SNL addresses Al Franken, Roy Moore, Matt Lauer in Christmas-themed cold open
Saturday Night Live got into the Christmas spirit for its cold open this week, but the holiday cheer was quickly snuffed out by an unsettling reminder of the many disturbing headlines to come out of the past year.
Kenan Thompson played a weary mall Santa in the sketch, fielding questions from a line of eager children bringing him their Christmas wishes. It began normally enough with a boy asking for a round of laser tag and some toys, but the mood shifted with his last question: “What did Al Franken do?” Santa tried to thread a line between not misleading and staying appropriate, quipping, “I guess you could say that Al Franken is on Santa’s naughty list this year.”
But Franken, who resigned from the U.S. Senate this past week after facing multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, wasn’t the only disgraced public figure who the children had questions about. Also brought up for their alleged misconduct: Fired NBC newsman Matt Lauer (“Oh, you mean toy like the one Matt Lauer gave to his coworker?” one kid asks when Santa requests he ask for a toy), Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, President Donald Trump (“19 accusers — Google it,” McKinnon’s elf sidekick quips), and many more.
One girl bitingly summed up the way she saw the events of the past year play out. “I learned that if you admit you did something wrong, you get in trouble,” she began. “But if you deny it, they let you keep your job!”
Topics broached went beyond the many men accused of sexual misconduct over the past few months, however: As Santa’s visitors noted, there’s a divisive tax bill on the verge of passing Congress, an opioid epidemic still ravaging parts of the country, and even child labor abuses happening around the world. As the cold open came to a close, one child said, “Santa, I don’t want any gifts this year. I just want everything to be okay.”
It was up to McKinnon’s elf to try to inject some optimism into the atmosphere. “I know that things seem particularly insane right now … and we seem to have lost perspective on what’s naughty and nice,” she said. “But most people in America are good people, and eventually, good people will fix our country.”
Moving as the sentiment was, this wasn’t quite convincing enough for Santa’s last visitor of the day. As she responded to McKinnon, “Just in case: I’m putting all my money in Bitcoin.”
The original late-night comedy sketch show from the one and only Lorne Michaels.