The cast of “SNL” takes on TikTok, Miley Cyrus makes a surprise Christmas card appearance, and Kate tries to crack Billie up — plus, two cut-for-time sketches warn of climate change and pretentious singing.
After seven episodes away, Kate McKinnon was clearly glad to be back on “Saturday Night Live,” really hamming it up (and trying to crack up) host and musical guest Billie Eilish.
Aside from a penchant for getting the giggles, Billie proved an affable and engaging host. For as much as she’s not an actress, she did a great job of embodying different character types, and even brought some different vocal deliveries to them.
She was joined by her family, as well, with Finneas appearing in a couple of sketches, her mom and dad introducing her and her mom getting a quick cameo during her monologue. Miley Cyrus dropped by, too, for a cute appearance in a Christmas cards sketch.
The night was filled with a lot of quick-hit jokes, perhaps captured best by a sketch that was nothing more than a cell phone scrolling TikTok offering short moments (with some narrative flow) and bits featuring almost the entire cast.
There were two sketches cut for time — Billie ate up a lot of screen-time trying to keep it together, we guess — including the latest Please Don’t Destroy and the second appearance of Aristotle Athari’s bizarre singer, Angelo.
It’s a shame, too, as that was one of only two Cecily Strong appearances on the night, and easily her strongest one. Plus, Billie was totally channeling Björk for her character work alongside Angelo. And yes, she had a hard time keeping it together.
As usual, we’re ranking all the sketches from worst to first, including the Monologue, Cold Open, “Weekend Update” and any sketches that were cut for time but made their way online. We’ll skip the musical guests, because they’re not usually funny — unless Ashlee Simpson shows up. We wrap up with a look at the cast-member who had the strongest week.
Cold Open: Fauci’s Holiday Message
Of course it was great to have Kate McKinnon back among the cast finally this season, and it was no surprise to see her reprise her classic Dr. Fauci impression … so why did this sketch fall so flat? It was a repeat of Fauci presenting little vignettes to teach us about Covid, but all of them go off the rails in ways he somehow doesn’t know about. Even Pete Davidson and Andrew Dismukes as the Cuomo brothers did nothing to elevate this. It was all just okay, and after a long hiatus we were hoping for better than just okay.
Finally, Billie Eiilish revealed the real reason she started wearing baggy clothes when her career started. “I was actually two kids stacked on top of one another trying to sneak into an R-rated movie.” Right away, she had such an ease on stage, smiling and laughing and totally comfortable just riffing with the audience.She adorably shared the story of how her big Hollywood acting dreams died when she was nine (thanks, mom!). The whole thing had an awkward ease to it, with Billie giggling and losing her place at times but always managing to keep the audience smiling right with her. It offered great hope for a fun night.
This was a cute premise, and a relatable one as people start getting their holiday cards in. Another vignette piece, this one featured all the various holiday card staples, like the creepy Christian family, your high school friend, your mom’s weird friend, your dentist and even your friend who shamed the real Miley Cyrus into joining her for a photo op. It was another chance for the cast to mix it up and have some fun, but standouts definitely included Billie Eilish as the bitchy former friend putting on a whole different voice and attitude, and Kenan Thompson and Bowen Yang as a middle-aged gay couple who invest way, way too much into their creepy little dog (bonus points to Bowen for puppeting the shaky little nightmare).
Ridiculously over the top, and probably offensive in some circles, Billie Eiilish and Heidi Gardner are perfect as middle-aged pseudo-directors of the Christmas nativity wanting to inject some “hip-hop” into the narrative. One-by-one they terrorized the kids by having them learn things like a “pimp walk” and for Baby Jesus, twerking. There was a bit of a disconnect with Chris Redd both questioning their expertise but playing along anyway, while we particularly liked Kyle Mooney’s pimp walk. He really did seem to have it down, as dumb as it was.
This entire sketch was all about Kate McKinnon trying to make Billie Eilish crack, almost succeeding and then Billie getting back on track. The descriptions of their horrific hotel were pretty funny, too, but we were definitely here for all the little things Kate was doing to drive Billie crazy and get in her head, with some success. Finneas again showed up for a quick appearance, this time as the “chaos” bellhop. A little long, this one had us smiling and laughing enough that we were okay with it.
Cut for Time: Angelo Christmas
We didn’t need the ending, or the fact this was virtually the same performance from Mikey and Cecily as Angelos’ first appearance — complete with Mikey having no idea who he is — but if you remove that knowledge, it was actually a pretty fun piece. In particular, Cecily and Mikey had great chemistry in their roles from the audience. It’s also great to see Aristotle Athari get a recurring character (even though it doesn’t count as he got cut for time here). It’s such a singularly strange vision, he’s reminding us of Kyle’s quirky sensibilities. We’re not sure if Billie Eilish requested this sketch, but she was loving and laughing every moment she was a part of it, which proved infectious as well.
Another video short from Kyle Mooney’s unique perspective, this one delves into the darker side of his lonely, sad sack persona in a way that was extremely disturbing. We appreciated the Please Don’t Destroy shout-out, and how he talked about him and Pete Davidson being the good-looking guys on the cast the tabloids won’t leave alone. But the real gem was when even after all these years, it managed to throw a curveball at us with his commentary on Mikey Day. We always appreciate a comedic left turn, and this one was a complete 180.
Cut for Time: Please Don’t Destroy: Future Selves
Well, this is probably a little more prescient than we might like to admit. The guys get a visit from their future selves with a warning about climate change, but who has time to care about that. “Are we rich?” Instead, the boys only care about superficial selfish stuff, and making fun of how tragic their lives appear to have turned out. Honestly, our selfishness is a huge part of why we’re in such dire straits as a people, so this is pretty accurate. Actually, we’d probably shoot them just to be safe and then ask if we’re rich.
Tapping into a bit of Marilyn Monroe with her style, this throwback Christmas song was actually about how anyone can make a situation incredibly awkward by saying the first thing that pops into their head, and that’s exactly what Billie Eilish did when she met Santa. Singing through what she said, with Ego Nwodim and Kate McKinnon as her backup singers with lots of questions, the whole piece was sweetly weird, but extremely well put together. Honestly, we’d probably enjoy a professionally recorded take on this as a new funny holiday song because there’s only so many times you can have a reindeer run over grandma before it’s just not funny anymore.
Colin Jost laid out all the craziness that happened during Biden’s colonoscopy, which included Kyle Rittenhouse’s acquittal, and how it was a lot to lay on a man people are already questioning his mental state. As for Rittenhouse, Michael Che predicted his next career — it’s not in politics, but got a groan from the audience! — and wondered if the ensuing protests were perhaps too tempting for Rittenhouse, who did just get off for shooting protesters. That material was tame compared to Jost’s Bannon jokes (which got even bigger groans). The guys were on fire with their political material tonight
Punkie Johnson giggled her way through this delivery, but it still had a lot of heart. She broke down why the oldest member of the family has to make the potato salad at holiday dinners, laughed at Michael Che’s uncle having lost a foot — you had to be there — and declared of any kids she might have that if she’s “smashing hoes,” then eveyrone in her family has to do the same, so only gay daughters and straight sons for her, thank you very much!
In the back half, the boys broke down NBC backing out of airing the Olympic trials due to a sex ad on the ice, but don’t we have the technology to just cover that up? Or maybe we can just get over our prudish selves a little bit? Michael Che presented the solution to London traffic woes, while Colin Jost explained how cat and dog behavior would be classified were they human with no real surprises there.
Andrew Dismukes brought his “amazing animals” out and, as usual, things went sideways when he brought out a dog who had no interest in being on camera, or even facing it. Still, Andrew’s performance was pretty great throughout the segment as he got some unexpected and harrowing news, but tried to keep his face-painted chin up.
It’s hard to believe this is the first time we’ve ever seen a TikTok scroll on “SNL.” It’s a great way to showcase as much of the cast as possible in little short snippets, replicating the TikTok experience. We loved how some of the pieces had a narrative flow, like Billie Eilish’ dancing nurse and Chloe Fineman’s fashion critic. But mostly, this was an opportunity for short gags of only a few seconds long, like Andrew Dismuke’s “beautiful” hip-hop covers on acoustic guitar, that really felt authentic to the social media platform; silly, random and at times deeply stupid.
Deeply bizarre with great escalation, we loved everything Billie Eilish, Kate McKinnon and Mikey Day brought to this strange little piece about a young kid (Billie) inviting the elderly neighbor across the street (Kate) to holiday dinner because she looked lonely. Shared entirely through facial expressions and hand-written notes, it was a whole story and it was weird and disturbing with racism the least of its problems and we’re not sure we ever want to say hello to a stranger again so long as we live.
Kate McKinnon came back with a bang, appearing in almost every sketch of the night. It was a night of lots of vignette sketches, featuring a whole slew of cast members in shorter segments, with the whole first third of the show made up of these. That’s one way to get everyone some face time with such a bloated cast.
As much as we loved Kate’s Dr. Fauci and her work as the lonely old lady getting invited to dinner, we actually thought her scene partner in that one had a slightly stronger night — especially if you factor in the cut-for-time Angelo sketch.
Mikey Day is a utility player who often gets overlooked because he’s such a rock in so many sketches, but he really got a chance to flex his comedic chops this week opposite Cecily with a great pairing in that Angelo sketch, but also alongside Kate as her live-in lover/victim and as bit players in just about as many sketches throughout the night.
We’d also like to give a shout-out to Andrew Dismukes, who’s really starting to grow on this show, appearing in a lot of sketches throughout the night and managing to really make an impact in almost all of them. We knew he was all in when his baby Jesus was twerking it out!
“Saturday Night Live” returns next week with host Paul Rudd and musical guest Charli XCX.