Update: NBC has removed “Dad Christmas” from YouTube and its homepage.
No rational person wants to live in a world without Saturday Night Live. It may be in vogue these days to claim SNL is mostly bad, or that the bad sketches have far exceeded the good ones. I am not one of those people. I love all eras of SNL from Chevy Chase to Adam Sandler to Andy Samberg to Leslie Jones. But, the “Dad Christmas” sketch from the most recent episode is pretty rough. It’s not the worst SNL sketch ever, but it feels unnecessarily cruel and also, worst of all, simply not funny.
On December 1, Clarie Foy hosted Saturday Night Live, and she appears in a sketch called Dad Christmas, which also features Pete Davidson, Aidy Bryant, Cecily Strong, and Mikey Day as a bad dad. What is a Dad Christmas? It’s basically just every cliché about divorced dads rolled into a musical parody of the Wham! classic “Last Christmas.” Divorced dads sit around and smoke cigarettes all day. Divorced dads have scary new girlfriends, drink too much, listen to Jimmy Buffet, and are, in general, pathetic.
While I gotta admit I’ll laugh at anything Kate McKinnon does (and she’s very funny as the new girlfriend in this sketch) the rest of this segment leaves me cold. These clichés — particularly the Jimmy Buffet bit — feel stolen from the late ’80s SNL, not 2018. I mean, if we’re going to make fun of divorced dads, maybe the references need to be updated? Like, if the bad dad is going to be a loser, wouldn’t it be funnier if he was doing something weirder and more out of touch; like I don’t know, listening to Justin Bieber on vinyl or something. It’s almost like the writers just took every cigarette smoking drunk dad from their improv classes, fused him with Andy Samberg’s “say hi to your mother for me” version of Mark Wahlberg and called it a day.
Plus, tons of dads get divorced who are not deadbeats or guys who are interested in Jimmy Buffett. There are, in fact, ways to still be a good father after a divorce, and divorced fathers come in all shapes in sizes.
Mostly, it makes sense to punch-down when it comes to mocking terrible things men do. But, with this sketch, it seems SNL saw a door hanging open just a little bit, and kicked it wide open for no reason. Was there a way to make this funnier? Yes. Do we need mainstream comedy that needlessly attacks a huge topic that affects countless families? No.
For what it’s worth, Saturday Night Live is still very funny. Wham! is also still good. Here’s the original version of “Last Christmas” as a palette cleanser.
Also, be sure to check out the Fatherly Guide to Divorce.