Sisters may have had to compete with Star Wars: The Force Awakens at the box office this weekend, but on Saturday Night Live, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler had no competition. Not only was it the second-highest rated SNL episode in 22 months (unfortunately, it didn’t top Trump’s episode), but it also lived up to the immense hype that comes with having not one, but two beloved former cast members host the show.
This marked the first time in 11 years that two people have simultaneously hosted (you might remember when the Olsen twins did it back in 2004). The pair delivered by bringing back legendary characters like Sarah Palin and 2008-era Hillary Clinton, blessing the Weekend Update desk with their presence, and melding well with the current cast in the rest of the sketches.
Darrell Hammond and Maya Rudolph both dropped in for guest appearances, and another solid pre-taped music video featured Amy Schumer AND Gayle King. It was a strong episode in many ways (like, singing with a Beatle, ways), not that we would expect anything less from two of SNL’s most prestigious alumnae, and women in comedy in general.
Adam Driver, a.k.a. Kylo Ren in Star Wars, is hosting the next show on Jan. 16. If only Tina Fey would still be around then, so they could do another parody of Girls with Blerta. But before we get to 2016, let’s review this more-than-satisfactory last SNL of the year.
GOP Debate Cold Open
Just hours after the Democratic debate that no one watched, SNL kicked things off by mocking Tuesday night’s GOP debate – primarily “the five candidates who have a chance.” Longtime cast member/current SNL announcer Darrell Hammond made his second return to the show this season, this time as Donald Trump, which opened up Taran Killam to play Sen. Ted Cruz, the candidate who has what doctors call, “a punchable face.” Jay Pharoah’s Dr. Ben Carson impression continues to be the most visually hilarious (he’s now even using props), and the real debate provided plenty of fodder for “Poor, sweet Jeb Bush” (Beck Bennett) to repeatedly try to take a run at Trump, who rebukes him with lines like, “I know for a fact that you pee sitting down,” and “His real name is Jebra.” Just about the whole cast gets in on this one, with Sen. Marco Rubio (Pete Davidson), Chris Christie (Bobby Moynihan), Rand Paul (Kyle Mooney), and Carly Fiorina (Cecily Strong) filling out the stage. New cast member Jon Rudnitsky has solidified his place as the cast’s new Wolf Blitzer, who was previously played by Jason Sudeikis, Darrell Hammond, and Chris Parnell. And don’t worry guys, the impression is Wolf Blitzer-approved.
Tina Fey & Amy Poehler Monologue
After spending so much time together that they’re finishing each other’s human centipedes, Tina and Amy took their rightful place as hosts in elegant monochrome eveningwear to sing an alarmingly religious Christmas song. Well, half of one, anyway. Let’s be honest: showing that adorable photo of the two of them as young improvisers back in Chicago would have been enough to start the show, which was chock-full of great sketches. I liked how they got straight to the premise of this Christmas monologue song, didn’t try to overcomplicate it, and moved on before it got tired. As a bonus, now we have the phrase, “She’s the peanut butter in my salami” to overlay on GIFs of Tina and Amy for years to come.
A Hillary Christmas
After the real Hillary Clinton tended bar for Kate Mckinnon’s impersonation in the season premiere, it would have been a mistake not to take this opportunity to have Amy Poehler’s Hillary play off of hers. Being the pre-Christmas episode, SNL found the perfect, Dickensian angle for a topical sketch in which Hillary from 2008 meets Hillary from 2015 and gives her advice, despite being “a young, naive girl of 61” who has to ask, “Who’s Benghazi?” She got the biggest laugh by explaining how “Someone named Barack Obama stumbled out of a soup kitchen with a basketball and a cigarette and stole my life.” And 2015 Hillary’s laugh may be less cheerful, but she’s feeling much more confident considering that “The DNC is sabotaging Bernie” and Trump is the GOP frontrunner (the latter of which naturally makes 2008 Hillary faint). The icing on this already sweet sketch was Tina Fey bringing back her Sarah Palin impression. Fey proved she’s still got it with a new string of Palinspeak, peppered with misused Latin words and folksy colloquialisms like “status quo” and “the man can only ride ya when your back is bent.” To top it all off? Dance party. Because why not?
Meet Your Second Wife
I don’t think SNL audiences were ready for how real this one was going to get. The most original new game show sketch since Black Jeopardy!, Meet Your Second Wife features two strangely omniscient game show hosts, Helen Walsh (Amy Poehler) and Tina Fey (Tina Fey), who introduce three bewildered male contestants (Bobby Moynihan, Taran Killam, Kenan Thompson) to their second wives. The catch? Their current wives are in the audience, and most of the future wives are still actual children. The absurdity of seeing elementary school girls (and one sonogram) on a “dating” show is immediately replaced by the all-too-real notion that yeah, older men leave their wives for younger women ALL the time. Calling that out is something that most women can get behind (if not now, then when they’re older) and the disturbed looks on everyone’s faces got most of the laughs. Let’s just hope that people focus on ageism and the patriarchy being the target here, not the child actors in the sketch, because if anyone’s expecting an apology from Tina Fey, they’re going to be waiting for a long time.
SNL didn’t have too far to stretch when making fun of this year’s “hottest holiday gift item,” especially considering the fact that it neither hovers, nor looks like a skateboard, AND has been literally blowing up on people. This commercial parody makes the latter feature its best selling point, showing SNL’s resident young person Pete Davidson and Kyle Mooney twirling around on basketball courts and inside their homes (because it’s banned on streets and sidewalks), excitedly waiting for it to spontaneously combust. And was that a little nod to Key & Peele with Pete saying “Noice!” toward the end? I’d like to think so.
It’s been a little while since we’ve seen this character from Kenan Thompson, a former acting coach on The Jeffersons who infuses his past work experience into every scene he directs. This one started out especially funny, with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler playing young, closeted lesbians in the 1940s (you can hear an audible groan when Kenan yells “Cut!” before they kiss). Then, Kenan’s character gets to work on their surprised reactions, coaching them with such vibrant directives as, “Just imagine that you have 10 hot tatertots in your mouth and you have to shake them out.” Each take that Tina and Amy does is funny, especially when Kenan advises Amy to “Go nuts and do a George Jefferson dance.” It was good to see these three playing together again.
This week, Colin Jost kicked things off with a few jokes about Hillary Clinton and her problems with millennials (that “Netflix and Hill” joke really made Che laugh, didn’t it?). Then it was on to the increasingly baffling crop of GOP candidates, including Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, and the mysterious cough from the GOP debate, which is “Now polling ahead of Rand Paul.”
One of the longer bits focused on Martin Shkreli, the easiest-to-hate guy in America right now (okay, maybe a close tie with Trump) who went from hiking up the price of HIV medication to being arrested for securities fraud last week. Says Jost: “Congratulations on reinventing yourself, Martin. Not many villains have a whole, second evil career.” Then Che did his own bit around Kwanzaa, which he describes as, “An African American holiday that’s only celebrated by Rachel Dolezal and McDonald’s.” Calling it the Fergie to Christmas’ Beyonce also got a big laugh.
Kate McKinnon is getting a reputation for cracking up her castmates this season, most recently on the Ryan Gosling episode and this weekend as Deenie, a.k.a. “Somebody’s mom” who was asked to recap the year in soap operas for some reason. Colin Jost and McKinnon start to lose it while she describes the ongoing drama between Mustache, Priss Pants, Big Boobs, and Sexpot, all the while eating baked salmon that was obviously smelling up the set. She also offered up what is probably the closest estimation of how moms will spend January: “I’m going to sit on my ass for about a month, and then I’m going to take my tree down.” Amen.
The inevitable highlight occurred when two generations of Weekend Update co-hosts collided, and Tina and Amy took back the desk as they did earlier this year during the SNL 40 special with Jane Curtin. This time, they just had to tell the last two jokes of 2015, nailing both of them, natch.
Definitely the most random sketch of the night, this infomercial for a DVD of The Chad and Mrs. Douglas Show, a 70s variety show hosted by Chad and Victoria Douglas (Taran Killam, Vanessa Bayer), was just an excuse to show some hilariously low-grade footage of Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph being “A gifted mess of a woman.” Their drunk/coked out performances of Christmas songs could only be topped in ridiculousness by Kenan Thompson bringing back his Bill Cosby impression to sing the rape-iest Christmas song of them all, “Baby it’s Cold Outside,” and try to give a drink to Tina Fey. As you might recall, South Park did it, with a Taylor Swift twist back in 2014.
Tina & Amy’s Dope Squad
Speaking of Taylor Swift, the most buzzed-about sketch of the night was probably this parody of her “Bad Blood” music video and the notion of powerful lady “Squads” in general. I’m sure the question about “juggling it all” at the Sisters press junket in the beginning also comes from a place of truth (you might remember back in 2011, Amy delivered a moving speech at the Time 100 gala thanking child caretakers). Slightly different than T-Swift’s, the Tina/Amy squad includes Powderkeg (Tina), Shortfuse (Amy), their nannies Dawa, Esmena, and Mercy, and their (real-life, apparently) gynecologist, among other women who help them on a daily basis. Aidy Bryant brings her consistently funny rap game to the table, and of course no squad would be complete without Gayle King and Amy Schumer. Tina jokes that Amy owes her one (for appearing in Last Fuckable Day, presumably) and Schumer shows that slow motion post-apocalyptic walks with nunchucks are harder to do than they look. If only all women could be lucky enough to have a genuinely useful squad like this (as opposed to one that’s 75% models).
I have to admit, when I first saw Maya Rudolph was on the show, I was hoping for a “Mom Jeans” reboot. But the next best thing would have to be the return of “Bronx Beat,” with Betty (Amy Poehler) and Jodi (Maya Rudolph) talking about all the bad news surrounding Christmas (“Aye-aye-ISIS,” indeed). I feel like this might have been a thinly veiled excuse for Amy to trash talk her competitor, Star Wars, and if she was on Twitter, I wouldn’t be surprised if she got some angry replies from serious fans for calling Chewbacca “A dog man that flies a plane.” To round things out, Tina Fey does a ridiculous Philly accent to play Betty’s cousin Karen. Or is it even ridiculous? I’ve lived in New York too long to tell.
Bonus: Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town
A show this special deserved a special ending. Having Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, and Sir Paul Motherf***ing McCartney join Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band for a Christmas sing-along fit the bill. When the SNL cast filled the stage wearing Christmas hats in lieu of the usual hug-and-goodbyes set to saxophone music, it was straight-up whimsical. It’s no surprise that a few photos and videos from the stage popped up on social media soon after.
So Shoot, What Else?