Saturday Night Live recap: Ryan Gosling

6 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Hey girl, it’s Ryan Gosling on “Saturday Night Live”.

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.December tends to bring out the best in Saturday Night Live: The cast has started to gel, the writers have a sense of what makes this iteration of the show work, and the show always mines good comedy from the holiday season. 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. His looks have inspired endless meme-making, aspirational Tumblr pages (Hello, Feminist Ryan Gosling) and one too many YouTube montages of his various roles as Heartthrob in Chief.

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. In one that starred Aidy Bryant as an inappropriate 13-year-old and Gosling, 35, as her friend’s goofy dad, the Big Short actor tried but failed to stay stoic as Bryant’s character aggressively hit on him and then licked cake icing off his finger. It didn’t help that the show largely avoided most topical elements outside of “Weekend Update,” which feels like another missed opportunity for the show to have something to say about the current cultural and political climate. 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.

In another sketch, about three alien abductees, Gosling cracked up as Kat McKinnon’s character described her experience peeing in front of the giant grey space creatures. 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.

Then, of course, there was Gosling’s opening monologue, during which he adopted a fake Brooklyn accent, reminiscing about his favorite things to do in New York City during the holidays: visit Rockefeller Center, watch the Rockettes, and get a slice of ‘za. Yes, we know it must be hard to keep it together when sharing the screen with some of the funniest people on TV, but was this just a stunt to make everyone love him more? Cue SNL alum Mike Myers, who joined Gosling onstage in a Toronto Maple Leafs hockey jersey to school the actor on why he shouldn’t be ashamed to be Canadian.

The pair burst into a Canadian Christmas carol, complete with a smirk or two from the “Hey Girl” meme muse himself — as well as plenty of “soh-rries” and “a-boots.” 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. 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. 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.” But it’s a fun sketch that builds off its own internal logic, going from an innocuous party to one in which one couple psychologically dominates everyone, ultimately retreating into a holiday-inspired dreamworld.

As awkward as Gosling sometimes was this week in live sketches, he came alive here as a one-half of a couple who believed in Santa with an intensity mixed of one part violence and one part sexual fervor. On paper, this isn’t a particularly good idea: Three people get abducted by aliens, and one of them has a particularly bad experience compared to the other two.

She has a knack for creating three-dimensional characters from the first moment they are onscreen, and the specificity of her character’s words and gestures are fantastic. It helped that the sketch portrayed his confusion in a positive rather than negative light: Rather than look down at the world of “East Oz,” as this sketch called it, Gosling’s Scarecrow delighted in the differences. It’s a pretty harmless sketch, but one that allowed Gosling to really cut lose and demonstrated just how far SNL has come in a few short years in terms of diversifying its cast. Mad Max will roar back out of the apocalypse while Mad Men rides off into the sunset, rock’s Antichrist Superstar and hip-hop’s Yeezus will rise again.

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