The Average

Office Phone Call – Not even Kevin Hart’s frantic energy can turn this into something great. It’s amusing for a bit, but like many of the sketches from the evening, it’s a one-note joke, and unfortunately, that note isn’t one that I need to listen to for an extended period of time.

White House Tree TrimmingSNL continues to struggle with their political satire. Alec Baldwin back as Donald Trump livened things up a bit, not to mention a cameo by Scarlett Johansson reprising her role as Ivanka Trump, but there’s not much going on here. A better way to do this would have been to bring back all of the former Trump administration employees in-person for a long line of cameos (like Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer) and poor Christmas wishes from the president, but maybe it was too difficult to coordinate.

Active Jack – Again, Kevin Hart’s energy helps a little bit, as does the turn to an old version of Active Jack played by Kenan Thompson, but it’s not enough to create something truly hilarious. It’s a half-baked idea that the cast tries to cover-up with over-the-top performances.

The Worst

Inside the NBA – I don’t know if it’s just because Kevin Hart’s impression of Shaquille O’Neal is nowhere near as good as Jay Pharoah’s or if it’s the fact that this sketch is completely pointless, but this was hard to sit through. Even Kenan Thompson, a saving grace in sketches like this, seemed to be phoning in his usually great Charles Barkley impression. There was a decent physical gag at the end with the simple sight of Kevin Hart on stilts as Shaq, but that does not make up for the uninspired laziness of the rest of the sketch.

Christmas Party – Bad pacing, awkward line delivery, a weak premise, and lame jokes. This sketch couldn’t have gone much worse unless the big bear exploded. The only part that elicited laughter from me was when we learned that all the other people in this sketch were Kevin Hart’s character’s employees, but otherwise, yikes.

Nativity Play – Sketches with live animals involved can be tricky, but in this case, it wasn’t the llama that made the sketch difficult. It was the poor timing and line delivery that made this sketch bomb. This could have been really funny, but instead, it was painful to watch. Not even the cuts to Leslie Jones and Kenan Thompson worked.

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