‘SNL’ Recap: Kristen Wiig Got A Robe For Christmas, And There’s A Brand New Joe Biden To Replace Jim Carrey

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For the record, I noticed that more than a few people enjoyed last week’s episode of Saturday Night Live much more than I had, my boss among them. Duly noted. I’m pretty sure we’ll all be on the same page this weekend, though, right? It’s the final SNL of 2020! Star alum Kristen Wiig is back to host! With musical guest and dance-pop queen Dua Lipa! Let’s get to the recap!

What’s The Deal With The SNL Cold Open for 12/19/20?

Vice President Mike Pence received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on live TV on Friday, and by Saturday night, Beck Bennett was making fun of it, with multiple jokes choosing to take aim at Pence’s sexuality more than anything else. But that’s not even the real point of this sketch, it turns out.

Instead, we’re treated to an interruption from Maya Rudolph as Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. “How’d you even get into the White House?” Bennett’s Pence asks. Her reply? “I got more votes!” Cue wild audience from the live studio audience (which is still getting paid $150 each to somehow bypass COVID-19 safety laws? sorry for the awfully pertinent digression). Even more applause when she bitch-slaps him.

But then, with a Willy Wonka entrance, complete with the hobbling cane into a falling somersault introduction, here’s Alex Moffat as SNL’s brand-new Joe Biden!

“Joe, you look different somehow,” Bennett’s Pence notes, to which Mofffat-as-Biden replies, “I’m like Colonel Sanders. Every time you see me, I look like a different guy,” adding: “There’s a good chance that this time next year, I’m going to be Mario Lopez.”

This should be enough for a LIVE FROM NEW YORK! but wait, there’s more: Kate McKinnon returns once more as sweaty Rudy Giuliani, because kick him while he’s down? And Kenan Thompson has returned from his NBC sitcom tapings, here as Dr. Ben Carson, wondering what his actual job was for the past four years. It was Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. For a former brain surgeon. Yes, none of it makes sense in real life, either.

How Did The SNL Guest Host Kristen Wiig Do?



This was Wiig’s fourth time hosting, but third properly (she previously hosted the final SNL at Home episode this May over Zoom), and she was clearly delighted to be back in Studio 8H of 30 Rock. “I consider this home, and it is so nice to be home for the holidays.” Wiig co-stars in the new Wonder Woman 1984 movie which comes out Christmas on HBO Max, but she also has two new babies this year for real (twins!). Rudolph and McKinnon came out to join Wiig on a personalized crazy 2020 rendition of “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music.

As for the rest of the show, you’re obviously wondering which of Wiig’s recurring characters recurred once more.

Surprisingly enough, no take on the Target Lady during a COVID-19 Christmas! Oh well.

No Gilly, either. So it’s not all bad news.

Instead, the two characters she brought back were Mindy Grayson, the classic film actress who cannot seem to get a handle on how to play the TV quiz show, “Secret Word,” as well as another character who cannot handle the essential premise of a sketch, Sue, the lady who goes bonkers when she’s supposed to keep a secret.



The least effective sketch? A parody of FX on Hulu’s A Teacher which imagined Ego Nwodim as the teacher not falling for any student (while Wiig’s principal will more than make up for it).

Much better? Wiig’s turn as a fast-talking medic entertaining Army troops in Europe on Christmas Eve 1944, who brings up “the toughest guy in the unit” (Bowen Yang) for a duet called “Love Fight” that time travels into the late 1980s/early 1990s, has Wiig and Yang switch gender roles in the song, invites Dua Lipa into the mix for advanced choreography, while the troops all go with the flow. “Doing me wrong ain’t doing me right,” indeed.



For you Home Alone fans, we’re treated to a never-before-seen deleted scene from the end of Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, where Melissa Villaseñor as Kevin has a more realistic conversation with the homeless pigeon lady in Central Park (Wiig) about recognizing the wealth disparity between them, and the pigeon lady gives the goons (Kyle Mooney as Joe Pesci’s character, and Mikey Day as Daniel Stern’s) a more bloody comeuppance than Kevin ever did.



And then there was the sketch imagining the morning after Christmas in Who-ville, where Day and Wiig play two Who parents who hooked up with The Grinch, much to the confusion of their kids. I guess we’re supposed to believe Pete Davidson is sexy even when he’s The Grinch? Alrighty then. What a weird week to NOT include Jim Carrey.



How Relevant Was The Musical Guest?

While several of this season’s musical guests have promoted new and upcoming tunes, this week’s guest, Dua Lipa, already is the belle of the pop music ball. After winning Best New Artist at the 2019 Grammys, she scored a mega smash hit this year with “Don’t Start Now.” It won favorite pop/rock song at the 2020 American Music Awards, and is up for the top prizes (best record, best song) at the 2021 Grammys, as well as best pop solo performance.



Her second performance of the evening, “Levitating,” featured Madonna and Missy Elliott on the remix but not live on SNL.



Which Sketch Will We Be Sharing?

I could see any of three sketches from above (USO, Home Alone 2, The Grinch) getting some viral traction, but nothing hits as big a demographic as the “Christmas Morning” video, which depicts a typical family rapping about all their gifts, with their poor mom getting short shrift which just a robe.

A voiceover tag provided by Kenan Thompson implores all of us to be better to our moms this Christmas and get her more than just one gift. Hint, hint. If you don’t get the hint, I’m sure it’ll show up in your inbox or text messages as another hint.



Who Stopped By Weekend Update?

We received not one, not two, but three visitors to the Weekend Update desk to round out 2020.

First up, Chris Redd is back in the studio as Smokey Robinson. Robinson went viral this week for a paid Cameo message in which he pronounced Chanukah phonetically and claimed to not know the Jewish holiday. So Redd’s Robinson was here to share what he has learned this week thanks to Internet research. There’s a groaner from Michael Che about how he knows Jews since he’s “in show business,” but Redd delivers a few fun malapropisms. Who’s in the mood for some monster ball soup?



Also swinging by, Che’s friendly neighbor Willie (Kenan Thompson), to provide some optimistic news about the COVID-19 vaccines, but ultimately provides TMI instead.



All of the guests sidled up on Che’s side this week. Lastly, Landis Trotter (Heidi Gardner), an Instagram influencer with 500K followers, whose holiday gift guide looks suspiciously full of sponsored ads. Anyone want to play guinea pig and see if any of the four promo codes they provided for actual companies are real, and thus deeply truly SPONSORED ADS?!



What Sketch Filled The “10-to-1” Slot?

The final sketch of the night aired at 12:47 a.m. Eastern, featuring Lauren Holt as a nurse who decided to come home as a last-minute surprise since she’d just gotten vaccinated, and everyone else in the family (Punkie Johnson, Bennett, Villasenor) is excited to surprise Pops (Moffat), but Aunt Sue (Wiig) obviously loves surprises too much and will bust through windows and walls and fall down chimneys out of excitement trying not to spill the secret. A classic recurring character isn’t a traditional choice for the final sketch, but hey, who’s complaining.



Who Was The Episode’s MVP?

Wiig was the star of her show, obviously, but among the current cast, the obvious MVP for the episode was Alex Moffat. He had the toughest role of the evening as the surprise new pick to portray President-elect Biden, and carried it off well, plus centered two other sketches in leadership roles (as an Army general and a family patriarch).

They said on Weekend Update it was their last show of the Trump presidency, so see you in late January 2021!

Sean L. McCarthy works the comedy beat for his own digital newspaper, The Comic’s Comic; before that, for actual newspapers. Based in NYC but will travel anywhere for the scoop: Ice cream or news. He also tweets @thecomicscomic and podcasts half-hour episodes with comedians revealing origin stories: The Comic’s Comic Presents Last Things First.

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