By Claire Zulkey
10:31 AM EST, December 16, 2012
Without a single spoken word about current events, “Saturday Night Live” last night paid touching and graceful tribute to those killed during Friday’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. The cold open consisted of the New York City Children's Chorus singing, without any introduction or musical accompaniment, “Silent Night.” The song, perhaps more than any other carol, elicits the imagery of the childhood innocence, while the singers themselves were near the age of some of the victims of the shooting. After the song, the screen went black momentarily, before the children introduced the show.
In contrast, the Christmas episode, hosted by Martin Short, was a silly, loosey-goosey affair (but in a cathartic, comfortable-like-an-old-shoe way), marked by a plethora of celebrity guests.
Samuel L. Jackson, Tina Fey, Kristen Wiig, Jimmy Fallon, Paul Shaffer and Tom Hanks all made cameos during Short’s musical monologue. Alec Baldwin impersonated Tony Bennett during a quite scatological special holiday sketch. Jackson returned, this time with “Portlandia’s” Carrie Brownstein, for yet another rendition of “What Up With That?” Jackson discussed his charitable endeavors during the sketch, but he will most be remembered for dropping an emphatic (and likely accidental) F-bomb during the sketch, to audience gasps and nervous laughter from Kenan Thompson, who admonished Jackson, “Come on Sam. That costs money.”
Musical guest Paul McCartney, too, got to show off his well-honed comedic skills in the last sketch of the night as an inept triangle player who only wants to sing. Finally, he did, closing out the show with his holiday tune “Wonderful Christmastime,” joined by the same children who opened the show.
“SNL” returns in 2013 with “The Hunger Games” actress Jennifer Lawrence hosting, and musical guest the Lumineers.