Every store and other public space is playing Christmas music, and Hanukkah is over, so there's no great reason why Saturday Night Live can't air its Christmas episode in the first week of December. Paul Rudd hosted, One Direction was the musical guest, a handful of former cast members made cameos, and nothing was sacred.
The first beloved holiday classic SNL took aim at was The Sound of Music. Granted, there's nothing particularly Christmas-related about the musical, except for the co-opted quasi-carol "My Favorite Things," but for some reason it is a staple of holiday TV. Last week's live televised version on NBC was the hook for this condensed version of Rogers and Hammerstein's masterpiece, but as you can see above, the cold open was at least as much about celebrating some of SNL's favorite departed characters from recent seasons.
The cold open was amusing, and fans of Kristen Wiig will probably appreciate the return of one her more disturbing creations, but SNL isn't resting on its laurels. The highlight of the show was the return of a new character, Taran Killam's arch 1860s newspaper critic Jebidiah Atkinson. You can tell why they brought him back from the crowd's jubilant reaction when "Weekend Update" anchor Seth Meyers brings him out. Meyers cracks up throughout the skit, too.
Here's where the real savaging of the Christmas TV classics takes place, and Killam does not hold back. Charlie Brown, Rudolph, Frosty, the Grinch, It's a Wonderful Life, even two stories an editor in the 1860s may actually have read — Dickens's A Christmas Carol (1843) and the Bible — are fair game. Yes, Killam/Atkinson goes after the Nativity story, and in doing so he almost loses the audience for the second time (you don't, apparently, mess with Snoopy, either). But he doesn't lose them, and I'd be surprised (and a bit disappointed, frankly) if the Atkinson character isn't back again soon:
Paul Rudd makes a Christmas-sketch appearance in SNL's take on The Best Man Holiday and the entire African-American drama/comedy genre popularized by Tyler Perry and his Madea character. The conceit of this trailer is that the film, White Christmas, is "the black holiday movie for the rest of us" — the "rest of us" being white:
Rudd also stars in this imagining of a slimmed-down, midlife-crisis Santa confronting his bewildered elves. Between the jokes, Rudd paints a very human portrait of Jolly Ol' Saint Nick, and it isn't for the faint-of-heart mall-Christmas purist:
The final sketch we'll feature here has nothing to do with Christmas, but it merits an exception as a fine example of SNL's long history of penis jokes. This time the setting is Renaissance Florence, and the butt of the jokes is Rudd. Enjoy: