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Saturday Night Live: 38.10 – “Martin Short/Paul McCartney”

It’s the Christmas show! Martin Short, former cast member, returns to host the show to host for the first time since 1996. I love Martin Short. He’s always very funny and a class act. It should be a pretty great time. Paul McCartney, a musician that most people probably don’t know much about, is the musical guest.

Cold Open: Silent Night
The Manhattan Children’s Chorus opened the show with a rendition of “Silent Night” in honor of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. It was really beautiful. The transition to the children doing “Live from New York…” was a little weird but I don’t know how else they could’ve done it.

Martin Short opens his monologue by thanking the audience for such a warm reception for a comedic icon such as himself. Paul Shaffer appears on a piano as Martin Short launches into a song about Christmas being the time most children are conceived. “It’s the most amorous time of the year.” He also has a great line as he introduces the song while sitting on top of Paul’s piano, “How does a man sit on a piano”. Martin sings to the audience and makes his way backstage, where he encounters Kristen Wiig (!). He wants to kiss her hand. She offers her left hand, but he says he wants to kiss her good hand. She offers her right one and it’s the baby arm from the Judith sketches. I miss Kristen on the show but it was nice to see her. Martin works his way through the backstage and encounters Jimmy Fallon, Tom Hanks & Samuel L. Jackson along the way. He then sees Tina Fey & Lorne Michaels standing with drinks. He presents a mistletoe over him & Tina, but he ends up smooching Lorne instead. He works his way to the stage and finishes the song, “It’s the sexiest time of the year.” Great opening to the show. I hope the rest of the show lives up to it.

A Tony Bennett Christmas
Another cameo! Alec Baldwin appears doing his great impression as Tony Bennett. He introduces a special guest co-host, his younger brother Jerry Bennett, played by Short. They have a brief interaction before bringing out their first guest, Kanye West played by Jay Pharaoh. This impression isn’t really good. Pharaoh not doing Kanye as much as he’s just playing an anonymous rapper. Nothing about it really says Kanye besides the glasses. Tony & Jerry interrupt the interview to do a live commercial for suppositories. Short has to keep from breaking into laughter, but this works much better than the lame Kanye impression from Pharaoh. It’s a pretty brief sketch and I think they just moved it up earlier in the show because of Alec Baldwin.

Kate Middleton Pregnancy Liaison
The sketch opens with Martin Short entering the sketch in a ridiculous wig and bad teeth. He’s playing Rupert, who works for the Royal Family and wants to go over proper protocol with the OB/GYN that will be looking after Kate Middleton. Hader is the doctor. He doesn’t get much to do because Short owns the sketch. Short’s character goes over a long list of protocols of how the doctor is supposed to react to Kate’s vaginal area. “It wears a hat. When it tips its hat, you have to tip yours back.” “On the day of delivery, it’s important that you don’t reach for the child unless the child offers its hand to you first.” Armisen also makes a short appearance as Queen Elizabeth II who shows up for her own exam. Short is absolutely perfect here and has a strong character that he can really sink his teeth into. It’s great to watch. Poor Bill Hader had the most difficult job. He came close a few times to break. Great sketch.

Short: You’re a Rat Bastard, Charlie Brown
The New York Actors Studio is putting their own twist on a classic Christmas show by showing You’re a Rat Bastard, Charlie Brown. This is basically a short film where a bunch of the cast members get to trot out their favorite celebrity impressions or try their hands at new ones. It has Bill Hader as Al Pacino, Jason Sudeikis as Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kate McKinnon as Edie Falco, Martin Short as Larry David, Kenan Thompson as Forest Whitaker, Nasim Pedrad as Kristin Chenoweth, Taran Killam as Michael Keaton, Cecily Strong as the adults’ voices. McKinnon’s Falco was pretty fantastic. She was acting like Nurse Jackie at her psychiatric booth. Short’s David was fantastic too. It was scary how much he looked like David in the bald cap and wig.

Paul McCartney – “”My Valentine”
This is apparently a new song from his album that came out in February. It’s a pretty slow song and doesn’t keep my interest very long. According to Wikipedia, he also performed this at the Grammys and I remember not liking it then either. On to the next one…

Weekend Update
This is happening a little bit earlier in the show than usual. A good joke about the Pope using Twitter, “AutoCorrect is hell on Latin.” Seth then introduces Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy, played by Vanessa Bayer, who is going to talk about Hanukkah. But basically he ends up reciting his speech from his Bar Mitzvah, which references historical Jewish events accompanied with some corny jokes about his family and friends. Bayer is really committed to the character and it’s a little scary how much she can pass for a 13 year-old Jewish boy. Seth ends up really breaking during the bit too. A few more jokes about deer contraceptives and a Chinese dog doing fractions before the next appearance: Cecily Strong’s return as ‘The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation with at a Party’. I loved this character the first two times and this was another successful appearance. Usually a character gets tired by this number of appearances, but Strong has found a way to play different levels and talk about different things each time to make it seem fresh and not overplayed. “Why can’t Secret Santa just be openly gay? Hello, it’s 2010.” It doesn’t make any sense and that’s the point. Two more jokes before Seth wraps up the segment. I expected a stronger ending with something referencing the holidays or another appearance from an SNL alumni.

What Up with That?
It’s been a while since they’ve done this sketch. This probably what Kenan will be most remembered for his tenure on the show. It’s a completely random mish mash of everything you can possibly imagine. The three guests for the show: Samuel L. Jackson and Carrie Brownstein appear as themselves, and as always, Bill Hader as Lindsey Buckingham. Martin Short makes an appearance during one of the musical interruptions as Jackie Rogers Jr. I don’t really get the reference and I actually forgot about Short during the beginning of the sketch. I wish they had incorporated him better into this one. I did like the randomness of Nasim Pedras Grinchina, the female Grinch. As Kenan wraps up the sketch, Samuel L. Jackson drops the F-bomb and it’s actually a pretty great moment. “Come on Sam, that costs money.” Jackson also says “Oh shit!” after that, which means that he realizes what he did and then adds another expletive on top.

Paul McCartney – “Cut Me Some Slack”
McCartney performs the song with the remaining members of Nirvana: Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear. I didn’t know, I just found out from Wikipedia and other recaps of the show. The song is a little too hard rock for me, but McCartney holds his own enough for me to watch about a minute before hitting fast-forward.

Restoration Hardware Reunion
Kenan introduces the sketch about two friends bumping into each other at a Restoration Hardware store. I’m not sure exactly what that store is, but I assume it’s an NYC thing. Martin Short & Fred Armisen are the two friends. The sketch doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It’s basically Short & Armisen talking about ridiculous things that they’ve done since they’ve last seen each other. “I’m on a new diet. I have to eat 25 bagels a day.” This is one of those sketches that needs to be developed and finessed a little bit more. Nobody is really playing a character and they are relying on the weird facts in the dialogue. Definitely the weakest sketch of the night so far.

Pageant Auditions
Cecily Strong & Jason Sudeikis are auditioning people for their Christmas pageant. Kenan ends his audition as they bring up a duo auditioning together. Martin Short & Paul McCartney play Caleb & Monty, a singing duo in ridiculous suits. Short is much more enthusiastic and serious about his performing. McCartney looks like he was dragged along. His only job is to ring the triangle during certain moments of the song. McCartney asks if he could sing and Short shuts him down immediately. The sketch really relied on Martin Short’s character, which was really great and would be a great recurring character if Short was a cast member on the show still. This sketch didn’t have the most laughs, but Short & McCartney were great together. Short storms off the set and McCartney asks if he can sing. The directors give him permission…

Paul McCartney – “Wonderful Christmastime”
…and McCartney strips off his vest from the sketch, the walls open and he walks onto the musical guest stage. He launches into “Wonderful Christmastime”, accompanied by the return of the Manhattan’s Children Chorus. I loved the introduction into the song. I love this version of the song and it’s the only McCartney performance of the night that I don’t immediately skip past.

It was a pretty solid episode. Last year’s Christmas show with Jimmy Fallon was much stronger, but this was a still a wonderful episode. I think Martin Short is going to be a contender for Guest Actor at the Emmys. He played a lot of different characters and it’s something the voters are going to go for when it’s time to vote. The opening with the children’s chorus was very classy and a little bit moving. I do think the Hardware Restoration sketch brought down the episode as a whole, however it wasn’t a huge moment in the show so it didn’t make a bigger impact. Overall, a great way to end SNL’s 2012 episodes.

The next new episode is almost a month from now. January 19th: Jennifer Lawrence with musical guest The Lumineers.

Martin Short

Paul McCartney