Ryan Gosling might have an American accent (one he adopted as a kid because he “decided that a Canadian accent doesn’t sound tough,” the actor told W in 2010), but he’s completely Canadian — a fact Cecily Strong forced him to face in Saturday’s monologue, where Mike Myers joined him to tap dance and sing a Canadian-themed Christmas carol featuring references to clubbing seals and Molson beer.
Although the monologue’s premise didn’t exactly promise an exciting start to the show, Gosling and Myers sold it simply because they are Ryan Gosling and Mike Myers. Jokes about Canada tend to be redundant, and these were no exception: There were references to Canadians saying “aboot” instead of “about” and their penchant for apologizing, both overused jabs that would have fallen completely flat if not for Gosling’s endearing (and endearingly nervous — he stuttered out the show’s name as soon as he got onstage) performance as a guy trying to come to terms with his identity.
That’s the good thing about a host like Gosling though: He’s extremely likable, and he’s not a comedy star so there weren’t high expectations that he would revolutionize Saturday Night Live in his first hosting gig. His status as a drama-focused actor actually helped, making each successful performance in a sketch all the more impressive and his unscripted fits of giggles all the more amusing.
Speaking of unscripted fits of giggles, here are the clips (including Leon Bridges’ moving performances) to watch from Saturday’s episode.
GALLERY: Ryan Gosling’s Best Moments
Gosling joyfully snickers through a sketch
Seeing cast members break is one of the true joys of watching SNL, and it happened soon into the show when Gosling couldn’t keep it together during a sketch where he, Strong, and Kate McKinnon played friends recounting their alien abduction to government officials played by Bobby Moynihan and Aidy Bryant. He wasn’t the only one: Bryant also visibly struggled to keep herself from laughing, and McKinnon seemed to be battling back urges to let it out during her many moments in front of the camera — and this all made the whole sketch, already fairly solid especially thanks to McKinnon’s hilarious performance as the one friend whose alien encounter wasn’t all that great, a complete delight to watch.
Settling is the latest dating trend
Finally, an app for women who don’t want to wait any longer to get married to a guy they aren’t actually that into. The ladies of SNL take centerstage in this pre-taped commercial, which pretty much guarantees it’ll be good — and it is: Leslie Jones, Sasheer Zamata, McKinnon, and Vanessa Bayer are all forced smiles and faux optimism except for quick moments where they realize the horror in settling.
A reason not to invite Ryan Gosling and Vanessa Bayer to your Christmas parties
This digital short started out normal enough — Gosling and Bayer play a couple spending Christmas at their neighbors’ house — until it got really weird really fast: Turns out Gosling and Bayer are Santa fanatics, so they don’t hold back their inner crazy once they hear Beck Bennett mention to his young son that Santa’s nearby. The clip devolves into a wonderfully uncomfortable dance sequence, and an even more uncomfortable moment with Santa. Is this the Christmas version of Pulp Fiction Quentin Tarantino never made?
Leon Bridges brings some soul to Saturday Night
Both of Bridges’ performances were stellar, but it was his second one that totally stunned: The 26-year-old soul singer took the audience to the river with the help of backing singers that added an extra touch of gospel flair to the slow-burning “River.”
Next week: Chris Hemsworth with musical guest Chance the Rapper.