Saturday Night Live has thrived on-air for an astonishingly long time, and therefore produced a profusion of unforgettable moments. Some would argue that it isn’t quite as laugh-out-loud funny as its earlier incarnation, but they probably missed the John Goodman episode last weekend. Amid the over-abundant SNL DVD releases are a few holiday-themed specials. “Saturday Night Live: Christmas” is a compilation of memorable skits from SNL Christmas past. It’s hilarious enough to watch annually, and invoke laughs despite knowledge of the coming gags.
Before ripping open the packaging and playing “Saturday Night Live: Christmas,” it’s important to understand that this amalgamation of holiday favorites debuted in 1999. Accordingly, the lineup features what now would be considered an older cast. The late Chris Farley and partner in crime David Spade are among the most recent cast members found throughout. However, the relatively older fare means the entire movie is brimming over with golden nuggets enough to melt Yukon Cornelius.
Starting off the festivities, Chevy Chase impersonates Gerald Ford in a bumbling fireside chat, culminating with the familiar shout of “live from New York, it’s Saturday night!” Chase’s natural feigned-gullibility perfects his goofiness in portraying Ford dropping records from turntables, missing his TV cue and tumbling over the Christmas tree. While each skit is remarkable, one of the highlights (and quite possibly the greatest SNL sketch ever) comes from Alec Baldwin as Pete Schweddy. The innuendos induce uncontrollable chortling, but the delivery solidifies the hilarity. The soft, slightly awkward conversation between Margaret Jo McCullin (Ana Gastey) and Terry Rialto (Molly Shannon) may ruin NPR listening experiences permanently. Watch at your own risk.
Eddie Murphy parodies Mr. Rogers in his ghetto Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood. Behind the large smile lies someone who you’d rather not be your neighbor. Apparently his landlord shares a similar sentiment, as he offers an eviction notice. Not the best stocking stuffer. SNL recurring character Matt Foley, the motivational speaker (Chris Farley) plays a mall Santa gone wrong, and as per usual wreaks absolute havoc. Adam Sandler sings his famous “Chanukah Song,” a long-time SNL favorite. Rosie O’Donnell guest stars in a skit about dueling manger scenes, and Erwin Mainway (Dan Akroyd) returns to “Consumer Probe” once again inciting controversy with his sketchy toys such as “Bag ‘O Glass.”
Truly, this is a best-of set worth watching and re-watching. Even with regular viewings, “Saturday Night Live: Christmas” offers a stocking full of hysterics. The most relevant sketch is arguably the Dysfunctional Family Christmas infomercial. Containing a run-down of fake holiday tunes, the snippets are exaggerated though not altogether far from the reality of familial gatherings. “Daddy’s Nose,” is a would-be classic, though Dana Carvey chanting “Leave me alone, please go away, I’m doing fine, just get away” in tune to “The Carol of the Bells” is the anthem of the season.
The sheer number of familiar faces, both SNL cast, characters, and guest stars makes the movie a holiday staple. Ironically, the only true con is also what elevates this flick to the canon of SNL greatness: the sketches are fairly old. Yes, this does mean skits are gleaned from the Golden Ages of Saturday Night Live, though more recent moments are obviously absent. Notably missing is the Jimmy Fallon and Horatio Sanz “I Wish it Was Christmas Today” song. Since its release, SNL did release a part two “A Very Gilly Christmas,” and the aforementioned wacky song made the cut. Unfortunately, the second release, while listing several classic holiday sketches also on the original Christmas special includes only snippets. Unlike the original release, the Gilly version provided only clips from Eddie Murphy’s Mr. Robinson as well as the poignant Dysfunctional Family Christmas. So if you want the entire catalog, you’ll need both DVDs, and the remote to skip repeat segments. Clocking in around an hour and twenty minutes, the comedy throughout makes “Saturday Night Live: Christmas” feel significantly shorter. Check Amazon for a great price, as well as streaming sites and chuckle your way through the holiday season.