Jimmy Fallon's 'joyful' Saturday Night Live performance

The former SNL star returns to host one of the season's strongest episodes, and brings old friends Tina Fey and Amy Poehler along for the ride

Jimmy Fallon and Rachel Dratch
(Image credit: Dana Edelson/NBC)

The video: Late-night funnyman Jimmy Fallon hosted the holiday episode of Saturday Night Live this weekend, his first time at the helm since leaving SNL in 2004. Genuinely moved by the gig, he teared up during his opening monologue. Among the night's memorable offerings: A reprise of his Bostonian "Sully and Denise" sketch with Rachel Dratch, a parody of the Broadway-play-turned-Spielberg-film War Horse, and a bit with Michael Buble in which the cast spoofed pop acts like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, and Kanye West. The episode also marked an SNL family reunion, with cameos from former cast members Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Tracy Morgan, among others. The top highlight: A "Weekend Update Joke Off" that featured the four most recent Update anchors — Fallon, Fey, Poehler, and Seth Meyers — all sitting behind the desk, competitively firing off one-liners. (Watch the video below.)

The reaction: The episode "encompassed all the things that make the holidays — and SNL — so wonderful," says Aly Semigran at Entertainment Weekly. "It reunited old friends, brought back fond memories, and made us believe there was a little bit of magic in the air." From Dratch's return for the "Bah-stin lovebirds" sketch to the Weekend Update reunion, the entire outing was "joyful and triumphant." Still, there were some hiccups, says Tara Ariano at New York, like the reappearance of Kristen Wiig's annoying "don't make me sing!" character. But overall, it was the "best episode in recent memory." And having Fallon, Fey, Meyers, and Poehler all cracking Weekend Update jokes was "the biggest, sparkliest present under the tree," says Therese Odell at the Houston Chronicle. See for yourself:

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