'Saturday Night Live' recap: Jimmy Fallon's Christmas episode was joyful and triumphant

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Image Credit: NBC

It’s easy to be jaded about the holidays. It’s not unlike the temptation to feel weary and blasé about Saturday Night Live. Both seemed to feel more special when we were younger, didn’t they? But you would have to be a Grinch with a heart (and funny bone) two sizes too small not to have gotten into the spirit of last night’s joyous, hilarious, and often times touching, instant classic episode of Saturday Night Live. It encompassed all the things that make the holidays — and SNL — so wonderful when done right: It reunited old friends, brought back fond memories, and made us believe there was a little bit of magic in the air.

Of course, there may be no star better suited to spread that kind of joy to Studio 8H than Jimmy Fallon, who hosted for the first time since leaving the show as a cast member. After all, the Late Night host brings a free-spirited sense of fun to everything he does. Jaded is simply not on the guy’s radar at Christmas or any other time of the year, for that matter.

Fallon’s infectious brand of merriment was felt from the minute the show started, as he and his old pal Rachel Dratch (one of many truly excellent cameos) brought back their Bah-stin lovebirds, Sully and Denise. Not much has changed with the couple since we last saw them. (Well, aside from their five kids Weezer, Chubsy, Squeezebox, Hags, and Baby Richard.) They still love No-mahr, they still keep it classy (they attempted to sneak in to their old high school and drank a bag of Franzia wine) and they still are the best Beantown has to offer. (No, you ahhhhhr!) It was a bit of a bummer — sorry, bummah — to watch the sketch through a fake VCR blur, especially when Amy Poehler showed up (wicked awesome!) and we could only see her second-most awkward boob grab on television this year through a haze. But it was still as funny and silly as it was years ago, and Fallon looked like a kid on Christmas morning when he finally got to yell “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!”  Watch:

I would be lying if I said I didn’t get choked up watching Fallon’s monologue. I wasn’t always the biggest Fallon fan during his run on SNL (his scene-breaking went from charming to frustrating rather quickly) but his genuinely heartfelt excitement to be back on the show (“This place means so much to me. All I’ve ever wanted my whole life was to be on this show. It’s just a dream come true”) instantly made me forgive and forget. Of course, Jimmy being Jimmy, he had his guitar ready to break out into song. (After all, the guy knows a thing or two about kicking a show off with a killer musical number.) His rendition of “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)” was just a little different than the original, in that this one included a self-aware crack at his giggling problem, lyrics about Michael Bublé doing cocaine, and concluded with a big dance party with the current SNL cast. (Kristen Wiig, how in the world did you dance in those shoes?)

Wiig’s Kathie Lee Gifford was most certainly in the holiday spirits (the spirits part, mostly) approaching the fifth hour of The Today Show during the post-monologue sketch. While it ran a bit long (perhaps it was just keeping in the spirit of Today) it’s always amusing to watch Wiig’s over-the-top Gifford lay into Nasim Pedrad’s hapless Hota Kotb and it got even better when Fallon revived his Regis Philbin for a visit.

But none of it was any match for hilarious, spot-on imitations as the one that followed, the episode’s best sketch: Michael Bublé‘s Christmas duets album. While Wiig’s take on the perpetually psyched Taylor Swift, Taran Killam’s deeply funny imitation of Scotty McCreery, Jay Pharoah’s Kanye West proclamation of “Jesus, I’m so much better than you,” and a Christmas tree dressed up as Lady Gaga were as pitch-perfect as Bublé’s voice and comedic timing, Fallon absolutely killed it playing Sting, Justin Bieber and Russell Brand. I honestly don’t know if I’ve laughed harder at anything all season on SNL more than I did watching Fallon imitate Brand. See for yourself:

NEXT: The man in the mirror and the best Weekend Update EVER…

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