Austin Butler closed out his breakout year hosting the Christmas episode of SNL, and as Lainey said, he hit just the right mix of silly and sincere to succeed as a host. It wasn’t the strongest episode of the year, but Butler showed up ready to play and made for a good host. There are two types of people who succeed as SNL hosts, the ones who are genuinely good comedians (like Steve Martin and Martin Short), or the ones who don’t try to “be funny” and just play the characters. This is what Butler did, he leaned into playing the character in each sketch, not trying to land the punchline. He made for a perfect straight man, and I wish some of the sketches were better written, because with Butler, they could have taken those concepts a LOT further. 


For instance, the “Christmas Angel” sketch works so well because Butler plays it totally straight while the family inside spins out into bigger and bigger reactions. And it’s why “Plirts”, the Please Don’t Destroy digital sketch—can we talk about how even when the episode at large is mediocre-to-bad, Please Don’t Destroy never misses?—works, they’re relying on Butler to play it straight as the sketch escalates around him, and he delivers perfectly. Also, please pay attention to how good his line delivery of “Plastic shirts? No,” is. It’s perfect.

Here’s Butler arriving back in Los Angeles yesterday. Do we think celebrities will stick with masks in public because they’re in it for the public good, or because it gives them an excuse to be less visible? Not that it’s working for Austin here.