But I’d like to spend a second talking about something really clever SNL did with that equally palatable pickle. Out of the blue, the show resurfaced “The Global Warming Christmas Special
,” a forgotten sketch that dated to 1990, with the only comedic threads tying it to the modern day being Tom Hanks, appearing in the clip as a parody of Dean Martin, and Lorne Michaels, the show-runner then and now.
The sketch was full of references to things that were arguably dated even then. Dean Martin? Sally Struthers? Carl Sagan? Isaac Asimov? George Hamilton? The actual Ralph Nader? You could smell the mothballs all the way from your 4K television screen. (Nice to see Phil Hartman, Jan Hooks, and Chris Farley on screen again, though.) Tom Hanks was effectively showing us the SNL equivalent of an old home movie, one that he was personally involved in making.
But the thing that made the sketch hold together in this unusual setting, this combination of new and old that was put together out of necessity, was the way that the dated nature of the sketch was underlined by an extremely familiar debate in 2021: the idea that climate change and global warming remains extremely problematic and relevant now, but the motivation, then and now, was to downplay it in favor of literally everything else. In fact, the dated references actually somehow make feel more relevant because it further underlines the general point being made.