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Tom Hanks and Tina Fey Help Paul Rudd Host an Empty ‘Saturday Night Live’

Live from New York, it's 5 people!

The Saturday Night Live Christmas show is always a festive affair, filled with special guests, holiday numbers, and the cast skating in the 30 Rockefeller Center ice rink. But due to rising infection stats in New York and breakthrough COVID-19 cases at 30 Rock, the iconic series opted to send most of the cast and crew home, as well as their live audience and musical guest Charlie XCX.

Host Paul Rudd, who was set to join the illustrious five-timers club, was instead joined on stage by fellow five-timers Tina Fey and Tom Hanks, who were more than game to liven up a bare bones version of the show. They were joined by cast members Kenan Thompson and Michael Che, and five-timer Steve Martin and Martin Short delivered a pre-recorded welcome to the club.

The hosts presented a clip show, with Christmas classics like “Dick in a Box” and “Christmastime for the Jews” along with pre-taped sketches Rudd and the cast completed during the week. Tina Fey then joined Michael Che for a subdued Weekend Update, performed while they sat on stools on the main stage. Fey joked about Colin Jost’s absence, saying “It’s not what you think. He’s having work done.”

The best pre-taped sketch was a commercial for Marshall’s Home Goods that quickly goes awry thanks to Aidy Bryant and Kate McKinnon as grandchildren-obsessed shoppers:

Rudd also appeared in a pre-taped bit that saw Pete Davidson playing himself as a washed-up comedian in 2054. There was also “Christmas Socks”, which was a play on the creepiest Christmas carol of all time, “Christmas Shoes.” This sketch didn’t work for me, likely because Patton Oswalt has already given us the definitive takedown of the song:

Among the old clips was the “Global Warming Christmas Special” from the Tom Hanks’-hosted Christmas episode from 1991. The sketch, which did not hold up 30 years later, was a grim reminder of so many things: that the planet has done little since then to stop global warming, and that many of actors and the characters they’ve played have since died (Chris Farley, Jan Hooks, Phil Hartman). Even Ralph Nader’s silent cameo is a brutal reminder of what might have been had he not run in the 2000 presidential election.

But still, SNL soldiered on to deliver the best show they could under rapidly changing circumstances. And as Rudd intoned during the closing credits, a little bit of something weird is better than nothing at all. Here’s to 2022 and the hopeful return of the SNL we know and love. In the meantime, we can still watch clips from the last time Paul Rudd hosted the Christmas show in 2013.

(image: screencap/NBC)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently lives in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, son, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.