A ghost from Saturday Night Live's past returned this week to help get the show back on track after a mid-season lullaby.
John Goodman was back hosting SNL for the first time since 2001, and while The Blues Brothers aren't exactly in fashion anymore, it didn't keep him from getting his blues on in the monologue with Kenan Thompson. And just because Linda Tripp hasn't been in the news in almost 15 years didn't mean Goodman couldn't dress up as a lady and wring laughs out of being the world's homeliest woman. And just because Goodman isn't in the movie Grudge Match doesn't mean he can't bring Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone on for a Three Wise Guys sketch that could have been written at any point in the past twelve years or beyond. Goodman is an actor who often seems too good for the material he's given, and for much of this week's episode, that was the case. He played the straight man for Shallon's classroom antics and took second billing to the Christmas whistle and Taran Killam's orange H&M pants (though, real talk for a second: that H&M digital short was on point) and Aidy Bryant's desperately cheerful snowflake-dance faces. Maybe it fits Goodman's current status as Hollywood's most valuable character actor that he was enhancement talent this week.
At least he got to play Drunk Uncle's drunker uncle.
1st Runner-Up: Kenan Thompson
It wasn't Garrett Morris providing news for the hearing impaired, but Thompson's take on the sign-language interpreter at Mandela's memorial kicked off another strong turn for the cast's elder statesman this season. Thompson was everywhere in this episode, and usually close by was Goodman, who had a certain chemistry with Thompson's judge. But the Black Santa ("Here's a Christmas Secret, I'm black as hell.") was his gift to the world, and we can only thank him for delivering the truth.
2nd Runner-Up: Bobby Moynihan
The saying goes that you'll never go broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public. Speaking of Guy Fieri, Bobby Moynihan delivered a killer impersonation for Guy Fieri's Christmas Special, proving you can also never go broke bagging on Guy Fieri. He also gets a good number of bonus points for playing all the Pawn Stars in that same sketch. The slurry return of Drunk Uncle was what really put Moynihan over the top. How does he make that man so simultaneously loathsome and pathetically endearing? The man honestly seems conflicted about how we may well never be royals.
SNL MVP: Kate McKinnnon
MacKinnon's delightful Angela Merkel impression and a "Last Call" sketch in the same show? Why, last night was a Christmas miracle! When McKinnon appeared next to Pharoah's Obama during the cold open, it was like watching cool breeze sweep across a room, tossing everything into the air. This week's best sketch, though, was the return of everyone's favorite after-hours lover, finding a new victim in John Goodman to kiss and rub all over the bar as Kenan tries to shut down for the evening. Whipped cream romance hasn't been this sexy sinceVarsity Blues.