Saturday Night Live‘s last few weeks were spotty/fairly un-good, and at times it’s been tough coming up with three must-see sketches. With Woody Harrelson’s episode — his third time hosting, and his first since 1992 — it’s almost impossible to pare it down to three. This is what Season 40 looks like when it’s on fire: an hour and a half of hilarious, half-insane sketches, two astonishing performances from Kendrick Lamar, and a host with range, grace, and dead-on line delivery. Harrelson stole the show almost every time he was on camera, although the amount of kooky little touches was staggering: Kenan Thompson giving a gibberish pep-talk as a concussion-addled former NFLer; the first post-election cold-open, and one of the season’s first home runs in the political arena; the entirety of “The Dudleys,” especially the Uzo Aduba cameo; Kyle Mooney insisting that Veteran’s Day is called “Veterus Day”; a Funyuns flag and a blonde-dreaded, soul-patched Woody in “New Marijuana Policy.”
Anyway — the three best from SNL‘s sixth week. Let’s do it. As long as we’re clear that honorable mentions go to every single other sketch.
Woody’s monologue might have revolved around an acoustic Taylor Swift parody and big cameos from Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth. (Woody mistook Lawrence for Swift; J-Law refreshed his memory about their “10 Hunger Games movies together.”) But Woody’s real guitar moment came in “Campfire Song,” where a mild-mannered, fleece-wearing longhair confuses his campfire buddies with a song about apples and, maybe, life? “Aaapples, aaaples,” Harrelson sings, “you’re falling and growing and rolling and rotting and dying / in the usual wayyy / in the usual wayyy.” The premise could’ve coasted on that catchy, silly ditty, but Woody’s earnest, goofy character took it to a new place.
And if you walk away without “Apples” stuck in your head, you’re a robot with a heart of nothing.
“Old New York”
Sit Woody Harrelson down at a bar and magic will transpire. While Taran Killam, Bobby Moynihan, and Kenan Thompson pine for old New York — the knishes, the pizza, the hawt dawgs — Woody can’t quite get over the sad state of the city’s crack game. It seems like a one-note joke, but Harrelson’s got his costars close to cracking up throughout. “I mean, on the subway,” he grumbles, “for what they’re chargin’ us to ride the damn thing, you’d think they’d just give us a li’l vial of crack, am I right?” The accents are kinda wobbly, but you can’t hate on a sketch that’s this fun.
“Last Call with Woody Harrelson”
Sit Woody Harrelson down at a bar again, and magic will transpire again. Especially if he’s lingering around at last call while Kate McKinnon’s Sheila Sovage does the same. The two late-night lonely hearts exchange preposterous pick-up lines that get right to the point. “Let’s speed this mama up and take the express train to Penetratia,” McKinnon moons. “As long as you don’t mind takin’ a detour through STDetroit,” Harrelson purrs back. While the inevitable sloppy makeout isn’t as bonkers as McKinnon’s spit-swapping sessions with Louis C.K. and John Goodman, it scores points for happening through a piece of ebola-proof Saran Wrap. Bartender Kenan Thompson ends it with the perfect reaction and a can of gasoline.