Kate McKinnon SNL Sketches Ranked: Weekend Update Joke Swap Returns — Plus, Rudolph and Wiig

Musical guest Billie Eilish joins Saturday Night Live icons Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig to help Kate McKinnon ring in the season with some new holiday classics, some Christmas turkeys and the most savage — and hilarious — Weekend Update "joke swap" ever!

Maybe it’s our fault because admittedly our expectations were sky high with Kate McKinnon hosting Saturday Night Live, and Billie Eilish as musical guest. We fully expected Billie to slip into at least one sketch, and we weren’t disappointed.

It was also one of the night’s strongest sketches. Don’t get us wrong, Kate had some great moments, but it was much more of a mixed bag than we expected. Even adding fellow legendary cast members Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig didn’t keep the show from being pretty evenly split.

If you’re watching straight through, we recommend powering through the lame Cold Open because it does start to get better, ending on that Billie and Kate highlight. Kate revived some of her classic sketches, like her “Cinema Classic” screen queens and her Whiskers R Us cat lady, but we found ourselves most enjoying characters brand new.

With a holiday theme throughout, there were plenty of contenders for future Christmas classics, but nothing was more classic than the return of “Weekend Update’s” annual “joke swap” tradition. This one was more savage than ever — Colin Jost got Michael Che as bad as he was got, but Che brought out iconic activist Dr. Hattie Davis to judge Jost hard with each joke, making it even harder to watch and funnier.

Our sides still hurt from the funniest “Update” segment of the past two years at least (they skipped this tradition last year.

As usual, we’re ranking all the sketches from worst to first, including the Monologue, Cold Open, “Weekend Update” and any sketches that were cut for time but made their way online. We’ll skip the musical guests, because they’re not usually funny — unless Ashlee Simpson shows up. We wrap up with a look at the cast-member who had the strongest week.

Cold Open: Christmas Awards

Unable to render YouTube Video.

These award show sketches almost never work … and this Christmas-themed one was no exception. The audience was barely laughing and we weren’t at all. None of the categories were outrageous enough to be funny, so it was more recognizable, gentle humor, like, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve seen that.’ But that’s not ha-ha and certainly not a great way to start what should be a strong night of comedy, or the last episode of the year and the one leading right into the holiday season. Sarah Sherman and Kenan Thompson tried to wring as many laughs as they could out of their material, so we’ll give them an ‘A’ for effort, but still sadly no laughs. Oh, and as for Marcello Hernández’s Mario Lopez — he, um, didn’t do anything.

North Pole News

Unable to render YouTube Video.

Not as funny as it could have been, or as funny as these skits have been in the past. Kate McKinnon gave it her all as an unhinged Scottish elf after a killer whale attack in the North Pole, but the sketch itself was lacking. Maybe some banter between Chloe Fineman at the news desk and Mikey Day in the field, or more from Kate when Bowen Yang was speaking as Santa’s spokesperson, or even a final confrontation with the shark itself — couldn’t look much more ridiculous than Land Shark. It just felt a little disjointed, with none of the elements coming together with strong comedy.

Cinema Classics

Unable to render YouTube Video.

A return to a classic host character for Kenan Thompson and a silly old-timey movie character for Kate McKinnon, this time bringing Meet Me in St. Louis to life. Are they only going to use Chlose Troast for singing roles? It’s like when James Austin Johnson joined and he was only playing Biden and Trump. He’s finally getting a chance to show more sides, so we’re hoping Chloe will get that chance. We actually were a little underwhelmed by Kate’s crying character in this as the timing seemed off throughout this sketch, leaving her performance to feel a little less than.

Gift Swap

Unable to render YouTube Video.

Called a Yankee swap (and other names in other areas), this gift-swapping game took a serious note when Kate McKinnon’s character introduced the cure for sickle cell anemia to a coworker who has it. Where it went from there was painfully obvious, but we still found ourselves enjoying both Kenan Thompson and Punkie Johnson’s character work in the sketch. The premise was a little too obvious, but both performers brought a lot of fun to their roles, with Michael Longfellow also bringing a unique quirk to his. Those added elements make the characters feel more lived in, which is enough to breathe extra life even into a sketch that’s not otherwise firing on all cylinders. With one joke that’s a little too obvious, this character really leaned on those.

ABBA Christmas

Unable to render YouTube Video.

It’s not always great when the players in a sketch break, but the breaking saved this one. James Austin Johnson introducing one ABBA-fired Christmas song after the other was going nowhere until they did their weird singing awkwardly close and then started cracking one another up while trying to stay committed. James himself even broke at one point after a particularly silly moment. We knew it was the breaking making us smile because when they got it back together, we were just like, meh, again. So, it was a fun skit and very silly, but the breaks made it even better.

Tampon Farm

Unable to render YouTube Video.

Well, we didn’t expect the ending, but we enjoyed the journey to getting there, as well as the slow reveal of just what this guitar-strumming and singing women were doing out there working the earth. It was as ridiculously stupid as it sounds, but we still found ourselves enjoying it. Sometimes you just go along for the ride and enjoy how much the performers are enjoying immersing themselves in something so silly. Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph were back for this, with a couple of short shots of Billie Eilish, as well. We’d have actually liked it to go even further (though we’re not sure what that would look like). It just felt a little safe for its concept.

Monologue: Kate McKinnon

Unable to render YouTube Video.

Redeeming the terrible Cold Open, Kate was affable and self-deprecating, showing off her first NBC badge and awkward choice for a school dance. She said that since leaving the show, she’s been trying to “assemble a human personality,” since she spent her time on the show never being herself. Usually, she was the “freak next to hot person” in these monologues. It was all very cute and charming, including her Christmas song at the end. She didn’t even need the added bonus of Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig, though she looked delighted to see them (either good acting or possibly a real surprise). It is fun to see alums for special episodes, so we’re not too mad about it. Kate, though, was funny enough on her own to make us happy to see her back among the cast for one week.

Whiskers R We

Unable to render YouTube Video.

Kate McKinnon brought back her Barbara DeDrew character to interaction with more cats. She’s done this with lots of hosts when she was a cast member, so now that she was the host, she invited Billie Eilish to join her as a fellow awkward cat lady. This turned out to be just a delightful sketch from start to finish, as it always seems to be when live animals are in play. Kate clearly loves playing with them, and as we saw when she hosted, Billie is a natural performer. She was right there with Kate step by step, charming one another as much as they were us. There was nothing spectacular about the humor as it was more lame cat pun names, but it was what happened between the ladies that had the most heart.

Gifts from Mom

Unable to render YouTube Video.

They just let Kate McKinnon do her thing and everything worked. All she had to do was ham it up as a mom second-guessing every gift and declaring with more emphatic and uncomfortable statements how horrible of a person she is because of said gifts and they had comedy gold. Molly Kearney was a little stilted as one daughter — though we think Kate might have missed her first cue with Molly — but otherwise the sketch was perfect just as it was, a simply and quirky slice-of-life piece.


Unable to render YouTube Video.

This went from weird to sinister to brilliant thanks to the powerhouse work of Sarah Sherman as the mom on Christmas morning who gave her dog-wanting kids a Pongo Instead of a dog. What is Pongo? It’s kind of … a … dog … with no holes … it’s just Pongo. And it’s creepy AF. Sarah’s slow unraveling like a classic horror heroine in the face of it’s faceless stare was executed to perfection. This was a showpiece for her commitment and a testament to how much she’s grown as an actress since her start on the show.

Weekend Update

Unable to render YouTube Video.

The boys came out hot this week, with Colin Jost immediately getting an audience groan for his joke about Rudolph Giuliani’s defamation trial judgment (and his bank account). Michael Che got a big reaction with his joke about what he inherited after a report that most billionaires this past year got their money through family inheritance. They also took on Harvard President Gay, Obama/care, and the controversial “missing finger” Royals photo with some pretty funny observations. We’re not ready to fully process the whole milk jokes, though. Give us a minute.

Unable to render YouTube Video.

The deeper Ego Nwodim got into her “Rich Auntie with No Kids” character, the better it got. By the third time she was “cuttin’ up” and angling for Che’s job alongside “Colin Jokes,” she had us laughing right along with her. The hatred for kids, including her own niece and nephew, along with her general cheapness also made for some funny moments, but we think she was funniest when she thought she was the funniest.

Unable to render YouTube Video.

For this segment, it was Che who got the big groan for his explanation for why more teen boys are virgins (it’s pretty rough). He was clearly baiting them with his New Jersey escaped pig story, getting an even louder reaction. Cha goading the audience is sometimes even more fun than just reading the jokes.

Unable to render YouTube Video.

They then shifted into one of the best segments they’ve ever come up with where they read jokes the other wrote without having seen them before this moment, live on television. In other words, Che makes Jost look like an absolute racist douchebag over and over and over again.

This year, to make it even worse, Che brought out actual activist Dr. Hattie Davis to sit by Jost as he told his terrible jokes. To Jost’s credit, these were the most savage jokes he’s ever given Che, who had to talk about the Michael Jackson musical (yikes!) and the current Middle East conflict (quadruple yikes!). Oh and by the way, Davis did not fist bump Jost after one. Our jaws hurt from laughing so hard at this segment. It is glorious!


With a towering former cast member back and sketch roles for Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, and musical guest Billie Eilish, there was even less work for the regular players than usual. Chloe Fineman was all over the night, but really had only one leading role. Mikey had the most with three, but they were mostly straight men roles.

That left us to look at who really managed to still stand out with powerful performances. Punkie Johnson and Kenan Thompson both had us rolling in the Yankee Swap sketch, while Bowen Yang held his own with legends in the ABBA piece and Ego really brought our new favorite Auntie to life.

For us, though, the biggest joy of the night came from Sarah Sherman, who was one of the highlights of a very weak cold open and then absolutely owned the Pongo piece. It was weird, avant garde horror/comedy and she was so strong in it.

Sarah is quickly becoming a go-to comedian for weird roles — see her guest spot on the Chucky TV series — and really carving out a great niche on SNL that always leaves us just wanting more opportunities for her to let her freak flag fly because her brilliance is in her one-of-a-kind vision and approach to humor!

“Saturday Night Live” returns January 20 with host Jacob Elordi and musical guest Reneé Rapp.

Source: Read Full Article