James Franco Hosted Saturday Night Live

James Franco returned to host Saturday Night Live for his fourth time last night, and while the Christmas episode of the season is still a week away, the writers couldn’t help but dig into the holidays a bit for a satisfying episode overall.

Perhaps the reason this episode was mostly a success was because they chose to tackle politics in a way that didn’t require actually portraying any of the sleazeball politicians from both sides of the aisle and figured out a clever way to deal with the horrors of everyday’s news headlines. No matter what the reason, there’s plenty of good stuff here, including James Franco making fun of himself quite a bit.

We run through the best and worst sketches of the James Franco hosted Saturday Night Live below.

The Best

Visit with Santa – Sometimes during an episode of Saturday Night Live, there can be flubs when reading cue cards. It can throw off the comedic rhythm of a sketch and really takes you out of the moment. But in this case, when you have adorable kids messing up lines and professional comedians who know how to keep the train moving, it doesn’t ruin the overall sketch. Sure, it still disrupts the rhythm, but the jokes in this sketch were good enough that it still worked for me.

*Note* – In going back and watching this sketch, it has come to my attention that the version used on SNL’s YouTube is from dress rehearsal. That’s likely because the live version of the sketch had a few kids flubbing their lines. So when you watch the above version, you might not quite understand the mistakes I’m talking about. In fact, the dress rehearsal version of the sketch went infinitely better.

Christmas Charity – Sometimes a good punchline requires a long set-up, and that’s exactly what happens with this sketch. Because of that, I won’t ruin the punchline, but suffice it to say that even if you think you know where this sketch is going, you probably don’t. It’s a long way to go (and a charming set-up too), but it’s worth it.

Za – I’ll be honest, a big part of my putting this sketch here is because of my full support about the argument pertaining to calling pizza by the abbreviation of “za” instead. Initially, I hated the way Franco was overacting in this sketch. It didn’t seem to fit with the vibe of the rest of the sketch. But slowly it started to make sense why he was going over the top. He really had to sell the argument he was going to make over and over again. I’m actually kind of impressed with how he didn’t get too tongue tied when going back and forth between “za” and “suh” sounds.

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