See The Highlights From Casey Affleck's Debut Turn As Saturday Night Live Host
Did the actor's non-presence ruin the Christmas show? Not so much!
One of the age-old questions on Saturday Night Live is whether you can have a great episode with a poor host. It's often a sports figure or non-performer, and the show compensates by writing sketches that don't require a lot of heavy lifting, relying on what we already know about the guest host. For the Christmas-y last episode of the year, though, Casey Affleck presented a few key problems as a performer who barely stood out at all on an otherwise packed episode. Most people only know him as the less-famous Affleck brother and as Casey joked himself in the monologue, he's probably better known as one of the guys from Ocean's 12 than an actor and director. His lack of memorable turns in this episode and general backgrounding is a little shocking; if you had told me a few weeks ago that a pro wrestler not named Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson would charismatically outperform a leading Oscar acting contender, I'd have been skeptical.
But despite Casey "Comedy Vacuum" Affleck, the show was still pretty good overall with guest turns from Alec Baldwin, John Goodman (looking good!), and Fred Armisen and a strong music-guest turn from Chance The Rapper, whom we'll discuss in a bit. This despite a really tepid (but non-singing!) monologue and a sketch where Affleck fails to find comedy gold even as a horny Santa elf. How do you miss that layup?! Well, let's take a look at how the rest of the show went.
Funniest Sketch Of The Night
Kenan Thompson, Chance The Rapper, Leslie Jones, and smartly deployed news footage of the president made "Jingle Barack," a celebration of Barack Obama's last Christmas in office, not only rousing and a little emotional, but also very funny. So whether you're in shooting hoops in high-waisted jeans, exchanging gifts of birth control and legal weed, or you're welcoming Democrat Jesus to come bust a move with big-teeth Joe Biden, it's hard to get more festive than this update of Run-D.M.C.'s "Christmas in Hollis."
For comparison, check out the original:
Most Loved, Actually
The emotional high point that wasn't a musical performance may have been this largely dialogue-free take on Love Actually in which Hillary Rodham Clinton makes the Hamilton Elector's case for voting for anyone but Donald J. Trump on December 19 with a series of signs. Voting for The Rock, or even A Rock, would be better, she suggests, but you might shed actual tears when she invokes "You is smart. You is kind. You is important" from The Help. This may be the only show that has so smartly addressed the vacuum that Clinton's post-election absence from the national stage has created, and it's been a good way to keep Kate McKinnon's Clinton going a while longer.
Best Excuse To Deploy John Goodman
You may be worn out with all the Trump cold opens (and I have issues with the show's lackluster take on Kellyanne Conway), but as an excuse to use a shirtless Beck Bennett as Vladimir Putin and a svelte John Goodman as Secretary of State to pick Rex Tillerson, it works just fine.
Most Missed Slam Dunk(in)
This mock commercial for Dunkin Donuts feels like it should have been much funnier for its early slot in the show, but again, Casey Affleck's Boston douchebag/nightmare donut and coffee customer just doesn't work for me. All I could think was that Ben Affleck would have been funnier in the part.
It feels like every SNL now has a designated Kate McKinnon crazy, foul-mouthed character slot, but it's something that's working and continues to yield dividends, as with this week's appearance of Ms. Rafferty, who describes a harrowing encounter with Crinkle Mouse.
Most Magical Performance
I'm not super up-to-speed on Chance the Rapper, but I know that his mixtape < a href="https://soundcloud.com/chancetherapper/sets/coloring-book">Coloring Book is a widely acclaimed hip hop/gospel album and that the man is really great at making me want to go buy Kit Kats.
But in two sketches and two musical performances on the show (one of the songs is even totally Christmas-appropriate!), he shows what a ball of talent he is and why he should definitely return as a full guest host next season. Not only were the songs ("Same Drugs," "Finish Line/Drown") transcendent with a full band and backup singers, but they showed his energy, likability, and willingness to wear festive red overalls. You don't have to like rap to like Chance The Rapper.