hosting and first in 16 years, Matt Damon told a highly earnest and emotional story about his father letting him and his brother try to stay up to watch SNL when he was a kid. He told us his dad died a year ago but that he and his brother were letting their own small kids stay up late to watch the show tonight and the crowd was compelled and likely shed a tear or two.
Westminster Daddy Show
What if a dog show was about judging affluent middle-aged men? That was the premise of this bit with Damon and Kate McKinnon playing the pretentious hosts calling the play-by-play in this silly thing sort of both skewering and celebrating the touch-of-grey, upwardly mobile, modern man.
Best Christmas Ever
In another sincere sketch, Damon and Cecily Strong play a couple cuddling on the couch and fondly reflecting upon the day they had with their family. But in flashbacks, it's revealed the day was rather awful and their children and in-laws behave like assholes. But with its sappy tagline, it was easy to tell the sketch was written by a knowing young parent.
Back of the tree
Pretty funny bit here about the horror show that is the back of the Christmas tree adorned with ornaments that have been held onto but are no longer wanted. Among the real highlights here were Damon riffing on his Will Hunting character, as a dated knick knack.
Oscars Host Auditions
SNL audition reels are generally bulletproof, as they're a great display of cast and host celebrity impressions, and this one was no exception. Some good stuff here, like Aidy Bryant's Hannah Gadsby, Damon's Matthew McConaughey, Pete Davidson's Rami Malek and Melissa Villaseñor's Sarah Silverman, each vying to host the Oscars.
Kind of a throwback to the days of Jan Hooks and Nora Dunn's over-the-top lounge singers, Cecily Strong and Damon played a former couple just ruining "Jingle Bells," as many contemporary singers do — altering the tempo and cadence beyond all recognition. This was mostly a funny take on such butchering with some amusing tension between the pair for good measure.
Mark Ronson and Miley Cyrus
Wearing a provocatively revealing jacket, Miley Cyrus belted out the emotive and catchy "Nothing Breaks Like a Heart," while Mark Ronson, ever debonair, gently strummed barre chords on a stylish Martin. Sean Ono Lennon joined the group the next time around, for a version of the John and Yoko classic "Happy Xmas (War is Over)," which was mixed weird, but striking nonetheless.
Michael Che and Colin Jost covered the week in Trump fiascos, which was punctuated by Che incredulously pondering how the president cannot know how laws work. After a lengthy intro for Where's Wes, a new travel segment, Mikey Day accidentally told us where Wes was.
Heidi Gardner returned to the desk as Angel, every boxer's girlfriend from every movie about boxing ever, which is a brilliant character that has a very reliable sister. Her Boston accent lured her boyfriend Tommy, played by Damon, out to, which was funny. In a hilarious new idea, Che and Jost concluded Update by reading jokes that the other had written for the first time ever, on-air. Che took special glee in having Jost read jokes that generally made him sound racist, which was amazing.
Wow, this was inside baseball designed for Weezer fans and framed amazingly. Leslie Jones and Damon play people at a dinner party who begin talking about Weezer, but ultimately get into a vicious argument about whether or not the band have been any good since their second album, 1996's Pinkerton. This was sort of risky with all of its random Weezer minutiae but, if you knew it, this was surprising and cool.
Frankie's Ale House
This totally seemed like a five-to-one in-a-bar sketch but it was slightly premature. Flanked by Baldwin, who seldom reappears on the show after delivering his Trump, Damon, and a few other male cast members, Kyle Mooney played a cop getting vaguely razzed but also honoured by his co-workers. The joke was in the intensity of both the ribbing and the near erotic genuine sentiment and this was fine, as a late in the show piece goes.
Happy Christmas Britain
This seemed more substantive than your average show closer. Kate McKinnon played Theresa May addressing the people of Britain in a feel-good Xmas TV special after experiencing a no confidence vote and seeing support for her Brexit plan unravelling. McKinnon always does tortured pleasantness brilliantly and, in fending off barbs from former PM David Cameron, played by Damon, Aidy Bryant's Elton John, and Mikey Day's Lord Voldemort, she was hilarious. That said, the sketch was clearly cut off abruptly for time, which made it seem like chaos at the end. Like Brexit maybe.