Remember the day before your school’s Christmas vacation, when you and the other kids were so wild with excitement that you couldn’t even stay in your seats, so your teacher just passed out candy canes and put on a video and got the hell out of the way? I’m pretty sure that was exactly how it felt in Studio 8H last night, as Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake delivered a near-perfect Christmas episode to an ecstatic crowd. These guys were the ideal choice to finish out the year: They struck up a friendship on Saturday Night Live ten years ago, and (as anyone who watches Late Night With Jimmy Fallon knows) their rapport has only gotten stronger. They finish each other’s punchlines, they sing in perfect harmony: They’re like the sexy Smothers Brothers. Between host Fallon, musical guest Timberlake, and an all-star line-up of celebrity cameos, this was the most exciting SNL episode of the season. But the funniest sketch of the night didn’t star Timberlake, McCartney or Madonna – just the mega-talented ladies of SNL, doing their thing. On to the sketches!
Wrappinville Cold Open: It’s the return of the rapping mascot! It hasn’t been that long, actually; Timberlake played a dancing block of tofu for the “Veganville” sketch in March. This time, he’s a giant roll of wrapping paper, accompanied by host Jimmy Fallon’s human-sized gift bag. Aidy Bryant is trying to gift wrap for charity, but her pitches can’t compete with the Wrappinville team’s covers of Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'” (“Wanna Be Starting a Wrap War”), Gotye’s “Somebody that I Used to Know” (“Some Present That I Used to Know”), Ludacris’ “Roll Out,” and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Thrift Shop.” You know that the show’s off to a good start when an audience member has to be forcibly removed for being too enthusiastic. (Or at least, I assume that’s what happened after her screams interrupted Bryant, twice.) Jimmy and Justin are amazingly in sync (HAHA) on everything here: the songs, the choreography, the belabored gay joke (“I sacked his deck”) that is nonetheless funny. Aidy Bryant gets props for dance-bombing their big finish. Everyone’s having so much fun that “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!” nearly gets lost in the cheers.
Monologue: Fallon sets up four microphones, explaining that they’re for himself, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, and Paul McCartney, respectively. Sadly, they all got stuck in the Lincoln tunnel (what wouldn’t you give to be on that NJ Transit bus?), so Fallon had to sing “Joy to the World” as all four of them. It’s an impressive performanOHMYGODITSPAULMCCARTNEY. Audience members are shouting, fainting, going into labor. If David Bowie shows up, too, I will be right there with them. Sadly, he does not. But Fallon and the Beatle sing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” as fake snow filters down through the lighting grid, and hearts are sufficiently warmed. In case you’re wondering, Dylan has done SNL before – just once in 1979, during his Christian period.
Family Feud Celebrity Edition: Right up until Timberlake exits the comedy stage to focus on music, every sketch tops the last one. Celebrity Family Feud, hosted by (of course) Kenan Thompson’s Steve Harvey, has CBS and NBC celebrities facing off for charity. CBS celebs Jim Parsons (Fallon), Ashton Kutcher (Taran Killam), Jon Cryer (John Milhiser) and Allyson Hannigan (Noel Wells) are playing for the Red Cross; NBC stars Jimmy Fallon (Timberlake), Jane Lynch (Kate McKinnon), Ice-T (Jay Pharaoh), and Brooks Wheelan (himself) are playing for – low blow – the NBC/Universal company. Naturally, this whole sketch is an excuse for Timberlake to impersonate Fallon to his face. Within two minutes, Fallon is turning his back to the audience and ducking behind scenery, because he is dying. Watching these two crack each other up is worth the price of admission. Two of SNL‘s most neglected players have their Christmas wishes granted by appearing in this sketch: Milhiser scores big laughs with his Cryer impression, and Wheelan, poor guy, has to convince Steve Harvey that he’s actually on SNL, because he appears so rarely. If only he could take fake Family Feud‘s advice and just be Justin Timberlake.
(Do It On My) Twin Bed: Best. Thing. Ever. The sexy ladies of SNL form a girl group for this song about having sex in your childhood bedroom over the holidays. The singers pair off with the male cast members for awkward sex scenes in twin beds, on a dresser full of trophies, and against a Jonathan Taylor Thomas poster. Fallon raps an interlude from the boyfriend’s point of view: “Can’t get fully undress in case your parents come through, just shirt no pants like Winnie the Pooh.” And just when you think it can’t get any better, the cast members twerk against blown-up images of their seventh-grade class photos. Normally, it would be a crime to exclude Justin Timberlake from a musical number during one of his SNL episodes. “Twin Bed” is so good that it gets a pass.
The Barry Gibb Talk Show: With Fallon and Timberlake in the house, this sketch was a sure thing. Not that I’m complaining. If you have a moment, go to Yahoo Screen and watch that first Barry Gibb Talk Show sketch from 2003. Fallon is more or less the same, but Timberlake seems like a different person. Becoming a movie star makes you really confident, I guess? Anyhow, Fallon rose to the challenge and didn’t let Timberlake’s Robin upstage his short-tempered, falsetto-crooning, Wiggles-dancing Barry. This is the first time they’ve revived this sketch since the real Robin Gibb died in 2012, but clearly they had his brother Barry’s blessing, becauseOHMYGODITSBARRYGIBB. I love how Madonna was just the fake-out celebrity cameo. Did you notice how confused the audience was when she put in her grill? Like, is Madonna trying to be funny? Who knows anymore?
Weekend Update: Let us all raise a glass, Drunk Uncle-style, to Seth Meyers, whose time at the Weekend Update desk has come to a close. Or has it? He’s being all enigmatic on Twitter now. Regardless, this was the night that Fallon gave his official blessing, as Meyers prepares to take over Late Night, Fallon prepares to take over The Tonight Show, and Jay Leno prepares to read the headlines in his garage full of motorcycles while weeping softly to himself. To do the honors, Fallon brought along Mayor Mike Bloomberg, whose retirement plans include “enjoying a small soda on a non-smoking beach” and a possible tenure as the Naked Cowboy.
Waking Up with Kimye: Aw,Lorne, you shouldn’t have! This is just what I wanted for Christmas. Jay Pharaoh’s Kanye West and Nasim Pedrad’s Kim Kardashian are back with their morning chat show. Kim holds up a recent issue of US Weekly with the headline “Kim Kardashian: My Body is Back.” Kanye’s comment: “Kim’s body left and it rose again – remind you of anyone?” Kim’s comment: “I’m starring in a book!” They close the show with a “video Christmas card,” which is a re-creation of the “Bound 2” video with Kimye humping on a reindeer. It’s slightly less hilarious than the Kardashians’ actual Christmas card, with Bruce Jenner inexplicably in a pneumatic tube, but I’ll take it.
And with a few more holiday themed-sketches and some additional fake show, it is officially Christmas vacation! Everyone is wearing sweaters! Jimmy Fallon is hugging Barry Gibb! Justin Timberlake is hugging Paul McCartney! Madonna has turned into Chris Rock! And my heart grew three sizes this night. Happy holidays, everyone!