Let’s sing about ignoring our anxieties in an unhealthy way

Steve Martin and Martin Short host what’s basically the show’s Christmas episode.

Let’s sing about ignoring our anxieties in an unhealthy way
Bowen Yang, Sarah Sherman, Cecily Strong, Ego Nwodim and Kenan Thompson in Saturday Night Live. / NBC

Hello! Yes, it’s Sunday and this is Popculturology. I’ve decided to spin off the Saturday Night Live section of the newsletter into its own mini newsletter called Deep SNL Thoughts.

“But, Bill,” you point out, “you said when you launched Popculturology that you didn’t want to get sucked into SNL recaps again.”

Well, you’re right. After writing about SNL’s lost generation in last Thursday’s edition of the newsletter, I was reminded how much I enjoyed discussing the show. (And thanks to for giving that issue an huge boost.) Also, the Monday editions of the newsletter were growing way too long with SNL content in them.

Like everything with Popculturology, this is a hobby. I don’t make any money on it. My goal is to get Deep SNL Thoughts out on Sunday, which usually works with our daughter’s naps. I’m not going to discuss every sketch and segment, but I’ll probably pop most of them into this newsletter.

I thought last week’s Saturday Night Live was the best of the season, but this week’s episode might have topped that one. It’s hard to compete with an episode hosted by Steve Martin and Martin Short, especially when SNL airs its Christmas episode … a week before its actual Christmas episode?

This episode did a pretty great job enforcing my theory of a lost SNL generation. Mikey Day popped up in a few sketches throughout the episode, but Heidi Gardner didn’t show up until the end of the episode. Meanwhile, Cecily Strong was a force to be reckoned with in this episode.

Popculturology is a free newsletter fueled by my love of pop culture. If you already are a subscriber, please consider becoming a supporter by upgrading your account.

“Hey, we heard you guys singing about ignoring your anxiety in an unhealthy way,” Sarah Sherman quipped as she and Ego Nwodim joined Bowen Yang, Strong and Kenan Thompson during the cold open.

There isn’t a better representation of the status of SNL’s cast than this cold open. Strong and Thompson, the two remaining castmembers from the pre-Donald Trump/Alec Baldwin era joined by Yang, Sherman and Nwodim, three of the castmembers from the generation of the cast not eclipsed by SNL: Celebrity Edition.

At least Day got to play Santa Claus for a brief moment at the end.

Thanks to the monologue montage, we all know that Martin has now hosted SNL sixteen times — which is only one away from tying Baldwin on the all-time list. I imagine that Martin has a shot at passing Baldwin now that Baldwin wore out his welcome during the Baldwin years.

Loved watching Martin and Short (man, that’s confusing) roast/eulogize each other. (It also appears that you can say “Dick in a Box” on TV now. The sketch was “D*ck in a Box” back in the day.)

And we all knew that Selena Gomez was going to join her Only Murders in the Building costars during this episode.

Science Room

I love when SNL does this sketch. While the host’s (in this case, hosts’) frustration is what sells the sketch, Strong and Day have discovered that there’s no boundary to how dumb they can play these kids.

“Shut up, you idiots.”

Please Don’t Destroy

One of these days, I’ll learn the names of the three dudes in Please Don’t Destroy. (And verify which one is the son of former SNL writer Steve Higgins.) I do know that I enjoy their sketches.

And was that really Sherman’s dad at the end of the sketch? He’s terrifying.

The Holiday Train

“Just heading there on business. The only reason anyone would want to go to Buffalo.”

This is the second Buffalo sketch of the season after the sketch of Jets fans yelling at Bills fans from a few episodes ago. Is there a writer from Buffalo? I wouldn’t call it SNL’s newfound love of the city — newfound interest is probably more accurate.

Once again in this episode, it’s Strong joined by Thompson. If this winds up being Strong’s last season (and nothing has said it is), she’s making the most of her time.

“Those bears make the same Christmas wish every year.” James Austin Johnson didn’t have a big role in this episode (no Joe Biden, Trump or Mitch McConnell), but he made the most of his small conductor role during this sketch.

A Visit With Santa

The Martin/Short dynamic is a ton of fun. The duo’s vibe works perfectly in this sketch.

Watching full-grown SNL castmembers play children is always weird. Also weird? Chloe Fineman’s little girl character sounding exactly like Britney Spears.

“Sprinkles, you have legs!”

A Christmas Carol

This was a great sketch. The production values on these SNL pretapes has gotten better and better with every passing season.

“This crazy old man is whipping coins into the eyes of orphans.”

This was one of the sketches Day popped up in this weekend, but Sherman once again stole the show.

Didn’t expect this to turn into an ad for Apple Pay.

Mary Anne Louise Fischer on Holiday Shopping

I assume Nwodim’s Mary Anne Louise Fischer shops at TJ Maxx and HomeGoods too. I’ve been to those disaster zones enough times to know the carnage waiting for anyone foolish enough to shop there.

Kurt and Deb from Wyoming on Rekindling the Spark

Was this segment just an excuse for Fineman to roll out some of her best celebrity impressions?


Was it worth it to hear Fineman yell, “I’m married to Colin but I need a real man” in Scarlett Johansson’s voice while Colin Jost sits there?

Absolutely again.

Father of the Bride

“What makes you think I can afford an eighth Nancy Meyers’ style wedding? I’m financially drained.”

This was one Gardner’s only two sketches of the episode, giving her the same number of appearances as Gomez and just one more than Kieran Culkin.

Austin Butler hosts SNL on Dec. 17 with Lizzo the musical guest.

That’s the end of this edition of Popculturology. Thanks for reading the newsletter. If you already are a subscriber, please consider becoming a supporter by upgrading your account.