UPDATE, 9:30 AM: Adds full cast of The Wiz Live! parody, below.
EARLIER: The cold opening — Taran Killam and Cecily Strong as Donald and Melania Trump at Christmas — sucked, and even the addition of Mike Myers failed to breathe any life into Ryan Gosling’s tiresome monologue about the disadvantages of being Canadian. So things were looking pretty negatory for Gosling’s freshman outing as host of last night’s Saturday Night Live.
But by the end of the show, it was clear at least some of the staff was on the ball, deftly writing against type by giving Gosling some goofy material to offset the star’s signature intensity from films like Drive and Blue Valentine. There was the brilliant “Alien Abduction” sketch (see it here), and a Christmas-in-the-suburbs bit in which the star and Vanessa Bayer played married newcomers who take the idea that Santa is on the premises way too seriously.
And then there was a great riff on NBC’s presentation Thursday night of The Wiz Live! As Scarecrow, Gosling tumbled his way onto the scene of the all-African-American musical, including Leslie Jones as Queen Latifah playing The Wiz, Kenan Thompson as cowardly Lion, Michael Che as Scarecrow No. 1, Jay Pharoah as the Tin Man and Sasheer Zamata as Dorothy definitely not interested in Gosling’s fascination with her hair. Gosling showed a lot of layers here, not only as gamely loose-goosey in the role, but also doing a crackerjack homage to the original Scarecrow, Ray Bolger, vocally as well as physically.
Meanwhile, Thompson also got in a great dig at one of the Live! telecast’s main drawbacks: We do lots of singing and dancing, Lion acknowledged. “About three hours’ worth,” he added, “minus about 150 commercials.”